Cutting a Sweater Without Steeking - Alternative Techniques?

Hello Everyone!

I am almost finished knitting a sweater using sticks for my friend’s son. However, he is unusually slender for his age; therefore, the sweater I have knit for him is too large width-wise. By the time he grows bigger width-wise to fit it, the sleeves and sweater length will be too short. I want him to wear it this winter; therefore, I would like to cut an inch or so from the sides before I finish it, tailoring it to fit him better.

My multi-layered question is for anyone who can advise me on this. The garment is essentially knitted in st st in one colour except for several rows of Quaker ridge patterning in different colours across the chest.

I have Googled steeking and I have practiced the sewing technique I found on the internet on another sweater (i.e. two rows of sewing machine stitching and then cutting the row inbetween). However, when I have thought about this more, I am considering mattress stitching my garment’s sides together, using rows approximately 1 - 1 1/2 " from the side edges. This would give me too wide seams on the inside, but then I plan to cut them, as if I were sewing. I have not found this technique anywhere so I assuming that maybe this is not such a good idea Perhaps the fear is that the threads left dangling will look too messy and eventually weave their way out of the mattress stiching?

I have also considered “triple mattress stitching” as in (a) take one side of the garment, measure 1 - 1 1/2" from the edge, and marking this row as the one I want to use for finishing the garment; (b) choose two rows to the right of this target row, and mattress stitching them together to “seal” them as my edge; © cut off the remaining extra knitted work to their right; (d) repeat on the remaining three sides of front and back knitted pieces; (e) finish my garment as normal with mattress stitching (only with all four edges extra stitched and looking neat).

I am sure this sounds like a lot of extra work, especially when I can just use the sewing machine. However, if I am going to invest so many hours into knitting a garment, I also want to finish it using knitting techniques. I am truly interested in a non-sewing method. Electric sewing machines did not always exist so what method was used before?

Thank you for any advice or thoughts on the above post that you can provide me with!

Evelynne :wall:


Here’s a good tutorial on down-sizing sweaters. I have used it successfully with a cotton pullover.

It does call for a sewing machine. However, I see no reason for not doing it by hand as long as the seams are well sewn so they will not unravel. Three rows of mattress stitch sounds excessive, and it would make a very bulky seam. Also, I’m not sure how you would accomplish three parallel rows, since you will not have any finished edges to match after the first row.

Actually I think that one row of small, firmly sewn backstitch would be sufficient, or two adjacent rows of slip-stitch crochet. After trimming the seam, you may want to overcast the cut edges for security and neatness. But if the sweater is made of wool (the non Superwash kind), the cut ends will begin to stick to themselves after a few washes. In essence, they will felt together permanently.