Thursday, July 25, 2013

Octuple Rainbow: We All Know Seaming Is Terrible

I thought I'd share with you how I'm sewing together my squares for this blanket, in case anyone searching the internet for some variation of "attaching granny squares" is not coming across anything satisfactory and wants another option (hello, past me!).  So come into my workspace today and I'll show you what I'm doing.

Sewing things together is often seen as One Of Those Things that knitters and crocheters hate doing, because come on!  It's not knitting! (or crocheting), and that's the stuff we really want to be doing.  I admit, I also hate sewing, but because I like the finished product I do resign myself to sewing once in a while.

So at the end of last year when I was figuring out how I wanted this blanket to come together, I tested all kinds of joins.  I didn't want to do a join-as-you-go style because I wanted this to take a year and JAYG takes less time than making and joining squares as separate steps.  I didn't want to crochet the squares together because that creates a seam--a ridge.  And I didn't want a ridge every six inches.  I have an invisible join that works pretty well, but it lays the edge of one square on top of the edge of the next, and doesn't show the joining thread.  Since I wanted the join visible and the squares flat, that wasn't going to work either.

What I finally settled on was astonishingly simple: whipstitch.  It shows a neat set of diagonal lines, it's totally flat, and it's really easy.  Let me show you.

The picture above was taken at the Table With Terrible Lighting.  I literally dragged a lamp over next to it to take a picture that good.  It's really terrible, but that's the only table big enough to hold a whole quarter, so that's what I work with.

As I think I mentioned before, I'm sewing it together in quarters.  Each quarter is going to contain ten seams, five horizontal and five vertical.  Something like this:

Click to zoom
The red and purple lines represent the seams, so each line is one piece of yarn.  The blue lines along the edge mark where I temporarily tacked in the ends.


Let's start at the beginning.  When I get ready to do a seam, I pull out the next six squares and a pair of scissors.  I sewed in the ends of each square as I made them, but I usually didn't trim the ends off.  So I take a minute to trim those short.  I don't like trying to seam the edge of the square where I joined the rounds, so I make sure to put that edge as the first to be attached (because the first seams are the easiest, and it means I don't have to deal with them later).

I lay the free squares upside-down on top of the blanket squares I'm attaching them to.  In the picture above I'm working on the first seam of the quarter, so it's hard to tell, but the right-side-up squares are the "blanket squares", and the upside-down ones are the "free squares".  See what I mean?

In the picture you can kind of tell that my joining yarn is a doubled strand.  That eliminates the ends on the purple side of the blanket, since I start at that side.  To attach the black yarn, I take one really long piece (4 times the length of the seam I want--about four yards in this case, but I measure using the piece) and double it, creating a loop.  When I start the seam, I feed each end through one of the end squares, so the loop is around the squares.  Clear as mud?  Try a picture:

See how the threads are secured?  There's no loose ends to come unraveled.  At this point I hold the threads together (making sure they're about even) and put them through those two stitches again together, securing them.

I chose to use a crochet hook rather than a tapestry needle because I didn't want to split the strands.  So I go up through both loops of equivalent stitches on the blanket square on the bottom and the free square on the top, like this:

Then hook both strands of my black yarn, and pull them all the way through.

When I reach the end of one pair of squares, I flop down the "free square" (which is now not free, since it's attached to the blanket) and smooth out the seam a little to even it out.  Then I start on the next pair, snugging the first stitch close next to the last stitch of the previous squares to make the join nice and tight.

I just go across the whole thing that way, and when I reach the end I trim the end to about a hand's length so I have enough to sew into the border.

You can see in the following picture that this method takes care of all the horizontal seams while leaving the vertical ones.  When I'm finished, I turn the whole thing 90° and the "vertical" seams become "horizontal", so I can just repeat the process.  Six by six can be accomplished with ten seams.

When I'm finished with all four quarters, I'll use the same premise to join them together with only two seams--one horizontal and one vertical.  With a total of 42 seams, I'll have joined 144 granny squares.  And there won't be a ridge!

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