Mitered Corners for Sweater Knits

Mitered corners are not just for table napkins and quilts. They're also an excellent finish for side seam slits on cut and sew sweaters. If your sewing pattern has them built in, cool. If not, this is how you make them on mid- to bulky weight sweater knits.

How to Sew Mitered Corners for Sweater Knits

It’s important to start with finished edges when making mitered corners on a sweater knit. Here I used an overlocked edge but a stretchy Hong Kong finish could also be used.

Step 1. Make marks on the fabric.

Because I’m making a 1.5 inch hem on each side, I’m measuring twice that amount, or 3 inches, away from the corner. I mark a small dot on the finished edge.

Step 2. Draw a line between the marks.

Step 3. (Optional) Mark the fold line. The fold line is perpendicular to the first line and extends to the corner.

Step 4. Fold (on fold line, if you drew one) so that the marks from Step 1 meet. Place a pin to hold edges together. You’ll be sewing on the line you drew in Step 2.

Step 5. Sew from the outside edge to the fold. Use my technique in the video for keeping the fabric in place without using more pins.

Step 6. Serge along the sewing line or sew again with a wider zigzag and trim close to the stitches.

Step 7. Turn to the right side, while gently pushing at the corner with a finger

Now you have a mitered corner! Steam the hems. You should allow steam to penetrate the fabric, but remember not to press the iron to a sweater knit. Allow it to dry, then sew the hem by hand with a catch stitch or slip stitch. Or sew by machine if you prefer.

Side seam slits are stylish and make a sweater comfortable to wear. Mitered corners are the perfect finish for them when your sweater is of the cut-and-sew variety. Consider mitered corners for a split neckline, too.


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A Patchwork Sweater

It's a simple story to tell. Inspired by numerous patchwork sweaters (See Pinterest board below.) and many sweater knit scraps, I've wanted to create my own patchwork sweater for a very long time. If you participated or followed along with my Sweater Block Challenge, you know how it got started! Here's the whole story with pictures.

Some of the sweaters on my Pinterest board are merely inspired by patchwork. Others really are examples of sweater knit patchwork glory!

My sweater began with my piles collection of sweater knit scraps: leftovers from sweaters and fabrics past, end of bolt gems, and a gorgeous cable harvested from a thrift store sweater. I'd purchased the cable sweater specifically for the Intro to Knitwear Design class I teach at the Fashion Institute of Technology, (You can't use muslin fabric in a knitwear class!), but the cable was just too nice. I had to use some of it myself, rather than just for demonstration purposes!

For the neckline and yoke fabric I reused a part of a sweater I'd made decades earlier, a sweater that needed some serious refreshing.

Cutting and sewing the pieces of the sweater was an interesting creative endeavor -- part puzzle solving, part meditative. Incorporated into what eventually became the sweater back are Moonstone fabric bottom left, natural jersey to its right and Hudson directly above.

The added bonus, of course, is that I was able to use small quantities of materials that would ordinarily have been thrown away. Leftover garter stitch bands from an early project, were used for the bottom of the sleeves and at bottom of the high-low hem.

Strange that a purveyor of sweater knits would be discouraging you from buying fabric! (I'll encourage you to do that later.) Piecing together bits of sweater cutaways is an excellent way to practice your sweater sewing skills or work out ideas for a new design. What future sweaters do you have hidden away in your sweater scrap collection?


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Matching Stitch Patterns Across Seams When Sewing Sweater Knits

I have a favorite technique for matching texture and color patterns when sewing seams, but it isn’t magic. Seams won’t miraculously match using this method unless they're carefully planned when the pattern is being cut. But if you are careful and think ahead, you can get beautiful matching across your seams.

Remember, when working with strong textures and color patterns, always purchase more fabric than you would for a solid or a fabric with a small pattern just like when you are matching stripes or plaids in a woven. Also the placement of your pattern pieces needs to be as precise as possible and careful cutting is mandatory! Once you plan your pattern matching and cut the pieces accordingly, you can use my method to make sure your hard work was worth your effort.

The One-Pin Method of Matching Stitch Patterns Across Seams

Step 1. Place fabric pieces right sides together.

Step 2. Making sure the first pattern is matched, place one pin perpendicular to the seam holding the fabric in place.

Step 3. Place fabric under the presser foot. Lower the presser foot. Lower the needle. Remove the pin.

Step 4. Separate the fabric a little to view the next pattern motif you need to match. It should be no greater than 3 or 4 inches away. Match the patterns and hold with your fingers as you sew.

Step 5. Once your fingers get close to the presser foot, stop and repeat steps 4 and 5 until you complete the seam.

In order for this technique to work, your machine must already be set up properly for sewing sweater knits. This means adjusting the presser foot pressure (if available) and using a walking foot (if necessary). See How to Sew Smooth Sweater Knit Seams.

You can also use this method on a serger with one big caveat: Don't use a pin to begin. In fact, never use pins when working with a serger! Instead, hold the fabric together with a craft clip (also sold under the brand name Wonder Clips). Binder clips work nicely too if you have them on hand. Since there's generally not a large bed on home sergers, the fabric adjustments and holds (step 4) will have to be done more frequently.

There's generally not a large bed on home sergers so the fabric adjustments and holds (step 4) will come more frequently. Be sure all settings are correct for your sweater knit, and you'll be able to match patterns across the seam with a serger, too.

Interested in exploring the details of sweater sewing a little more? My online workshop How to Cut and Sew a Sweater will be opening again for registration soon. Sign up to learn more about the course.