A Summary of Seaming Techniques & Joining Edges
Just as there are many ways of joining yarn, there are many ways of joining edges, or seaming. With a few basic sewing skills in your arsenal, you can master the challenge of seaming neatly and professionally! Again, I offer a few basic rules:
Through the Wood Hooded Cowl, ready to attach the front button plackets. The plackets are knit separately and seamed onto the hood. Knitting them separately at a tight gauge with a smaller needle provides a sturdier fabric to support the buttons.
Now that we know the rules, how exactly do we sew the seam? There are several methods of course – the pattern instructions may tell you which one to use, you may have a personal preference, or your experience will tell you that one is more appropriate for the garment than another.
There are many, many online video tutorials on how to accomplish the stitches for these seams, or invest in a good reference book on knitting techniques. A good place to start is this handy tutorial from Vogue Knitting, or at KnitPurlHunter.
The following is a brief summary of stitches:
Mattress Stitch or Invisible Seam – most typically used for joining two pieces of vertical stockinette stitch knitting, but it can also be used for joining vertical stitches to horizontal, garter stitch to garter stitch, and many more. There are numerous videos and tutorials on the internet to demonstrate all these variations. The two edges are joined a half stitch in from the edges while working from the right side of your knitting, and when done properly the seaming thread “disappears” into the seam allowance. This is the most versatile seam, since it has little bulk and allows the knit fabric to drape.
Whipstitch – generally used when you have tightly knit edges that need to be held together securely. This creates a strong but bulky seam, so it’s usually used for utilitarian items like handbags or pillows. Usually worked with the wrong sides facing each other, the yarn is pulled through the two layers of knitting, over the seam edge, and back through the two layers. It can also be worked from the right side in a coordinating color for a decorative finish.
Backstitch – this is a strong seam that is ideal for curved seams such as armholes, or where you need to ease in fullness. This stitch is worked with right sides together, inserting the needle two stitches ahead, then one stitch back. You are essentially working a circular motion with your seaming yarn, creating an elastic seam. Give a gentle tug every few stitches to smooth out puckers.
Slip Stitch Crochet – no needle or sewing required, you simply crochet two pieces of knitting together with a slipstitch. This definitely produces a seam with more bulk, but it’s super easy to work – and super easy to remove if you’ve made a mistake.
Other Ways of Joining Two Pieces of Knitting
A couple methods of joining knitting that are not truly seaming, but useful to know that they may be used to join pieces of knitting:
Kitchener - grafting together two edges of live knit stitches. Typically used at the toe of a sock.
Three Needle Bind Off – joining two edges of knitting together while binding off two sets of live knit stitches. Worked by knitting two stitches together from two needles held together, then proceeding with the usual bind off of one stitch pulled over another.
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