I really enjoy seaming knit sweaters . There's something magical about working the seam, pulling the mattress stitch tight and realizing you've created a gorgeous, professional looking seam! Before you get started seaming your next knitted sweater, let me share a few tips to making this process easier.
Here are my top tips for how to seam a knit sweater!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I believe blocking is the most important step to getting a professionally looking garment. That being said, when you are blocking pieces of a sweater in preparation for seaming, it's important to take your time and really make sure that your sweater is flat. This might mean you having to pin down the sides of the garment or run a blocking wire along the edge. The flatter the fabric, the easier it will be to seam.
#2: Darning needle:
Use a good darning needle for the yarn you are working with. I generally prefer the bent tip darning needles. However, I also have a large plastic needle, and smaller metal needles. Just like certain knitting needles work best with certain yarns, having a darning needle that is well suited for the yarn will make your time seaming so much easier.
I would never use the big plastic needle when seaming a sock, and the small metal needles are best suited to working with finer albeit less splitty yarns.
#3. Use stitch markers:
I love the locking stitch markers for this purpose. When I was new to seaming, I would attach a marker every 20 rows or so along both sides of a piece that way if I were off by a few stitches I would find out sooner rather than at the very end, and be able to fix my mistake with less to rip out.
#4. Take your time:
Just like with anything in knitting (and life in general) being able to seam your knitwear well takes time. Expect that there will be a learning curve. The first time I tried seaming a sleeve I was feeling pretty proud that it was moving along so easily, only to find out that I was off by about a dozen stitches at the end.
Sit at a table and take your time working on the seam. This will ensure that you aren't missing stitches and that you won't have a lot of re-seaming in your future. Besides, if you're taking the time to practice your seaming, then you probably want a professional looking garment. If you rush, there's a good chance the seams will look sloppy and unprofessional. But don't worry, the more you practice, the better you will get.
#5. Try a class!
If you are preparing to seam your first knitting project, the Bluprint class Seaming Handknits with Chris Bylsma will be just the thing for you. This class covers all of the basic techniques for learning how to work professional seams on a variety of stitches.
If you want to find a way to really enhance your finishing skills, then John Brinegar's Bluprint class Seaming Beyond the Basics is just the thing! In this class, you will get the opportunity to learn more than just mattress stitch. The class also covers how to seam those stair step shoulders that are difficult for even experienced knitters.