Do you love sewing knits and are curious about coverstitch machines? Find the best coverstitch machine for 2024.
If you love sewing knit fabric, you might want to think about investing in a coverstitch machine, and in this post, I’ll talk to you about one of the best coverstitch machines you can purchase as well as other coverstitch sewing machine reviews.
I’ve had my own coverstitch machine for a few years, and I use it almost constantly in my sewing room. It’s easy to use, easy to thread, and it makes professional looking hems on all my knit projects.
Did I mention that sewing elastic with a coverstitch machine is a joy? If you’ve ever sewn your own swimsuits or lingerie, a coverstitch is an invaluable tool. And if you struggle with knit hems sewn on your sewing machine breaking stitches, a coverstitch has your back.
Here you’ll learn about why you might consider a coverstitch, what features coverstitch machines have that make them unique, and I’ll review my own coverstitch, the Janome CoverPro 2000cpx.
Table of Contents
What does a coverstitch machine do?
A coverstitch machine uses multiple threads and needles to create multiple rows of stitching. They look like a serger, but they are used primarily for making hems. From the right side of the fabric, you see 1-3 rows of straight stitching. The cover stitch is made with a number of needles, typically 1-3 with another looper thread that runs through the bottom of the machine. On the wrong side of the fabric, the stitches have a looped appearance.
The type of stitch coverstitch machines make has a great deal of recovery, meaning that you can stretch the fabric and the stitches will not break. This makes coverstitch machines ideal for stitching knit hems even on highly stretchy fabrics like swimwear or sewing elastic in place. In addition to giving you a strong stitch that’s flexible, a coverstitch machine can create decorative stitches. On thicker fabrics like wool knits, I love to sew on my coverstitch from the wrong side. This creates lovely decorative stitches on the right side of the fabric while stitching down bulky fabrics so that they lay flat.
This recovery is ideal if you like to make activewear. There’s so many great activewear patterns and amazing activewear fabrics that home sewists have access to these days. If you’re an active person who loves to sew, I wouldn’t think twice about nabbing up a coverstitch before stitching running leggings or swimwear.
What’s great about coverstitch machines is that they sew basically just like a sewing machine. Yes, the threading is slightly more complicated and you have more threads to work with than you do on a typical sewing machine. Nonetheless, there is a much smaller learning curve when you’re learning to use a coverstitch machine than there is on a serger.
Can you sew knit hems and elastic without a coverstitch machine?
How to sew knit hems with a sewing machine
I sewed my knit hems on my Janome DC2007 home sewing machine for years. They turn out perfectly fine, and unless you’re about 2 feet away, no one will be able to spot the difference between a coverstitch hem and a sewing machine stitched hem.
If you sew hems on knits, you can go a couple different directions:
- Use a single needle and zigzag stitch: Adjust your zigzag stitch to 0.5mm width and 2.5-3.0mm length. These adjustments to the zig zag look almost like a straight stitch, but they have more recovery, making your stitches less prone to popping. Stitch close to your pressed fold with 1 or 2 rows of stitching.
- Use a knit double needle and zigzag stitch: use the same settings as for a single needle (Zigzag stitch: 0.5mm width, 2.5mm length). On top of your machine, add another spool of thread, then thread it through the double needle. Use your other thread in the thread spindle you usually use to thread the second side of the double needle. Stitch close to the pressed fold.
- Use a single needle and a blind hem: blind hems a variation on a zigzag stitch and excellent for knits because of their built in recovery. Check out how to sew a blind hem.
How to sew elastic with a sewing machine
For reference, when I say “sewing elastic” in this post, I’m referring to sewing that requires you apply the elastic and stitch directly on it. This happens when you sew clear elastic to shoulder seams, sew elastic into legs and waists when you make underwear, and other times when you’re making swimwear or lingerie.
Even with a coverstitch machine, you’ll probably still use your sewing machine to sew elastic ends together, and maybe when you make pants or skirts with elastic waists.
That clarification aside, sewing with elastic and a sewing machine is sometimes not the easiest. Clear elastic and lingerie elastics have a tendency to slip around as you stitch, making the process a little unwieldy at times. A coverstitch definitely wins the tool battle here.
Still, it is possible to sew elastic with a sewing machine, and there’s a couple ways to do so:
- Use a stitch starter and a zigzag stitch: Start sewing on a scrap of fabric, then butt the elastic end right up to the needle. Sew the elastic on the scrap fabric. This will anchor the elastic, making it easier to apply your elastic where you need it.
- Use a 3-way zigzag: A 3 way zigzag is excellent on lingerie and swimwear. Add your elastic where you need it, stitching the 3 part zigzag right down the middle of the elastic.
