Fit and Flatter

Greetings! The Autumn Solstice has passed, and you know what THAT means…… favourite time of the year.   That’s right- SWEATER WEATHER! This is the time when you start imagining lovely cushiony soft cowls and slouch hats. Richly coloured cardigans with just the right buttons.  Tweedy turtlenecks with knit in elbow patches. Leg warmers and boot toppers and mittens-oh my!  This is definitely my time of the year!

So…how do you choose a pattern for that delicious sweater?  Time to get your sleuthing skills to work.  First of all, look through current magazines and books to see what is “in style”.  I like to stick to classics myself, because it may take so long to knit that trendy sweater that it is out of style by the time you finish. Now, check out Ravelry to see what is out there.  Start looking at the pictures very carefully.  I have noticed that there are lots of patterns out there that look lovely and shaped on the model, but there is NO SHAPING at all in the pattern.  Many of these sweaters never show the back, because the thing is pinned up and taped and clothespinned to look smart from the front!  Beware of that sweater.  See how it fits on the shoulders, and particularly under the arms.  If you have a larger bust, for example, your best fit is in the shoulder, and adapt the rest (and yes, I will talk about short rows and bust darts in a later entry).  In fact, for those of you who know me, I am not a small person, like many of the sweater models.  I used to think that my best fit in a sweater was my actual bust measurement.  But the shoulders sagged and I felt I often had a handful of fabric in my armpit.  So now, I choose a different size………and here is the little secret for busty ladies.  Measure under your bust (sort of the band of your bra).  Then measure just under your armpits-a high bust, if you would.  Then take an average of the two measurements. A MUCH better fit, let me tell you.  But you will have to modify a bit in the front.  If you aren’t quite ready for short rows? Knit the front of the sweater a larger size than the back of the sweater.  Keep length measurements the same (so you can sew it up), and be a bit careful around the arm holes, but it will give you more “acreage” in front than in back.


Just how much bulk is in the armpit? And the bobbles? Oh my.

Look at the styles of sweaters.  Generally, everyone has a particular shape that fits into a category-HOAX.  No, I am not telling you this is a lie, but that your shape will probably look like one of these letters.  An “H”, for example, is generally straight up and down, flat hip, not much of a waist, usually thinner legs.  An “X” is that shapely girl who can wear mostly anything.   “O”  and “A” are different builds, so keep that in mind.  Narrow down your shape, and find styles that can accentuate your good points (and everyone has them!)  Look in your closet and find styles about which people have given you compliments.  But also look at the ghastly mistakes.  Like that beautiful aran patterned sweater that had patterns in all the wrong places. Avoid those design errors, but make note as to why they were errors for you. (By the way, depending on the sweater, it may suit someone else, so try to be okay about giving a “bad for you” sweater away).


If you want a bit of shape in your sweater, because you have a waist, or would like one, there’s an easy trick….when you are knitting the waist area (say a 10 to 20 cm. stretch) use a smaller needle, say one,  to one and a half needle sizes smaller.  Voila! Waist shaping without playing around with stitch count.  Say you have knit your sweater, and it looks like the shoulders are still feeling a bit too big?  Take your gauge swatch (you say you didn’t knit one????? Oh, the horrors!!!!!!) and fold it in half on the diagonal.  Pin it into the shoulder-the diagonal edge should sit at the very top outside edge of your shoulder, right before your shoulder starts feeling soft and heading down your arm.  That might be all it takes to make that shoulder rise up a bit and look a little more tailored.  If that works, don’t forget to make another one for the  other shoulder.  I usually just whip stitch around the thing and tack it in place.


   Too long, too big, too dinosaur-y. And just how wide ARE those sleeves?

Look very carefully at the length of the sweater.  If you want to look slimmer (don’t we all?), look for your narrowest parts.  In a mirror.  With a tight tank top or t-shirt and leggings on. I use a pillowcase to “simulate” a sweater, and, holding it up in front of me, I look at where a particular sweater would end on me.  Would it look better a touch shorter to show that my hips do go in nearing the waist?  If I took the hem all the way down to the widest part of my hip, would it look like I was that wide all the way up?  Yes, I know you might feel a bit silly at first, but these are important things to know.

deb-4                                           deb-5                                                                                           Just look at how wide she looks!                                                  Lovely snug sleeves with a drapey body. 

Sleeves can also play a big part in the “visual” .  If the widest part of the sleeve hits the widest part of you? Well, that is just not going to work.  Look at different sleeve lengths, and modify your pattern as needed.  Look at the design on the sleeves-does it work for you where it is?  And the width of the sleeves! Oh my. Vital stuff.  Make sure you get that right.  To tell you the truth, I use a trick I learned from Sally Melville…..If you are making a full sweater, use a larger needle to make the fabric drapey.  But knit the sleeves at a tighter gauge so that your arms will look right, and the sweater won’t just look BIG. (and you included).

Next time, let’s chat about short rows.  Scary at first, but what a way to make your knits really fit, and flatter.

Written by Deb White


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