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Top Sewing

Posted by: coolmazzy (IP Logged)
Date: April 09, 2009 09:08AM


I'm just about to finish a baby sweater and the pattern says to top sew the raglan edges of the sleeves to the back and front panels.

Can someone tell me what top sewing is and how to do it?



Posted by: Alex (IP Logged)
Date: April 09, 2009 05:21PM

I am an experienced knitter, crocheter, and dressmaker. "Top sewing" is not a phrase with which I am familiar.

"Top stitching" is a decorative stitch (often in a contrasting color) done after the garment is assembled. Since it is done to one side (or both sides) of a seam it cannot be considered a stitch with which to assemble a garment.

To sew a raglan sleeve to the front and back of a sweater, the best way to make a professional looking seam is to use the "invisible" or "mattress" stitch (Google it; there are several sites, some better than others). This will work with a raglan because you have one-for-one selvedge stitches. It will not work for set-in sleeves.

"Top sewing" may equate to some American term. I'll be interested to see if any of our British or Australian friends respond.

Posted by: coolmazzy (IP Logged)
Date: April 10, 2009 02:56AM

Thanks for your reply.

I've never seen it either - from the looks of the pattern (a Peter Pan baby sweater), it looks like the sleeve is attached to the back & front panels with more knit stitches as opposed to a sewn seam (e.g. backstitch).

Wonder if 'top sewing' and 'mattress' stitch are the same then?

Posted by: Alex (IP Logged)
Date: April 10, 2009 09:09PM

Brain buzz!

"Mattress" ("invisible") stitch is usually done from the right side because it is easy to describe and illustrate that way, but it is such a deeply hidden stitch (thus the name) that you can actually work it with a contrasting yarn and you will have to force the seam apart to see the other color. So "top sewing" would be a reasonable term to hang on it.

I am uncomfortable doing it from the right side and work it as though I were working a backstitch or basting stitch, holding the selvedges up with the work hanging down. It doesn't matter if you understand the principle.

Bet you've nailed the solution to the mystery.