Sweater Fit

Ever since taking the sweater fitness class last week, I’ve been thinking about the subject of fit in garments.  We all measured eachother and then took our measurements to a project we were contemplating.  What I learned in “Sweater Fitness” has changed the way I look at knitting and designing.

Now I am fairly small and trim.  It is easy for me to make sweaters that fit fairly well – knit a tube and slide into it!  But, in reality, my proportions are quite unique to me.  Often, a ready-made sweater will fit me around the bust but be way too narrow on the shoulders or too loose under the arms.  While I can shop around to find a sweater that will fit better, I’d like to prevent those fit problems before I invest the time to hand-knit one.  Knowing those proportions and how to apply them to knitting can make the difference between good and great.

The big takeaway from the class was that, in choosing a pattern size, use the shoulder width measurement, not the bust or chest measurement as the key number.  I have always used the bust measurement, but that has definitely gotten me in trouble, depending on the style of the garment in question.  In my case, my shoulders are wide relative to my bust.  Therefore, if I chose the size based on the bust measurement, the shoulders
might be a bit too narrow and tight.  That has certainly happened to me.

cardigan shoulders too narrow

My Laura’s Cardigan has shoulder seams that hit above the “points” of my shoulders.    From the schematic, I would choose two sizes larger to accomodate my back shoulder width of 14″.  This pattern’s allover ribbing complicates matters because of the stretchiness of the rib.  But, if I stick to the shoulder width, I bet I would end up with a better fitting sweater.

the unhappy vest

Another case in point is the vest I made for my husband last year.  Although it fits him around the middle, the vest literally falls off his shoulders.  I have to rip back to the underarms, and rework  to fit his shoulder width.  When I wrote the pattern, I measured his chest as 40″  and went with standard measurements after that.  But, Greg has a tall and narrow frame.  This was great for  modelling  clothing in TV commercials for the men’s clothing store at which he worked right after college.  But, it means that standard measurements for men’s sizes tend to be wide on him.  The pattern will have to set the shoulders in farther.

If I were to use the shoulder measurement, I can always make adjustments to the other parts of the garment.  When I think about it, it makes real sense.  The garment literally hangs on the shoulders.   In choosing my next project, I’m going to go with my shoulder width, modify the measurements below if need be, and see how I do.


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