Seaming

It has come to my attention that seaming can be quite a cause for anxiety. Having grown up with vintage patterns (which would lead one to think that knitting in the round had not yet been invented), seaming has become an essential part of my knitting repertoire. I took some pictures today to show how I seam. My basic technique is the mattress stitch. Unfortunately, unlike the diagrams in most mattress stitch tutorials, I typically don’t have a straight, tidy row of edge sts. Not even if I slip an edge stitch for seaming, though that does help somewhat. Nevertheless, sometimes there are circumstances (e.g. lack of forethought) when you don’t have a tidy edge.

I’m starting with this swatch, which I’ll fold in half and seam as if it were a sleeve:
swatch

I fold it in half and pin it together, as if it were a piece of fabric. I then place the pins a couple of stitches in from the edge, making sure to pin at the top and bottom edges, and at the transitions between stitch patterns that need to align. If the piece has a clear center, I align the centers and pin there. It doesn’t matter that the pin heads are small enough to slip through the knitted fabric. There won’t be much tension applied to them in the process, their main purpose is to keep things from shifiting around.
pinned

I remove the first pin and insert the threaded needle through the base of the first stitch on one side of the seam, leaving a tail to weave in later. I’m using one stitch for selvedge on each side:
first_st

Then I go into the equivalent spot on the opposite side of the seam, pick up a strand of thread from the swatch, and pull through:
second_stV2

I repeat on the opposite side of the seam:
third_st_pull_thru

Note that I am not pulling as tight as I should, in order for the stitches to be clear for photos. Normally you’ll want to pull enough for the sewing yarn to disappear into the fabric.

When pulling through, I make sure the seam is flat, as shown above. The swatch in this case is in the shape of a tube as I pull through. Don’t hold the swatch like a folded rectangle, like this:
pull_thru_dont

Now that the very ends of the swatch are secure, I’m a little more careful about stitch placement. I run the sewing yarn perpendicularly across the seam line, and insert my needle one stitch from the edge, along the line that the thread marks:
fourth_st

Now that things are going smoothly, I might run the needle under two strands of knitting to make the stitch (especially if it’s a long seam and I want it to go faster):
fourth_st_pull_thru

Sometimes, despite my best efforts, a bubble forms:
bubble

I could be tidy and undo the seam until the bubble disappears, and then redo it. But I’m too lazy for that. As soon as I notice the bubble, with the yarn opposite to the side that’s bubbling (has excess fabric), I determine the position of the next stitch by pulling the sewing yarn diagonally across the seam line (instead of perpendicularly as above), and insert the needle at that point:
bubble_first_st

If I were to pull the yarn perpendicularly, it would look like this. I DON’T want to insert the needle at this point:
bubble_first_st_dont

I insert the needle and take a large-ish stitch:
bubble_first_st_pull_thru

On the opposite side, I lay the yarn diagonally backwards to mark the next needle insertion site:
bubble_second_st

And then I take a small-ish stitch:
bubble_second_st_pull_thru

The bubble is significantly reduced:
bubble_reduced

One more stitch like this (with maybe less of a difference in stitch size on the two sides of the seams) resolves the bubble:
bubble_gone

Continue as before all the way up the seam, and you’ll have a perfectly seamed garment!

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2 thoughts on “Seaming

  1. Kirsten

    Personally I don’t mind seaming, and one thing that really helps me, rather than pins, is to use those mini hair claw clamps. They hold the two sides in place while you sew but are easy to remove.

    Reply
    1. Ashwini J Designs Post author

      The hair clips sound like a good idea! I also have those large, flat, flower-headed pins rattling about somewhere; but my normal sewing pins are usually closest at hand, and I haven’t yet been driven nuts by them when seaming knits. I think I’ll give the hair clips a try on the next round, they might be as close by as in my hair. Thanks for sharing this tip!

      Reply

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