Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques 2 with Sandy Huff


The second in a series written by my friend, designer Sandy Huff. Catch part 1 HERE

Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques, Vol. 2: SEAMING

Now you have finished the knitting.  You are ready to do the “finishing”. Follow these helpful tips to produce a garment you will be proud to wear.

When it comes to seaming side seams, how do you know that your seams will be even?  My solution to that is to knit the front and back pieces simultaneously using two separate balls of yarn.  There will not be any guesswork as to whether or not your edges are the same length. Do the same with your sleeves and you will have sleeves that are exactly the same length.

Always do seaming with the right side facing you so that you will be able to see how it looks as you go.  

The order in which seaming should occur is:

  1. Shoulders ( the foundation of the garment)

  2. Side seams

  3. Sleeve seams

  4. Work neckline and front edges (usually done as picked up stitches)

  5. Attach buttons, zippers, etc.

  6. Sew in sleeves.  This step is last because adding them earlier will make the garment too heavy and awkward to work with.


My least favorite seaming task is the shoulders.  Patterns typically guide you in the direction of a shoulder edge that ladders and is very difficult to seam.  There are several other options for finishing your shoulder seams.


A sloped bind off will give you a curved edge rather than a ladder.  On the last row before the BO, sl last st purlwise. On the BO row (sl one purlwise) twice, pass the second stitch over the first to BO the first stitch.  BO the remaining stitches as usual. Continue in this manner until you finish all your BO rows.

You may also use short rows to shape the shoulder in order to finish with live stitches when you can use the kitchener stitch or a 3-needle bind off for a seamless finish.  Knit across the first BO row rather than binding off. On the next row, stop to within the number of stitches you were to BO on the first BO row. Turn your work. Knit the remaining stitches and repeat until you finish all of the BO stitch numbers.  You will be left with live stitches in which to do your kitchener or 3-needle BO.

For vertical seams such as side seams and armhole edges leave a long enough tail when casting on the body or when binding off in order to use the tail for seaming. Use the mattress stitch for Stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch.  

When sewing in in the sleeves, first mark the middle of the top of the sleeve cap where it will match up with the shoulder seam.  Begin seaming at the lower armhole where it meets the side seams and sew up towards the shoulder until your marker is even with the top of the shoulder easing the fit as you go.

When picking up stitches, if you’ve already added edge stitches, use these stitches for a flawless seam.  Work into the backs of stitches to prevent holes if you need to. A pattern will tell you how many stitches to pick up but that may not happen in your knitting.  If you pick up too may just decrease on the first row of knitting. When picking up stitches on a vertical edge the loose rule is to pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows. On ribbing, pick up at every row or 5 stitches to every 6 rows. Decrease evenly a few stitches on the last row before the BO to prevent flaring.

Next time--Part 3: Blocking and Buttons and more

Sandy Huff is a designer, knitter, crocheter and all-around awesome person. You can find her patterns  here on Ravelry , including some gorgeous brand new ones!

Sandy Huff is a designer, knitter, crocheter and all-around awesome person. You can find her patterns here on Ravelry, including some gorgeous brand new ones!