How to finish your knitting

Judy Furlong shows you how to give your knitting project a professional finish: Check, Neaten and Press.

How to finish knitting

Before going through these final three sub-stages of perfecting your finish, we’re going to cover a cunning little stitch called Mattress Stitch version 2.

How to do mattress stitch

This version is particularly useful for joining ribbing, and is shown here on sections which have side shaping such as a sleeve. It is particularly useful for a turn-back cuff – or collar – as otherwise you will need to remember to reverse the side on which you are working the seam, so that it won’t show when folded back.

As shown above, align pieces side by side and with needle threaded with yarn tail from cast-on, insert needle just above the cast-on of the other side in the centre of the first st. Pull yarn through.

How to do Mattress stitch step 1

Returning to the first side, pick up the bar in the centre of the first st formed by the top of the cast-on st. Pull the yarn through.

How to do Mattress stitch step 2

Miss one st (row) and insert needle into the next but one of the second side.

How to do Mattress stitch step 3

Back to the first side, miss one st (row) and insert needle into the next but one. Pull yarn through.

You will find that the st at every other row end is almost impossible to lift, but the one above or below is easy.

How to do Mattress stitch step 4

After a few sts, draw up yarn to pull seam together and continue as set.

Setting in sleeves

Start by marking the centre of the final sleeve cast-off, and place this at the shoulder seam. Next join the sleeve to the body at the underarm using whichever method you have chosen. Working on one half at a time, join the sleeve to the body using a mattress stitch, making sure that all the reference points match, including any stripes in the pattern.

How to do Mattress stitch step 5

Mark points on the sleeve edge and corresponding points on the Back and Front. Join with a mattress stitch. Blue markers – end of armhole shaping Red markers – last row of sleeve cap before casting off rows.

The yellow markers show the centre of the final cast-off on sleeve and shoulder seam on body.

Sew in loose ends

Sew in any remaining loose ends by taking a single back stitch then weaving them through the seams for a few centimetres on the WS, taking care to keep the bulk to a minimum.

Final check

Check all the seams over very carefully. If necessary, give a final gentle press to the seams, or just flatten them by squeezing them between your fingers. A tailor’s ham or rolled towel is very useful for any shaped seams such as armholes. Finally, add the finishing touches such as buttons. If you have marked the ‘button end’ of the buttonhole rows, this should be a simple task to position them accurately.

Final thoughts

Take your time when seaming and finishing your garment. Although you might be eager to complete your project, you won’t fling it together successfully in two minutes and your knitting deserves much more respect. Don’t put off the finishing, either. This is often the part of knitting that most people dislike, but once you have tried out some of these ideas, you may discover you really enjoy it. Having spent years as a youngster finding different tricks to avoid ‘sewing up’, I have now come to realise that finishing can be just as satisfying as knitting the pieces in the first place.

Now all that remains is for you to await all those lovely compliments!