The Best Coverstitch Machines UK (an Owners Review)

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I’ve had a coverstitch machine for almost 3 years now. I’ve made a bit of everything, including t-shirts, lingerie, swimwear, and activewear on my machine.

The best coverstitch machine is the Brother CV3550. It’s one of the most affordable machines that can do a 5 thread top coverstitch, a durable stitch for activewear. And Brother has a wide range of optional accessories.

In second place is the Janome Coverpro 3000. It can do a 5 thread top coverstitch too, but it’s double the price. It has conveniences like a mode-switching lever that adjusts tension for different fabrics in a single step, and a retractable LED that can be posed just how you like.

The best budget option is the Bernette 42 Funlock. It has all the essentials, but no 5 thread top coverstitch. If you’re not an activewear enthusiast, this won’t be a big deal.

Irrespective of the machine you choose, a coverstitch is a big investment in your sewing journey, and it’s worth putting some time into your decision. Below I’ve outlined features that I look for in a coverstitch machine. Things like stitch options, a finely adjustable differential feed and presser foot pressure, and the availability of attachments like binders.

Depending on the items you like to sew, these features may be more or less important to you. I recommend writing a list of things you know you want to do with your coverstitch machine. 

It’s also helpful to think about the features that will make your sewing more enjoyable. For example, the Janome Coverpro 3000 has several LED lights including a retractable one, which may seem like a silly feature if your workspace is already well lit, but could make a world of difference if it’s not.

If you’re not sure what a coverstitch machine is or what stitches it can create, you can read my coverstitch 101 article.

Contents list:

PS. I’m a member of the Bernina ambassador program, which means my coverstitch machine was provided to me in exchange for projects that I share on my personal blog and Instagram. This, of course, doesn’t influence anything we discuss here on Threads Monthly.

This article is only focused on coverstitch machines. I’ll be covering combination overlocker-coverstitch machines separately.

And this article is only focused on machines available in the UK. Some, but not all, are available in other countries around the world, but pricing and availability may be different. If you’re in the USA, I have a guide specifically for you.


The best coverstitch machine: Brother CV3550

Best for: a wide range of sewists, from those looking to add a professional finish on t-shirts, all the way to someone who wants durable, stretchy topstitching on activewear projects.

Price: Typically ÂŁ619 across the web. Check Amazon’s price.

white brother coverstitch cv3550 machine with blue thread
Brother CV3550 at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2021. Photo credit: Sara Maker

Features:

  • Easy (manual) looper threading by disengaging the looper
  • 2-5 thread stitches (chain, narrow and wide double coverstitch, triple coverstitch, and top coverstitch)
  • Automatic thread tension release
  • 1000 stitches per minute
  • Vertical needle
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Differential feed

Pros:

  • Top coverstitch option (up to 5 threads)
  • Large 6.1″ x 3.9″ working space
  • Free arm

Cons:

  • Accessories not included

This is one of the most popular coverstitch machines on the domestic market, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s one of the most affordable top-cover machines available, which means that if you’re a home sewist looking to up your sewing game, you’re very unlikely to outgrow this machine. It’s a solid machine that will grow with you as you learn new coverstitch skills.

Brother is well known for their range of attachments. You’ll easily be able to pick up the binding attachment for applying self-fabric bindings or fold-over elastic. This gives you more flexibility over techniques that you can use, and makes it my top contender for the best coverstitch machine in the UK.

If you don’t see yourself using the top-cover option, the Brother CV 3440 is a great second choice. It offers everything the CV 3550 does, just without the top coverstitch and a lower price.

a machine sewing coverstitches on fabric
Photo credit: Sara Maker

Next best coverstitch machine: Janome Coverpro 3000

Best for: sewists looking for a machine with (almost) all the bells and whistles.

