How to Remove Coverstitching

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coverstitching-intro

Have you ever had a t-shirt hem that popped and started to unravel? You may have decided to put it into your mending pile, and found that unpicking the coverstitched hem looked like it would take an awfully long time to do. If you’ve used a coverstitch machine to sew a hem, perhaps your stitching didn’t quite catch the hem allowance and you want to unpick the stitching and resew it. Coverstitching is actually quite quick and easy to remove, if you know which direction to pull the thread from.

Let’s talk about coverstitching first. I know a lot of seamstresses who are in love with their coverstitch machines, and for a good reason! A coverstitch is a stretchy seam finish used mainly for hemming, but it can also be decorative. It uses either 2 or 3 needles, and has a single looper that creates loops on the bottom side of the stitch. Machines that can coverstitch can also make a chain stitch, but that’s a topic for another day. Sometimes the looped side of the stitch is used on the top of the garment, but more often, lines of topstitching on the outside of the garment indicate a coverstitch machine was used. When used for hemming, the raw edge of the fabric is usually lays between or next to the needle threads, to enclose and finish the fabric edge.

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To remove the coverstitching, first unpick both needle threads right across from each other, removing about 5 stitches.

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coverstitching4Flip the garment over, and you’ll notice that the loops have come undone and can easily be pulled to remove the stitching. To more easily identify the direction that you should be pulling thread from, think about how the hem was sewn. If the bulk of your garment is the left of the machine, then your hem edge would be on your right, to be match up marks on with your stitch plate. The photo above is laid out this way. You would hold on to your looper thread and pull it towards the back of the stitch.

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coverstitching6You may find that at some points, the looper thread and one or more of the needles threads seem to get stuck. This is more likely to happen if any of the threads were sewn using a stretch nylon thread.

coverstitching7To release these threads, give your fabric a good pull to stretch the stitch. It’s likely that you’ll hear the stitch “pop”, and you’ll be able to continue to unravel the stitch. coverstitching8

Once you’ve removed the looper thread, the needle threads will easily pull off of the fabric.

If your hem was sewn using stretch nylon thread, you may find that the looper and needle threads are catching on a each other a lot. It can help to pull the needle threads and the looper threads simultaneously, from each side. If the threads will not release from around each other, simply move up about half of an inch and unpick the needle threads again, continuing to pull on the looper thread to unravel the stitch.

If the coverstitching you are attempting to remove has loops on both sides of the stitch, then you may have a bit more unpicking to do. Depending on the machine used to create the stitch, the loops on the top side of stitch may just fall apart as you remove the bottom thread, or they may not. The only way to know is to try it out and see!

  • Lessles

    Thanks Amy, such a simple thing but I’ve spent a lot of time pulling my hair out rather than the coverstitch!

    • You’re welcome! Yes, little tricks like this can save you a lot of aggravation!

  • I once had to remove coverstitch from 10 pairs of sweatpants… and I only found out about this trick five pairs in! This is a very useful tip.

    • Ouch! That sounds terrible. I’m glad you figured it out though. It sure helps to make it go a lot faster.

  • j

    thank you for breaking this down step by step!

    • You’re welcome! It’s the little tricks like this that can save you lots of time!

  • Pingback: How to Remove an Industrial Blind Hem Stitch / Amy Alan / Really Handmade()

  • Sandra

    Thank you so much Amy! That tip about which thread to pull was priceless !

  • leanne

    thank you very much that’s just made my job 100x easier

    • You’re very welcome, Leanne. It’s the little things like this that save you lots of frustration!

  • Kate

    Thanks ! So much easier !

  • Kate

    Amy,
    You are an inspiration!
    I hauled out my 31+ yr old Kenmore after seeing a few of your sites. Works like a charm after all these years!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Wonderful! I’m so glad you pulled your machine back out again. Be sure to give your machine some fresh oil to keep it running for another 31+ years.

  • You just saved my whole night. Thank you. 🙂

    • You are so welcome, Lauren! 🙂 I hope you are doing well!

  • Is this the same stitching that you find on men’s dress pant hems? Whenever I come to “unravel” a hem, rather than blindly pulling threads, it’s always such a breeze, but finding that one thread that allows you to pull the whole hem out is such a bear. Would love your feedback on that! My husband is very short and every pair of dress pants we get needs to be unhemmed in order to have the right amount of fabric to rehem with. I hope you understand!

    • Hi there!

      I believe what you are actually referring to is an industrial blind hem stitch. I have a tutorial in removing that stitch here (http://reallyhandmade.com/how-to-remove-an-industrial-blind-hem-stitch/). You’re right- that stitch is a bear to remove if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for! I hope the other tutorial helps you.

      • HO!!! I didn’t expect an answer….. THANK YOU so much. That is exactly what I’m referring to. You are very kind to respond. God bless!

        • I always try to answer, Jocelyne, even if it takes me a bit longer than it used to. Hello, rabid toddler running around my legs, thanks for letting me answer at least one email, ha! 😉

          • Im sure you do, it was just a very old post and that’s why i didn’t think you’d go back that far. I’m new to the tech world… Didn’t mean to offend… Thanks again… Love them babies!

  • Hollie Dixon

    Thank you for this post! ive got a degree in costume and i still didn’t know how to do it!! lesson learnt! 😀

    • I’m glad you found it helpful! It is tricky if you aren’t sure which way to pull it!