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 fitting......very long
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Guardian angel

9776 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  06:42:39 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, I'll give you my fitting technique for the difficult to fit which I posted here on KR 6 years ago. It works for the ones easy to fit also. It is long.

Basically it works on the principle of divide and conquer. I divide the design into sections and fit each section individually. When they all come together, the sweater will fit. When working with design problems remember that people are not the same on both sides and the only way to tell is to measure each side individually.

First I suggest that you wear something that fits tightly and have a friend photograph you so you can stand back and take a look. Cover your face if you don't like the photo idea. These are working photos not portraits. Take the obvious frontal and back views and careful side views and silhouettes. If you know your problem areas take extra photos of those. You have never stood back and looked at what you look like and may have missed problem spots entirely. None of this has anything to do with weight. Weight can cause a bulge or protrusion across the back but so can bony shoulder blades or muscles. Look for folds in the fabric both vertical and horizontal. They indicate problems.

For the extremely difficult, I prepare by having them put on a snug t-shirt and marking the measuring points with masking tape. The usual points around the widest part of bustline, the waist, down the center front, down each underarm seam, across the front from shoulder point to shoulder point which also gives you the neckline depth. the high bust. around the chest below the breast, the shoulder seam. Tapes are placed the same way on the back with special attention to the width between the sleeves. Now I will go over each section with its fine points.

I sketch roughly on graph paper the same tape lines as I have put on the figure and then fill in the measurements. From this sketch, I design the sweater.

The shoulder section--place small strips of masking tape from the shoulder seam at the neckline, straight down to connect with the shoulder to shoulder tape. The distance between these two tapes is the width of the neckline. The length of these strips is the depth of the neckline. Necklines above the shoulder to shoulder tape are uncomfortable. The length of the small piece of tape is also the slant needed for the shoulder line. For example, if this tape is 1 1/2 inches long then I know that I have to use 1 1/2 inches times the row count per inch in the taper of the shoulder area and space it evenly across the shoulder line. No ease is allowed for this measurement.

The same thing is done in the back with the same sections but extra care is given to the length of the shoulder to shoulder line. If there is a big difference between this measurement and the high bustline, stitches will have to be increased in the shoulder and the shoulder seam may have to be eased to the front one to accommodate it. These people will have a rounded look to the top of their back and their clothing will have folds around the neckline and the sleeves. If the back is exceptionally rounded, short rows may be needed but more about that later.

The bustline fitting--measure the distance vertically over the fullest part of the bust from the horizontal shoulder tape to the below bustline tape. Do this also at the shoulder point down to the under bustline tape. The difference in these 2 numbers tells you how many inches of short rows you need to accommodate the bustline. For example if the measurement at the shoulder is 8 inches and over the bustline it is 10 inches, then you will need 2inches times the rows per inch in your gage added as short rows to increase the fabric over the bustline. These short rows should be added so that they end one inch below the nipple and one inch to the side of the nipple. If this is done, the front will not pull up and stick out or be shorter than the back. The same thing is done on the back. Short rows may be needed on the back if the back is curved or rounded at the shoulders, or if the person is very thin and needs it to accommodate the shoulder blades. Only the tape measure can tell. Here especially it is wise to measure both sides as this is where problems with curved spines will show up.

Now from the side, place tapes straight down on either side of the arm and check out the measurement across the underarm between the tapes. This is the area for the curve of a set in sleeve and the extra stitches that are cast on under the arms and on the sleeves. This distance frequently needs to be increased for someone overweight and that should be done before checking the total width of the sweater.

Once you have the garment hanging correctly from the shoulders and have added the personal room needed for the bustline and the upper back (which curves on so many of us. You are more than halfway home. The best directions I have found for adding short rows to fit a bustline are located here
A few more notes: necklines are not sacred and frequently don't fit. I have had good luck with using the horizontal tape measure from shoulder to shoulder. I automatically drop the front neckline one inch in anything I make for myself and it seems to be a family trait as I also have to do that for most of my blood relatives. I add the stitches up close to the shoulder seam and that way do not interfere with the individual shaping of the neckline. If the neckline has a ribbing just add enough stitches to compensate. If it has a tailored collar, just add a few stitches in the straight knitting portion of the collar. If you have also adjusted the shoulder line the collar will fit.

