Most of Hannah Fettig’s patterns are knit in one piece and require little to no seaming. However, there are a few that do require seaming and I’d like to cover it so that you don’t feel unprepared to knit other sweaters in the future!
Many knitters I know really dislike seaming. I honestly don’t mind it too much and I think it’s because I learned how to seam early on in my knitting and just went for it. One of my very first sweaters was seamed and while I prefer to knit sweaters in one piece so that I can try them on, I don’t dismiss a pattern just because it requires seaming.
I’m certainly no expert in the seaming department, but I’ll share what’s worked for me as well as some great resources.
Some Useful Tools for Seaming:
Darning Needles – we carry the Chibi’s at Stash
Marking Pins to hold your knitted pieces together – Also available at Stash
If you’re knitting a sweater that requires seaming you really need to block your sweater pieces before seaming. I know, I know. At this point you are sooooo close to having a finished sweater that you can wear and the last thing you want to do is wet your pieces and wait for them to dry before moving onto the next step. TRUST ME. Just do it. It’s really important that you block your finished pieces to the correct dimensions before you try and sew them up. It will be much easier to match them up if they’re all the correct size. Not to mention that blocking will help to uncurl those pesky edges.
Should you use the yarn you knit the sweater with to seam? In most cases, yes. However, if you’ve used a yarn that breaks apart easily (do a little tug test on a strand from your ball of yarn, does it break fairly easily?) or a single ply yarn, you’ll want to find something else to seam with. In this case, I’d suggest finding some sock yarn in a color that closely matches your sweater. This is a good time to dig through your leftovers bin! If you’re knitting a sweater in bulky yarn, you may want to think about using something a bit thinner to seam with so that your seams aren’t too bulky. Try seaming your swatch to test out whether you’d like to use something thinner before seaming your sweater.
Unlike with traditional sewing, you want to seam with the right sides facing you and the wrong sides together. The way you’ll sew them together will create a seam on the inside of the garment.
Using the mattress stitch, seam the shoulders first. Seaming the shoulders first will allow you to attach the sleeves with more accuracy. Knitty has a great article with pictures on seaming using the mattress stitch. Sometimes the pattern will have you do a Three-Needle Bind-Off for the shoulders instead of traditional seaming.
After you seam the shoulders, pin the top of your sleeve to the body of your sweater using marking pins (or you can use split ring stitch markers or coil-less safety pins). I like to start at the top center (where your shoulder seam is) and pin the center and then each side. It’s also a good idea to use the same method when seaming. Again, use the mattress stitch. Typically, I cut a length of yarn, put it through my needle, stick the needle through the top center and pull half the length of yarn through before beginning seaming. That way you have yarn to use for seaming on both the front and back of the shoulder/top of sleeve. Start seaming the front and when you reach the underarm, stop and go back to the top and seam the back of the shoulder/sleeve.
Once you’re done seaming the top of the arm, use the mattress stitch to continue seaming down the side of your sweater. You’ll want to pin this as well before sewing. After the seaming the side, seam the sleeve also using the same pinning and mattress stitch process.
Repeat for the other side of the sweater!
What if it doesn’t look as neat as you’d like? Well, you have a couple of options…the first, of course, being to rip out all of the seaming and try again. The second is that you can block your sweater or steam it and see if that helps even out the spots you aren’t happy with. It’s hard to believe that steaming or blocking could really make that much of a difference, but check out this post by Anne Hanson.
If you aren’t completely happy with it, rip and redo it. I know it sounds like a lot of work and it’s a bit demoralizing when you have a finished sweater and then you undo the seaming, but you won’t regret redoing it.
Some other great resources regarding seaming: Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, and The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square. There are also countless videos on youtube and forum postings on Ravelry.
The last blog post in the series will be up on Friday: Blocking!