Coverstitching a corner: tutorial

Some weeks ago I was asked if I would do a tutorial on how to coverstitch a corner after blogging the top in the feature photo. Of course I said yes and then got distracted. However, it’s played on my mind, so here is a rather basic tutorial on how to turn a corner using a coverstitch machine. If you are an expert (and I do not profess to be), or have no interest in coverstitch machines, look away now.

I need to say at the outset that this is probably a bit easier with a clear plastic foot, but I decided to use a metal foot so that people who don’t have the clear foot can see that it’s not necessary. It’s also easier on heavy material, but I thought I’d show you how to do it using flimsy t-shirting.

The first thing to do is to mark the fabric in some way. Use soap, chalk or a line of stitching in a strongly contrasting thread. You especially need to know where to turn the corner. I sometimes like to live dangerously and feel my way along the hemline!! Please note that if you are reverse coverstitching, you are sewing on the wrong side of the fabric so it’s difficult to see where you are going. Marking a sewing line can make life a lot easier.


When you get to the corner, you need to do the following:

  • raise your needles by turning the hand wheel towards you
  • then turn the hand wheel a full revolution away from you. This will release some of the tension on the looper thread
  • with the needles out of the fabric, raise the presser foot and manoeuvre the fabric until the needles are above what is now the back row of stitching
  • sink the needles into the back row of stitching and drop the presser foot
  • continue stitching

You will finish up with a neat corner on both sides. If you don’t quite get the needles on the back row of stitching you may find that your corner is a little rounded. The photograph below is an example. This is still acceptable, I think.


If you have a loose loop of thread and you want to show the reverse coverstitch, tease it out, thread it through a large eyed needle and feed it through to the other side or between the pieces of fabric. This eliminates the need to pull out the coverstitching and start again. It took me a while to work this out!


This produces a neat finish


The starting threads of your coverstitch may be snipped off, but I like to sew down the finishing threads. This can be important depending on the way in which you removed your work from the machine. I thought it might be instructive to show you two ways of doing this.

Method 1:

When you finish sewing, rotate the hand wheel one full revolution away from you. Make sure the needles are out of the fabric and raise the pressure foot. Gently pull the work from the machine towards the back and snip all your threads. This is a wonderful way to remove your work if you think you have a problem and might need to unpick as the threads aren’t locked off.

However, because the threads aren’t locked off, you can find that your stitching just unravels itself. So, use with caution.

Just a word here about listening to the cadences of your machine. I can hear when my machine skips a stitch or when one of the threads break. I can stop immediately and use method 1 to unpick to the point where I had the problem. By carefully lining up my needles I can begin again without it being noticeable.

Method 2:

This is the method to use when you are certain that your stitching is satisfactory and you aren’t going to want to unpick it (if you use this method, you can still use the first method of unpicking but you have to fuss to find the magic spot where it will unravel).

When you finish sewing, turn the handwheel towards you until the needles are clear of the fabric, raise the presser foot and using a flat implement, pull the threads out from under the foot. Snip off the threads and remove the fabric towards the back.

as you pull the fabric backwards, the needle threads will pull through to the back and you snip the looper thread. The threads are now locked off, but I still tend to either knot them or sew them into the coverstitching.


I have put a couple of videos onto YouTube. One video is the entire corner sewing process – The other one shows how to clean your machine with a pipe cleaner (it’s a no brainer, of course, but I was just showing it as a useful technique).  This is a wonderful way of getting rid of lint from the presser foot and from all those corners inside any of your machines –

I used my Bernina L220 coverstitch machine for this post. I do have a Babylock Evolution and it is probably a bit easier to manage the corners, but I wanted to use a machine that more people might own. All these techniques are usable on most machines, so don’t be put off if you have a Janome or Brother.

A disclaimer: The quality of these videos is not wonderful terrible, but I’ve done my best with my iphone and poor lighting. Next time I might just tidy up the background!! Craftsy have a nice course on using the coverstitch, so if you want high quality and you’re a beginner, it might be worth buying.


23 thoughts on “Coverstitching a corner: tutorial

  1. This is fantastic! Thanks so much for taking the time to create such a helpful video and placing it on YouTube. That prevents me from losing it.

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I enjoyed watching the videos. This is so helpful. I didn’t know that you are allowed to move the handwheel the wrong way back.

    1. There’s so much that the manuals don’t tell you. If in doubt though check somehow because I haven’t tested this with every machine on the market – obviously 😜

  3. Thanks so much for posting all this great info! Use my coverstitch a lot but didn’t know when stitches locked or not when I was finished. Also, I would have never attempted to turn a corner as my previous experience of raising the press foot on a curved edge resulted in skipped stitches. I’m trying this!

  4. Just went on listening to your videos on YouTube. Awesome work, Sue! Love your soft voice tone and how you make everthing looks easy breezy. You’re the best!

  5. Not owning a coverstitch machine – yet! – found your tutorial quite interesting. LOVED your videos!! With most of social media carried out in “quiet”….. it was such fun to hear your sweet voice! 🙂 P.S. Great pipe cleaner tip!!

    1. I always find it interesting, and often surprising, to hear people’s voices; I usually think they are going to sound just like me!! The pipe cleaner trick is so useful for fishing out lint, much better than canned air. I’m so glad you enjoyed the videos and hope you get a coverstitch into your life soon!

  6. This is a really useful post, thanks so much! I am about to make a knit dress that’s super-simple but the one design element is a triangular seam in the sleeves (Butterick 6207). I’ve chosen a busy snakeskin print scuba so figured this seam would disappear with regular stitching + single topstitching. I was going to use my S/M and a double needle with contrast thread, but I think your solution would work fine, and means I can be consistent in seam finishes throughout the dress. Thanks for that!

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