Choosing The Right Pattern Size: Body And Garment Measurements

Nothing looks more fabulous than well-fitting clothes, no matter what size or shape the body. Remember all the “What Not To Wear” episodes; everyone came out looking like a million bucks; having more to do with style and fit. Like a habit, many of us continually gravitate to the same knitting pattern size, as our retail clothing size. And sometimes after  many hours of knitting and anticipation, the results are far from desired. As I indicated in an earlier post, off-the-rack sizes don’t follow knitting pattern sizes or standards, and are different from manufacturer to manufacturer.

What certainly can help in getting great results from knitting is learning to take body measurements, yours and others you may be knitting for. Another set of measurements, that aid in choosing size is measuring garments in your wardrobe that fit comfortably.

TAKING BODY MEASUREMENTS (BM) – The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) created standards for knitted and crocheted items. These standards assist designers, manufacturers, and publishers in preparing products that meet consumer expectations, so projects can be completed successfully. Check their site out for sizing and fit charts, and how to measure.

I’ve added the waist and hip circumference, in addition to the 8 measurements indicated in my previous post. For a basic sweater or cardigan, the basic 8 measurements are sufficient to choosing a size.

You wouldn’t use BM alone to make a garment – the garment would be tight and very uncomfortable. That’s why “ease” is added. The CYC included a fit chart, providing average number of inches added to produce close-fitting to oversized garments. This is “wearing ease”. “Design ease” is fullness beyond the wearing ease, to create a specific silhouette or style.

The following image illustrates where to measure on the body. It’s better to have someone take your measurements. When measuring sleeve length, it is best to measure with the arm slightly bent. Record your measurements for future reference.


Taking Body Measurements
Taking Body Measurements

Taking Garment Measurements (GM) – The basic garment styles are the sweater (with or without sleeves) and cardigan. To measure a knitted garment from your wardrobe, lay the garment on a flat surface and smooth out. Carefully measure the areas indicated by the arrowed lines. GM is not the circumference; they are measurements for each piece. For the bust/chest measurement, you would double the number. Also, when you take GM, ease is included.

Measuring a Garment
Measuring a Garment

Compare your BM and GM with CYC’s fit chart; see any similarities?  The difference will be the amount of ease. Pattern instructions usually note the actual bust/chest size, followed by the finished knitted measurements. Your “size” is the finished knitted measurement closest to the measurement of your favorite garment, or by looking at the amount of desired ease added to your bust/chest measurement from CYC’s fit chart.

[Just a side note. It is possible to have negative ease in a garment. Negative ease is a measurement smaller than your body measurement. It creates a tight fitting garment, such as a rib knit sweater that you want skimming the body. Negative ease works very well with knitted garments, because of the stretchiness of a knitted fabric.]

I hope this information helps you make better size choices.

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