Knitting Tutorial: Seaming Made Easy by Tabetha HedrickI can’t think of a single person in my circle of friends who doesn’t shudder at the very idea of seaming. All of those pieces needing to be sewn together, the random bits of yarn strands, which needle to use, selvedge edges? It’s enough to cause even the most advanced knitter a bit of angst.

While seamless, or circular projects can have an instant gratification effect for the knitter, seamed garments have important advantages not to be forgotten: increased structure and support, less sagging, bagging, or riding-up issues, and more ease with checking your measurements. For myself, I have discovered that seamed knits make my form look more tailored and sophisticated, so I prefer that method of construction. And because seaming is the way I roll, it was pertinent that the process be easy and uncomplicated. I’m going to share my favorite tips and tricks with you!

Side note: This tutorial of mine originally appeared in the Editor’s Blog over at Creative Knitting. I’m a regular contributor there (on the blog, newsletter, magazine… GRIN!), so I hope you go check it out and support us! 🙂

Trick No. 1
A “selvedge edge” is the first and last stitch of every row that gets sucked up into the seam. Many patterns already include this in their layout, but if not, just add two stitches to your stitch count. Now, the trick here is to knit that first and last stitch of every row, creating a garter selvedge edge. It isn’t any bulkier than slipping the first stitch, but it sure is a LOT easier for seaming (I’ll show you later on in this post).

Garter Selvedge

Trick No. 2
Block those pieces! Blocking not only “treats” your fabric so that it settles and relaxes, but it sets the selvedge edge, making it more visible and easier to handle. Who wants to try to seam a piece that is curling and wrinkly? While you are blocking your pieces, check the measurements – are the front and back pieces the same length? Same shape and size?

Blocked vs Unblocked

Trick No. 3
Always seam with the RS of the piece facing you and get comfortable. Most pictures show pieces laid on a table in front of you, but I just blanket my legs with the pieces and seam while sitting on my couch. Find the position that suits you best.

Trick No. 4
The right tools make all of the difference. You will need the yarn used for your project to seam with (if it is too fuzzy, find another yarn of a similar color), clips, yarn, or other items for lining things up, scissors, and tapestry needles.

Tools

Trick No. 5
If you are ever in doubt, especially around armholes, use yarn, pins, or clips to line things up. This is particularly useful when dealing with stitch patterns that need to align correctly.

Lining Things Up

Gather your chosen tools and let’s get started with some seaming picture tutorials….

Seaming Bound-Off Edges
This often includes shoulder seams and armhole bind-off sections in the sweater and sleeve. I find it to be the easiest segment of seaming, because there isn’t much guess work – just ‘V’ stitch to ‘V’ stitch.

Tops 1 Tops 2

Begin by placing your pieces, RS facing, next to each other, bound-off edge to bound-off edge.

Step 1: From beneath the piece on the left, insert your needle into the visible gap between the selvedge edge and the first stitch, just below the bind off.
Step 2: Bring your needle to the other piece and, from beneath, bring it up between the selvedge edge and first stitch.
Step 3: Bring your needle back to the first piece, insert it into the very hole you came out of with your yarn.
Step 4: Push the needle through and out the other side of the entire ‘V’ stitch just below the bind off.
Step 5: Move to the other piece, insert your needle into the very same hole that your yarn came out of before.
Step 6: Push the needle all the way through and out the other side of the entire ‘V’ stitch just below that bind off.
Repeat Steps 3 to 6 for a couple of stitches (about 4-6 depending on weight of yarn).
Step 7: Grab the 2 ends of the sewing yarn and pull snug (don’t yank).
Repeat Steps 3 to 7 until you have seamed the length. Weave in your ends and voila!

Seaming Selvedge Edges
Remember that beautiful garter selvedge edge I showed you? That lovely little trick makes it super easy to slip your needle in and pick up what is called “the bar” (you’ll see that bar very clearly in image #8). Side note: picking up two bars makes for a more elastic seam, but I personally prefer to pick up one bar in the set-up phase.

Selvedge Seam 1 Selvedge Seam 2 Selvedge Seam 3

Begin by placing your pieces, RS facing, next to each other, selvedge-edge to selvedge-edge.

Set-Up Phase
Step 1: From beneath the piece on the left, insert your needle into one the top strand of the cast-on edge, between the selvedge edge and the first stitch.
Step 2: Bring your needle to the other piece and, from beneath, pick up the top cast-on strand, between the selvedge edge and first stitch.
Step 3: Bring your needle back to the first piece, insert it into the very hole you came out of with your yarn.
Step 4: Angle your needle, under the garter stitch bar, and up through the hole on the other side of the bar.
Step 5: Move to the other piece, insert your needle into the very same hole that your yarn came out of before. Angle your needle, under the garter stitch bar, and up through the hole on the other side of the bar.

‘Resume Your Regular Seaming’ Phase
Step 6: Bring your needle back to the first piece, insert it into the very hole you came out of with your yarn.
Steps 7 and 8: Angle your needle, under the next 2 bars. Push your needle out the hole on the other side of the second bar.
Steps 9 and 10: Move to the other piece, insert your needle into the very same hole that your yarn came out of before. Angle your needle under 2 garter stitch bars and out through the hole.
Repeat Steps 6 to 10 for a couple of stitches (about 4-6 depending on weight of yarn).
Step 11: Grab the two ends of your seaming yarn and give a gentle pull (don’t yank!) to tighten up the stitches.
Repeat Steps 6 to 11 until you have seamed the length. Weave in your ends and voila!

Seaming Selvedge Edges to Bound-Off or Cast-On Edges
This little area can be tricky because selvedge edges aren’t the same width as regular stitches. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the number of bars you pick up per stitch. I generally pick up 1 bar, then 2, then 1, then 2……

Top to Side

Step 1: Starting out as indicated in the above tutorials, insert your needle into the ‘V’ stitch right under the bind off edge.
Step 2: Bring your needle up and insert it into 2 bars of the selvedge edge.
Step 3: Insert your needle into where it came out from before and bring it out the other side of the ‘V’ stitch.
Step 4: Insert your needle into the spot it came out from before and go under 1 bar of the selvedge edge.
Repeat Steps 1-4 until you are done.

Setting that Sleeve Cap (probably the hardest part in the “sweater-seaming-world”)
The trick is to line up your sleeve cap to your armhole entirely before attempting to seam. I don’t have a sleeve cap needing to inserted at the moment, but this is how you go about it:

  1. Clip each sleeve-cap bind off edge to the corresponding armhole bind-off edge on the body.
  2. Eyeballing it, center the top of the sleeve cap to the shoulder seam; clip in place.
  3. Align each side of the sleeve-cap to the armhole so that it looks lovely and clip in place. Begin seaming by following the methods I have outlined above.

And there you have it — my tricks and methods for easy seaming. This part of the knitting process is, quite honestly, my favorite. It is a meditative movement and at the end, I couldn’t be prouder of the finished project. Seaming is a disciplined art that each must learn, but after learning these basic tricks and techniques, I think you will find seaming to be an enjoyable, creative process meant to be explored and tested.

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