Sweater finishing

I have a pattern book that specifically says to backstitch some seams and mattress stitch others when finishing a sweater. I am about ready to sew one up (from another pattern) and I was wondering - is backstitching shoulder seams the ‘right’ way to do it or is this one knitter’s preference? I thought that you shouldn’t backstitch to seam things b/c it is not an invisible seam. The only sweater I have made before is a raglan style baby sweater and I used matttress stitch to put it together. most patterns aren’t specific about which stitch to use when you sew things up. What’s everyone’s opinion on this?

I always use mattress stitch, regardless of what the pattern says. I think it’s just the designer’s preference for back stitch. My sloppy seams almost stopped me from knitting sweaters, but once I learned mattress, all bets were off.

For shoulders, I’ve gotten to the point where I always do a three-needle bind-off, again, regardless of the pattern. It just makes such a beautiful seam–another technique that makes me love to make sweaters.

I agree! The heck with the pattern, you know what looks good!

Thanks - that is what I was thinking too. the only time backstitch doesn’t bother me is when I’m felting something. It looks so messy! I am going to try the 3-needle bind off with my next sweater. Can’t do it with this one because of how the pieces are made.

You still see knitting books that suggest backstitch for just about everything, and I know some fabulous knitters (an elderly English lady, for one) who use nothing else. It works if you keep the stitching line no more than 1/4" wide so you don’t get a big, bulky seam.

Personally, I would use it only on shoulder seams, and then only if the yarn or the pattern stitch is very stretchy. It’s very firm and helps prevent the shoulder seams from stretching down to your elbows. For most sweaters, the three-needle bind-off is strong, clean and beautiful both inside and out.