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How to Use a Coverstitch Machine : 7 Easy Steps

Juki MCS-1700QVP Cover Stitch Machine
Juki MCS-1700QVP Cover Stitch Machine

Most people mistakenly assume that coverstitch machines are the same as sergers and while the two may look exactly the same, there are some differences.

Coverstitch machines are special sewing machines that usually have 1,2 or 3 needles at the top and a single looper thread at the bottom.

With this, the machine creates a stitch that can stretch, which is ideal for knit fabrics.

On the other hand, a serger is used to create finishing seams, and it usually has two loopers at the bottom.

That said, a coverstitch machine creates professional parallel stitches such as the ones on the hem of your t-shirt, but if you want to create such high-quality finishing, then you must be able to use this unit correctly. To help you with this, here’s how to use a coverstitch machine. 

Make sure you have the right needles

Before you begin stitching, ensure you have the right needles for the job. One of the best needles set that is recommended for this job is the ELx705, and the pieces are compatible with most machine brands.

With these, fit in the number of needles you need in the needle bar, which could be 1, 2, or 3. Make sure the needles slide in all the way back into their slots before tying them in using screws.

Thread the machine

Just like your regular sewing machine, coverstitch machines require to be threaded before use, but in this case, bobbin threading is not required. Instead, you must have a separate spool to use as the looper thread, which must be threaded from the spool pin above through the various guides and, finally, into the looper below the needle plate.

As for the upper machine threading, simply install a separate thread spool for every needle you have fitted into the needle bar, then pass the threads through the labeled guides, finishing off with threading through the needle eye.

Note: Before threading, remember to lift the presser foot to release the tension phase.

Use the right thread

This will depend on the type of project you are working on. If you are creating a hemline for a light fabric t-shirt, then a light thread will do. On the other hand, if you stitching on thick, heavy fabric such as denim, then you need thicker thread.

However, it is recommended to color match the upper and looper threads, and preferably use a big cone spool, which is designed to release the thread more easily.

Try out samples first

Always start by trying out the coverstitching on some scrap fabric before going into the actual project. This is important because it will give you a first-hand feel of the machine first so that you do not end up messing with your work.

Basically, this step will help you make the necessary adjustments, which are mainly:

  • Thread tensioning adjustment

Remember that a coverstitch should allow for fabric stretching, and therefore, it should sit tightly on the material. You must strike a balance, though; the stitch must not be too tight or loose. This is why sampling on scrap fabric is important.

  • Stitch length adjustment

Another important setting that you need to look at is adjusting the stitch length. Using the length adjustment knob on the side of the machine, tweak this as you sample out the results.

Ideally, a longer stitch length is loose but stretchier, while a short one is tight and more rigid. Set the one you want for the project at hand.

  • Other adjustments

Other settings that may need adjustments are the differential feed and presser foot pressure. Go through all the adjustable settings until you get what you are looking for so that you create the perfect result on your fabric.

Sew slowly as you begin

After all, is set and done, it is time to get down to the actual sewing. As always, begin stitching at a slow speed so that you don’t mess things up. If you are a beginner, proceed at this low speed, but for an experienced coverstitch machine user, gradually increase the speed to your comfortable working pace.

All in all, remember to stitch with confidence and don’t stop to look back then start again all the time; this will most likely cause you some trouble.

Make sure to secure the coverstitch threads at the end

As you get to the end of the fabric, you need to secure the stitch and threads. Most coverstitch machines do not have a reverse function built-in, which means you have to do some improvisation. There are three ways you can do this:

  • Pulling

This is the easiest method, and it automatically ties all the threads in one move. You need to sew the last stitch manually using the handwheel then stop with the needles being in the highest position.

Raise the presser foot then pull the threads using a crochet hook. Cut the threads, then pull the fabric backward then leftwards. This will pull the needle thread in reverse and automatically secure the stitch.

  • Manually by hand

The second option requires you to lock in the thread ends manually. Begin by turning the handwheel manually to lower the needles until you hear a clicking sound, then rotate the wheel backward. This releases the threads.

Raise the presser foot, pull the threads, cut them, then move the thread ends to the backside of the stitch and finish by stitching them manually using a hand-sewing needle to lock them in place.

  • Do a pass by

If you are hemming over the flat fabric and you must seam the sides for finishing, then you can simply sew over the coverstitch end, and this will be enough to lock the threads.

Maintain the machine in good condition

Lastly, always remember to maintain your machine in good condition. Keep it oiled while cleaning off the fluff and dust now and then. After use, keep it covered in storage to reduce the amount of dust that goes into the mechanical moving parts inside.


To summarize, just like regular sewing machines, coverstitch machines require threading, testing, setting, and proper maintenance.

However, the threading and stitch creation process is slightly different, but this does not mean it is difficult. Basically, with the user guide above, you will be able to handle your coverstitch machine in no time properly. 

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