Price: Typically ÂŁ949 across the web. Check Amazon’s price.

white and grey janome coverpro 3000 coverstitch machine on a white table
Janome 3000 at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2021. Photo credit: Sara Maker

Features:

  • Easy (manual) looper threading
  • 2-5 thread stitches (chain, narrow and wide double coverstitch, triple coverstitch, and top coverstitch)
  • 1000 stitches per minute
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Differential feed

Pros:

  • Top coverstitch option (up to 5 threads)
  • Large 4” x 5.5” working space
  • Free arm
  • 3 LEDs including a retractable one
  • Janome’s signature mode-switching lever for perfect tension every time
  • Built-in needle threader

Cons:

  • Price: Higher than comparable Brother CV 3550

The Janome Coverpro 3000 is near the top end of coverstitch machines. It has nearly every feature you could wish for – all the stitches, a range of accessories (though these tend to be more expensive than the Brother equivalents), and a few great features that contribute to ease of use and comfort. For example, the mode-switching lever that allows you to adjust tension for different fabrics in a single step. Plus the lighting system includes a retractable LED that can be posed just how you like it.

The only feature this machine lacks is the air threading of the Babylock models, but its ease of looper threading more than makes up for this, and I don’t think you’ll miss it. Although this machine may be a bit too much if you’re starting out, it isn’t one you’re likely to outgrow anytime soon. 


Best budget coverstitch machine: Bernette 42 Funlock

Best for: sewists looking for as much versatility as possible on a lower budget.

Price: Typically ÂŁ500-ish across the web. Check Amazon’s price.

bernette b42 coverstitch machine on a table
Bernette 42 at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2021. Photo credit: Sara Maker

Features:

  • 2-4 thread stitches (chain, narrow and wide double coverstitch, triple coverstitch)
  • 1300 stitches per minute
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Differential feed

Pros:

  • Good sized 8.7cm (3.4″) working space
  • Easy, color-coded threading

Cons:

  • No free arm
  • This is not a five-thread machine so no top coverstitch option
  • Fewer accessories in the range. Doesn’t fit all generic accessories

The Bernette 42 Funlock is feature-packed enough at a great price point. It lacks the top coverstitch option that some machines on this list include, and although this is a consideration, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker unless you’re an avid activewear sewist.

The Bernette line includes a wide range of accessories (including binding attachments), but you’ll want to double-check the fit of generic accessories before buying. Overall, this machine gives you a wide range of options with the adjustability you’ll need for multiple fabrics – at a great price!


Best coverstitch machine for swimwear: Brother CV3550

The top-recommended Brother CV3550 sweeps in once again to take the swimwear category. But rest assured, with the right settings almost any coverstitch machine will work for swimwear. Here are a few things to consider:

Swim fabrics are thick, spongy, and stretchy. You’ll need different settings for these than other knits. Being able to adjust your differential feed and presser foot pressure will be critical for swimwear, so be sure to get a machine with these two features (don’t worry, they’re very common).

Next, make sure you know what the specific needle recommendations are for your machine. Some coverstitch machines take “regular” sewing machine needles, but others can be fussy with different types of needles. Swim fabrics usually sew best with stretch needles that are a bit on the larger side. I like a 90/14, personally, but if your machine takes a non-standard needle, these can be difficult to find.

Tip: If your machine comes with or recommends “Coverstitch Needles” – these are just re-branded jersey needles! They can be used for t-shirts, knits, and swimwear in a pinch.

The Brother CV3550 gives you a full range of options for swimwear, but it stands out from the crowd for how well it plays with accessories. If you’re interested in sewing swimwear, you’ll want to try binding your garments using your coverstitch. Although the binder attachment isn’t included with this machine, it’s easy to find and easy to attach to your machine.

This machine also features a vertical needle positioning. Many other coverstitch machines place the needles at a forward angle. Some coverstitch users say vertical needles help control spongy, stretchy fabrics like swim fabrics and produce consistently good results. Personally, my coverstitch machine has slanted needles and I haven’t had any issues getting consistently good results after my settings are correct, but it’s still something to keep in mind.


Best coverstitch machine for beginners: Elna Easycover

Best for: beginners who want a machine that takes the guesswork out of learning to coverstitch.

Price: Typically ÂŁ600-ish across the web.

