Better Alternative to Mattress Stitch

Better Alternative to Mattress Stitch

Mattress stitch is based on running stitch – a method used for basting and making other temporary seams in sewing. Why temporary? Because this seam is not strong.

When we put together a sweatier or make vertical seams in other knitting projects, we need the seam to be strong enough to withstand the stretch of the fabric.

We also need the seam to be elastic to make sure it does not constrain the knitted fabric. Running stitch and its cousin mattress stitch don’t have any elasticity, and that is another reason to look for a better alternative.

The easiest solution is to use the strong and elastic backstitch to seam our sweaters, cardigans and other projects. We discussed this option a while ago in this detailed tutorial.

The only drawback of this approach is the fact that we form the seam on the wrong side of the fabric, and don’t see how it looks on the right side until the seam is finished. In most cases the seam ends up to be neat, but sometimes we accidentally shift to a neighbouring column of stitches, and that shift affects the look of the seam.

I played with both seaming methods to find a way that allows us to get the best of both worlds – a strong elastic seam that we can make as we look at the right side of the fabric.

It turns out that we can achieve that when we follow just a few simple steps.

To make the seam less bulky, use sewing thread or a few plies of yarn instead of the whole strand of yarn. Or, join the horizontal strands that run inside the edge stitches instead of the horizontal strands between the column of edge stitches and the main fabric. This will reduce the bulk in half, but those strands are not easy to locate. Finding those strands could be worth the effort if your project is made out of bulky yarn.

To download a 12-page PDF with the full step-by-step photo tutorial about this method, click here to join the Club 2024.

If you are already a member of the Club,
click here to download this PDF from the Club dashboard.

Would you like to learn more about ways to seam knits?

If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:

“Matching Cast Ons and Bind Offs” Book

Discover six pairs of cast on and bind off methods that form identical edges on projects worked flat and in the round.

“Neat Side Edges” Book

Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.

Happy knitting!

Maryna Shevchenko -

Better Alternative to Mattress Stitch | 10 rows a day
Better Alternative to Mattress Stitch | 10 rows a day
Better Alternative to Mattress Stitch | 10 rows a day