Why Knitters and Crocheters Shouldn’t Avoid Seams

unzip seamSome knitters and crocheters hate seams. They’ll do almost anything to avoid sewing two pieces of fabric together. But I say argue seams get a bad rap. The ability to sew pieces of knitted or crocheted fabric together gives the creator a lot of power over design and construction. In this post, I’ll make my case for why seams are our friends.

Seams Are to Garments as Frames Are to Buildings
When I approach a new knit or crochet project, I tend to think of the garment like a SEAMstress would. I visualize it in pieces with a network of seams as the underlying framework. The seams provide structure and support. The weight of an entire sweater literally rests on the wearer’s shoulders, so strong seams in this area can prevent stretching and ensure a proper fit over the long term. Side seams also provide stability by minimizing the tendency of knitted or crocheted fabric to shift or become distorted with wear. Planning a sweater with seams also opens up all sorts of possibilities for non‐conventional or avant-garde construction. Garments can easily be worked from side to side or on the bias if strong seams are in place to support the overall structure.

Seams Make Projects Comfortable and Portable
In some ways seamed garments can offer more comfort and convenience during the knitting/crocheting process when compared with alternative seamless methods. Working one piece at time makes a project easy to transport, so one can always knit on the go. The weight of a nearly finished sweater on the needles may cause physical discomfort to some knitters and crocheters, especially those with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or other similar conditions. Finally, if a critical mistake has been found near the beginning of a project (one that requires frogging) it will be much less discouraging to rip out a single piece rather than an entire garment.

Raglans Just Don’t Suit Every Body
Most seamless sweaters are worked in raglan fashion. While this type of garment certainly has its advantages, it also comes with its own unique challenges. Basic raglan construction does not allow for a drop at the back neck which can cause distortion and affect fit overall. The diagonal raglan lines also tend to draw the eye to the upper arm area, and this can be very unflattering for some body types.

My Favorite Seaming Methods
Seam on knitted fabricSeeing a garment come together during the seaming process gives many knitters and crocheters a deep sense of gratification. So why do others hesitate to attempt seamed garments or finish the ones they have started? Generally, it is because they have yet to master a variety of seaming techniques. The easiest to learn and execute is the whip stitch which creates a strong, steady seam. The crochet slip stitch is not only easy to work, but very also easy to remove. My favorite seams are mattress and baseball stitches which are invisible on the public side of the work giving the garment all the stability of seams while appearing seamless. There are more seaming stitches like back stitch, baseball stitch and grafting ‐‐ each with its own unique attributes.

Faking it
There are, of course, many solutions to most of the issues presented by seamless construction. Artificial seams, short rows, contiguous construction, and other strategies can be employed to overcome some of the problems that may arise. However in my own work, I generally do not see a savings in time or effort realized by the use of seamless construction. I find that by the time I’ve made all the adjustments necessary to compensate for a lack of seams, I could have simply worked a seamed garment in the first place.

All things considered, seamless construction is an important skill any knitter or crocheter should know, and there are certainly times when it is the best option. Still, having a variety of seaming techniques in at your disposal will only add to the beauty and variety of the garments you’ll be able to make.

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