Knitting Help – Bickford Seam

In this video, I’m going to demonstrate the
Bickford seam. It’s an alternative to the mattress stitch. And the reason the Bickford seam is notable
is because it doesn’t leave a ridge in the work and we’ll talk about more about how it’s
used in a moment. This video is sponsored by Eucalan. Eucalan is the fiber wash that I use on all
of my hand knits. They have five different scents eucalyptus,
lavender, grapefruit, jasmine and unscented. I’m always so proud of myself when I can get
all six. I personally love the rapture, the jasmine. That is my scent. It is what clean knitting smells like to me. And a little bit more. Eucalan has been in business for 25 years. Their non-toxic solution is formulated without
petrol chemicals, bleach or optical brighteners making it safe and gentle for your most luxurious
fibers and heirloom knits. And they sell the little bottles…I use the
big giant bottle for my business but little bottles like this or little packets which
are great to include if you’re giving away hand knit gifts for the holidays or birthdays
or whatever because the person you’re giving the gift to will have good fiber wash to care
for that gift. Anyway, many thanks to Eucalan. We’re going to talk more about the Bickford
seam. The Bickford seam, like I said, it’s a way
of seaming two pieces together without a ridge which I’m sure is very attractive, people
listening to this. The thing is it’s not as sturdy as a mattress
stitch. I’ll give you a link to my mattress stitch
video. Just click the little ‘I’ so you can see the
technique difference. The people who I think are going to be most
excited about this are people who are knitting for themselves or others who are sensitive
to the feeling of seams against the skin. This is a way that you can avoid the seam. It’s just not a great choice if there’s going
to be a lot of pressure on the seam. The way that it would be a good choice is
if you’re knitting, let’s say, a hat and the brim of the hat is a cable that’s knit horizontally
and so you actually have to pick up stitches and there has to be a seam. I can picture a seam that you’d need to make
in a hat where this would be necessary. And a seam in a hat like that would actually
be sensitive to a lot of people. You wouldn’t really want a ridge on that seam. That’s a good choice. Something like the shoulder of a sweater,
not such a good choice because you have the weight of the sweater on that shoulder seam. You probably want to stick with mattress stitch
in that case or even a 3-needle bind off in that case. Let’s go ahead and take…I’m going to show
you how this works. I want to say one other thing. This is how I was thinking about this. Let’s say you’re hanging ornaments on a Christmas
tree and you have a really heavy ornament. You’re going to want to hang that ornament
closer to the trunk of the tree to support it and not way out on the end of a branch,
right? Hanging that ornament closer to the trunk
of the tree is mattress stitch. Out on the end of the branch, you can hang
lighter ornaments. That’s the Bickford seam. Look’s good. It’s out there, right out front and looks
great but it’s just not going to be as sturdy. That’s how I was thinking about this. Hopefully, that helps some people. Okay, let’s take a look. This first is the mattress stitch. You can see it looks great and there is a
significant ridge on the back. This is worsted weight yarn. This is the go-to all-purpose seam for just
about everything. Then this…Which one am I going to show you? This one first. This is the Bickford seam. In the gauge that I’m knitting in straight
stockinette, you can see there’s a little bit of a disruption to the stitches but it
looks pretty good and most significantly, there is no seam on the back. No ridge on the back. I have one more sample I want to show you
here because if you’ve seen my other seaming videos I like to stitch and keep it loose
and then tighten the whole thing up all at once like this and then straighten it out. Not a good idea in the Bickford seam. It actually pulls it…You want to just keep
it a good tension throughout and not do the magic moment thing that I love to do. It pulled those stitches and I ended up having
to do another example. This one here. This is the one where I’m keeping good tension. This is the technique. Which way do I want to do this? I want to do it this way. Sometimes I like to seam this way. I’m going to seam this way today. We are going to be paying attention to the
Vs at the edge of the work. We’re going to be grabbing the inside leg
of these Vs. I’ve seen some instructions for how to do this that make it more complicated
than it is. We’re just working with the inside leg of
the Vs. That might require you to roll this out a
little bit so you’re looking at the very edge and not the second stitch end. All right. I’m going to go down into the next stitch,
the V and then across and up into the next stitch, the inside leg of the V, and pull
it with a nice, even, smooth tension. And then down into the inside leg of the next
V and up through the inside leg of the other side. Down into the inside leg of the next V and
up through the inside leg of the next V on the other side. I’m going to tighten this up a little bit. So down, across, up, down, across, up. The thing you just really want to pay attention
to is that you’re not skipping stitches or going into the same stitch twice. So if you’re doing the seam on something that
has tiny stitches or dark yarn, just make sure you have a lot of good light. I was unsure about the next stitch so I just
pulled it apart a little bit. I see my next stitch is here. So it’s down, across, up, down, across, up,
keeping good tension. It looks good and there’s no ridge. That’s the Bickford seam. Feel free to share in the comments about how
you think you can put this seam to use. I’m really stuck on mattress stitch for just
about everything. I don’t pull the Bickford seam out unless
it’s actually called for in a pattern. It’s a good technique to have. Many thanks to Eucalan for sponsoring this
video. Good luck.

