The overcast foot is also known as an over-edge or overlocker foot. It is a magical little sewing machine foot that can give you an edging similar to that of an overlocker with just about any sewing machine. It simply clips on and off to attach and you're ready to go.
Line your fabric edge up against the guide and select either an over-edge stitch or a wide zigzag stitch. Always check that the needle won't hit metal in the center with the stitch you have selected.
Most sewing machines have at least a couple of stitches designed to sew over the edges of the fabric. As a general rule, those stitches that move only forward are better for light-medium weight fabrics, whereas those that move back and forwards are better suited to medium - heavy weight fabrics. You might want to experiment to see what works best with your machine.
The overcast foot works by having a bar in the center which wraps the thread around the edge of the fabric as you stitch, whilst preventing the fabric from curling.
There are a few other ways you can use this foot too.
You can make a rolled hem with a zigzag stitch finish by pressing the edge to curl up and over then feeding through the fabric to curl around the center bar.
Press the fabric end to start it, and line it up around the center then gently use a finger to guide the fabric as you sew.
You can reinforce a hem or tidy raw edges on a hem with the foot by lining the overcast guide up with the hem edge.
On extra stretchy knit fabrics you can get a neat edge by sewing your hem as normal but selecting an overcast stitch with a standard presser foot to do it. Trim the raw edge close to the stitching then line this new edge up with the overcast foot and sew over the hem stitching with the same overcast stitch.
Another use is to create a raised satin stitch with your zigzag by sewing in the center of the fabric.
To make a fringe effect simply sew the raised satin stitch then snip or use a seam ripper along the stitches next to the outer side of stitching (where usually it would be over the edge of the fabric). Be very careful not to snip your fabric!
This looks best around the edge of an applique. I personally think this is great for using on cards or pictures by not great for projects that will get much use as it doesn't take a lot of wear and tear before the threads begin to work loose.
You can create a wavy edge to stretch fabrics by sewing with a short stitch length on your over-edge stitch with the fabric pulled outstretched as you go. Once the fabric is relaxed, it holds a stretched shape at the edge giving a wavy appearance.
The last use I can think of for the overcast foot is one I do frequently - I use the over edge guide to line up on the edge of my fabric but instead of an overcast stitch, I use an off-center running stitch as a 1/8 inch guide for topstitching.
If you use it for anything else, I'd love to hear about it.
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