Hi guys. In this post, I wanted to walk you through my entire process of seaming a bind off (horizontal) edge to a slip stitch selvage (vertical) edge. We'll cover everything from figuring out the math to actually seaming your pieces, and I hope you find this helpful! I used this method to seam sleeves to a body/panel, but you could use this anytime you want to seam a horizontal edge to a slip stitch selvage edge.
I mean...I suppose you could just line up both edges, pin and eyeball it, but if you're like me...you need to get a little more detailed and precise.
There's a great blog post that helped me out with this, from kelbournewoolens.com - their post is about picking up stitches along a selvage edge, but that same technique can be used to figure these numbers out as well. Let's go ahead and get into it!
・Gauge Is Key・
So first things first, you'll need to know your personal stitch and row gauge. Yours may be slightly different from a designers (if you're following a pattern), so you don't necessarily want to automatically go off of their gauge for this. Now, if you did achieve their exact gauge and the pattern gives specific instructions for this...well...awesome! You're probably not searching for or reading this post haha, but in the case that you didn't meet gauge or maybe you're trying to design something of your own, this may be for you!
Since our ratio of stitches to rows isn't 1 to 1, we won't want to just seam every stitch to row evenly like we would for a typical mattress stitch seam. If we did, we would end up with a kind of uneven fabric that doesn't lay nice and flat.
What makes this process a little different as well, is that we're seaming onto a slip stitch selvage edge, where each edge stitch actually accounts for 2 rows. I searched high and low trying to find another example to help guide me with this, but I just couldn't seem to find anything...I will say I don't know that this is all technically correct, but this is what I ended up doing and it worked for me, so I do really hope that it can help you out if you're feeling a bit stuck. This does get a little confusing at times, so if you do have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask and I'll do my best to help!
So for this project, I have 13 stitches over 4 inches and about 16 rows over 4 inches. And side note here: if you happen to be seaming up your Summer Home Tee and met my pattern gauge, these will be the actual numbers for you as well.
Once you know your gauge, you want to make it into a fraction and break it down as small as possible; since mine is 13 stitches to 16 rows, or 13/16, that can't be reduced any further. I am, however, going to break that down even more so I have smaller numbers to work with, and I'd recommend you do the same. I also want to be sure that I have just 1 number difference between each numerator and denominator. Your numbers may be easier to work with that mine, which is awesome...but since mine aren't nice and neat, hopefully you can take away even a little bit more. Sometimes it's good to see an example worked that isn't easy and clean, ya know?
・Now For A Little Basic Arithmetic・
- Ok, so we have 13/16
- I've then broken 13 up into 4 + 3 + 6, and 16 into 5 + 4 + 7
- So now we have 4/5, 3/4, and 6/7, which is perfect, just what we wanted with one number difference between each numerator and denominator.
We also want to remember here that on the bind off (horizontal) edge, we have stitches going across - and on the selvage (vertical) edge, we have our rows. Note that we're working through every stitch of the bind off, only skipping rows of the selvage edge.
With all that in mind, what this means is that we're going to:
- Seam evenly over 4 stitches and rows, then skip the 5th row
- Seam evenly over 3 stitches and rows, then skip the 4th row
- Seam evenly over 6 stitches and rows, then skip the 7th row
(I'll repeat this sequence to the end of my bind off edge)
Now this is where it gets slightly more confusing since we're seaming onto a slip stitch selvage edge, but it just takes a little more work to get it figured out. Since each selvage edge stitch counts as 2 rows, that's exactly what we're going to treat 1 edge stitch as - 2 rows. So essentially, what you'll be doing is working through each selvage edge space twice, and when you need to skip a row, you will simply just work through that space once rather than twice. Not too bad, right?
So with all that in mind, I created the following notes for myself to reference as I go (these numbers are all figured from my fractions above, and they pertain to just the selvage edge):
- Work 2 into the first (which will account for rows 1 and 2),
2 into the next (rows 3 and 4),
1 into the next (since we need to skip the 5th row) -- this 1 counts toward our next 3
- Work 2 into the next (rows 2 and 3),
1 into the next (since we need to skip the 4th row) -- this 1 counts toward our next 6
- Work 2 into the next (rows 2 and 3),
2 into the next (4 and 5),
1 into the next (row 6) -- again, only working 1 here since we need to skip the 7th row
This looks and sounds pretty intense, but once you wrap your mind around it, it is actually very simple. So now that we've finally got all our numbers figured out, it's time to start seaming (which is super easy, hooray)! I'll insert photos for the first little (number 1) sequence up there as we go.
For this example, I'll just be working with a few swatches and a contrasting color yarn to seam so you can see what I'm doing a bit better. I'll also be working from the center out to help myself keep everything even, but you can always work from end to end if you prefer.
We'll be working through the bars just inside the slipped stitch selvage edge on the body/panel. Then on the sleeve, the bars just under the bind off edge:
To start, cut your tail about 3 times the length of your bind off edge.
First, I'm bringing my needle up through the outside edge of the shoulder seam, then pulling the yarn through so I have an equal length on both sides:
We'll work one length through one half, and the other through the second half.
Then I line up my pieces (bind off to selvage edge), place a stitch marker into the center stitch of the bind off edge, and join them by inserting the needle up through that center stitch, pulling up to tighten:
So we're first coming back over to the selvage edge, locating the first pair of 2 bars, inserting the needle from front to back, then pulling the yarn through:
This is our 1st row.
Then over to the bind off edge, locating the first pair of 2 bars on this side, and again inserting the needle front to back and pulling the yarn through, but not super tight yet (note, I am keeping it slightly looser than I would normally for these photos so it's easier for you to see):
Now we've seamed evenly over 1 stitch and row.
Referencing back to my notes, it says I need to work 2 into the first since each selvage edge stitch represents 2 rows, so we're going back into that same space we just worked through on the selvage edge and pulling the yarn through from front to back:
And now I tighten it up:
Note: This isn't like your typical mattress stitch where you can do a small section and then tighten - you'll want to at least start tightening after each stitch and then fully tighten after you've gone through each selvage edge space twice. Otherwise, you'll get a section done, go to tighten it all up, and it won't tighten smoothly because of how the yarn is wrapped around each stitch.
Now we'll go back over to the bind off edge, locate the very next pair of 2 bars, and inserting the needle front to back, pull the yarn through as before; now we've worked evenly over 2 stitches and rows. Whew!
Since I need to seam evenly over the first 4 stitches and rows, I need to repeat that whole thing one more time.
Once I've done that, it's time to skip the 5th selvage edge row - so normally you would skip that 5th space, but since each edge stitch counts as 2, skipping 1 simply means we're only going to go through the space once rather than twice like we did before...and that 1 pass through counts toward our next 3. Then we work through the next pair of bars on the bind off edge...and so on.
Continue seaming in this fashion, working through every bind off edge stitch and skipping rows (working into once) as needed on the slip stitch selvage edge, according to your gauge, until you finish seaming.
It may look a little intimidating in written form, but really not too bad right? Just some basic math skills (and time), and your seamed pieces should lay nice and flat 😃 I hope this helped you out in some way, and if you do have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thank you for checking out this post!
Here are a couple photos with the finished seam:
Now go forth, and create beautifully seamed pieces. Happy Knitting!