If you can sew knits and elastic with a sewing machine, why should you think about getting a coverstitch machine?
Over time, I wanted to have a nicer finish on my hems. Also, once in a while, stitches would break on my knit hems sewn on my sewing machine despite the adjustments.
Sewing knits is a regular part of my sewing life. I stitch them up for my family and myself, and they make up probably 60% of my sewing output. With that much knit sewing, I did some research and decided that a coverstitch machine would be a worthwhile investment for me.
A coverstitch is right for you if you:
- Sew knits on a regular basis
- You want a more professional finish on your knits
- Sew activewear or swimwear which needs to be extra strong and able to stretch in the wearing.
Is threading a coverstitch machine hard? Is it as bad as threading a serger?
The good news is that’s it’s EASY to thread a coverstitch machine.
Yes, that’s right, I said no.
I see you there.
You eye your serger from across the room and realize that the lower looper is down to the last couple feet of thread. Dread fills your mind as you realize that you’re going to have to pull off all the stupid serger cones and grab some tweezers to spend some time tediously getting all of the new threads in place so that you can serge a couple seams on a t-shirt.
I know this feeling because threading a serger is one of my least favorite things to do.
Thankfully, you will not have this kind of trouble when you thread a coverstitch machine.
Even though the threads go through your machine similarly to a serger, there’s only one looper on a coverstitch machine. This lower looper goes through a simple path as do the upper threads.
I would say it takes me about 5 minutes on average to rethread my serger. I can get my coverstitch ready to sew in about 1.5 minutes. It’s actually fun to rethread a coverstitch. Weird, but true!
Air threading: Are there coverstitch machines with it and is it worth it?
When it comes to talking about the best sergers, people get really excited about air threading that’s available in some sergers like Babylock sergers, Juki sergers like the Juki MO-1000 or the Janome Air Thread 2000. Air-threading allows you to quickly rethread a serger with the help of a little puff of air.
So you may be asking, is air threading a thing for coverstitch machines? In fact yes. You can find air threading on these different machines:
- Bernette Airlock models like the 64 or 62
- Babylock Euphoria
In my opinion, air threading is a feature that I would not pay for on a coverstitch machine. Truly, coverstitch machines are much simpler to thread than a serger.
How to thread a coverstitch machine
First, open up the front of the machine. Pass the looper thread through the tension on the far right channel on the top of the machine.
Next, pass the looper thread through the clearly marked out path shown in arrows down to the interior of the machine. From there, pass the thread through a series of holes (there’s 3 on my machine).
After that, on my Janome Cover Pro 2000cpx, you need to pull a lever that will pop the lever out to thread the actual looper. Be sure to click the looper back in place or the coverstitch will not create a stitch.
Close the machine, then thread the upper threads. On a serger, you typically thread from right to left, but in this case, thread a coverstitch machine from left to right. Upper threads will all follow the same path through an easy to follow series of channels and loops to end up at the needles. You can sew typically with 1-3 needles depending on what you’re doing.
I like to use just 1 needle thread if I need to stitch down a thin knit binding on a neckline, but I’ll opt for 2 or 3 on a hem.
What coverstitch sewing machine reviews won’t tell you
A coverstitch machine is not defective if it skips stitches. A coverstitch machine fundamentally sews differently than a traditional sewing machine.
If your coverstitch machine is skipping stitches, it is likely due to the needles going over fabric that is thicker than what came before. A couple things can help:
- Use a stitch starter: Before you coverstitch, fold a small piece of the same material so it’s as thick as what you’re coverstitching. Start sewing on this scrap, then continue on to your coverstitch. This will give the machine a headstart so that the threads won’t skip. Using a stitch starter is a must when working with thicker fabrics that have an especial tendency to skip the first stitches before the thread is really anchored into the fabric.
- Sew without fear: Give your foot a little more gas as you head into an area with more thickness (i.e. when you go over a seam). You can use your hands to pull slightly to encourage the needles to stitch over this spot.
- Practice: You really will get better at coverstitching just like you did with serging and sewing on a regular sewing machine if you practice. Scraps are free! Get used to what it feels like to stitch on a coverstitch machine and give yourself 3 minutes to practice on scraps before you use your coverstitch machine on a project. If you don’t practice, it’s on you when your machine doesn’t work well.
- Don’t get shiny box syndrome: I’ll admit it; it’s fun to shop for a new machine, but I don’t want you to get starry eyed here. This post is here to get you started in your coverstitch journey and help you figure out if that’s the kind of specialized sewing machine you might want to consider. I’m pointing you in the direction of several good sewing machines that will give you good results with the following coverstitch sewing machine reviews, but do your own research after you read this post.