The area from the under bust line to the waistline has few problems. The most important one is whether or not it is level. Measure the distance in several places to see if it is uniform. If one side is smaller than the other, short rows may be needed here to compensate. If it measures the same your only decision is whether to be fitted or hang down straight. To fit this area, subtract the waistline measurement from the under bust measurement to determine how many stitches you need to decrease, evenly space decreases 1/2 of this number on the left and 1/2 on the right side. The only problem I have encountered here is the protruding abdomen. In that case the center seam length will be longer than either side seam and short rows are needed.

Below the waistline, alterations are made the same way. Any area that is not flat needs many careful measurements and short rows to fill in where you need more fabric.

Be careful where your sweater stops. It should not stop at the widest part of your body as it will draw attention to that spot. Above or below it is better. If size is your problem, consider a hemline that is not straight but diagonal. You may be surprised how you look in it.

Also I would like to mention the sway back problem. These people have problems with sweaters riding up in back revealing more rump than they care to show. They frequently refer to their sweaters as sitting on their behind. Although it seems contradictory, taking in the sweater here and fitting it slightly to the curve of the back helps. The easiest way to do this is to fold up a blouse or sweater in the back and then measuring the fold to see how much fabric must be removed. After the "hang" of the back is correct, you may have to add short rows below to even out the hemline. This is another instance where just increasing the size does not work. But these changes are important to prevent folds here.

The basis of this is where to place the short rows if they are needed. Many patterns say use short rows but not many tell you where to put them.

I think it is very important to fit the garment in the order I have written it down. The bustline will not fit until the shoulders are correct. The upper back will not fit until the shoulders and the bustline fit. The armholes can change everything by pulling the front or back. After that it is simply check out for bulges and compensate. It is doubtful that anyone will need all these alterations in one garment. The trick is to learn what works for you. I have schematics for everyone that I routinely do knitting, and no one on the list needs more than 2 alterations.

Once you have the basic sweater design that fits you, you can add pattern stitches and all other designs at will and still have a well fitted garment

The only thing we haven't mentioned so far is the sleeve and it only has two problem areas. The first is the underarm area. If we added inches to the cast on area under the sleeve on the sweater, we must also add them on to the sleeve and we should to it before making other alterations. For the rest of the sleeve it is basically just measuring around the arm and then the distance to a vertical point to get the measurement accurate. Ease is a personal matter. Personally I like at least 1 inch to 2 inches, but I don't like slim fitting. The area where we have problems in fitting sleeves is the cap of the sleeve and there is one measurement there that helps. If we look at our arms the area right above our bicep muscle has a little bulge or curve where it sweeps up over the shoulder (actually this is the deltoid muscle) . If the sleeve does not fit at this point it will pull everything out of place. The only answer is to measure here and check that against the width of the cap of the sleeve. A few other pointers--the length of the sleeve should be measured with the elbow bent. and I recommend measuring sleeve length from the center back. Sweater designs put the shoulder all over the place and the only way to get an accurate measurement is the center back. Another problem area can be the elbow. Some arms are shaped with full elbows and need more room than the usual tapered sleeve. Some slim arms become full when the elbow is bent. If someone has full arms or muscular arms it is advisable to make many measurements. I draw a diagram of a sleeve with a vertical line. Then measure across the vertical line at various points and also measure how far down the vertical line I took the measurement. Usually doing this gives you a sense of how tapered the sleeve needs to be. This can also be done with masking tape down the center of the arm and then taking measurements and writing them on the tape at the level the measurement was taken.

When deciding the length of your sleeve, look at your bustline. If it is small, end the sleeve exactly across from the fullest spot and it will draw attention to the bustline. If your bust is large, be sure to end your sleeves either above or below this spot.