Features:

  • 2-4 thread stitches (chain, narrow and wide double coverstitch, triple coverstitch, and top coverstitch)
  • 1000 stitches per minute
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Differential feed
  • Tension lever control: fewer tension adjustments required when switching between fabrics

Pros:

  • Good sized 4″ x 5.5″ working space
  • Extra-accessible lower looper for easy threading
  • Clear threading guides and color coding on the machine

Cons:

  • The free arm is included, but is wider than other models
  • No top coverstitch option
  • Accessories are only available optionally
  • Elna doesn’t recommend using generic binding attachments

The Elna Easycover is specifically designed to be your first coverstitch machine. It takes the guesswork out of a few aspects of coverstitching, without removing direct access to features you’ll need to fine-tune your stitches. The lower looper drops down and away from the machine, making it easier to thread than some other options, and it comes with clear threading guides and color-coding all the way through the threading process.

It includes the Tension Lever Control – a feature seen only here and on a few advanced models (Janome’s equivalent, for example, is the “mode switching lever”). This feature allows you to quickly switch settings for different fabric thicknesses with the flip of a single lever.

Overall, the Elna Easycover goes out of its way to make things easier for a beginner, but you may find yourself more likely to grow out of this machine as your skills expand.


The competition:

Brother CV 3440: This machine is a great pick. It’s nearly identical to the Brother CV 3550, except that the 3550 includes the top coverstitch option, which is omitted from this machine. Overall, a great option if you’re not fussed with the top coverstitch. It’s available on Amazon.

Juki MCS 1800: This machine boasts an easy-access lower looper for threading and an extra-high presser foot, but other than these features it’s nearly identical to others and comes at a slightly higher price point.

Babylock Euphoria: Both of the Babylock machines in my list feature an automatic air threading system for the lower looper, which is a great piece of technology but one that comes at a significant additional cost. With only one lower looper, some reviewers think this feature isn’t worth the additional cost. Check Amazon’s price here.

Janome Coverpro 2000: This is one model lower than my runner-up, the Janome Cover Pro 3000. It doesn’t include the top coverstitch, but it does have a free-arm, Janome’s patented stitch-tightening system, and an extra-high presser foot. It’s a worthy investment if you don’t see yourself missing the top coverstitch option. You can buy it from Amazon.

Success Celine: The Celine has an affordable price tag and most standard features. It also boasts a threader for the lower looper which makes threading easier. However, this machine only has a three-setting differential feed, leaving fewer adjustment options. 

Babylock EL705 CF: This Babylock also boasts an automatic air threading system, along with a suite of other advanced features. If you don’t think you can thread your coverstitch machine (for example, if you struggle with threading your overlocker) then the Babylock range may be a good option, but this does come with a significant price tag. It also doesn’t have a top coverstitch option.


What to look for when buying a coverstitch machine:

The most important thing to consider is what projects you’ll be using your coverstitch machine for.

Choose an entry-level model with a basic feature lineup for:

  • Hemming knits like t-shirts or joggers, and everyday clothes
  • The occasional new swimsuit for you or a family member
  • A quick and professional finish on stretchy fabrics

Choose a mid-level machine with good attachment options if:

  • You’re constantly sewing with lycra or other stretchy fabrics and want the most durable finish
  • You want a one-step method of attaching elastics (like Fold Over Elastic) or knit bindings to lingerie, sportswear, or other knit projects

Choose a high-end machine with a five-thread “top coverstitch” option if:

  • You really want to professionally topstitch sportswear items like leggings, some swimwear, activewear shirts, etc.

Stitch options: When selecting a machine, think about the stitches you’ll use the most. If you’re mostly hemming t-shirts, a three-thread coverstitch would probably be enough. But activewear enthusiasts would likely benefit from the top coverstitch option. To learn more about the different stitches a coverstitch can make, what they look like, and when to use them, read my Coverstitch 101 article.

Differential Feed: The “diff” is a dial on the side (or sometimes front) of a coverstitch machine that allows you to modify the ratio of the top and bottom feed. They measure differently across different brands, but on my machine, when the dial is set at “1”, the top and bottom fabrics are fed evenly. When the dial increases towards “2”, the top fabric feeds faster than the bottom, and when the dial decreases towards “0” the lower fabric feeds faster than the top. This is useful in preventing wavy seam lines, but it’s also a critical feature for gathering a fabric onto another fabric, and when adding elastic to a project. Look specifically for a machine that has an adjustment dial with multiple differential feed settings, rather than two or three set options as this is limiting.

