OVERLOCK STITCH | No Serger Needed

over lock sewing machine

Do you want a finished overlock stitch for your seams but don’t have a serger? NO WORRIES! I am going to show you how to finish your seams using four different methods and there is NO SERGER NEEDED!

Ideally, it would be nice to have a serger in your sewing tool kit; however, not everyone can afford one or has access to one.

Maybe you’re just getting into sewing and haven’t ventured into the serger world yet.

There are still several ways to get a nice finished edge without using a serger.

I did it for years and these few stitches I’m going to show you work well.

Why do you need to finish seam edges?

If you are sewing on a woven fabric, the seams WILL eventually fray, especially after washing.

You don’t want your seam to come undone after all the work you put into a project.

Depending on what you are sewing, you can use different methods. I will show you several different ways to finish the seam edges.

Even the most basic sewing machines will have these stitches.

Sewing Machine Overlock Stitch Alternatives


This is a stitch when sewn along the edge of the fabric will keep it from fraying.
SEWING MACHINE SETTINGS: Width 4-5, Length 1-2

You can either open the seam and sew each side of the seam allowance separately or sew them together.

This depends on the project you are sewing.

If the pattern has you open the seam and press, sew separately.

This is good for light to medium-weight fabrics. (cotton prints, linen, etc.)


For added strength and a more finished look, you can sew down along the inside edge of the zigzag stitch.

You will see this type of seam used on jeans, and projects that with heavier weight fabrics and seams that need more stability.


This is an actual stitch option on your machine. It looks like a zigzag with a straight stitch on the side.

It will take a bit longer than it would with a serger, but it does the job.

THIS STITCH WORKS WELL ON STRETCHY FABRIC! When using this stitch on stretch fabric seams, the seams won’t pop open when pulled.

A narrow and short zigzag stitch will also do the same thing. LOVE IT!

You can use this as your seam stitch and the overlock seam.

However, since the seam is small, your seam allowance will be very small.

You’ll have to take that into consideration and trim the seam allowance first.

Most machines will come with a unique OVERLOCK FOOT. You can see what it looks like in the photo above.

This foot will help guide the fabric so you are sewing right along the edge where you’re supposed to. It works well.

SEWING MACHINE SETTINGS: Width 4-5, Length 1-2


This is another sewing stitch option that most machines will have. It is also good for stretchy fabrics.
SEWING MACHINE SETTINGS: Width 4-5, Length 1-2
You can play with the length and width to get the stitch you want.

I recommend getting some scrap fabric and practicing with these stitches.

You’re going to love it.

Please send me a note if you have any questions.

Have fun sewing!

Other posts you may find helpful:

Sewing By Hand, Most Important Stitches to Know

DIY Bias Tape

Have fun sewing and remember to keep it SIMPLE!




Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More