Greetings readers, Tanis here.
A lot of folks ask me what I think the best way to put a sweater together is. There’s no right or wrong way, but there are definitely steps you should do in a certain order to ensure a well put-together garment. It never ceases to amaze me how many students of mine say they’ve taken the time to knit a beautiful sweater, finished all of the knitting, spent all the time, knit with wonderful yarns, then lose interest once it comes time to put it all together, or they’re just not sure how to do it. That should be the fun part!
I knit a sweater for my son in pieces, Knitty’s Trellis pattern recently. So how do I go from this:
It’s not as hard as you think! Putting together a sweater shouldn’t be done in a rush and you want to make sure you have ample time to do it well. I think the best secret to putting everything together is to leave looooooong tails of yarn. This is especially true for the shoulder and side seams.
Start by mocking up the sweater with the fronts and the back laid down as if they were already joined:
Remember I talked about long tails? This is when you can use them to your benefit. Instead of adding another piece of yarn to join your shoulders together, use the long tails. Because this yarn is already part of the knitted pieces, not only do you cut down on ends to weave in later, but it ensures a stronger seam. Pull out the waste yarn and put your live stitches on your knitting needles:
Use the long tails and kitchener the shoulder seams together. You can 3-needle bind off if you wish, but I want a seamless join, so I’ll kitchener. Now the sweater is joined together! It’s all downhill from here! Seam up your side seams (I like mattress stitch, but there are other ways to do this that work just as well):
Use long pieces of yarn for this, because we can use them later when we set in our sleeves:
It’s starting to look like a sweater now, no? Depending on your pattern, if you have an added-on collar, now is the time to put that on because your shoulders and sides are joined:
Great! It’s really coming together now! Next up is the trickiest part, in my opinion… Setting in the sleeves. You have 2 pieces of flat knitting that somehow need to fit in to your armholes (notice my long tails of yarn):
These will be your best friend during this endeavor:
A coworker at Vogue Knitting showed me this trick when I worked there. I would always end up with wonky sleeves with one side overextending the other. I’d have to undo all that seaming, take the whole sleeve out and would get very frustrated. “Binder clips will solve this?” you ask? YES! Ingenious and simple and if you do it this way, you’ll always ensure an evenly set in sleeve. Use the binder clips to form a sleeve with your knitted pieces:
Now set in the sleeves with your clips. You may have to readjust a few to get an even fit, but that’s the great thing about using the clips. Adjust as needed until the pieces fit well and everything is even:
Seam the sleeve to the armhole with those long tails we left, then go down the arm, taking the clips out as you come to them:
Woohoo, the hard part is done! Since we’ve already blocked our pieces, now it’s time for fun, finishing touches. Line up your fronts and overlap the button band. Put a stitch marker on the button side by reaching through the buttonhole on the buttonhole side. This way, you have a perfectly lined up button:
I like to use the matching yarn whenever possible to attach the buttons, but thread and a sewing needle work for those buttons that have a shank in the back or super tiny holes. Attach the buttons, weave in the ends and wear with pride!
Even though this is a child-sized sweater, adult sweaters are put together the exact same way. Take all of those sweater pieces you have lying around, listen to an audio book or watch TV while you put them together and you’ll have a finished sweater to wear in no time!