How To Make the Locking Mattress Stitch for Crochet Fabric
Locking Mattress Stitch (for Crochet Fabric)
NOTE: Although the Locking Mattress Stitch works FAB with both crochet and knitted fabrics, today's Technique Tuesday article will be addressing the use of this seaming technique with crochet fabrics. Look for a future article for seaming knit fabrics using the Locking Mattress Stitch.
Why use the Locking Mattress Stitch?
The Locking Mattress Stitch leaves a nearly invisible seam in crochet and knitted fabrics. It's really that simple.
The seam is sewn using minimally invasive needle work and the stitches snug together in a neat and tidy way that leaves a seam on the inside of the fabric with no noticeable bulk and leaves the outside of the fabric looking… well… seamless! (Pun intended… thanks.)
Click "Read More" link below for the full post.
A Little Background
Initially, we used this method of sewing seams because… well… that's how I was taught to do it when I was a kid! Sure… both of us were also accustomed to seaming with the backstitch and the blanket stitch but we found both of these created seams that were bulky and we didn't like the way the finished side of the fabric looked. So, we began using the stitch I had learned all those years ago.
When we wrote our first patterns, we needed to describe what stitch we were using so we searched the internet and looked through my old books to see if there was a name for this stitch and, lo and behold, we eventually found the Mattress Stitch. Noticing that ours was a little different, we gave it the new name of Locking Mattress Stitch because of the "lock" of working back into the previous stitch.
So, no, we didn't invent or even reinvent this stitch. It was taught to me and now we use it in all of our designs and we are passing it on to you all. Oh… and, no, I don't think my grandmother invented this method of seaming either. Someone probably taught it to her or she figured it out through trial and error just like someone else's grandmother probably did at the same time halfway around the world. It's that whole creative frequency thing… maybe we'll chat about that later…
The 3 Keys to Working a Successful Locking Mattress Stitch
There are three key factors to keep in mind in order to work a successful Locking Mattress Stitch that creates the nearly invisible seam:
Just like your stars, your stitches and rows must also be in alignment for a positive outcome. Okay… that's not exactly the same but you get my drift.
The sides of your stitches must be matched so your rows align creating a seamless look to the finished fabric. Check your work as you go to ensure something hasn't gone a bit wonky as you are stitching.
You will see in the final photos below that the rows line up but might look just a little askew until you block them… that's totally okay. What you want to avoid is the top of one row meeting the middle of another row. That's just wonky…
You will be tempted to think you need to insert the needle under more than one loop to make sure there are no gaps in your seam. NOPE! Don't do it… resist the temptation! One loop is enough.
NOTE: If you do notice any gaps in your seam, you might need to consider adding an after-the-fact selvedge like a border of single or half double crochet stitches to sew into. In that case, you would then sew your seams like you would for a shoulder seam (shown below).
It is vital that you maintain even tension as you snug your sewing yarn along the length of the seam to prevent painful puckering.
Check your work as you go to make sure your fabric is still hanging correctly and that you aren't gathering or puckering the fabric as you pull your seaming stitches snug.
A Very Special Note From The Designer About Seams
steps up on soapbox
For your consideration: Sometimes we design a seam into a garment for structural purposes. No… despite cries we have heard to the contrary… not every seam is put in there just so you have something else to sew together. Sometimes, seams are actually structural elements that keep your garment from sagging and bagging. And, in the case of the tops of your shoulders, the seam is, literally, what your entire garment hangs from and is supported by.
Yes, we've heard the complaining. But saying you love making garments but don't do it because you don't want to sew seams is like saying you like driving but don't like moving your foot from the gas to the brake.
Yes, there are seamless patterns that are great and you can drive around a racetrack all day (although we're pretty sure you'd still have to use the whole gas/brake thing there too) but, eventually, you are going to want to drive to the park to play in the grass or fall in love with a garment that just isn't meant to be made seamless.
Moral of the story: Seamless is good but seamless is not always the way to go!
steps off soapbox… for now…
Break It Down
For the Break Down, since crochet stitches all look different making it difficult to know exactly where the loops are you are supposed to be working your needle into, we've included photo walk throughs for Single Crochet, Half Double Crochet, and Double Crochet fabrics as well as for Shoulder Seams. They are pictured below in that order.
1. Lay work with right sides facing down and edges to be sewn side by side. Stitches will be worked through the top loop only of both sides.
2. Insert needle from left to right through the first stitches of both panels at the bottom of your work to begin joining the two panels.
3. Insert needle from right to left into the next stitch of the right panel and continue through the last stitch worked on the left panel.
4. Insert needle from left to right into the next stitch of the left panel and continue through the last stitch worked of the right panel.
5. Continue in this manner gently pulling the yarn snug as you go to close the seam.
6. Every few stitches pull the yarn snug to secure and even out the seam.
To give you a TRUE view of what you sewn seam will look like, here are unblocked photos of each fabric. Note that the rows are still just SLIGHTLY askew so don't freak out if your crochet seam doesn't look flawless pre-blocking. This will, of course, even out with blocking but we wanted you to see what you work will look like when you initially finish. Again, a quick blocking and your fabric will be all evened out and beautiful.
As with any new technique, you will find working the Locking Mattress Stitch becomes easier after a few times. For practice, we recommend stitching up a few quick swatches like ours and using our photo walk through to compare your stitches and make sure you are making neat and tidy seams.
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