What Is An Overlock Stitch?

When it comes to shopping for clothes, among the things that most consumers notice are the obvious features, like the type and feel of the fabric used, the overall design, and the buttons. However, one subtle area, which also requires their full attention is the stitching. While the stitches in garments are small, they actually serve a vital function. In fact, there are stitches that are more suitable for decoration and style. You can also find more durable ones that are perfect for various applications. One of the most common stitches used today is the overlock stitch. Learn more about it is and what makes it impressive through this article.

overlock stitch

Overlock Stitch Explained

An overlock stitch refers to a type of stitch, which involves sewing over the edge of at least one piece of cloth for seaming, hemming, or edging. Many also view it as a combination of a zigzag and straight stitch. You can do this stitch by sewing forwards and backwards in a straight line. Between each set of straight stitches, you will also need to sew a zigzag. Doing it correctly will help you produce a stitch which is quite similar to serging, a common sewing method used in the majority of store-bought clothes. This will lend a more professional finish to your handmade clothes.

Basically, you will need an overlocker to do this stitch. It refers to a sewing machine capable of stitching 3, 4, or 5 threads simultaneously. You can use it in joining seams, preventing any cut edges from fraying, and trimming off excess fabric with just a single operation. With an overlocker, it would be easy for you to cut the cloth’s edges while you are feeding them through. Note, however, that there are also machines that do not have cutters.

Still, it would be best to look for an overlocker sewing machine with automated cutters as it makes it possible for you to produce finished seams quickly and easily. The sewing machine often operates at a high speed – around 1,000 to more than 9,000 rpm. The majority of these machines are used to create overlock stitches designed for seaming, hemming, and edging various products and fabrics. What’s good about the overlock stitches made by the overlocker is that they are versatile in the sense that you can use them for a number of purposes, including construction, reinforcement, and decoration.

Types of Overlock Stitches

An overlock stitch actually comes in different types. It can use around 2 to 5 spools of threads at the same time. With that in mind, you can easily categorize each stitch pattern based on the actual number of threads that you’ve used. Here are the most common types of overlock stitches that you can do:

  • Single Overlock Stitch – As the name suggests, it makes use of just a single thread. It’s more useful for end-to-end seaming and butt-seaming, which is ideal when doing textile finishing.
  • Double Overlock Stitch – You can also master the double overlock stitch, which is common in most overlockers today. It has plenty of uses including general hemming, seam edges finishing, stitching flat-lock seams, seaming and edging woven fabrics, and attaching laces and elastic to lingerie.
  • Triple Overlock Stitch – You’ll find this type of overlock stitch more useful for decorative edging. It can help seam woven or knitted garments and finish the edges of fabric. In addition, it can create narrow rolled hems and sew pin tucks.
  • 4-thread Overlock Stitch – This type is a big help for seaming high-stress parts of the fabric. It is a strong stitch, which is the reason why many use it for safety. It’s also flexible, making it ideal for finishing and decorative edging.
  • 5-thread Overlock – Another safety stitch that you can do with the help of an overlocker is the 5-thread stitch. You can do this type of safety stitch in costlier overlockers. It actually combines a 3-thread overlock and a 2-thread chain stitch, which is enough to produce a stronger seam designed for heavy fabrics, like terrycloth and denim. Since it’s already strong, reinforcing the seam by making another straight stitch through a typical sewing machine is no longer necessary.

Check out this YouTube video to learn a thing or two about how to do an overlock stitch properly.

Benefits of an Overlocker Sewing Machine

If sewing is your passion and you do a lot of it regularly, then investing in the best overlocker sewing machine can be beneficial for you. The good thing about this sewing machine is that it has versions that you can use in a factory or at home. It also provides several benefits over other sewing devices. The most common ones are the following:

  • Creates a quality seam and a professional cut on edges – Aside from ensuring that the quality of the seam is highly impressive, an overlocker sewing machine also works efficiently in providing a more professional cut to the edges of the specific material being joined. You don’t have to do this manually. In fact, the machine already has cutters that can do the professional cuts automatically. This results in a finished seam at a fast speed.
  • Takes advantage of loopers – The machine also makes use of loopers and considers these as the main source of thread for any sewing task. Instead of using bobbins, the loopers in the machine make it possible for you to feed threads for more than one thread cone into the mechanism designed for needles. This specific feature promotes ease in containing the edges into the seam, thereby producing a more finished appearance.
  • Works at a fast speed – You’ll also instantly realize what a good investment the overlock sewing machine is once you notice its fast speed. It actually operates between one thousand to nine thousand rpm (revolutions per minute). Such speed makes it suitable for use either at home or in a plant. It is even capable of sewing around 1,600 stitches every minute. This is two times as much as what a typical sewing machine can do.


Investing in an overlocker machine and mastering different overlock stitches can indeed let you enjoy sewing even more. Overlockers are beneficial with their ability to produce a more professional finished look to each of your sewing projects. You’ll also be satisfied with its versatile functionality. A single overlocker machine can deliver numerous functions, including rolled hemming and decorative edging, thereby proving its versatility.