The overcast stitch for hand embroidery is very different than the stitch with the same name on a sewing machine or serger. In hand embroidery, it covers and secures a base thread, giving more texture to a line. It is also referred to as the trailing stitch. The stitches are made upright over another thread and resemble a fine cord. It is used for outlines or delicate stems.
Warning! This is not a stitch for a beginner! Picking up only one or two threads of the foundation fabric at a time can be tedious and requires good lighting! It’s important to use a hoop for this stitch, keeping your design lines straight and taut. This makes it easier to take the tip of your needle and gently prick the fabric, picking up only one or two stitches, as you wrap your top thread around the base thread.
What do you use the overcast stitch for?
This stitch is a great outline stitch, perfect for monograms, stems or whenever you want a significant outline to a design.
How is this different than an overcast stitch by machine?
Oh, it is very different! By hand, this stitch creates a hefty design line. By machine the stitch is used to finish a seam edge. Sometime this is done by a serger or overlocker, but most sewing machines have a built in overcast stitch.
This doesn’t look like the overcast stitch I’ve seen. Is there more than two references to this stitch?
Yes! Embroidery stitches can be so confusing! Because embroidery is a craft that has been around a very long time, the names of specific stitches have shifted over time. Some people refer to the whip stitch as the overcast stitch – but it is a very different stitch.
Check out all of the embroidery projects on Create Whimsy.