Couture Hand Stitches: The Hand Overcasting Stitch
Hand overcasting is a couture stitch that is rarely used today. However, Susan Khalje, a Threads contributing editor and couture expert, would argue that it’s as essential in the 21st century as it was hundreds of years ago.
Susan points out that a hand-finished raw edge, in place of a serged, pinked, zigzagged, bound, or machine-sewn finish, is lighter and more supple. It’s also less visible, making it appropriate for delicate garments such as the armhole seam allowances on a lace blouse.
For the softest, least bulky finish, Susan recommends using a high-quality, smooth thread, such as Mettler silk-finish cotton, or other mercerized sewing thread. Work with a single strand of thread, and don’t wax it. Beeswax is used to strengthen thread for applications such as seaming or attaching buttons; it’s not needed for an overcast edge finish.
Overcasting is done with a whipstitch. Susan demonstrates the ideal hand position and action to achieve even, parallel stitches. This ensures that the overcasting successfully prevents raveling along the raw edges, and looks good.
To learn more about couture hand stitching, see Susan’s video on the catchstitch.