The Perfect Finish: How to Block Crochet
I remember showing off my first crochet project and someone commenting that it didn’t look finished. “It’s done!” I insisted. “Yes, but you didn’t finish it,” she said, before going on to explain what “finished” means.
“Finishing” refers to those techniques that make a garment look professionally crocheted. You can make a gorgeous crochet fabric, but if your seams are wonky or your stitches uneven it doesn’t matter: people will only see what is wrong. Finish something properly, however, and they see a beautiful whole. Finishing is the difference between something looking “homemade” and something looking “handmade.”
Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby knows a thing or 3 about crochet finishing. An author, designer, and instructor, he is known for couture-level garment design. His newest course, Crochet Finishing Techniques, shows you how to make your projects look their very best, beginning with how to block crochet. Here are some of his tips.
Be a Blockhead
Blocking is perhaps the most basic and most important part of finishing. Even a simple scarf benefits from being soaked and pinned. During blocking, stitches magically even out. Curling fabric lies flat and has a beautiful drape. Lacy or open-stitch patterns blossom.
The most common blocking method is wet blocking, and it’s particularly good for superwash yarns or fabric that really curls. To wet-block, soak your project in tepid water, gently squeeze the water out, then pin your fabric to the desired size and shape. If squeezing doesn’t get the water out, roll your project in a towel and stand or even jump up and down on it—a satisfying task in and of itself.
Next, you need to pin your fabric evenly. You may have a blocking board that has neatly ruled measurements on it, or you may need to improvise. Shannon suggests using interlocking floor mats. Not only are they fairly inexpensive, waterproof, and easy to store, but you can customize the size and shape depending on what you need to block.
Pin pieces starting at the ends or corners, then pin the middle. If you’ve never used blocking wires, they are a great investment; they stabilize the entire edge of your fabric at once, reducing tedious pinning and repinning to get your piece perfectly straight and even. If you have curved pieces, Shannon demonstrates an ingenious blocking method using T-pins and string.
Not every fabric or project benefits from a long soak. That afghan you recently completed? No way will you want to put that in your tub. Spritz or steam blocking is your friend here. Spray or steam your fabric until it’s nicely damp, then pin to the correct size. This is also a very good method for more delicate yarns that don’t need a lot of moisture to make them behave. Interweave has a very nice garment steamer, but I’ve found that using my iron at home works equally well: just be sure to hold it over the piece you are blocking without touching the fabric.
Blocking is just the tip of the iceberg in Shannon’s course. He’ll show you how to sew pieces together with an invisible mattress stitch while avoiding any overhang, how to ease in sleeves with no bunching whatsoever, and how to add zippers to anything.
Check out Crochet Finishing Techniques with Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby and make your projects look their very best.
Crochet Finishing Techniques with Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby is a new streamable course you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.