Mattress Stitch

 - Improver

This is another way of sewing motifs together and it's a favourite joining method of mine. Partly because it's so invisible, but also because I just love the way the corners pull in together so neatly and the squares butt so closely up next to each other.

I've made this tutorial an 'Improver' tutorial as it is a little bit tricky to get going with and possibly not as fast as some of the other joining methods.  But for me, the end look of the squares is well worth a little extra time. 

If you'd like more help with making the square motif, please have a look at my Classic Granny Square tutorial.


This join is best worked with the wrong sides together and the right sides facing outwards. Although, to get started I usually lay the squares face up on a flat surface while I make the first few stitches.

Begin by threading your joining thread onto a yarn needle (a blunt or round ended needle is best so you don't split the yarn of the squares.)  Then begin by working into the two corner chains.

The needle will go in through the top of the first corner chain (between the two loops or 'v') and then out through the top of the second corner chain.

Here is exactly the same thing but I've just tilted the square up so you can see exactly where the needle is going.
Pull the yarn through and then do exactly the same thing into the square you are joining too. Into the top of the first corner chain and out of the top of the second corner chain.
Pull the thread through and it should look something like this.  Don't pull your stitches too tight yet though or you won't be able to see what you are doing.
Next we go back to the first square and this time we need to insert the needle into the top of the second corner stitch.  (In other words, the needle will go into the same place it came out of last time.)

Then bring bring the needle out of the top of the next stitch.  (Come up under the back loop from behind.)

Then over the the other square and do exactly the same thing.  The needle goes into the top of the chain (where the yarn came out before) and up out of the top of the next stitch.

Continue in this way, going back and forth between the squares, each time remembering to insert the needle into the top of the stitch where the yarn is coming out and then back up out of the next stitch.  (Effectively you're working into the back loops only.)
Once you have a few stitch completed you can  pull the yarn a little tighter and you'll start to see the magic of this stitch.
As you pull the stitches tight, the squares will come together and sit beautifully next to each other.
Carry on making stitches all the way along the sides, working into all the stitches or chains respectively.  Leave the stitches loose at first so you can see what you're doing, then after worked 4 or 5 stitches, pull the yarn tight to bring the squares together.

(Don't leave it too long or it gets to hard to pull the yarn tight and you get left with baggier bits of even the yarn breaking - yep, I've done that!)

Once you've reached the top and make the last stitches into the corner chains, break the yarn and weave in the ends.

Then keep joining squares more squares together, either to form rows or if you prefer blocks of squares.


Once you have some squares, or even rows of squares to join together you'll need to know how to bring the corners together so they butt up neatly together.

Start by joining the first squares together as above, working right up to the corner chains. To do that you work across the stitches of both squares.  So insert your needle into the top of the last corner chain and then out of the first corner chain of the next square.

Repeat the same thing on the other set of squares.  Each time the needle should be going in where the yarn from the last stitches came out.

Carry on making stitches along the sides as normal and this time when you pull the yarn tight the corner should come together nicely.

Sometimes you do need to gently pull the squares up or down slightly to get the corners to align just right.
Simply carry on joining blocks of squares of squares together, or join the squares first into rows and then join all the rows together.

For long joins you may need to use a few different pieces of joining yarn as long pieces do get weakened as your work from all the threading and pulling tight.
Here's how the mattress stitch seams look at the back, as you can see, this stitch is almost invisible even on the wrong side.

Next Steps:

✽  Find out how to use Crochet Joining
✽  Find out how to make Whip Stitch Joins