56 thoughts on “Knitting Help – Bickford Seam

  • HI Staci! I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking time to make your videos! I have three other friends who have started knitting, and they were so thankful that your videos are so organized and easy to follow! Thx! 😊

  • Your explanations are so very clear, thanks. Wondering if you would recommend using this seam on baby garments even tho it is not as durable as others, to avoid the ridge? My favorite pattern is a top down cardi with no side seams, and I've been picking up and knitting to begin the sleeves, but could just as easily knit them separately and seam.

  • I think this would be a great seam for a cowl, knit flat and then seamed. No wrong side ridge. So funny.. before I learned the mattress stitch (when I first started knitting!) this is how I joined my knitting, and couldn't understand why it just didn't hold up. Now I know it has a name!

  • Would it make the Bickford seam sturdier if you did it twice? I think baby sweaters or along collars or scarfs for this technique.

  • I didn't know there were different methods. I think I do a mixture of both of them:P Guess that's what happens when you taught yourself to knit before computers and youtube. Funny, I've been watching you for several years and even bought patterns from you but hadn't realized I had not subscribed! I fixed that this morning:) Love your knitting channel the best. I know if I am having trouble I can come to you and you make it understandable. Thanks!

  • Incredible timing, Staci! I just dowloaded a vintage baby pattern for thigh-high socks/booties and that was the first time I ever heard of the Bickford seam. Thanks for reading my mind and helping me out!

  • I'm knitting a blanket of different colored squares for my grandson. Would this technique work for sewing the squares together?

  • I made a cardigan for my sister out of the batwing stitch. She loved the back side of the work as much as the front so I used this seam stitch to make the cardigan reversible. We'll have to wait and see how the shoulder seams hold up. They are doing well so far.

  • Hi Staci. Do you think this would work for fingerless mitts? I have made a pair using plain stockinette but I really like the reverse stockinette side better. They are not a tight fit, so I'm thinking this might work!

  • I have a brand new baby grandson, and am thinking of using this for a baby hat to avoid the dreaded knitting in the (tiny) round!

  • You are the best, Traci! Thank you for everything. I've been watching your videos for years. You are the person who inspired me to start knitting socks – something I never dreamed of ever achieving. Your enthusiasm, well-groomed appearance, your voice, the way you explain things – just everything about you is is great. It's such a pleasure to watch you. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with the rest of us!

  • I used this to seam a baby blanket, that was made in three panels, together. I had done the same blanket and used mattress stitch instead. I wound up having to put a backing on the blanket because the stitches rubbed too much.

  • I think this seam might work well for small pieces of flat knitting that are to be sewn into tubes (especially mitts or mittens). I find it clumsy and difficult to do mattress stitch to create these smallish tubes. Much easier for me to mattress stitch large flat or round pieces. Plus the mattress seam can be felt and can make a finished mitt or mittens tighter than intended.

    I'm about to dive in and use the Bickford seam on a flat knit mitt pattern I just finished knitting.

    Thanks for posting this. It's nice to have an alternative to mattress stitch.

