How to use overcast/overlock presser feet for sewing overcasting stitches with a sewing machine

An overcasting stitch is used to finish raw fabric edges. The purpose is to prevent the cut fabric edges from unraveling.

Overcast stitches can be done

  • By hand
  • By a serger
  • By a regular sewing machine

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to overlock stitch on a regular sewing machine and how to finish seams without a serger using a variety of overcast presser feet.

If you prefer a video tutorial on How to use overcast/overlock presser feet for sewing overcasting stitches with a sewing machine go to my YouTube channel here.

If you have a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine you can sew zigzag stitches on the required seam allowances (not on the very edge though)  and then cut of the excess fabric with scissors or a rotary cutter. But this method is really time-consuming and you can cut the stitches if you are not super careful because you have to cut very close to stitching.

But modern sewing machines have so many useful features we don’t use but we should because they can solve our problems and make our sewing life easier.

What are you doing with 200 stitches your sewing machine has? Look at them closely and you may find some great stitches to use regularly.

Enter overcast/overedge presser feet.

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Buy overcast/overlock feet here (if you don't have them)

1pc Overcast Presser Foot 7310G for Household Low Shank Sewing Machine Brother Singer Juki Janome ETC

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Distinctive Overlock Overcast Sewing Machine Presser Foot - Fits All Low Shank Snap-On Singer, Brother, Babylock, Euro-Pro, Janome, Kenmore, White, Juki, New Home, Simplicity, Elna and More!

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  • High Quality Premium Sewing Feet From Distinctive
  • Provides Ease-of-Use for Tasks that Could be Extremely Tedious if Done by Hand
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Janome Top-Load - Overcast Foot (No Brush)

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Features

  • Use with the overlock stitch to give a professional finish to the edges of your seams. Particularly good for finishing off linen, gabardine, easily frayed woven fabrics such as tweed, and medium to heavyweight fabrics.
  • Use with an overcast stitch to wrap thread around the edge of your fabric to prevent raveling. Fits top loading machines with 7mm zig zag stitch width.Fits all Janome, New Home, Craft Master, Dual Sew, Elna, and Necchi Sewing Machines with a drop in bobbin and a 7mm wide zig zag.

Janome Front-Load - Overcast Foot

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Features

  • Use with the overlock stitch to give a professional finish to the edges of your seams. Particularly good for finishing off linen, gabardine, easily frayed woven fabrics such as tweed, and medium to heavyweight fabrics.
  • Use with an overcast stitch to wrap thread around the edge of your fabric to prevent raveling. Fits front and top loading machines with 5mm zig zag stitch width.

Janome Top-Load - Overedge Foot (Brush)

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Features

  • Use with an overcasting stitch to allow the thread to wrap around the edge of the fabric to prevent unraveling.
  • The foot guides the fabric and keeps your edges flat by compensating for the lack of friction with a small brush when the needles makes the right-most stitch.

Let me show you how easy it is to use overcast presser feet for finishing seams without a serger. Some of them come with your sewing machine, and sometimes if your sewing machine is pretty old, you can buy them separately ( they are really cheap!).

I have a serger which I use a lot. But still, sometimes I use just overcast feet of my regular sewing machine – it’s easier if I need to finish raw edges on some small projects. Sometimes I just don’t want to take my serger from its storage place and look for threads of suitable color and re-thread my serger. There are many reasons you may want to use overcast feet even if you have a serger.

There are some different types of overcast feet. I have 3 of them. All of them are good for low shank sewing machines (which are most modern sewing machines, by the way).

Different types of overcast presser feet

 

Let’s take a look at the overcast presser feet.

Overcast foot G – this foot came with my Babylock sewing machine but I can use it on all low shank modern machines.

It has a small metal bar over which the needle is going on the right side of the fabric.  It keeps the fabric edge from curling or bunching up onto itself.

It has a special guide closer to the right side of the foot. This guide is very important for straight sewing on the edge of the fabric. Your fabric will have to line up with the guide.

Overcast foot C came with my Janome sewing machine.

It has 2 small pins instead of one, or maybe it’s better to say wires.  I can see they are thinner than the one on the G foot. They can easily hold the fabric edges flat. This foot is exclusively for overcasting. It has this small brush that effectively prevents skipped stitches on the raw fabric edges.

Overcast foot M is also from my Janome. This foot is specially designed to simulate professional style overlocking. It has 3 thin wires, they help to prevent the fabric edge from puckering or rolling.

Check the video clip below to see all these presser feet.

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As you can see all these overcast presser feet are a little bit different from each other but they all have something in common. They are a very good alternative to a serger – you can finish raw edges using them, the only difference is that they don’t cut fabric edges as sergers do.

Now let’s see how we can use these feet for making overcasting stitches. There are some special stitches on your sewing machine that you can use for overcasting.

Check your sewing machine manual to see what overcasting stitches your machine has. All brands and models are slightly different and have their own settings.

1. Zig Zag seam finish.

The first and the easiest overcasting stitch is a Zig Zag stitch.

