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Topic: sewing up knitted projects  (Read 2694 times)
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the lorax
« on: April 05, 2004 11:17:14 AM »

Hi,
I've been knitting for about a year and am on the verge of finishing a sweater for myself (first thing for me, rest have been for kids!).  Has anyone ever used a sewing machine to sew up the seams of a garment, do you know if this would work?
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starlings
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2004 02:12:50 PM »

I really don't reccomend this.  Sewing by hand will work out much better.  Use mattress stitch for the side seams, grafting or backstitch for the shoulders, a combination of grafting and mattress for the sleevecaps.

Take your time.  Do it over a few days.  Lay your work out flat on a well-lit, cleared table.  It really helps to have a reference book.  In the end, if you decide you hate sewing up, avoid it by knitting circularly.
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the lorax
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2004 04:07:56 PM »

Somehow I just knew that would be the answer!  I'm just not looking forward to sewing up those big seams - kids' stuff takes me a long time to do . . . oh well!
I'll post a picture when I'm finished, thanks for the advice.
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emling
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2004 05:18:30 PM »

Quote
Lay your work out flat on a well-lit, cleared table.  It really helps to have a reference book.

Let me just second that emotion.

I faked my way through finishing my pieces for years, and was pleasantly surprised at how nice they looked when I finally learned to do it right.  You can make things look virtually seamless, it's truly amazing.
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sgolard
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2004 08:51:42 AM »

What a timely thread for me.  I made one sweater and thought that putting it together was just a matter of putting the pieces good side together and "sewing" through the selvege.  And oh was I disappointed with how sloppy all my hard work looked!  I have finished all the pieces of my second sweater and it's much nicer than the first and then I tried putting it together the same way and oh ick!!  I tore it all out and have now been reading up on the mattress stitch.  I haven't gotten the guts to try it yet though because no matter how many pictures I look at or books I read, it doesn't seem to make sense to me.  Perhaps once I try it like you say - laying out the pieces on a nice big well lit surface it might make more sense.  BUT ... how the heck do you put in the sleeves?  And does anyone have an opinion -- should I sew the sleeves in while they are open, then close up the sides and sleeves?  Or close up the sleeves and side seams and (try) to put the sleeves in like a sewn garment?  I am simultaneously making my boyfriend a top-down raglan sleeved sweater in the round, and I can tell you that I am loving working in the round!!  No seams.

Shelley
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knittykat
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2004 09:18:10 AM »

Check out the Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits.  Their finishing instructions are excellent.  Good pictures.

Never fear, mattress stitch is kind of fun once you get going, because as you pull it gently the stitches 'poof' disappear.
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starlings
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2004 10:53:38 AM »

I tore it all out and have now been reading up on the mattress stitch.  I haven't gotten the guts to try it yet though because no matter how many pictures I look at or books I read, it doesn't seem to make sense to me.
 

Mattress stitch is fairly straightforward, once you get going.  Sometimes it is easier to start about an inch above the bottom edge, leaving a tail that you can use to sew up the gap later.  This eliminates the overtightening that sometimes happens at the bottom of the seams. An anal but really useful technique is to count up all of your rows on the front and back (count 10, leave a pin, count 10...).  If one piece is a little longer, pass your needle behind two "bars" on that piece every once in a while, until you've evened out the difference.  This will make sense once you've started.

 There are great written instructions here:
http://www.tradewindknits.com/tbmattst.html
With lots more good tips on the "refinements" page.

And there's a good picture here:
http://www.wonderful-things.com/newknit10.htm

how the heck do you put in the sleeves?  And does anyone have an opinion -- should I sew the sleeves in while they are open, then close up the sides and sleeves?  Or close up the sleeves and side seams and (try) to put the sleeves in like a sewn garment?
 

Sew the side and sleeve seams closed separately using mattress stitch - and then swear never to knit another sleeve flat!  Wink  

Setting the sleeve cap into the armhole involves some planning.  It really helps to understand the "anatomy" of stitches.

Now I'm going to try to explain how to sew beautiful armhole seams. The seams you know your sweater deserves. Lots of people backstitch their armholes from the wrong side, and that works okay.  If you want a really crisp, tailored, bulk-free seam, though, try it this way.  

1. Like in sewing, identify the middle stitch at the top of the sleeve cap and mark it.

2. Tack the sleeve and body seams at the underarm. Look at how many stitches there are at the sleeve cap edge compared to how many rows there are at the armhole edge.  The number will not be the same. There will almost certainly be more rows in the armhole. If so, then every once in a while you'll have to pass behind two bars (see above) at the armhole edge to even things out.

3. Start seaming. Remember: you're going to sew from the right side of the work.  Start at shoulder seam and work down toward the underarm. Leave a long tail of yarn that you can use to seam down in the other direction.  On the armhole side, run your needle behind the "bars" between the first and second stitch of each row.  On the sleeve cap side, weave in and out of the stitches, as though you were grafting or doing duplicate stitch. Adjust the stitch tension as you go.  Your work should blend in with the knitting.

4. When you get to the bound off stitches on both the sleeve and body at the underarm, graft them, Kitchener-style.  The join will be invisible.  It will look like one continous fabric.  Stop sewing at the side seam.  Gently stretch the seam you just completed and inspect your work.  If you're happy with it, anchor the end of the yarn in the side seam selvedge on the inside.

I know this sounds like a big deal, but it is really isn't.  Just go slowly and steadily and stay relaxed.  And don't be afraid of undoing your seam if you're unhappy with it.
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sgolard
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2004 11:16:23 AM »

Wow!  Thanks for the detailed instructions.  I am going to finish taking out the ugly seams tonight and give it a shot.

Shelley
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"A girl's best friend is her mutter"_Dorothy Parker_
My Blog - http://www.yarn-babe.blogspot.com
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the lorax
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2004 04:50:10 AM »

Thank you so much for all the info!  This is a great place for very helpful, friendly advice - looking forward to posting some finished projects soon.
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2004 07:27:50 AM »

Thanks Starlings! Great instructions.

I think I may be the only one who feels this way, but after doing one sleeve of my sweater in the round, and the other one flat, I MUCH prefer flat, and doing the seaming, at least for larger projects. Possibly left over from my sewing days... I think it's fun to sit down and put everything together when I'm done with the pieces. Plus, I get that "another piece completed" feeling that makes me feel like I'm making progress on the project. Plus to me it's far more portable to only carry the piece in work, and I don't need to deal with the weight and awkwardness of the entire project hanging off my circulars.

Like I said, I may be alone in this  Cheesy
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