I found this when searching for my directions in the archives. I haven't read the entire article but the photo diagram at the top illustrates what I am talking about in taking measurements. It also has a printable page to document your measurements.


Guardian angel

9776 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  07:08:48 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Here is a direct link to the pattern with short row directions.

The pattern for the sleeves.

If you have never visited whiteliesdesigns, you are in for a real treat. Check out her other patterns.

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Permanent Resident

1212 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  08:19:27 AM  Show Profile Send 2totangle a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks so much for posting this, Fran. I've done extensive measuring for sewing, but haven't done it for knitting, and haven't worked out what to do for fitting issues other than my own. Your tips on back neckline measurements and sleeve fitting are especially welcome, as I've never seen this explained elsewhere and never would have thought of them myself. I've printed your post, and it's going in my "Techniques" notebook. Thanks again.


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Chatty Knitter

300 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  09:02:54 AM  Show Profile Send imamshua a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Fran. This is saved on my desktop now. I've just starting to paying attention to fit and since I'm heavy, buxom and short waisted, unless it was a long tunic, I've always had problems, especially since my hips are narrower than my bust, it I don't have a rib at the bottom, things just hang. I just finished my first tank top with short rows for darts and love the fit.

Thanks again - you are a jewel to share all your knowledge.


If you think you're too small to be effective you have never been in bed with a mosquito - Bette Reese
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Permanent Resident

1408 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  09:27:24 AM  Show Profile Send Katheroni a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Very nice, Fran, thank you.
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queen of the east
Seriously Hooked

877 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  12:29:46 PM  Show Profile Send queen of the east a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks so much Fran. Invalueable information.
Your method reminds me of using a muslin for sewing, cutting the pattern from inexpensive muslin, fitting it to the body and marking all of the adjustments on the muslin.
I've got my copy of your post and it is going into my knitting notebook.

Ann in Montreal
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Guardian angel

9776 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2009 :  04:57:00 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I have the same figure type and that is how and why I worked this out. I first adjusted the bustline of the sweater, but it still didn't fit correctly. I lowered the neckline in the front but still had to pull and tug to keep everything in place. It wasn't until I adjusted the shoulder slope and the shoulder depth that things fell into place. That is why I recommend that adjustments be made in a certain order. Someone with very straight shoulders will have a lot of the same problems.

When I was younger, I tapered the sides of the sweater to make the bottom ribbing narrower. You can remove up to two inches with decreases in the row right before the ribbing and more through tapering the sides. I like the straight down ribbing look, so I don't do this but it can be done easily. However, as I've gotten older, my body has removed some of its own Now, I am not talking about weight gain, just what I call the reshaping of aging. The measurements are the same, they are just not shaped as well.

I am completely blown away by the number of people who have read this posting. I hope it helps them as much as it has helped me. I have knit sweaters for people with curved spines, one shoulder higher than the other and various other deformities, including a large tumor about the size of a grapefruit on someone's back. That is why I suggest that both sides be measured individually. Usually your measurement will be the same, but sometimes....... I know one thing for sure, a sweater that fits looks a lot better than one that is just larger to cover up whatever isn't perfect. I don't include ease in these measurements because ease varies with the sweater design. I use the ease as designed in the pattern and just make the changes I need for shoulder slope, bustline, etc.

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Permanent Resident

4160 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2009 :  4:53:51 PM  Show Profile Send dschmidt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As usual, Fran rocks!

Donna in VA

The Honor Roll? It's easier here than in school. Scroll up to "Want to Make Betty Happy?" and be an Honor Roll member.
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Gabber Extraordinaire

433 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2009 :  03:40:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit amosellie's Homepage Send amosellie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks so much for sharing this!!! You gave me a few "Ah HAH" moments and lots of insight. Appreciate you taking the time!

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Permanent Resident

9715 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2009 :  7:20:32 PM  Show Profile Send lella a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a great knit sweater fitting tutorial. You know that I'm going to save it and put it with the rest of the Fran Book, don't you? Thanks Fran!

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