Establishing Measurements For Sweaters

Most people know approximately what size they wear, without knowing the actual measurements that make up the size. When you purchase clothing, particularly women’s wear, they are sized with numbers, which in essence doesn’t mean much. Numbers have been used for women’s clothing since around the 1950’s, and began as a marketing ploy, so women wouldn’t know the actual measurements. As women, we tend to place too much importance on being a certain numbered size. Every designer/manufacturer out there designs their garments based on their concept of what a size should measure, therefore one manufacturer’s size 12 is different from another manufacturer’s size 12. Knitted items, because of their stretchiness, are easier to fit.

Regardless, when it comes to making the perfect fitting sweater, you should know the following eight measurements, and how much ease you want in a sweater. In design, wearing “ease” refers to the fullness incorporated into a design so it fits comfortably, allowing for body movement. There are two types of ease, wearing and design ease. Design ease is fullness beyond the wearing ease, to create a specific silhouette. So the fit of a garment can vary from very a close fit to a very loose fit.

  • Bust measurement; chest measurement for men and children
  • Back shoulder measurement (sleeve seam to sleeve seam)
  • Back neck measurement (shoulder to shoulder around back of neck)
  • Armhole length (straight line from armhole to shoulder)
  • Back measurement of sweater (length from back neck to lower edge)
  • Sleeve measurement (armhole to cuff)
  • Wrist measurement (around forearm, about 2 inches up from wrist)
  • Upper arm measurement (1/2 way between elbow and shoulder)

The easiest way to obtain these measurements is to take them from a sweater that fits you well. Some of these measurements will vary according to the style of the sweater you want to knit, but these measurements form the basis of every design. If you are designing your own sweater or making one for someone else, you should measure the person, to ensure the best fit.

How To Check A Pattern To Ensure It Fits

Before you start to make a sweater from a pattern, you should check the measurements of the finished garment to ensure the desired fit. It is not necessary to check all eight measurements, unless you intend to change the pattern. If you simply want to make sure it fits, check the bust measurement, back shoulder measurement, total length, armhole and sleeve length. In checking these measurements, you must use the gauge, or the number of stitches per inch, which determines the width of the piece.

EXAMPLE: The stitch gauge for a pattern is 7 stitches per inch. Size 32: Cast on 109 stitches for the ribbing and increase to 120 stitches for body. 120 divided by 7 equals 17.1 x 2(back and front) equals 34.2. Actual width of the sweater equals 34 1/4 inches (circumference or measurement around the bust/chest).

Back shoulder measurement: After shaping the armholes, 94 stitches remain. 94 divided by 7 equals 13.4. Back shoulder measurement is 13 1/2 inches.

Total length of sweater: This design is 20 inches in length. Armhole length is 7 inches, therefore the length from lower edge to armhole is 13 inches (7+13 = 20).

Sleeve length: Make sure it is close to your measurement (the above example is 17 inches).

I hope this information helps you find the best fit.


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