Saturday, December 8, 2012

How to knit a sweater that fits - Part 2

Thank you for waiting, my patient friends. Our class on how to knit a sweater that fits continues.

The last time we met, I showed you how to make a schematic of your body using your ACCURATE measurements. Many of you took the plunge and made your very own. Today we're going to talk about one of the most important aspects of knitting attractive, well-fitting sweaters: pattern selection. While there are no right or wrong sweaters for any body type, some designs work better than others. Let's use your schematic to help you see which designs will work best for you.

First, let's start with some analysis. Put on your thinking cap and spend a few minutes contemplating the following questions. Your task is to conscious about what you think you know about your shape.

What do I think I look like? What have I carried around in my brain about my body for the past few decades? What did your mother tell you over and over again about the way you looked? What does your partner say? Whatever those comments were, were they accurate? Or are you replaying tapes from your childhood that are neither helpful or right? For example, my mother was 5'9, weighed 120 pounds, and was flat as a board. I was the exact opposite of Mom bodywise and she never tired of telling me how my body was unacceptable because it wasn't like hers. My body was unacceptable - it was just different! But I bring her bias to my body every day (I'm working on this though).

What do I usually wear? Imagine going through your closet and looking at the clothing you've purchased to cover that body shape that lives in your head. Be honest. Have you bought whatever would remotely fit you? I sure did. Anything that covered the mighty derriere was good enough for me. Do you tend to buy baggy, shapeless clothes? Men's clothes? Are you trying to hide you belly, your butt, your boobs, or all of the above?

What gets me compliments? Of all the apparel you've ever owned, what fit you best? In which shirt, dress, or sweater do you get the most compliments? Why did you look best in this particular garment? For me, it was my custom-made wedding dress. It was the only thing that ever really fit me because it was made just for me. It had a form-fitting bodice and a ballgown skirt - a great look for me because I could hide the derriere and show off my waist and bustline.

After you've answered these questions, look your schematic, which is essentially a basic map of your body. What do you see? Are you proportional? Curvy? Bottom-heavy? Short-waisted? Busty? For example, this person is proportional, meaning that her bust and hips are similar widths. She has a defined waist in the center of her torso.

This knitter is proportioned very similarly, even if her measurements are different.

And this one is built more straight-up-and-down with just slightly larger hips.

The most important thing I have to tell you today is this: If you want to make a sweater that fits, then the silhouette of your sweater should mirror the silhouette of your body. Let me show you how this works.

First, look at this schematic. This knitter is bottom-heavy and curvy with a high waist.

Now ignore all the lines and measurements and just look at the silhouette of this schematic.
With this particular silhouette, we can see that a straight-sided garment will not fit well on this body. To make the hips fit, this woman would need to make a much larger sweater that would then be too baggy around her waist. While I love the Peabody by Leila Rabbe, it wouldn't be the best look for this particular knitter. It's just too straight up and down for her curvy form (at least without making some mods, but we'll discuss that down the road).

For a better fit, our knitter would look great in a trapeze style that's narrower at the bust and wider at the hips. An nice example of this kind of sweater is Deb Gemmell's Lace Frock Vest.

But the best look for our knitter would be a sweater that mirrors her curves, such as the Lia pullover by Mandie Harrington.

Now let me show you a couple of other examples using different body types. Our lucky proportional girls can wear almost anything.

For non-curvy women who are busty but not wide in the hips, or for those whose bust, waist, and hip measurements are very similar, straight-sided silhouettes are the most attractive.

Make sense? Now it's your turn. What is your silhouette? Which patterns would look best for your particular body? I'd love to see what you come up with and hear what you've learned from doing this analysis. Post your comments here or at the Knitting at Large Rav group topic on this subject.

Next time: making your personalized, optimal sweater schematic.


  1. Great information! Thanks. By following your blog, I've begun making mods to patterns I've chosen. It still seems really tough to know just where and when. I'm so glad you're doing this series.

  2. That's such a comprehensive look at the process, Love, Love, Love it, Jules !!!

  3. What a great series Julie! You do a wonderful job of explaining this topic that can be so difficult to understand (especially when thinking about oneself)!

  4. An interesting look at our figures. Explains why the sweater waist is never where mine is. There it is on the drawing. Great idea.