How to Cut a Knit Sweater Without It Unraveling

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If you don't cut a knit sweater properly, a few innocent snips can cause it to unravel completely. However, cutting a sweater the correct way can give your plain pullover a completely new look.

Reasons to Cut a Sweater

Knitters refer to cutting a sweater as steeking, and you'll find this technique comes in handy when you want to alter your sweater. There are plenty of reasons to snip a sweater, such as:

  • Altering the length: Cutting a sweater's hem can shorten it to a more desirable length, whether it's hand-knit or store-bought.
  • Altering the neck: If you cut the neckline of a sweater, you can instantly change the style. For example, you can give a plain crew-neck sweater a V neck or boatneck.
  • Changing the style: A pullover style can be cut straight up the middle to turn it into a cardigan.
  • Stranded color-work: If you're knitting stranded color-work, it's easiest to knit the sweater in the round, then steek the sweater to create the sleeves. This allows you to not only avoid purl rows, but also keep an even tension throughout the project and avoid any disruption in the design. This technique can also be used on a stranded color-work cardigan.

Tip

  • The sewing machine technique is best for fibers that don't stick together naturally, such as cotton, linen and silk.

Steeking With a Sewing Machine

If you own a sewing machine, you can use it for quick, simple steeking. This technique will give you the strongest reinforcement possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

Step 1

Use straight pins to mark the area of the sweater that needs to be steeked.

Step 2

Using your sewing machine, sew a line of short stitches around this area. These stitches will prevent the sweater from unraveling.

Step 3

With sharp scissors, cut into the area inside the stitches. Be sure you do not cut into the machine stitching.

Unreinforced Steeking

If you've ever worked with animal fiber yarns, you may have noticed that they stick together more than other fibers, such as cotton or linen. As you knit, the fibers stick together more and more. Unreinforced steeking takes advantage of this stickiness, and it's especially useful for stranded knitting.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight pins
  • Scissors

Step 1

Mark the area of the sweater that needs to be steeked with straight pins.

Step 2

Carefully cut into the area, snipping very slowly. The fibers will stick together without any reinforcement, because the fabric is made from animal fibers that naturally felt together.

Tip

  • If you are concerned about the unreinforced fibers unraveling, rub the edges of the cut section together to felt them. This will help them stick together.

Crochet Steeking

If you don't own a sewing machine and are familiar with crochet, you can use a crochet hook to secure the stitching before you cut the sweater.

Things You'll Need

  • Contrasting color of scrap yarn
  • Crochet hook that's recommended for your scrap yarn
  • Scissors

Step 1

Mark the area of the sweater that needs to be steeked.

Step 2

Using a contrasting scrap of yarn, insert your crochet hook along the line of the marked area.

Step 3

Single crochet all the way around the marked line, always inserting the crochet hook into the knitting and pulling up a loop.

Step 4

With scissors, cut into the area inside the crochet stitches.

References

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