By: Carolyn Hanson
If you are a lover of granny squares, scrumbles or afghans with multiple shapes that need to be sewn together, read on. It does not matter if you knit or crochet, the pieces somehow need to come together to make the finished product.
There are several methods to choose from:
- Whip Stitch
- Crochet (single crochet or slip stitch)
- Mattress Stitch
It’s always best to start by blocking all the pieces. Blocking is the process of reshaping pieces to the size specified by the pattern’s directions. This can be done pinning each piece to a blocking board, ironing board, or several thick towels and then either wetting with a spray bottle or applying steam, without pressing. Yes, it can be a lot of work, but it makes the sewing so much easier when every piece is the correct shape and size. It’s a lot easier to block and sew 100 small pieces that are the exact size, than sew curling pieces and block 1 really large piece that does not fit easily on the blocking board.
The flattest method is the Whip Stitch. This is the best choice for a crocheted table cloth since there are no thick seams that would cause a wine glass to be unsteady. Whip stitch is done by placing the right sides (front) of two shapes together. With yarn the same color as the edges of the shapes and starting at the bottom edge, join 2 adjacent side by going into a stitch from shape 1 and then do the same on shape 2. Go into every stitch or every other stitch, crisscrossing as you go. Stitches should be soft so as not to form a ridge. The objective is to have the 2 shapes lie flat side by side. If working with small squares like granny squares, stitch a column of squares together and then stitch the 2 columns together. This will make the process go faster and leaves fewer ends to weave.
The fastest method is to crochet the pieces together. This will leave a ridge of stitching on either the right or wrong side depending on your design and can be done with the same color or contrasting color yarn. This works great for afghans that are either knit or crochet. For a knitted afghan, it will stabilize the seams and reduce the stretchiness inherent with knitted pieces. This is the thickest and sturdiest of the seams. The ridge can be done using slipstitch or single crochet. Single crochet will give a higher ridge than slipstitch. This method will use more yarn, so make sure there is enough. It’s best if there is the same number of stitches on each shape. If that is not the case, pin the shapes together first so they remain aligned, and then skip several stitches on one side or the other to keep the alignment. Begin to single crochet or slipstitch by putting the hook through one stitch from each shape and then crocheting together. As with the Whip Stitch, crochet columns of shapes first and then crochet the columns together. Weave in all ends.
Another method is the Mattress Stitch. This is most often used for knitted sweaters, but can be used for modular work as well. It’s worked from the right side and creates a ridge on the wrong side. The wrong side is not meant to be attractive, so keep that in mind. This seam is worked flat with the right sides (front) facing out. Starting from the bottom edge and using a tapestry needle and yarn, put the needle under one of the horizontal bars of the knit stitch 1-1.5 stitch from the edge and then bring it up again from under the next horizontal bar. Move to the other shape and do the same. Crisscross back and forth pulling the working yarn just tight enough to make the seam invisible from the right side. Again, work shapes into columns and then sew the columns together.
Which color yarn to use for seams? Choose the same color yarn as the outermost edge of each shape to make the seams invisible and recede. If bold seams are the objective, use contrasting yarn. If squares are multi-colored, leave a long tail for each square and use it to weave together.
To completely finish your project, consider edging with either crochet, knit or add a sewn binding. Even a single row of stitching will give the edges a smooth look and eliminate any imperfections resulting after joining all the pieces.
This was made for a dear friend with the help of 16 other friends. The afghan has 10 sections and is adapted from Babette’s Blanket by Kathy Merrick. This blanket uses both knitted and crocheted squares, unlike the original which is crochet only. Each square was blocked exactly to one of 6 different sizes. Each section was whip stitched together using the long tails left on each square, and then the larger sections were joined using whipstitch. This made the seams recede. Edging was crocheted.
Love you, PG. One thread binds us all.
Carolyn Hanson is local knitting and crochet designer, teacher and fiber artist. She can be contacted at