For this video clip, I have a piece of 100% silk fabric. I used this fabric to sew silk pillowcases. You can check my tutorial on making easy pillowcases from natural silk fabric here.

The fabric is fraying a lot. Let’s see how we can stop fraying with overcasting stitches.

Before sewing trim the edges with scissors because a regular sewing machine doesn’t cut fabric.

I am going to use an overcast presser foot C now.

Position the fabric with the edge of the fabric running against the guide of the foot.

Lower the needle and the foot. Adjust the stitch length and the stitch width. Make sure that the width of the overcasting stitch is big enough so the needle doesn’t hit the metal bars when you stitch.

Start sewing slowly to make sure the needle doesn’t hit the metal bars on the presser foot, or you can use a hand wheel for a couple of stitches in the beginning. Test your settings on scrap fabric.

You will notice that the needle is going slightly over the fabric edge.

As you can see in the video clip below, I made overcasting zig-zag stitches right at the fabric edge.

Now let’s do the same zig-zag overcasting stitch with another similar presser foot G which came with my Babylock. But I will use my Janome 6600 sewing machine. I am using the same 100% silk fabric. I sew a lot with natural silk fabric and raw edges of this silk unravel quickly so these overcasting stitches are a must for this fabric.

Buy gorgeous 100% silk fabric here

44" Wide - Iridescent Baby Blue Dupioni Silk, 100% Silk Fabric, By The Yard

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  • Type of Silk: 100% Silk Dupioni
  • Description: This Fabric is an iridescent Baby Blue Dupioni 100% Silk. This is hand-woven dupioni and has slubs throughout the weave, which are one of the many beautiful characteristics of this quality of fabric. This fabric is yarn-dyed, the warp (lengthwise) yarn is Sky Blue and the weft (transverse) yarn is White.
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54" Wide - Iridescent Peacock Dupioni Silk, 100% Silk Fabric, By The Yard

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  • Type of Silk: 100% Silk Dupioni
  • Description: This Fabric is an iridescent Peacock Dupioni 100% Silk. This is hand-woven dupioni and has slubs throughout the weave, which are one of the many beautiful characteristics of this quality of fabric. This fabric is yarn-dyed, the warp (lengthwise) yarn is Royal Blue and the weft (transverse) yarn is Teal Green.
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Blush Pink Dupioni Silk, 100% Silk Fabric, By The Yard, 44" Wide

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  • Type of Silk: 100% Silk Dupioni
  • Description: This Fabric is a Blush Dupioni 100% Silk. This is hand-woven dupioni and has slubs throughout the weave, which are one of the many beautiful characteristics of this quality of fabric. This fabric is yarn-dyed, the warp (lengthwise) yarn is Blush and the weft (transverse) yarn is Blush.
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Iridescent Blush Lime Dupioni Silk, 100% Silk Fabric, By The Yard, 44" Wide

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  • Type of Silk: 100% Silk Dupioni
  • Description: This Fabric is an iridescent Blush Lime Dupioni 100% Silk. This is hand-woven dupioni and has slubs throughout the weave, which are one of the many beautiful characteristics of this quality of fabric. This fabric is yarn-dyed, the warp (lengthwise) yarn is Baby Pink and the weft (transverse) yarn is Apple Green.
  • Fabric Width: 44 Inches
  • Length: By the yard. Enter the quantity of yards you want
  • Need a Swatch: Go to our Amazon Storefront to find our Swatch item. Its $1 per Swatch!

Maxfeel 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Fabric Charmuse Floral Silk 45" Wide for Bedding Dress DIY Sold by The Yard or by Half Yard (Sold by The Yard, 7)

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Maxfeel 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Charmuse Floral Fabric 45 Wide for Bedding Dress By the Yard or By Half Yard (Sold by half a yard, 10)

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  • 100% charmuse silk fabric,width 45 inch.
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So, we saw how overcasting stitches work for silk fabric. Now let me show you how they work for quilting cotton. Quilting cotton is not so lightweight and raw edges almost don’t fray.

This piece of fabric is what’s left after I made a cosmetic bag (or a pouch). You can find my tutorial on how to make a lined zippered pouch without dented corners on my YouTube channel Ageberry and on my blog ageberry.com.

I am going to use the overcast presser foot G and a regular zig zag stitch for overcasting.

As you can see in the video clip below, overcasting stitches sewn over quilting cotton look more uniform than on silk fabric.

Buy quilting cotton fabric here (gorgeous!)

