Flat Join Garter Stitch Seams

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The making up of a garment and adding picked-up borders is the last, but one of the most important, stages in producing a professional-looking garment. A beautifully knitted garment can be ruined by careless sewing up, or unevenly picked-up borders, as the knitter hurries to complete the project. So to avoid having a finish you won't be proud of, take a look at these basic techniques designed to help you perfect those finishing touches.

Knit Garter Seams

which stitch to use? The seam that I use for almost all sewing up is mattress stitch, which produces a wonderfully invisible seam. It works well on any yarn and makes a completely straight seam as the same amount is taken up on each side - this also means that the knitted pieces should not need to be pinned together first. I find mattress stitch particularly invaluable when sewing seams on Fair Isle bands or striped pieces of knitting.

I use other types of seams less frequently, but they do have their uses. For instance, backstitch can sometimes be useful for sewing in a sleeve head, to neatly ease in the fullness. Just remember when using backstitch to sew up your knitting that it is important to ensure that you work in a completely straight line.

Knitting Finishing

beginning a seam

With the right sides of the knitting facing you and using the long tail left from your cast-on row, thread the strand into your blunt-ended sewing needle. Insert the sewing needle from back to front through the corner stitch of the other piece of knitting. Then make a figure of eight, and insert the needle from back to front into the stitch with the long tail. Pull the thread through to close the gap between the two pieces of knitting.

With the right sides of the knitting facing you, insert the needle under the horizontal bar between the first stitch and next stitch. Then insert the needle under the same bar on the other piece. Continue to do this, drawing up the thread to form the seam.

With the right sides of the knitting facing you, insert the needle through the bottom of the knot on the edge and then through the top of the corresponding knot on the opposite edge. Continue to do this from edge to edge, drawing up the thread to form a flat seam.

mattress stitch on stocking stitch mattress stitch on garter stitch

The seam for joining two cast-off edges is especially handy for shoulder seams, while the seam for joining a cast-off edge with a side edge (selvedge) is usually used when sewing a sleeve onto the body for a dropped shoulder style (see Boat neck sweater, page 68).

It is best to leave a long tail at the casting-on stage to sew up your knitting with, so that the sewing up yarn is already secured in place. If this is not possible, when first securing the thread for the seam, you should leave a length that can be darned in afterwards. All seams on knitting should be sewn with a large blunt-ended yarn or tapestry needle to avoid splitting the yarn.

rib seam - joining two knit stitch edges rib seam - joining knit- and purl-stitch edges

Joining Knitted Seams

Insert the needle under a horizontal bar in the centre of a knit stitch at the edge of one piece of knitting and then at the edge of the other piece. Continue to do this, drawing up the thread to form one complete knit stitch along the seam.

Skip the purl stitch at the edge of one piece of knitting and join the seam at the centre of knit stitches, as for joining two knit-stitch edges.

rib seam - joining two knit stitch edges

Insert the needle under a horizontal bar in the centre of a knit stitch at the edge of one piece of knitting and then at the edge of the other piece. Continue to do this, drawing up the thread to form one complete knit stitch along the seam.

rib seam - joining knit- and purl-stitch edges

Skip the purl stitch at the edge of one piece of knitting and join the seam at the centre of knit stitches, as for joining two knit-stitch edges.

joining two cast-off edges in stocking stitch

Joining Cast Off Knitting

1 With the cast-off edges butted together, bring the needle out in the centre of the first stitch just below the cast-off edge on one piece. Insert the needle through the centre of the first stitch on the other piece and out through the centre of the next stitch.

2 Next, insert the needle through the centre of the first stitch on the first piece again and out through the centre of the stitch next to it. Continue in this way until the seam is completed.

Insert needle under the two strands of a cast-off stitch on one edge and then under two strands of a cast-off stitch on the other edge. Continue in this way from edge to edge, drawing up the thread to form a flat seam.

joining two cast-off edges in garter stitch joining a cast-off edge and a selvedge in stocking stitch

joining a cast-off edge and a selvedge in stocking stitch

Bring the needle back to front through the centre of the first stitch on the cast-off edge. Then insert it under one or two horizontal strands between the first and second stitches on the selvedge and back through the centre of the same cast-off stitch. Pull up the thread so the seaming stitches disappear. Continue in this way until the seam is completed.

Seaming Stitches

joining a cast-off edge and a selvedge in garter stitch

With the right sides of the knitting facing you, insert the needle under the top of one stitch on the selvedge or row end edge and then under the two strands of a single cast-off stitch on the opposite edge. Continue to do this from edge to edge, drawing up the thread to form an invisible seam.

darning in ends You will always have some ends to darn in, even on one-colour projects - where you start a new ball of yarn, for instance. Ends can be darned in or sewn vertically and horizontally.

Thread the loose end onto a blunt-ended needle and run it over and under the horizontal bars of the stitches at the back of the work. Ends can also be darned in vertically along the edge of the pieces after seaming.

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