Are you frustrated with your coverstitch machine? Tired of skipped stitches and unpredictable results? I hear you! A coverstitch is a wonderful machine, especially for hemming knits and sewing binding. But it also comes with some challenges and a bit of a learning curve.
So this is why I have created this guide, where you will learn how to troubleshoot and fix some frustrating issues you might encounter when sewing with a coverstitch machine.
Advice on buying a coverstitch machine
Buy a good quality machine
Buy the best machine you can afford. Machine brands that are generally well-regarded are BabyLock and Juki. After those, I would say Janome and Brother.
I own the Janome Coverpro 2000 CPX, which is fine but not awesome.
Should I get a combination or a stand-alone machine?
Honestly, the only coverstitch/serger combo machines that are getting consistently great reviews are the ones from BabyLock. They are, however, very pricey, but worth it according to the owners I have spoken to. Cheaper combo machines are often a hassle to re-thread, and I’ve personally found that they are more prone to stitching issues.
Preventing skipped stitches
Now skipped stitches are probably the most annoying when sewing with a coverstitch machine. They are caused by the machine’s inability to form stitches, usually due to uneven surfaces, feeding issues, faulty threading or the wrong needles.
Check the needles
Make sure the needles sit firmly in the slot
Push the needle to the top of the slot and screw it on tightly. A misaligned needle is a common culprit for skipped stitches.
Try a larger needle if the fabric and the machine can handle it
A larger needle can improve the ability of the stitches to form correctly. But first, check your manual to see which sizes the machine can handle. And also, do a sample to ensure that a larger needle won’t cause holes in the fabric.
Replace used needles with fresh ones
Sometimes a dull or damaged needle causes skipped stitches. Try switching to new needles and see if this helps with the skipped stitches.
Many coverstitch machines are compatible with the Schmetz ELX 705 Serger Overlock needles (Amazon affiliate link), which are the best brand I’ve used. But check your manual to make sure you use the right needles.
Check the threading
- Make sure there are no tangled threads that prevent the stitches from forming correctly. This issue can happen in several places on the machine, for instance, just above the needles or in the periscope slots.
- And, of course, double-check that the threading is done correctly; on some machines, this can be a bit tricky, so it’s always a good thing to check.
Flatten out bumpy surfaces
My number one tip is to fold the seam allowances in opposite directions as much as possible. This method will improve the feeding and keep the presser foot level which will help prevent skipped stitches.
Clip and fold the seam allowance
- Very carefully clip a small notch at the fold of the hem. Make sure you don’t break the seam.
- Then flip the clipped seam allowance in opposite directions.
- Fold the hem allowance up.
Or only fold the seam
You can try this method if you don’t want to clip into the seam.
- Finger press the seam allowance in the opposite direction at the folding line.
- Fold over the hem and check that it aligns with the pressed area.
- This method will also even out the bumpy seam section.
Increase stitch length and differential feed when sewing over bulky seams
To help with the feeding, start by increasing the differential feed. You can also increase the stitch length for an even greater effect. Remember to revert to the original settings once you have conquered the bump.
Increasing the stitch length, in general, can help too.
I’ve found that if I go below 2 on my coverstitch machine, it’s much more likely to start skipping stitches.
Experiment with the presser foot pressure
The proper presser foot pressure will also improve the stitching quality. A general guide is that a thinner fabric usually requires less pressure, and a thicker material will often need a higher presser foot pressure. However, sometimes the opposite might be true, depending on factors such as the fabric’s surface and other settings. So be prepared to experiment and see what works best for your project.
Never pull the fabric
It can be tempting to help the fabric feed through the machine but resist that temptation, as it will cause all kinds of troubles, including skipped stitches.
Instead, gently guide the fabric with your hands.
Use quality thread and needles.
Try to stick to reputable brands known for producing high-quality thread and needles. Sewing notions isn’t an area where you should opt for the cheap generic stuff.
Hope that you found this guide helpful, and don’t forget to check out my book Master the Coverstitch Machine, which you can get both as a print book and as an e-book.