Robert Kaufman North American Wildlife Abstract Ocean Fabric by The Yard

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  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
  • Import Designation: Made in the USA or Imported
  • Fabric Care Instructions:Machine Wash Cold / Tumble Dry Low
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
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Timeless Treasures 0444106 Cat Coloring Multi Fabric by The Yard, Multicolor

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  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
  • Import Designation: Made in the USA or Imported
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  • Cotton Fabric Print - 44" Wide - Sold by the yard
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Michael Miller 0355635 Star Magic Glow in The Dark Nite Fabric by The Yard

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  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
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  • Fabric care instructions: Machine Wash Cold/Tumble Dry Low
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Kaufman Winter's Majesty Digital Sky Ice Fabric by The Yard

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  • 100% Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
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  • Washing Instructions: Machine Wash Cold/Tumble Dry Low

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  • You've selected: Fleece fabric --- Measures 56 in wide (142 cm). Lightweight, 100% polyester, low-loft fleece. Is appropriate for making blankets (including no-sew tie baby blankets), pillows, plushies, adult and youth loungewear, and cold weather apparel. This design will be digitally printed onto the fabric type you choose from the drop down menu.
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And now I want to show you another fabric – also 100% cotton but not for quilting. This fabric is fraying a lot. But with overcasting stitches, we can finish the raw edges very easily. I am going to use the overcast presser foot G also.

I hope you can see that different fabrics behave differently with overcasting stitches. But also, settings for different fabrics need to be adjusted.

In the next video clip, I want to show you bad stitching. For this video, I used again 100% silk fabric (dupioni) which was left after I made an interesting embroidered pillow. You can see a tutorial on making this pillow here.

Look what happens (in the video clip below) if stitch settings are not right for your fabric. And after I changed the settings overcasting was done quite well.

If you are interested in sewing perhaps you should read my other popular tutorials also.

2. Using a special overcasting stitch.

Now let’s use a different stitch – a special overcasting stitch. And I am going to use an overcasting presser foot C.

This stitch is working better with thicker fabric because these overcasting stitches are going back and forth as you will notice.

For this test, I used pink cotton gabardine fabric which is medium weight fabric (maybe closer to heavyweight though).

I can tell you that you can use overcasting stitches right after you cut your pattern pieces before making any seams or you can make the necessary seams first and overcast after that. It works fine but it’s better to keep your seam allowances wider that the presser foot width. And it works better if you don’t need to open seam allowances flat.  

This type of overcasting stitches can be used to simultaneously sew and overcast edges of fabrics. Usually, we can do it when we don’t need to keep seam allowances open flat. And it usually works well with knit fabric.

Let me show you how it works with lightweight rayon knit fabric – the fabric is very stretchy and it keeps its stretchiness after sewing with the overcast stitch. I had 6 yards of this fabric and made different garments with it. Here you can see one of the outfits which got many likes on my Instagram account.

So, I am using the overcasting foot C. And in the video below you can see also settings of my sewing machine I am using for the overcasting stitch.

As you can see the seam is not really perfect, it’s a little bit overstretched because the fabric is lightweight and because the stitch goes back and forth, back and forth.

But with medium weight cotton knit fabric which is less stretchy, this overcasting stitch works very nicely.

3.  Double overedge stitch.

The next type of overcasting stitches is called Double overedge stitch in my sewing machine manual. They say it’s good for fabrics that tend to fray extensively such as linens and gabardines. Two rows of stitches are simultaneously sewn over the fabric edge to prevent the fabric from fraying.  This stitch works only with medium to heavy weight fabric. I am using a overcasting presser foot C.

4. Overlock stitch.

The next type of overcasting stitches – an overlock stitch. This stitch finishes the raw fabric edges very similar to a serger. It’s necessary to use foot M for this stitch.

These overlock stitches look really nice on the pink cotton fabric.

But Overcast presser feet and overcasting stitches can be successfully used not only for finishing raw fabric edges.

Let me show you some other types of fabric finishes.

Making rolled hems with overcast presser feet

You can make very nice rolled hems using a zigzag stitch and an overcast foot.

Here I am making the rolled hem with the presser foot G using my white silk fabric.

Below you can see the rolled hem with presser foot G also on the 100 % silk charmeuse. You notice how fast and easy it is to make the rolled hem this way.

Now let’s try to make rolled hem on 4 way stretch rayon. As you can see it works also and I think this kind of rolled hem is called a lettuce hem, right? Looks beautiful.

Making pintucks with overcast presser feet

You can also make pintucks with overcasting presser feet to embellish clothes. It’s very easy to create beautiful stitches parallel to each other at regular intervals. You can use threads of the same color as your fabric, or use a contrasting thread as an additional decorative element.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you are ready to make an overcast stitch, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!

 

how to finish raw fabric edges without a serger pin for Pinterest

 

 

Ready to take the next step in your sewing journey?

Check out more step-by-step tutorials from my blog

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3 Comments

  1. Janis Tomasek

    Thank you Olga. I only have presserfoot “G”. I can’t wait to experiment with this method of overcasting.

    Reply
    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you Janis! I think most people have the presser foot G, it seems to me it’s a standard accessory for Brother and Babylock. And feet C and M are made by Janome but as they are regular snap-on feet for low shank sewing machines they are good for a big number of modern sewing machines.

      Reply
  2. Lydia

    THANK YOU!!!!! I definitely will try all these. I really don’t want a serger and was considering one.

    Not now!

    Reply

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