    UPDATE: Just used it to seam the first of two mitts. I love how it feels when the mitt is worn. You can't feel any seam, and the mitt didn't get tighter due to seaming. Yes, you can see a seam, but it's neat and tidy looking, not unattractive. I think the seam should hold up well for this use.

    Thanks again for posting.

  • Thank you so very much for this video.  So easy to see and understand.  I'm thinking of making some baby hats and booties.  I think it would be great to have baby items without an inside ridge.  Thanks again!

  • Thanks so much for your tips, tricks and techniques. Your videos are my go-to source for all things knitted.
    Rav & Instagram: mcs1157

  • Hi Staci, is there anything like this for the horizontal seams? I am trying to seam baby romper at the shoulders and the crotch and if I seam with the matress it leaves a very thick seam at the back which won't be comfortable for the kid. And I really don't want to unravel the stitches to seam on open ends.. thank you!

  • Thanks for the video, you make it very easy to understand. I am making baby doll clothes and this will be perfect. They are very small and my previous items have had very bulky seams.

  • I'm knitting slippers with thick yarn, and they have a seam in the sole and the heel. The pattern says "seam with a flat seam", I think this seam is what I need to avoid stepping over a ridge all the time :-). Thank you!

  • I'm sewing up the seam on a slipper in garter st an the garter is on the heel . can this stitch be used to seam this heel ?

  • Thanks for the video. I was looking for a way to sew two collar halves together without that mattress stitch ridge showing every time the collar is turned up. I think this will work perfectly!

  • Thank you so so much!! It turned out great! I was so worried it would have to be a bulgy seam but with this method it turned out seamless as promised! Happy, happy! (Also love the nail polish!)

  • I like to make socks on my knitting machine but hate the seam up the side. I don't think that would be too much pulling on the seam. I think I'll try it for my next pair – my husband hates the side seam! Thank you so much for this video!

  • Just finished back panel and both sides of a very, very light-weight lacy cardigan. Couldn't stand the thick seam so took out the mattress stitch and was just thinking if there was any option and bumped into this video. I will try this as an alternative. I don't think the side seams need to be sturdy since it's soooo light-weight!

  • Great simple explanation. My grandson has excezma on his arms and I'm currently knitting an aran jumper for him in a soft dk so I will use this technique for seaming sleeves. Thank you x

  • Great video, as usual. Question please: do you need to do a special edge stitch on each swatch for this to work? Selvage I think…. Thank you

  • Just want to say, i really really like this channel! Thank you, have learned a lot. You are my go-to for figuring it out.

  • Do you have any examples or suggestions of seaming a knit side to a purl side? This is for a hat, seaming going up the side, from the bottom back to the top. The pattern is made up, knitting on the diagonal, 4 rows of stockinett, increasing one at the beginning and decreasing one at the end on the good side. Then repeat with 4 rows of purl. Finished hat looks like a spiral.

  • I'm looking for a side seaming with stripes technique without a jog. It's for a baby onesie, and I have no idea if it will hardly be used or used and washed frequently.

  • Thank you! I was looking for a ridge-less seaming method for some preemie caps that I’m knitting flat. This looks perfect!

  • I think this will be the perfect seam alternative for my side seams on my T-Shirt project, as I don’t like the bulkier ones. I used the 3- needle bind off for the shoulders because it needed the extra strength. Thank you for the great explanation and video. I always check your channel first because I’m almost certain you have addressed my issues.

  • I wish I would’ve seen this earlier. I just finished my first shrug (made from a rectangle and the seams are from the arm hole and hang on the sides). I used the mattress stitch, the front of the garment looks great, but the bulky ridge in the back bothers me. I feel like it adds weight to the sides and the fabric hangs heavier than the other sides. I did the beginner mistake of knotting the yarn after finishing the seem so going back to ‘redo’ and use the bickford might be difficult.

  • Thank you for showing this! A reversible seam is exactly what I'm needing for this jumper, as I love both sides of the pattern – I can't decide which to have on the outside, but with this stitch I can have both! ❤❤❤

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