Many knitters see the finishing or sewing together of the knitted garment as the tedious part of producing your very own garment. After the joy of knitting comes the sewing part.
However, finishing your garment need not be tedious it can be very exciting! I personally love sewing up, there was one year when I did a lot of books, which meant that year I was sewing up over 200 garments, so I learnt the easiest, quickest and most enjoyable way to sew up.
There are just two simple techniques to use that can make sewing up fun.
One is mattress stitch and the other is grafting the shoulders. Both use specialised stitches and mean you sew up the garment as a knitted piece and do not treat it like a piece of cloth. This is very important. I treat my hand knits as hand knits, using the stitches to weave the edges together.
Grafting the shoulders or the 3 needle cast off
This involves ignoring an instruction in the pattern. Instead of casting off the stitches for the shoulders, leave these on a holder. When you have completed the back and front (or fronts) the pattern will then instruct you to join shoulder seams and this is one way that is simple and easy:
You will need 3 knitting needles.
Place the stitches on the holder for one back shoulder onto a needle, then place the stitches on the holder for a front shoulder onto another needle.
With the right sides together and the two knitting needles together in your left hand facing the same direction, as if both needles were one. Take the third knitting needle in your right hand and start to cast off, treating the two needles as if they were one. Insert your needle into the first stitch on the first needle and first stitch on the second needle, knit both of the stitches. Do this with the second stitch, and then slip the first stitch on the right hand needle over the second stitch. Repeat this until all stitches have been worked.
To sew the garment’s sides most knitters use back stitch. However there is a magical stitch that makes sewing up enjoyable…
It is mattress stitch and it is so magical you can use a different coloured thread if you want to and it will not show on the right side!
With the right sides facing, work one stitch in from the edge, when looking at stocking stitch there are ‘v’s in between these vs when the knitting is slightly pulled, there are bars. These are the bars that are used in mattress stitch as the needle is woven in and out of them. Starting at one side, and using a darning needle, insert the needle under the first two bars and up, then insert the needle at the same point on the other side, going under and behind the first two bars. Go to the other side inserting the needle into the same place where the thread came. After you have completed this for a few cms/ins pull the yarn and watch the two sides come together with an invisible seam! Remember to weave backwards and forwards between the two sides, and do not sew into the sides at all.