Three needle bind off

Three Needle Bind Off

The 3 needle bind off is a method of binding off and seaming at the same time. It is often used for shoulder seams, but can be used to bind off and seam any 2 pieces of fabric with live stitches.

Often times, when a pattern calls for binding off each piece separately and then sewing them together, I will substitute the 3 needle bind off.

I like this bind off because it accompishes 2 tasks in one step – very efficient! Besides, who likes seaming? And the seam produced by the 3 needle bind off is usually less bulky compared to binding off each piece separately and grafting or seaming them together.

What It Looks Like

Unlike the Kitchener stitch method of grafting, which produces an invisible seam, this method leaves a distinct seam. It looks like a mattress stitch seam on the right side but is less bulky on the wrong side.

3 Needle BO on the Right Side of the Fabric
3 Needle BO on the Wrong Side of the Fabric

How to Do the 3 Needle Bind Off

As the name suggests, you need 3 needles to do this bind off. You will have the stitches from one piece of fabric on one needle, the stitches from the other piece of fabric on another needle, and a third empty needle to work wih (the working needle).

Watch this 3-minute video to learn how to do the 3 needle bind off. There are written instructions below the video.

The 3 needle bind off is very similar to a standard bind off, but you will:

  1. Hold the 2 needles with stitches parallel to each other in your left hand, with the working yarn on the back needle (you can do it with the working yarn on the front needle, but it’s easier if it’s on the back one)
  2. With the working needle in your right hand, insert it into the first stitch on one needle, then immediately into the first stitch on the 2nd needle, as if to knit.
  3. Knit those 2 stitches together
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 so that you have 2 stitches on your right needle
  5. Bind off as you would normally (slip the rightmost stitch off the needle over the other stitch)
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until you have one stitch left on your working needle
  7. Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last stitch

The garment used in this lesson is the Love Is in the Air sleeveless top, one of the many knit alongs in the Knit Along Club.

The Knit Along Club is designed for knitters like you who want to improve their skills. Each knit along includes online written and video tutorials to guide you through every step of the pattern. Visit to learn more and join.

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