Alternatives to using a Serger: The Overcast Stitch

Serger Seams compared to overcast seams

Are you wondering if you really need to purchase that serger? (aka overlocker) With the price of new sergers over $300, it’s really worth taking an honest look at how often you are going to sew.  Let’s be real.  Is it worth the interest on a credit card?    It might be worth the cost, indeed, if you’ve got a few dollars for it, but…

The truth is, if you are only occasionally sewing knit fabrics you might be able to get away with just using the overcast foot with corresponding overcast stitch on your computerized sewing machine.  This stitch is also known as a “whipstitch” in hand sewing.

The overlock stitch is different from the zig zag stitch which is also a go-to for sewists to finish edges without a serger.  The overlock stitch as one closed edge, whilst the zig zag stitch does not.  The zig zag stitch might have a little more give and flexibility because of this.  See more on the zig zag stitch here.

The featured image shows an overcast stitch made on a simple Brother sewing machine with an overcast foot and corresponding stitch.  The right hand image looks different,  but it’s the same fabric with different lighting and background.  However, the right hand side was done with a serger.


If you must purchase a serger and/or you prefer the appearance of the finished edge, we have the below recommendation from USA Today 2023.

Machine Stitches from our Sewing Machine Secrets Ebook
Machine Stitches from our Sewing Machine Secrets Ebook pg 2

Above images are excerpts from our ebook, Sewing Machine Secrets, available exclusively with the purchase of our Sewing Pattern Library, in our offer here (without video)

There is a noticable difference yes!  However, if the edge is only going to be visible on the inside of the garment and never revealing on the outside, it may be a great solution!.  We find stable knit fabrics with a small amount of spandex such as  scuba crepe, or poly mixes like double pontes are great for overcast stitches.

I would not recommend it on a tank top or tank dress.  Those seams will be fully visible at the neck line and arm holes. But you may get away with it on most other clothing items.

Overcast Presser Foot

Above is an Overcast Presser Foot for a Brother machine.  Notice, we’ve pointed to the part on the foot where the needle will pass over the edge of the fabric. So you will line your fabric up to that bar.

Read your instruction manual for the needle placement, stitch length and width. 

The overcast stitch should help contain fraying edges as well for some wovens, but you’ve got to play around with the settings because the overcast foot is not as good as a serger and you don’t want to assume it will be the answer to all of your prayers.

Click Here or the below image for a multi machine brand Overcast Presser Foot

Brother LED Monitor

Be sure to follow the correct stitch to avoid damaging your needle or machine.

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Marjorie Vaudreuil

HI. I'M MARGIE I love creating and creations of all kinds! I love Jesus, I love my family and I love to teach! That's what makes life exciting for me and that is why I have so much to share with you. I am founder and owner of SewingPatternSecrets LLC, based in Boston, MA. I am a writer and an avid sewist with a background in fine art and design from New England School of Art and Design, Boston. Sewing Patterns Secrets was conceived with my husband (my #1 supporter), inspired partly from my grandmother, but largely inspired by my mother, who passed in 2017. She supported many decades of my artistry, including, but not limited to, sewing. Whilst my mother was indeed, an important benefactor, my husband has unfailingly supported all of my endeavours and is the Director of Sales. As the Product and Project Director, I conceptualized, developed, produced, tested, and edited all of the 125+ curated sewing patterns, instructions and ebooks, using my decades of experience. I managed a team of fashion designers to help me with the 3D software and production. I and three other master seamstresses, vector artists, graphic designers, and one amazing fashion illustrator. Production took two solid years of detail and hard work and another six months of sales funnel creation. I give thanks to: Fer, Rima, Oksana, Debbie, Kathreen, Suanne, Elizabeth, Jacki, Bronwen, Kimberly, and the many others who contributed. As such, I am gifted with the ability to share with you my expertise and everything that I have learned along the way, as relates not only sewing, but to project and product creation and all areas of design: web, graphic, fashion, pattern and product creation. This would include 10s of software, marketing and SEO tools, affiliate marketing and so much more. All you have to do is ask! In addition to writing all of the ebooks for Sewing Pattern Secrets, I am also the main writer of this blog, but looking for other (Human) sewing bloggers who would like to partner with us. We welcome guest bloggers, vloggers, influencers and also an invitation to blog for you as well. We always want your advice and we also want to hear from you regarding ideas and improvements to our blog, product, or advertising. PLEASE COMMENT. Please do write me at Blessings, Margie "Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (coming soon)

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