Sewing side seams nicely…

May 15, 2007 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Here’s a question about finishing that applies to both knitters and crocheters…

Dear SweaterBabe, I have a problem with sewing my side seams. They never look professional. I am not accurate with what stitch to go in to get a thin seam. Any hints?”

Dear Seamer,

Here are some hints for sewing seams to finish your knitting or crochet projects…

— If you are using non-basic yarn, i.e. something that is furry, nubby, thick and thin, has eyelashs, etc., then you might be better off using a basic yarn in a matching shade to do your sewing.

— Another great reason to use a matching basic cotton or wool yarn to seam with is that you can undo your seams more easily if you use a different yarn. You will be able to see the seaming stitches and pull them out if need be.

— If you are making a sweater (and are using a basic yarn that you can seam with), leave extra long tails when you cast on. Use these tails for seaming the sweater and save yourself some extra finishing time (less loose ends to weave in!).

— Generally when seaming, you will be matching up your pieces with the front sides facing each other. It can really help to pin the pieces together (just as you would if you were sewing cloth), and line up any color stripes or patterning.

— A back stitch is ideal for sewing solid, firm seams. To do a back stitch (these are right-handed instructions), insert your needle from FRONT TO BACK through BOTH pieces of fabric (which are held with their right sides facing each other), then insert your needle BACK TO FRONT through BOTH pieces of fabric about a half inch or so to the left. Now, your yarn and needle are in front again.

* Now, insert your needle again, BUT start about halfway to the RIGHT of where the last BACK STITCH ended, i.e. about a quarter inch to the right. Insert FRONT TO BACK, then BACK TO FRONT as before, through both pieces. Continue from * to do the back stitch along the entire seam edge.

— To avoid overly bulky seams, try to maintain a thin seam allowance. Usually, a 1-stitch seam allowance works well. This will give you a consistent seam allowance and a secure seam. If you only have a 1/2-stitch seam allowance, the seam will not be very strong since you are only “grabbing” one strand. However, you may decide to do this is you are using VERY bulky yarn and the 1-stitch seam allowance is just too bulky.

— When seaming, take your time and carefully watch precisely where you stick your yarn tapestry needle. I often double check that I am maintaining the exact seam allowance on EVERY single back seam stitch (but I am a perfectionist when it comes to finishing!). This does mean looking at where my needle goes in and out through the first layer and in and out through the second layer.

— Every once in a while, flip the seam over and see what it looks like from the finished right side. If you don’t like what you see, take out the back stitches you don’t like redo them. I still do this, just to make my seams look professional.

— Use good lighting and a yarn tapestry needle that is the right size for your yarn weight! If you use too sharp of a needle with certain yarns, you may end up spliting your stitches a lot and get a messy looking seam. Most tapestry needles intended for knitters have blunt tips.

— And what I tell many beginners – don’t rush! To get professional results, don’t hurry. Be precise in your seaming and take as much care with your finishing as you did knitting or crocheting the project.

Hey! If you have a great tip on seaming, please email me and I will share it in future newsletters and on this blog! Email me at Thanks!


Entry filed under: Ask SweaterBabe, Crochet Questions and How to, Knitting Questions and How to.

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