How to do the sewn bind off

Everything you need to know about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off in knitting

Are you looking for a super simple yet super stretchy way to finish your knitting? Well, then you absolutely need to try the sewn bind-off. While it does indeed use a tapestry needle (and many knitters don’t really like them) it’s just a simple 2-step repeat. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

close-up of a swatch finished with the sewn bind-off

This bind-off was first popularized by Elizabeth Zimmerman but is now a main staple among passionate knitters. Like many of her other un-ventions, it’s perfectly suitable for beginners since it’s just so simple and easy to remember.

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Instructions: How to knit the sewn bind-off

someone showing the sewn bind-off with orange yarn

The sewn bind-off used the same repeat for any knitting stitch pattern and creates a lovely, very stretchy braided and well rounded edge.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Break the yarn leaving a tail that is at least 3-4 times as long as your project is wide stretched out.

    breaking the yarn leaving a tail for sewing
  2. Thread the tail on a tapestry needle and go through the first two stitches on your needle as if to purl (so from right to left).

    going through the first two stitches purlwise with the tapestry needle
  3. Next, pull the tapestry needle only through the first stitch knitwise.

    pulling the yarn through only the first stitch knitwise
  4. Drop the first stitch off the needle.
    Note: You can combine step 3+4 and drop the stitch as you pull through.
    dropping the first stitch off the left needle
  5. Go through the (new) first two stitches purlwise.

    going through the new first two stitches purlwise with the tapestry needle
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 (so pull the needle through only the first stitch knitwise and drop it as you go, etc).

    repeating these steps to finish the sewn bind off

Notes

You can control the stretchiness of this edge yourself. The tighter you pull after each pass, the less stretchy your edge will be. Under normal circumstances, no loops should bunch out from your edge, though.

How stretchy is the sewn bind-off?

someone stretching out a swatch finished with the sewn bind off

This method to cast-off stitches is quite stretchy. It’s typically around 20-25 percent stretchier than a standard bind-off. Do, however, keep in mind that the resulting edge will largely depend on your sewing tension. The tighter you pull after each stitch, the less give will the finished bind-off have.

Note: If you are looking for an even stretchier sewn edge, consider the Latvian bind-off. Or check out this list of the 10 best stretchy bind-off techniques.

comparing the sewn bind-off with the standard bind-off on a blocking board
Comparing two otherwise identical swatches in a 2×2 rib stitch. Top: regular bind-off | bottom: sewn bind-off

Now, you might also be wondering if you can use this method for other knitting stitch patterns. Can you also use it to bind off a rib stitch in an invisible way?

the edge created by the sewn bind-off
Using the sewn bind-off for 2×2 ribbings

The answer is yes and no. You absolutely can use the sewn bind-off for any knitting stitch pattern using the exact same repeat. However, if you want to create an in-pattern edge, then you would have to pick a different technique – typically a grafting technique like the tubular bind-off will be needed.

Anyway, that’s how to do the sewn bind-off. Comment below if you still have any questions.

how to knit the sewn bind-off - a step-by-step tutorial for this stretchy cast off method

1 thought on “How to do the sewn bind off”

  1. Nice method.. I’ll be using it in the future! For now, I’m knitting the simple flat hearts for Valentines Day.
    Thank you, Norman!

    Reply

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