How to : Steek a garment
Hello and welcome to this new tutorial, in which I will use both my sewing machine … and my knitting project! Don’t worry, everything will be fine, we’ll just do a Steek.
Do a steek / steeking, what is it? In knitting, steeking is a technique that most often is used to transform sweaters knitted in the round, as a cardigan. In order to create (depending on models) arms, neck openings, pockets, or cardigan fronts, a straight line is cut along the center of a row, in order to make room for an opening or attach another part. This technique will stabilize your stitches so that the project does not unravel when you cut.
It can be used for all knits, but is generally used for fair-isle. So why should we knit fair-isle in the round, and cut, when you want to make a cardigan? Why not knit it back and forth? Simply because the colour work is usually much easier to do in the round, as there are no purl rows, and the tension of your work is better too.
I mentioned it in my fair-isle article, the fair-isle technique is traditionally knitted in the round for all these reasons. The steek technique has therefore been used for a long time too!
There are two ways to make a Steek :
- Either with a crochet hook reinforcement, for a quick and efficient result.
- Either with a reinforcement with a sewing machine, equally effective but which requires to sew a ribbon on the inside for a more beautiful finish.
Having no crochet hook that matched the size of my yarn, I decided this time to make the steek with my sewing machine. But I intend to try it next time! However, I’m talking about this technique below.
- So, how to make a steek on a sewing machine?
Just follow the pattern instructions, or decide yourself where you need to cut your project. Here, I made a steek on the front to turn my sweater into a cardigan.
According to my patern, I will later have to cut between the 3rd and 4th stitches of the steek for it to be in the middle. But before I can cut, I must of course sew a line to hold my stitches together. According to my pattern, it must be in the center of the 3rd stitch, and in the center of the 4th. The seam / crochet line must always maintain the center of the stitch and not be between two stitches, otherwise it may unravel.
To succeed in your sewing:
- You can choose a seam either straight or zigzag, but it must be as small as possible. For my project, I chose a straight seam size 1.
- I used a slightly contrasting thread so you can see it on the pictures, but otherwise you should use a thread of the same colour as your project.
- Sew the first side from bottom to top, and the second side from top to bottom.
- Sew a few securing stitches at the starting point, and at the end of your project.
- Go slowly! It is necessary that all the stitches are well attached to the seam! For this project, I decided to sew two lines to be sure that all my stitches were secured in the seam.
- Feel free to use your fingers to separate the row, so you can really see where you are supposed to sew.
- Do the same thing on the other side!
Have you done your two seams lines in the center of your stitches? Perfect! It’s time to look at these beautiful seams … and cut! As I mentioned above, my seams are in the center of my 3rd stitch, and in the center of my 4th stitch. As these stitches are now stabilized, I can cut a line between the 3rd and the 4th stitch.
Be brave, and try not to stress too much or sweat, take my scissors and … go! you can cut! Again, go slowly! And separate your stitches well with your fingers to cut at the right place!And it’s cut off !!!! Not too much stress I hope ?!
According to your pattern, some advise to pick-up stitches for the button bands before finishing the steek, and others after. Here, I had to pick-up the stitches before. As you can see on the picture bellow, you now have a part on the inside, with the thread line, and your stitches that are starting to unravel (no panic is normal!).
Here, I picked-up my stitches by folding all of my steek part on the inside. And then I knitted my button band normally, according to the instructions of the pattern.
Additional Tip: When I picked-up the stitches on my first side, I found that it changed the fair-isle tension and that my stitches became a bit loose. So I decided to sew a second seam exactly where I was going to pick-up my stitches on the second side to stabilize them. I sewed this line once, but I found that the result in the fair-isle tension was much better than on the first side.As the inside part is not very pretty, it is recommended to sew a ribbon to hide it. This will also protect your steek. I chose a simple sewing ribbon, which I burned the ends to prevent them from fraying. I cut it to the size of the sweater, and I sewed it by hand. Over time, the inside will felt, and the stitches will become one with the rest of the garment. Of course it works especially if you use wool, but will not work as well with cotton, bamboo or acrylic, because these materials do not felt. But technically it will be well protected by the ribbon.
- The crochet technique
This technique consists in crocheting a band of stitches on either side of the central stitch of the steek band. Once done, just cut! The stitches are well maintained and the bands fold inwards. Feel free to use a contrasting color to be sure to cut at the right place.
As for sewing : you have to crochet a leg of a stitch with one leg of the other stitch: If I had followed my pattern, I would have had to crochet the left leg of the 3rd stitch with the right leg of the stitch 2nd stitch / right leg of the 4th stitch with the left leg of the 5th stitch (front facing me). Like this, you can then cut between the 3rd and the 4th stitch.
If you decide to make a crochet steek, know that you will not need to sew a ribbon, because the finish will be immediately clean, as you can see on Perrine‘s cardigan.
- So, sewing machine or crochet hook?
I think the two techniques are equal … The sewing one will be faster to make as you use the machine, but will require more time when finishing (sewing ribbon), while the crochet hook may take a little more time to achieve, but will not require any finishing. It will all depends on whether you have a sewing machine or a crochet hook at the right size. Next time I’ll do the crochet, and I’ll be able to give you more specific feelings about my favorite technique.
So, do you feel more comfortable with steeking? Do not hesitate, and get cracking!