Mattress Stitch: How To Invisibly Seam Knitting

girl with a cowl with an obvious seamScared of your seam? I’ve been seeing a lot of comments saying,”I hate seaming, so I can’t knit [insert awesome project here].”

Unfortunately for the squeamish, lots of great projects are knit in pieces and seamed up afterward using mattress stitch - usually cardigans, purses, or split-collar sweaters.

Y’all know how much I love to knit in the round, but I won’t re-write a pattern just to avoid seaming with mattress stitch.

There’s No Need To Fear Mattress Stitch If You Just…

  1. Slip the first stitch of every row of your knitting to make it easier for you to see the edge and seam it up
  2. Block your pieces before you try to seam them so the edges don’t curl
  3. Use a strong yarn for seaming (it doesn’t have to be the same yarn you knitted with) – I recommend a plied yarn rather than a single-ply yarn like Noro
  4. Use a contrasting color of yarn so you can see what you’re doing

Here’s a tutorial on how to correctly and easily do mattress stitch, one of the most basic seaming techniques in knitting:

Remember – if your yarn is not very strong, just seam up and pull tight one inch at a time. Blocking can also help disguise any wiggly bits.

Related Tutorials:

If you liked this tutorial on mattress stitch, post in the comments!

About Liat Gat

Liat is the founder and video knitting expert at KNITFreedom. If you liked this article, you'll love the tips you learn from her FREE video newsletter. Get it now by subscribing here.
This entry was posted in Finishing Skills, Knitting Techniques and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Mattress Stitch: How To Invisibly Seam Knitting

  1. Renna says:

    Well, that should be called MAGIC stitch! It was amazing how the red yarn disappeared when you pulled on each end of it. I’ve been one of those seaming naysayers, always avoiding patterns requiring seaming (some that I really wanted to knit). I’m anxious to give this a try! :-)

    • liatmgat says:

      I KNOW you have! I was actually thinking of you when I put this video up. I really like mattress stitch, because of the”magic”-ness of it.

  2. GREAT demo, thank you.

    A question: If I am going to slip stitch the first stitch of every row, do I then cast on an additional stitch to compensate for the slip stitch, or do I cast on the number in the pattern and just slip the first stitch?

    Many thanks,
    Lee
    Ravelry: LeeBernstein
    Ravelry Group: Knitting is Gluten Free

    • liatmgat says:

      Great question, Lee! If your pattern calls for you to seam your garment with Mattress stitch, the designer has already taken into account the fact that some of the side stitches will be used up in the seaming, so you shouldn’t have to adjust your knitting at all. Just cast on the number in the pattern and slip the first stitch.

      I hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

  3. Jeanne says:

    If the pattern is unclear about the seaming, do I need to “add” a stitch to compensate for the slipped stitch?

    • liatmgat says:

      Great question! If it says to seam up the pattern, then you can assume they have taken the slipped stitch into account. If you are converting a round or un-seamed pattern to flat (although I don’t know why you would do that) you’d have to add in a side stitch. :)

  4. Rachelle Skinner says:

    If the cardigan was knitted side to side does the mattress stitch still work? I did not slip one when I knitted the cardigan.

    • liatmgat says:

      Yep! This technique works to join any two edges in any orientation – it’s okay that you did not slip the first stitch. Just make sure that you dip the tapestry needle under TWO threads of yarn, one stitch in from each edge.

      I’ve also got more mattress-stitch videos coming, so keep reading!

  5. Renna says:

    I’m so glad you posted this link on facebook today. Even though I was amazed when I first saw it last year (obviously, by my comment above), I’d since forgotten about it (it happens once you reach a certain age ;-) ). I was amazed all over again! :-)

  6. Pat McMullen says:

    Great video. I have looked at diagrams in the past, but this made so much more sense to me. As it was progressing, it didn’t look that attractive, but once you pulled the yarn taught it looks so nice.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Pat –

      Thank you so much for the sweet compliment. I’m so glad that the video was helpful for you. It’s amazing how a tug of the yarn can change the entire look, isn’t it?

      Happy Knitting!

  7. Penelope Butler says:

    Thank you so much!
    As an old-timer learning to knit I was foxed by the diagram in the knitting book and try as I might I couldn’t make it work.
    Having watched your tutorial you made it easy to copy and I have just finished a “proper” seam and I am delighted!

  8. Hello Liat,
    Thanks so much for this excellent video. I love your videos because you use heavy weight yarn, big needles and really show close ups. So great!
    Question: How to you handle seaming where the number of stitches are not the same on each side and therefore they don’t line up exactly?

  9. vicki johnson says:

    Thank you! I have been knitting for exactly 50 years, but have never understood this seaming technique. Now I realize that was because it was never properly explained to me – until today. I am so happy to have learned this and so grateful to you for your clear and excellent teaching.

  10. Ina Davis says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial on the mattress stitch. It arrived just in time for me to use it to seam the Baby Surprise jacket that I just finished. I will be able to send that off in the mail this week.
    I want to echo all the love, appreciation and positive comments that your other fans have expressed. I just learned to knit Aug 2013, found your website and instructions and have been knitting up a storm ever since. THANKS A MILLION!!!

  11. Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who really understands what
    they are talking about on the internet. You definitely
    know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people need to look at this and understand this side of
    the story. I can’t believe you are not more popular because you surely have the gift.

  12. Good day! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading
    your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
    Thanks for your time!

  13. Sky Vanderlinde says:

    Liat, I love your videos!! Question: I’m making a toy. The pattern is to make it flat and do a lot of seaming. However, she usually puts increases into the first stitch, so I wouldn’t be able to slip those. Any advice? Thank you!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Sky,

      I’ve learned recently that when you are going to be seaming with mattress stitch, it’s best NOT to slip the first stitch of each row.

      Apparently working, not slipping, the first stitch of every row makes a stronger edge. But what I would do is k1 and then do the increases. I don’t think it’s smart to increase on the first stitch ever – most designers put the increases one stitch in.

      I hope this helps!

  14. Jayelle says:

    I’m so glad I found this video! I’m a total newbie an all the other ones I watched had un-slipped edges and I was so confused. But I do have a question, if that’s ok. How do you finish the seam? I mean, like, to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere? Knot it? Or does the seaming keep itself in place and you can just snip the ends?

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