Close Window

Tips for Finishing Success

Click here for larger image.

1: Equip yourself with proper tools. Prepare a little container of seaming/weaving tools including a tape measure, tapestry needles, scissors, pins, yarn for seaming and stitch markers, which are handy for holding pieces together.

2: Seam with a thinner, smoother yarn. If your project is stitched with a bumpy or otherwise textured yarn, a thinner, smoother yarn is a better choice for seaming than the project's yarn.

3: Work on a flat surface. I like to sit cross-legged on the bed with my work laid out in front of me, but most people prefer to sit at a table. Either way, your work will go smoother if you allow yourself a clutter-free space to spread out your crochet pieces.

4: Seam stitch-to-stitch instead of edge to edge. If you dislike edge-to-edge seaming, work single crochet along the edges of your pieces so you can seam stitch to stitch. Make sure you place the same number of stitches along matching edges that will be sewn together.

This technique might make some purists cringe because it does add a little height and width to your pieces, but it's really not much and makes seaming so much easier and more uniform. Depending on the project, you'll probably want to only work the single crochets along edges that will be sewn.

For example, for most garments, you'll single-crochet along the sides, armholes (if the garment has sleeves) and shoulder edges, as well as sleeve caps and sleeve-seam edges if they are present. This way, when your garment is sewn together, the bottom, neck, wrist and possibly armhole edges are left just as the designer intended.

These photos show raw crocheted edges (1); single crochet along edges to be seamed (2); and completed seam (3).

Click here for larger image.
Click here for larger image.
Click here for larger image.

5: If you do join edge to edge, seam the item using mattress stitches from the right side.

This mattress stitch video from Crochet Soiree shows very clearly how to successfully mattress-stitch edge-to-edge crochet.

Crochet Cabana also has a good tutorial on seaming with mattress stitch as well as other methods.

Click here for larger image.

6: Pull seaming yarn taut after every few inches. Place your hand flat on the seam, and with the other hand, give the yarn a little pull. This should generally be done after every 3-4 inches, but your work will tell you how often it needs pulling by how easy or difficult it is to pull. Don't pull so hard as to bunch your work -- just pull it taut enough so the seam will be even and smooth. The seaming yarn should virtually disappear.

7: Allow yourself time to work. If you're a movie buff, you can do as I do and give yourself the space of a movie to get a tricky part done. This is my favorite way of allowing myself time and space to work.

Whether it's weaving in ends, sewing seams, figuring out a tricky part of a pattern or simply working row after boring row before getting to the next interesting part, I turn on a movie if I'm about to embark on a crochet task I'm not especially excited about.

I give myself a reasonable goal to meet before the movie's over. Many times a project has taken more than one movie to finish. This is when watching a whole season of TV episodes, available on Netflix and Hulu, come in handy.

However, I actually prefer to watch favorite movies I've already seen while I am working, so I don't have to pay close attention to the plot.

8: Embrace the idea that sewing and crocheting are two different skills. The main reason many people dislike seaming was because they worry how the finished piece will look. With practice, seaming does get easier and smoother -- just as your stitching got easier and smoother when learning to crochet. Dive in and learn the mattress stitch! You will not regret the time spent.

It's interesting that from the answers I received a clear difference emerged between designers and non-designers.

Designer Jocelyn Sass of Too Cute Crochet summed it up for many of us, including myself, when she said, "Previously, I did not like the finishing or weaving in ends. I have woven in so many ends now though that I don't seem to mind it as much. As for finishing, I enjoy putting on the finishing touches because that is what usually brings my vision to life!"