Perhaps the most loathed of crochet-related tasks is finishing: edging, sewing up, weaving in ends, blocking...they all get a bad name. I get it, when you finish that final stitch, you just want to be DONE. But, trust me, using some basic finishing techniques will really make your project shine.
WEAVING IN ENDS:
TO KNOT OR NOT TO KNOT:
Some people really like to tie off their yarn. This can work well in some situations to secure your end if your project is going to get a lot of use. However, knots have a tendency to work themselves to the font of your project and always in a place that is super obvious. In most cases, if you are working with a wool yarn, the yarn will be "sticky" enough to keep the ends in place an no tying is needed.
SEWING UP AND ON
Crochet is a great fabric for sewing things onto. Its lines of stitches make it easier to see that you are getting all of your items placed and spaced correctly. It may help to pin your applique into place before sewing. Straight pins, safety pins or locking stitch markers work well for this.
Once you have your items placed, thread your tapestry needle with the yarn you want for your stitching. Use the same colour as the front piece if you want to hide your stitches. Starting from the back of your work, pull the needle through all layers. I work my stitches just under the "V" of the stitches.
Running Stitch: Thread needle with yarn and work up and down through the crochet fabric with even spaces between the stitches.
Back Stitch: Backstitch is similar to running stitch, except you will work a portion of the stitches back on themselves. Pull the stitch through the crochet fabric and then back into the underside behind where the thread came out. The needle is carried under the fabric to the point of the new stitch, where it is brought up again and back to where the thread was brought up on the last stitch.
Continue all the way around. Deal with the ends of the sewing as you would with ends at the end of your project, with the added bonus of being able to use a crochet hook to pull your ends underneath the applique (between the two layers of work) to hide them.
Most of the time, I will slip stitch a seam closed. Using a slip stitch to join different parts of your crochet project makes a really strong seam. In my experience, it also is very easy to make the seam nice and straight.
To crochet a seam, lined up the 2 pieces of your project, right sides together. Insert your hook through all 4 loops of the stitches, yarn over hook, and pull through the 2 pieces you are joining and the loop on your hook. Repeat to the end of the seam.
If you are concerned about the seam having a bit of a crimp in it, use UK double crochet/ US single crochet instead.
EDGING AND WORKING INTO THE ENDS OF ROWS
Most of the time when you are working in rows, you will need to edge your work to give it a nice finished edge. There are many many kinds of edging, but the principle is the same, you need to work into the ends of the rows ( where you turned and chained). In taller stitches, it is pretty easy to see, but it can be harder if you are working UK Double Crochet/US Single Crochet. Aim to work 1 stitch for each row you worked, unless your pattern says differently.
Blocking is my favourite part of finishing up a project. I just love how it takes a lumpy and misshapen object and makes it lay perfectly and nicely. When working with wools that have a high natural fibre content, you are able to block your project that will help the yarn relax into the shape you have made. There are many different blocking techniques. Steam blocking uses an iron with a high steam setting - hover your iron over your project, being careful not to press or you may damage the work or flatten the stitches.
I normally use wet blocking. This can take longer to dry, but does tend to give most consistent results. 1. Wet your work in lukewarm water. Use wool wash if you have some around. Hair Conditioner is also useful to help soften scratchy fibres. 2. Gently agitate your work (not too hard, lest it may felt!) 3. Rinse in cool water and gently squeeze out the excess water. 4. Lay your work flat on a towel and roll up to extract as much water as possible. 5. Lay the item out on a flat surface, shaped as you would like the final object to look. It may help to pin the edges down to help it stay in shape 6. Leave to dry fully.