How to Bind Off Stitches for Armhole: Perfecting the Shaping!

Are you looking for how to bind off stitches for armhole, you come to the right place. When we embark on the journey of knitting a close-fitting sweater or cardigan, sooner or later, we encounter the need to shape armholes. Often, knitting patterns guide us through this process with instructions like, “Bind off 4 sts at the beginning of the next 2 rows, 3 sts at the beginning of the following 2 rows, 2 sts at the beginning of the subsequent 2 rows, and 1 st at the beginning of the next 2 rows.”

While following these directions meticulously ensures the required shaping, it can result in an unsightly staircase-like edge, making it challenging to seam the sweater pieces together. This issue becomes even more critical when creating a sleeveless top with exposed armhole edgings. Thankfully, there’s a clever trick that transforms this staircase edge into a sleek, slanted edging.

The Problem with Traditional Armhole Shaping

When you follow traditional armhole shaping instructions precisely, you’ll notice that the edge appears uneven and jagged. This irregularity can pose difficulties when you eventually need to join the different pieces of your sweater. Furthermore, the exposed armhole edges may look less than desirable if you’re crafting a sleeveless garment.

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The Solution: Combining Left-Slanting and Right-Slanting Bind Offs

To address this issue, we’ll introduce you to a technique that combines left-slanting and right-slanting sloped bind-offs. This method ensures neat and symmetrical shaping on both sides of your work. Previously, we covered tutorials on left-slanting and right-slanting sloped bind-offs you can read the tutorial here insert a link, and now we’ll show you how to merge these two bind-offs to achieve the perfect armhole shaping.

Step-by-Step Guide to Binding Off Stitches for Armholes

Let’s use the example from the introductory paragraph as our guide: “Bind off 4 sts at the beginning of the next 2 rows, 3 sts at the beginning of the following 2 rows, 2 sts at the beginning of the subsequent 2 rows, and 1 st at the beginning of the next 2 rows.” Here’s how to execute it flawlessly:

1. Start with Odd Numbers

Begin by working with odd numbers for a more balanced result. In this case, we’ll bind off 3 stitches.

2. Knit Until You Have 4 Stitches Left

Knit your piece until only 4 stitches remain on the left-hand needle, which is one stitch more than what you need to bind off.

3. Form a Loop

Form a substantial loop with the yarn, placing it on the table. From this point on, you’ll be working with both sides of this loop, and you won’t use the yarn coming directly from the ball.

Now that you’ve mastered this technique, you can apply it to your knitting projects to achieve beautifully shaped armholes with elegant slanted edgings.

Different Armhole Shaping Techniques for Various Garment Constructions

Armhole shaping isn’t one-size-fits-all; it varies depending on the construction of the garment you’re knitting. Here’s a brief overview of armhole shaping for two common garment types:

Drop-Shoulder Sweaters

The drop-shoulder construction is straightforward when it comes to adjusting armhole depths. There’s no shaping required in the armhole area. Simply place a marker at the side of the body to indicate the start of the armhole, work until you reach your desired armhole depth, and then proceed with shaping the shoulders, neck, or casting off. Remember that you’ll need to adapt the sleeves to match the new armhole depth.

Set-In Sleeve Sweaters

Set-in sleeves are the most common construction for knitted garments as they provide a flattering, fitted shape by reducing excess fabric at the underarms. Altering armhole depths in this construction is slightly more complex since the sleeve head shaping needs to match the new armhole. The total circumference of the armhole must align with the length of the complete outline of the sleeve head to ensure a seamless fit without puckering or stretching the fabric. There are two approaches to adjusting armhole depths in set-in sleeve sweaters:

Simple Adjustment

If you only need a minor alteration to the armhole depth (around a centimeter), you can combine the bust size instructions with the armhole depth from a neighboring size (either one size smaller or larger). Follow the neck and shoulder shaping instructions for your chosen bust size but adjust the straight section of the armhole according to the armhole size instructions. When knitting the sleeves, follow the armhole size instructions for seamless alignment. While the underarm cast-offs may not match exactly during seaming, the flexibility of knitwear should mitigate any significant issues.

More Complex Adjustment

For substantial changes to the armhole depth, especially when no pattern size aligns with your desired measurement, you’ll need to recalculate the sleeve shaping entirely. This intricate process ensures that both the armhole and sleeve head match perfectly, resulting in a polished and well-fitted garment.


According to the above detailed discussion, we conclude that, by mastering the art of binding off stitches for armholes and understanding how to adjust armhole depths for different garment constructions, you’ll be well-equipped to create stylish and well-fitting knitwear. Armhole shaping is a crucial skill in knitting, allowing you to achieve the perfect fit and a polished finish in your handmade garments.

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