Best coverstitch sewing machine reviews and recommendations
Janome Cover Pro 2000cpx
This is my current coverstitch machine. It’s a great machine, and I thread it up each and every time I sew with
- Easy threading
- Simple to clean
- Thread tension is intuitive and painless to adjust.
- Stitch length is simple to adjust with a simple knob
- Large working space with free arm makes it easy to work on larger projects.
Things to get used to:
- Test your Differential feed settings: When I first got my new machine, I didn’t have the differential feed set correctly. Basically everything I stitched would pucker under tremendous tension or not make a stitch at all. I took it to a repair guy, and he showed me how to set it, and I’ve never had a problem since.
- Press for success: When you’re stitching over thick areas, be sure to give the presser foot a little extra gas. This way you’ll end up with fewer skipped stitches. If you press seams you’ll be crossing before you stitch them, this will also help.
Things you may not like:
- The Janome Cover Pro 2000cpx is a dedicated coverstitch machine. If you have a more compact work area that can’t support an extra machine, or you don’t sew stretch fabrics often enough, this may not be the best coverstitch machine for you.
TheJanome Cover Pro1000cpx machine is really similar to the CoverPro2000cpx, just being the slightly older model, I believe.
- Easy to thread and clean
- I love the diagrams on the right panel of the machine that show you the settings for different types of coverstitch stitches. This is much easier than looking through your manual or a separate coverstich book.
- Amazon offers this machine with additional elastic gathering feet which is a great add-on if you sew any underwear, swimsuits or other activewear
Things you may not like:
- Like the CoverPro2000cpx, this is a dedicated coverstitch machine. If you need a serger/coverstitch combo because you either have a smaller sewing space or need a machine with dual functionality, read on.
Here’s another cpx coverstitch machine from Janome. Janome Cover Pro 900cpx is another great standalone coverstich machine with all the capabilities of the other machines.
- 1 needle, 2 thread chain stitch
- 2 needle, 3 thread cover stitch
- Quick reference chart for stitch selection
- Maximum speed 1,000 SPM
- Free arm coverhem machine
- Best budget coverstitch machine at a price point under $500
- Up to 1100 stitches per minute with easy to follow color thread guides
- This is a very popular coverstitch machine with tons of YouTube tutorials and over 1000 reviews on Amazon.
A couple combination serger and coverstitch/coverhem machines to consider
This is a combo serger/coverhem machine. As I said before, if you’re not sure if you’ll use the coverstitch’s function, but you want a serger, a combo machine like the Janome 1200D can be a good option.
That being said, one of my friends had a combo machine like this, and she claimed she never used the coverstitch. In her mind, switching over from serging to coverstitch despite the easy settings was more complicated than she wanted to get into on any casual Tuesday. On those days, she personally chose to reach for her twin needles and use it on her regular sewing machine for hems.
Each to her own!
This overlocker/coverhem machine combo has a lot of functionality. TheFrom Amazon: “Bernette B48 Overlock Serger with Coverhem sports 23 stitches: 15 overlock stitches, 3 cover stitches, 4 combo stitches and 1 chain stitch.”
Why you might want to try a combo coverstitch/serger machine
If you consider a combo machine like the Bernette B48 or the Janome 1200D, spend some time on YouTube and with your manual getting to know all the settings. You want to be clear in your mind how to switch the machine over from serger to coverstitch or from coverstitch to serger.
In my opinion, a combo machine is worth a try. Here’s why:
- Money-saver: getting the function of 2 machines in one, is probably worth the inconvenience of switching settings.
- Workflow: In my typical workflow, the tasks of serging and coverstitching rarely overlap. I use my serger for construction, and I will save all of my coverstitch work as the last task of a knit garment. With this in mind, it would be absolutely possible and not too difficult to have a machine that I switch over to the coverstitch settings for that last task.
- See what you do: If you’re serious about sewing with knits, but you’re not sure how much you would use a coverstitch machine, one of these combo machines can help you get an idea of how much you actually use a coverstitch. If at some point, you realize you would have use for a more specialized sewing machine in the form of a dedicated coverstitch, you can always keep your combo machine as a serger (or a coverstitch) and pick up another machine that has the capability you’re wanting.
- Space-saver: You may not have extra room for an extra machine. A combo machine gives the functionality without taking up extra space.
Why I decided to get a good coverstitch machine and why you might want to
I can’t imagine my sewing life without knits. I wear them everyday; and I love the fit and styles I can get making knit garments for myself vs. buying them. At some point, I realized that I wanted my knit garments to have a clean, professional results that I was proud to show off.
A coverstitch machine helps you do just that. If that sounds good, I would strongly recommend you think about getting yourself a coverstitch machine. I know you’ll love it!
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Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.