Updated: Feb 10, 2020
I am a big fan of crocheting a panel of fabric, edging it with a dc round, closing it with a secret sew finish, and joining it to another panel of dc edged crocheted fabric with a slip stitch seam. It's a method I often use in my patterns because as long as the edging stitch counts match up, the seam can become a design feature of the piece or garment.
For this to all work seamlessly (gratuitous pun), the "V with a hat" theory I mentioned in the previous blog entry (Crochet Technique #1) gives a consistent logic to the edging and determines the number of stitches across the end of any given row, so you end up with the correct total stitch count at the end of the edged panel. Quick re-cap: 1dc per dc row, 2dc per htr or tr row, 3dc per dtr row, 4dc per trtr row etc. This matches the number of "V with a hat" segments in the stitches of these rows (except htr which is assigned 2dc as it is closer to a tr than a dc in height).
I find edging with this set of rules across the rows of (just about any) crochet fabric easier than edging instructions that might say something like "crochet 12dc over the next 5 rows", or "50dc over the next 34 rows" and you are left to figure out how you should spread them out.
On to technique:
Please note: This is not intended as a beginner "how to"crochet blog entry. Knowledge of all basic crochet stitches is assumed. UK crochet terminology is used throughout.
A 4.00mm hook was used for the body of the swatch. I generally decrease the hook size by 0.25-0.50mm for the edging (relative to that used for the body of a crocheted panel of fabric), and I am using the 3.50mm hook in this exercise.
Below is the stitch chart for edging the swatch made in the previous blog entry (CT #1). The swatch rows are now all grey, and the edging is shown in black, starting with a chain at the top left corner. The chart shows how you would make and edge the swatch all in Yarn A (Scheepjes Our Tribe Silver Birch (880) in my swatch). For ease of seeing the edging in the photos, I join with Yarn B (Scheepjes Our Tribe Pistachio Branch (878)) at this same location.
Note: Each corner stitch has 3 dc worked into it, and since the fdc row produces both a row of chain and a row of dc, there is a dc worked into the side of that first dc row, as well as 3dc into the corner ch.
Contrary to the stitch chart, I have worked a dc into the same place as the ch was anchored. This is optional. I tend to join new a new colour of yarn this way instead of having a starting loop on the hook, to avoid creating the little bump made by the conventional starting loop sticking out too much. If I was continuing on in the same colour as the swatch itself, you would just be looking at a chain right now, counting as the first of the 3 corner dc.
I like to carry the tails of both colours in the first 4-7 stitches or so, to stop them dangling about and it makes it easier to sew the tails in later.
Always, always, always.... insert hook under 2 loops in the side of the "V with a hat" segment or chain as you work the edging across row ends. (If you work under 1 loop only, it will gape away from the edge and distort the fabric. If you work around the post of the stitch it will create a gaping hole in your otherwise solid fabric.)
Note: If I only worked under 2 loops here, the third loop would remain as a ridge line across the bottom of the panel and this would look different to the top edging. Not desirable.
Secret Sew Finish
The secret sew finish is used to replace the final slip stitch of the edging round, and makes an invisible join. The photos below describe the technique.
Sew in loose end securely hiding the contrasting yarn B tail in the edging on the wrong side of the work. You can now see that whether the first dc of the round is a ch (as shown on my stitch chart) or an actual dc (as shown in the photos), it doesn't matter, because either of them will contribute a front "V" shape and the secret sew action creates a new "hat" to sit on top.
The Secret Sew method of completing the edging round, means the eventual seam join will match perfectly and you can crochet into the secret sewn loop just like you would any other. No bumps. Professional finish. Happy days!
I simply call this the "Secret Sew" finish in my patterns as a means of describing what I am doing. I nutted out how to do it, and thought I would give it a name for the purposes of my patterns. Then with further reading, I found out I wasn't the first bright spark to think of it, and other people describe it with other names. I am not claiming that this technique is mine - only that it is what I mean when I say "Secret Sew finish" in my pattern instructions.
In the next entry I will talk about the slip stitch seam and how to fudge it a bit if the stitch counts went a bit squiffy.