Give Your Knitting a Flourish with Flawless Finishing

I have problems finishing my knitting. That is, I complete a knitted project, but it never looks as good as it does in the project photo. In the past I put the blame squarely on the model, who was obviously cuter/younger/thinner/more photo-shopped than I. A hard look at the garment in my knitting bag revealed the sad truth: when it comes to properly finishing a knitted garment, I have a lot of learning to do.

“Finishing” refers to all those extra touches that make a knitted project look fabulous and fit well. If you want a garment that looks handmade, not homemade, then proper seaming and fitting-in of sleeves are KEY. Faina Goberstein’s newest course, Sophisticated Finishing Techniques will help give your projects a professional polish. Below are a few tips.

1. Plan your finishing from the start.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but excellent finishing can happen at the beginning of a garment. Selvedge stitches are key: they create a tidy braid on the edges of your garment that makes seaming a dream. To work a selvedge, slip your first stitch purlwise with the yarn in front, then knit the last stitch. Make sure to add 2 extra stitches to your cast-on for this so you don’t interfere with your actual pattern.

A selvedge edge is your best friend when it comes to seaming.

2. Seams perfect to me!

Selvedges are a great help to seaming, but there are a few tricks to a perfect mattress stitch as well. Seaming closer to the edge makes for less bulk but also a less sturdy, more visible seam. Think about what you are making: a heavy pullover requires strong seams that stand up to wear, but delicate lacy top benefits from a lighter touch in seaming

Magnificent mattress stitch. The top portion is seamed 2 stitches from the edge; the bottom 1 stitch from the edge. Can you tell the difference?

3. Embrace short-rows.

Many patterns call for you finish shoulders by binding off a few stitches at the beginning of each row. This creates a stair-step edge that can look like hell and/or be super bulky when seaming. Faina suggests working short-rows instead (she prefers the German method, but any method works). The combination of short-row edges and a 3-needle bind-off creates a perfectly straight, non-bulky seam that is strong enough to hold a bag of rocks. I will probably knit more seamed pieces this year just so I can employ this technique.

finishing a knitted garment

Short-row shoulders and an awesome bind-off.

4. The best compliment is no compliment at all.

Proper finishing makes people notice your garment, not its construction. But sometimes you want to call attention to your skills. In these situations, try fixing wonky collar edges with a crocheted chain in a contrasting color. It looks pretty and gives you a perfect guide for picking up stitches.

finishing a knitted garment

Work this chain in your main color for an invisible and perfect collar edge.

If you want to create sophisticated, tailored pieces, look no further than Faina’s newest course. Sophisticated Finishing Techniques is a new streamable course you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.

Never stop learning,

Posted April 25, 2018; updated March 14, 2019.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources.


  1. Lisa S at 9:35 am April 25, 2018

    What is the name of the pattern for that gorgeous red sweater????:?

Post a Comment