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A to Z: Beyond the Basics

Seaming


You can choose from many types of seaming techniques, depending on your personal preference. Each method has its own characteristics and may require different tools.

It is best to use your knitting yarn to sew the pieces together, unless you have used a novelty or untwisted, roving yarn. In that case, sew the seams with a flat, firm yarn in a compatible color. Be sure that it has the same washability as your knitting yarn.

Block your pieces before you sew them together to make the edges smoother and easier to seam. Pin or baste the seams before final seaming. Try the garment on and make sure that it fits properly.

Attach any small items, such as pockets or embroidery, before seaming, as it is easier to work with one piece than the entire garment.

Most knitters follow this sequence when seaming a garment: Sew one or both shoulder seams, depending on the type of garment and the method you'll use to add any neckband. Sew the sleeves to the body, and then sew the side and sleeve seams.

As you seam, try to keep an even tension. Pull the yarn firmly as you go but not so tightly that the edges will pucker.

Do not use too long a piece of yarn when seaming—no more than 18"/46cm. The constant friction of the yarn through the knitting can cause the yarn to break.

Be sure to keep the seam in a neat, straight line. Always insert your needle in the same place along the seam. If necessary, run a contrasting thread through the stitches or rows to help you see the line more clearly.

If the two pieces you are seaming are slightly different lengths, you can compensate by picking up two rows or stitches on the longer side every few inches. This can only work if the difference is no more than ½"/1.5cm. If it is any more than that, you must rework one of the pieces.

Any edges that will be turned back, such as cuffs or a turtleneck, should be seamed from the opposite side so that the seam will not show when the edge is turned.

how to begin

If you have left a long tail from your cast-on row, you can use this strand to begin sewing. To make a neat join at the lower edge with no gap, use the technique shown here.

Thread the strand into a yarn needle. With the right sides of both pieces facing you, insert the yarn needle from back to front into the corner stitch of the piece without the tail. Making a figure eight with the yarn, insert the needle from back to front into the stitch with the cast-on tail. Tighten to close the gap.

seaming



invisible vertical on stockinette stitch

The invisible vertical seam is worked from the right side and is used to join two edges row by row. It hides the uneven selvage stitches at the edge of a row and creates an invisible seam, making it appear that the knitting is continuous.

vertical seam on St st vertical seam on St st  
The finished vertical seam on stockinette stitch Insert the yarn needle under the horizontal bar between the first and second stitches. Insert the needle into the corresponding bar on the other piece. Continue alternating from side to side.  



invisible verticle on ribbing
vertical seam on ribbing vertical seam on ribbing vertical seam on ribbing

Purl to Purl
When joining ribbing with a purl stitch at each edge, insert the yarn needle under the horizontal bar in the center of a knit stitch on each side in order to keep the pattern continuous.

Knit to Knit
When joining ribbing with a knit stitch at each edge, use the bottom loop of the purl stitch on one side and the top loop of the corresponding purl stitch on the other side.
Purl to Knit
When joining purl and knit stitch edges, skip knit stitch and join two purl stitches as at left.
invisible vertical on garter stitch

This invisible seam joins two edges row by row like vertical seaming on stockinette stitch. The alternating pattern of catching top and bottom loops of the stitches makes it so that only you can tell there's a join.

vertical seam on garter st    

Insert the yarn needle into the top loop on one side, then in the bottom loop of the corresponding stitch on the other side. Continue to alternate in this way.

   


invisible horizontal on stockinette stitch

This seam is used to join two bound-off edges, such as shoulder seams, and is worked stitch by stitch. You must have the same number of stitches on each piece. Pull the yarn tight enough to hide the bound-off edges. The finished seam resembles a row of knit stitches.

horiz seam on St st horiz seam on St st  
The finished horizontal seam on stockinette stitch With the bound-off edges together, lined up stitch for stitch, insert the yarn needle under a stitch inside the bound-off edge of one side and then under the corresponding stitch on the other side.  



invisible vertical to horizontal

This seam is used to join bound-off stitches to rows, as in sewing the top of a sleeve to an armhole edge. Since there are usually more rows per inch (2.5cm) than stitches, occasionally pick up two horizontal bars on the piece with rows for every stitch on the bound-off piece.

vertical to horizontal seam vertical to horizontal seam  
The finished vertical to horizontal seam on stockinette stitch Insert the yarn needle under a stitch inside the bound-off edge of the vertical piece. Insert the needle under one or two horizontal bars between the first and second stitches of the horizontal piece.  


slip stitch crochet seam

This method creates a visible, though very strong, seam. Use it when you don't mind a bulky join or are looking for an especially sturdy connection.

slip st crochet seam    

With the right sides together, insert the crochet hook through both thicknesses. Catch the yarn and draw a loop through. *Insert the hook again. Draw a loop through both thicknesses and the loop on the hook. Repeat from the *, keeping the stitches straight and even.

   


backstitch

This is a strong seam that is worked from the wrong side and creates a seam allowance. Because it is not worked at the edge of the fabric, it can be used to take in fullness. The seam allowance should not exceed 3/8"/1cm.

backstitch seam backstitch seam backstitch seam
The finished backstitch on stockinette stitch 1. With the right sides of the pieces facing each other, secure the seam by taking the needle twice around the edges from back to front. Bring the needle up about ¼"/.5cm from where the yarn last emerged, as shown. 2. In one motion, insert the needle into the point where the yarn emerged from the previous stitch and back up approximately ¼"/.5cm ahead of the emerging yarn. Pull the yarn through. Repeat this step, keeping the stitches straight and even.


overcasting

This seam is usually worked from the wrong side, but it can also be worked from the right side with a thick yarn in a contrasting color to create a decorative, cordlike seam.

overcasting overcasting  
The finished overcast seam on stockinette stitch With the right sides of the pieces facing each other and the knots lined up, insert the needle from back to front through the strands at the edges of the pieces between the knots. Repeat this step.  


edge-to-edge

The edge-to-edge seam, being flat, is perfect for reversible garments. It is worked at the very edge of the piece. Because it is not a strong seam, it is best used with lightweight yarns.

edge-to-edge edge-to-edge edge-to-edge
The finished edge-to-edge seam on stockinette stitch The finished edge-to-edge seam on reverse stockinette stitch With the purl sides facing you and the edges of the pieces together, insert the yarn needle into the knot on one side, then into the corresponding knot on the other side.

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