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Knitting is a vast art that can be applied to different forms of cloth making. You can make wear, upholstery covers, beddings, cleaning cloths, and so much more, using the other techniques in practice. One of such techniques is mattress stitch knitting.
Mattress stitches aren’t very common. One would think that’s because it is hard to master, but no. Learning to knit mattress stitches is a simple process. You can expect to learn all you need to know in this guide, and you can get practicing immediately.
What is mattress stitch?
A mattress stitch, also called a ladder stitch, is an invisible seam lined vertically along two pieces to knit them together. The main attraction of this stitching method is the hidden seam which joins two pieces side to side.
Think about what magic you can make with a hidden seam. When correctly done, you can use mattress stitch knitting to single out your work from similar patterns. This trick finesses the edges of any project; the resulting seam is neat and firm. This stitching method is often used in jumpers, cushions, mattresses, pillows, blankets, and some bed covers (1).
Things to note on mattress stitch
Before you get into full knitting mode, ready to do mattress stitching, you should learn its best practices to guarantee you the best results.
Here are essential things to note in mattress stitching:
- First, mattress stitch knitting works best when the two pieces have an equal number of stitched rows. This is because the method depends on the horizontal stitch lines to run a vertical thread through which forms the seam.
If the two pieces to be stitched don’t have an equal number of rows, the piece you’ll make won’t be properly aligned. And most times, the seam also will be puckered, which might be uncomfortable to wear when this happens with clothes.
- For well-rounded edges, it’s best to leave a long enough tail at the end of a knit piece. Without this extra thread, you would have to join a new thread to the edge of the parts, making the resultant work buffy.
- To achieve the seamless appearance you’re aiming for with the ladder stitch; it’s best to use the same yarm you used in knitting the separate pieces you want to join.
Perhaps you can’t get that exact yarn, or probably it’s very thick, and you don’t want a large edge; you can opt for a thinner option of the same color or an embroidery thread also of the same color with your main pieces.
The movements and procedure used to knit mattress stitch has various applications. It is not only used by knitters; upholsterers, mattress makers, and tailors also use the skill in making seamless products. For example, most quality cot mattresses come without seams which is the work of handcrafters in mattress making.
Mattress stitch tutorial: Step by step instructional guide
Now, let’s get down to the main business, which is the mattress stitch tutorial.
We’ll go through the process in seven simple steps and will be as explanatory as possible. To understand this better, it would be helpful for you to have two knit pieces and a darning needle for practicing.
Here is a step-by-step guide to learn mattress stitch knitting:
Step One - Assembling the pieces
Having decided that you want to use a mattress stitch to finish up on your project, you need to be more particular about making similar patterns on both sides. You have to keep a steady hand and knit equal rows on the pieces to be joined. When you place them beside each other, they should have equal length, and the edges should align. If this isn’t the case, you can still do the seaming work, but you have to be more detailed in your work.
- Place the pieces to be joined side-by-side with edges aligned.
- The pieces should have their right side facing up.
Step Two - Thread out the yarn
Next, you need to thread out the yarn to use. The ideal length to measure out should be about three times the length of the edge you want to seam. If the edge is lengthy, measure the yarn in batches to avoid having them worn out while pulling through the pieces.
- After measuring out the yarn, insert it into the hole of a blunt darning needle.
Step Three - Thread yarn through the pieces
This step applies to pieces that don’t already have a long tail attached after knitting. Next, you need to join the thread to the edge of the parts. If one piece has a long tail, you have to do this step for only the other piece.
- Take the bottom edge of the left piece.
- Locate a hole to attach the thread.
- Insert the needle and pull from bottom to top.
- Repeat the same process on the other piece at the bottom seam edge.
Step Four - Map out the stitching edge.
The mattress stitch doesn’t go through the edges but uses the horizontal stitch bars between the edge stitch and the penultimate stitch. To find the horizontal lines:
- Pull the edge stitch and the second-to-last stitch apart.
- Push a needle through to create a clear path.
- Do this for both pieces to be joined.
Step Five - Thread through the lines
At this point, the two pieces are attached at the bottom edge. Now, you can do mattress stitching for the seam.
- Pass the darning needle under two horizontal lines on the left piece.
- Pull the thread from bottom to top.
- Pass the needle under the parallel two horizontal lines on the right piece.
- Repeat the process until you’ve knitted about an inch or two.
Step Six - Pull the yarn through.
After every inch or two of mattress stitching, pull the yarn up. This brings the pieces together with a seamless surface.
- If you notice puckering, gently pull the pieces apart and rethread.
- For pieces that don’t align, thread through one horizontal line instead of two on the longer part till both sides align.
- Continue stitching till the top.
Step Seven - Knot the stitched end
Once you’re done with the stitching, you have to knot the end, so the stitch doesn’t loosen.
- Make the thread end into a loop.
- Pull the needle through and knot.
Mattress stitching in beddings
The application of mattress stitching varies widely. As expected, the stitching pattern is used in some processes related to mattresses.
Let’s check out the uses of mattress stitching in mattresses:
1. Hand side stitching
One of the major attractions of a quality innerspring mattress is hand side-stitching and hand tufting. These give the mattress improved edge-to-edge support, better durability, and a firmer feel. The handcrafters use ladder stitching to join the side panel to the pocket springs without showing seams.
2. Mattress top seaming
There are two types of mattress tops; euro top and pillow top. Mattress stitching is only used in euro top mattresses, which accounts for their non-visible seams. Euro top mattresses are usually hybrid memory foam mattresses. They are great for back pain and optimal body support. You can check our complete list of best mattresses for bad back in Australia here.
3. Mattress protectors and encasements
The best mattress protectors and encasements also come in seamless patterns. It gives the bed better protection from dust and bugs, which have no places to hide since there are no seams. Check here for the best mattresses in Australia to go with great protectors like these.
How do I hand sew mattress stitches?
You can hand sew mattress stitches using a blunt darning needle, a yarn of the same color as your pieces, and following the layering steps.
Is mattress stitch vertical?
A mattress stitch is a vertical seam that is knit to be invisible on the outside material.
Going through our mattress stitch tutorial here explains all you need to know on mattress stitches, but practicing with your hands is what would get you to master the technique. So, get knitting.
What difficulties do you face with trying the mattress stitch? We are here to help. So drop a comment, and let’s get talking. If you’ve found this piece insightful, do let us know as well.
- Ladder stitch. (n.d). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladder_stitch
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