“Fabrics doesn't make exquisite dresses, it is the stitches.” - Treasure Stitches

Sewing is making a comeback. In facct, sales of sewing machines are on the rise. More and more Brits are opting to tailor or make their own clothes and accessories. DIY fashion is trendy again!

French seams, zigzag stitches, etc., there are plenty of different types of seams and stitches.

So how do you do an overlock stitch when you’re just learning to sew?

You can use this technique to join two pieces of fabric end-to-end.

For furnishings or trousers, the technique for this type of stitch isn’t that complicated. You just need to respect the border and the tension in your thread and you’ll get a good finish. Beginners get your threads ready!

In this article, we'll look at what an overlock stitch is, what it's used for, and how you can do it.

Check out the best sewing classes in the UK.

What Is an Overlock Stitch?

In sewing, crochet, or knitting, an overlock stitch allows you to solidly join two ends together. This stitch can be done by hand or with a sewing machine. It’s a simple stitch that isn’t often used. You need to ensure that the needle always passes through the same side of the material a few millimetres from the previous stitch.

What is an overlock stitch?
The overlock stitch is often used in clothing. (Source: nickelbabe)

The overlock stitch looks a lot like a whipstitch. However, a whipstitch is used to make the edges of fabrics look finished. The whipstitch, which is often hidden in the hem, stops the ends from fraying. It’s often done by using an overlock machine.

The overlock stitch is used to join two pieces of fabric together.

Find out more about the most common stitches and seams.

Why Use an Overlock Stitch?

So when should you use an overlock stitch?

The overlock stitch is used to join pieces of fabric together whereas the whipstitch is used to make single pieces of fabric look better.

How can you do an overlock stitch by hand?
Make sure you pick the right thread. (Source: MonikaP)

The overlock stitch is also used to attach pieces of fabric on top of one another like pockets in jeans, for example. The overlock stitch allows you to make solid stitches at irregular angles. It appears clean from the exterior. So make sure that you sew carefully and straight.

It’s regularly used in sewing patterns for trousers, jackets, or furnishings.

You should also learn how to do open and closed seams.

How to Sew Overlock Stitches by Hand

An overlock stitch can be done by hand or machine. You can choose this type of stitch on a sewing machine and you’re ready to go.

To do it by hand, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Thread (the same colour as the fabric)
  • A sewing needle
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Your first job is to thread the needle. The size of the needle will depend on what you’re sewing. For jeans, you can take a medium sized needle.

Where can you learn to do an overlock stitch?
Regular practice will help a lot! (Source: Gadini)

To thread the needle, slightly wet the end of the thread so that the frayed ends stay together. Slide the needle to the middle of the thread and make a knot with the two ends of the thread. This will allow you to thicken the thread by doubling it. You can also use embroidery thread as it’s more resistant than regular thread. Once again, this will depend on your project.

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Once your needle and thread are ready, you’ll need to get your fabric. You can start by practising on offcuts or scraps in order to understand an overlock stitch before you try it out on your next project.

Choose two pieces of fabric and place them right sides together. Make sure that the two pieces are lined up. Use pins to hold them in place before sewing and make sure that the pins are perpendicular to the direction of the seam.

Start by passing the needle through the outer piece of fabric without piercing the other piece. You need to pass the needle through the right side of the piece. By sewing between the two pieces of fabric, the knot you made earlier will be hidden in the stitching. The seam allowances, the space between the seam and the edge of the fabric, needs to 3 or 4mm.

Once the needle’s back out, sew back along the stitching and sew the two pieces together until you get back to the first hole. Once you get to this stage, you need to loop the thread around the seam allowance. This is your first overlock stitch.

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Ensure that the thread is tight enough to pull the two inlays together and the fabric isn’t creased. You then need to do the second overlock stitch.

The second overlock stitch is really the first complete overlock stitch since the first starts at the centre of the two pieces. To do your second overlock stitch and learn to sew correctly, you need to start again by going around the edge of the pieces of fabric and stitch the two pieces together to get back onto the right side. The two stitches need to be slightly spaced out but close enough so that the stitching remains solid. This could be between 3mm or 4mm.

Once the second stitch has been done, you need to ensure the spacing remains the same for the rest of the seam. Do this along the stitching and finish with a half stitch. This allows you to hide the end of the stitching. Once you’ve finished, you just need to pull the needle through and cut your thread.

Finally, don’t hesitate to marvel at your own work. To make the stitching solid, you can also do a double overlock stitch. In this case, you just need to do the same again but in the opposite direction. The stitching will look like little crosses on the fabric.

This can take more time but it’ll make your stitching last longer. It’ll last even longer if you use embroidery thread.

Make sure you learn how to do a felled seam, too!

Overlock Stitches with a Sewing Machine

Doing an overlock stitch with a sewing machine is really easy since most sewing machines have an overlock stitch setting.

How do you do an overlock stitch with a sewing machine?
A sewing machine will help a lot! (Source: wnk1029)

You just need to put the two pieces of fabric with a pin as you would for sewing by hand. Once this is ready, you just need to move the fabric through the machine and let it do all the work.

Working with elastic materials?

You may want a zig-zag stitch!

How Can You Learn to Do an Overlock Stitch?

An overlock stitch may seem quite technical at first but it’s quite easy to learn. You can teach yourself how to do an overlock stitch without a sewing machine. You don’t need a lot of equipment. Of course, if you have an overlock machine, this will be really easy, but it’s not essential.

To practise how to sew or overcast, you just need to grab some offcuts or scraps and practise. You can also find videos online guiding you through the technique.

By doing two or three seams with different materials, you’ll get a good idea of how an overlock stitch works and you’ll master it. It doesn’t matter that you’re a beginner. Motivation is the most important thing for learning how to sew without a machine.

There are also sewing workshops in haberdasheries where you can get a few hours of tuition a month. It might be worth checking out if you're looking for a tutorial on a particular technique.

You can also get in touch with private sewing tutor and learn techniques like zig-zag stitches, sewing buttonholes, making hems, doing a French seam, straight stitch, backstitch, etc.

There are plenty of tutors offering sewing tutorials on Superprof and there are three main types of tutorial on offer: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.

Face-to-face tutorials involve a private tutor and one student. Since you're getting tailored tuition, you can expect to pay a premium for it. However, these types of tutorials are also the most cost-effective since every minute of the tutor's time is used helping you, unlike in a group class or a workshop.

Online tutorials are similar except that your tutor isn't physically there. Thanks to the internet, webcams, and programmes like Skype, students can learn from tutors all over the world. Since these tutors don't have to travel, they can charge less for the tutorial. However, these types of tutorials tend to be better for theoretical subjects rather than practical subjects like sewing.

Group tutorials are the cheapest per student per hour since the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst all the students attending the tutorial. Unfortunately, you won't get as much one-on-one time with your tutor but if you and a group of friends all want to learn how to sew, this is probably one of the best ways to do it.

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