Mattress Stitch Knitting Tutorial: Horizontal Seams

Fear the mattress stitch no more! Here’s a step-by-step mattress stitch knitting tutorial to help you master the art of knitting seams.
Mattress stitch knitting technique is used in this photo for a horizontal seam.

This tutorial is for seams worked horizontally (such as a shoulder seam). For seams worked vertically (such as a side seam), check out the companion, mattress stitch vertical tutorial.

How To Do Mattress Stitch: Horizontal Seams

  1. Locate the last stitch at the end of a column of stitches. Insert your needle under both “legs” of the stitch, as seen in the photo at right.
    The first step of the mattress stitch includes locating the last stitch at the end of a clumn of stitches.
    Note: In the photos here, I used a contrasting thread so you can see what I am doing. For actual seaming, use the same yarn as the pieces are knit with, or a matching embroidery thread.
  2. Lay the second knitted piece parallel to the first. Locate the corresponding column of stitches on the second piece of knitting; insert your needle under both “legs” of the stitch at the end of that column.
    The second step in the mattress stitch includes laying the second knitted piece parallel to the first.
    Note: Your tapestry needle will always be pointing in the same direction as you are stitching: towards the end of the seam.
  3. Pull the yarn through and pick up the legs of the next end-stitch of the next column on the first knitted piece. Be sure to work along the same row of stitches on each piece—don’t jump from one row to another.The second step in the mattress stitch includes laying the second knitted piece parallel to the first.
  4. Pull yarn through and insert needle under next end-stitch of the next column on the second knitted piece. I left my bright red yarn slightly loose so you can see what the stitches look like.Pull the yarn through and insert the needle under the next end-stitch of the next column on the second knitted piece.
  5. Continue in this manner, alternating sides, staying in the same column of bars on each piece.
    The sixthstep in the mattress stitch includes laying the second knitted piece parallel to the first.
    Again, I’ve left the yarn slightly loose here so you can see what it looks like; you would pull the stitches firmly as in the next step.
  6. When pulling the yarn through, pull it a bit firmly—enough to bring the columns of stitches together, but not so firmly that the fabric puckers. On the first few stitches, it may help to pull on both ends of the seaming yarn, as I am doing here.This step involves alternating sides and staying in the same column of bars on each piece for the mattress stitch knitting method.
  7. Adjust the tension by gently tugging on the seaming yarn, and then gently tugging on the fabric to get the beginning of the seam to be flat. This is particularly important for the first few stitches of the seam to get the seam to be just right.
    Adjust the tension by gently tugging on the seaming yarn and then gently tugging on the fabric to get the beginning of the seam to be flat.
  8. Here’s what the back of the mattress seam looks like.
    View of the back of the mattress stitch knitting should look like.

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