High-Lift Presser Foot: Most models have this feature, but a few don’t and I find it invaluable. This feature allows the presser foot to lift extra-high so you can place bulky items under the foot, and allows better access during sewing. Since you won’t want to use pins when sewing with your coverstitch, the ability to lift the foot all the way out of the way is very convenient for placing fabric under the foot without disrupting alignment.

Adjustable presser foot pressure: This feature is extremely useful if you sew with a variety of different fabric weights. Bulky fabrics require a different pressure than thin, delicate fabrics, and this adjustability reduces the risk of wobbly, loose, or wavy stitches. Again, look for a machine that allows you to adjust with multiple settings, rather than a few set options.

Attachment options: This is less of a feature, but still equally important to consider. If you plan to use your coverstitch machine for things like sewing elastic in lingerie, or adding fabric bindings, be sure to look into the available attachments for your machine. Some options will only accept attachments from within the brand family, while others accept generic options which may be more affordable.

Free Arm: There are a selection of coverstitch machines available both with and without a free arm, and personally, my machine doesn’t have this feature, and I don’t miss it – but some people find it makes their sewing practice a lot easier. A free arm allows you to fit small things, like sleeve cuffs, onto your machine for easy access. If you find yourself relying on the free arm of your regular sewing machine, or if you sew a lot of small items like baby or kids’ clothes, this feature may be worth prioritizing. However, there are ways to get around not having one so don’t let this feature be a dealbreaker for a machine you otherwise love. Some free arms are too big to fit a baby sleeve onto anyway.

Stitches per Minute: Most of the coverstitch machines discussed here have a speed of 1000 stitches per minute, except the two Babylock options which are 1500 stitches per minute. This is a commonly stated feature on sewing machines of all types. It’s worth understanding, but it’s not a feature I pay much attention to in most cases. Here’s why: For a coverstitch machine in a domestic setting, that extra 500 stitches per minute isn’t going to save that much time, unless you’re regularly hemming miles of fabric. When sewing, we only spend a fraction of our time physically running fabric through the machine. Most of it is spent cutting, pressing, trimming threads, pinning or aligning fabric pieces, etc. This would, of course, be different in an industrial setting. A higher stitches per minute count can indicate a stronger, more robust motor, but it’s best to use that information combined with other information you have about the machine.


What are the best threads for coverstitch machines?

Coverstitch machines use two types of threads: you’ll need up to three needle threads, and either one looper (for most applications) or two loopers (for a top coverstitch).

My preferred combination of threads is to use the same regular all-purpose sewing thread I’ve used for the construction of my project in the needles, combined with a wooly nylon thread in my looper.

If your project is on the small side, like hemming a t-shirt for example, then you’ll most likely have enough thread to wind onto a few bobbins for hemming. But if you’re working on a bigger project you may need to purchase a few extra spools. Regardless, the needle thread used in a cover stitch will be visible on the outside of your project, so be sure to choose something that matches!

The looper thread will be visible on the inside, and is more similar to the look produced by overlocking. I find that using wooly nylon gives good coverage on hemmed seams, but you may also choose a cone of overlocking thread instead. You don’t need to use the same all-purpose thread you use in the needles (although you can!) as it won’t be under as much tension. 

If you’re looking for that professional sportswear topstitch finish, wooly nylon in both the upper and lower loopers of your top coverstitch machine will be your best option. However, you can still use regular all-purpose thread for your needles.


What to read next…



This article was written by Kat Waters and edited by Sara Maker. It was originally published on 28 February 2022 and has since been updated.

Kat Waters (author)
Kat has been sewing since her feet could reach the pedals, starting with quilts she made with her mom and eventually graduating to garments. She now makes everything she wears, occasionally teaches classes, and shares her projects on social media. Highlights include her wedding dress, shoemaking, and a love for almost any fabric that comes in hot pink! Read more…


Sources:

These sources were referenced in February 2022.