How to Use Overlock Foot

Updated April 17, 2017

Knowing how to properly use an overlock foot on your sewing machine can be the difference between a frustration-free sewing project or a task riddled with problems. An overlock foot is a specialised foot for a sewing machine that is meant to sew a stitch very similar to a zigzag stitch or a serger seam. Not all machines come with the capability to use an overlook foot; be sure to check with the manufacturer of your machine to see if an overlook foot is an optional accessory.

Install the overlock foot onto your sewing machine, according to the manufacturer's directions. Usually this is a simple process that takes less than one minute. You simply release the standard sewing machine foot and lock the overlock foot in place. You do not need to alter the thread in the bobbin and the spool of thread, nor change the sewing machine needle.

Experiment with scraps of the fabric you will be working with to make sure the thread tension is adjusted correctly before you begin to sew on the actual project. Make certain you choose the overlock stitch on your machine before you begin to sew, by selecting the stitch on the dial that appears to look like a serged seam. The guide on the overlock foot, usually red or white, is meant to show you where to line up the raw edge of the fabrics to ensure a straight and uniform finished stitch that simulates a serger seam.

Nudge the raw edge of the fabric close to the guide, beginning at the very end of the fabric, with the right sides of the fabric together and pinned about 3 inches from the raw edge, and begin to apply pressure slowly to the power foot. Continue an even, slow- to medium-paced stitch until you reach the end of the fabric. The needle will swing from the left to the right to create the stitch.

Trim all loose threads from the beginning and ending edges so that no long threads remain. Using an overlock seam provides a closed off or finished seam. This method of seaming will prevent the fabric from ravelling and from bunching up after repeated washings. It is a sign of quality workmanship.


Practice on the fabric you will be sewing with prior to attempting to use an overlock stitch on the main project.


Failure to adjust the machine's stitch pattern to an overlock stitch prior to starting to sew will more than likely cause the sewing machine needle to break.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric
  • Straight pins
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About the Author

Kelli Shaw has been writing since 2008. She lives in Michigan and is an experienced business owner with expertise in e-commerce and customer service. Shaw has been featured in "Entrepreneur Magazine," "Woman's World" and "The Detroit Free Press."