How to Design a Knitwear from Scratch – 1.2. Get the Right Fit

My mind is always about patterning a new garment and writing this series is totally occupying me. Since it does actually take time to gather all the information to write about how to design a knitwear, I think I will do other “light” posts in between from now though :D

Talking about the pattern writing, I am now looking for a knitting patternist, preferably in the UK (people out of the UK are also welcome but there are some issues about the sending the yarn etc), to help me write and edit the knitting patterns. The details are all here so if you are interested in joining the world of Cotton & Cloud (or if you have any questions), please contact me.

Even my mannequins are enjoying the sun.

Even my mannequins are enjoying the sun.

So far, we have gone through the planning stage of the garment to be designed. I have added a summary table at the end of my previous post so do have a look (here) :D

To me, creating a well-fitted knitwear is of paramount importance. What’s the point of a garment if it does not fit you? Getting the right overall measurements and shaping of a garment (e.g. length, width, sleeve shaping, neckline) will help you structure you specification drawing (discussed at later post) and create a well-fitted knitwear. So in this post I will write about general pointers about measurements.

When I work out the measurements to get the right fit, I use two main methods: 1) using the body measurements and work out from them, 2) using a template such as existing garment or patterns. The best thing is to use all of these methods and come up with the super-snug, best-est ever knitwear!

1. Body Measurements

The first thing you would need to do is to take body measurements (although this may not be possible – see later). You can find loads of information about how to measure your body from dress-making books and sites so I won’t go into too much details. But if I were to say the most important parts of the body to measure, they would be:

  • A: Bust / chest (the widest point)
  • B: Sleeve underarm (wrist to the armpit)
  • C: Underarm to waist (I always find it better to add a couple of inches so as to allow the garment to fit well when your moves)

The above will give you the most basic skeleton. But to add more “meat” to the skeleton of your design, measure more if possible such as:

  • D: Centre back neck to waist – This will give you armhole measure when subtracted by underarm to waist.
  • E: Waist (the narrowest point).
  • F: Across the back of the neck
  • G: Top arm (the thickest part of your arm)
I thought this wooden model would be better than me posing naked in front of the camera....

I thought this wooden model would be better than me posing naked in front of the camera....

Body Measurements vs Actual Knitted Measurements = Fits (Ease):

There are body measurements (e.g. bust size) and actual knitted measurements. The actual knitted measurements determines how fitted the garment will be to your body measurements. I found a “fit chart” from Vogue Knitting (The Ultimate Knitting Book) - the measurements on the first row in bold are the actual bust sizes. The various fits are described on the left column. The measurements in the table are the actual knitted measurements of the bust. So for example, if I am 34″ bust and want to make a standard fitting garment, I need my knitted garment’s bust size to be 36″.

Bust sizes 32″
(81cm)
34″
(86cm)
36″
(91cm)
38″
(96cm)
40″
(101cm)
v. close fitting
(body-hugging)
30″
(76cm)
32″
(81cm)
34″
(86cm)
36″
(91cm)
37″
(94cm)
close fitting
(body-contoured)
32-33″
(81-84cm)
34-35″
(86-89cm)
36-37″
(91-94cm)
38″
(96cm)
39″
(99cm)
standard fitting
(body-skimming)
34″
(86cm)
36″
(91cm)
38″
(96cm)
40″
(101cm)
41″
(104cm)
loose fitting
(straight-hanging)
36″
(91cm)
32″
(81cm)
40″
(101cm)
42″
(106cm)
43″
(109cm)
over sized
(full, roomy)
37″
(94cm)
or more
38″
(96cm)
or more
41″
(104cm)
or more
44″
(112cm)
or more
45″
(114cm)
or more

In Debbie Abraham’s Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps (BTW, this book is HIGHLY recommended), she tells us to add extra inches to the body measurements to achieve the desired fit:

Type of fit Amount to add or subtract from total
Tight fitting - 1 – 2 cm (1/2 – 3/4″)
Close fitting + 1 – 2 cm (1/2 – 3/4″)
Standard + 3 – 6 cm (1 1/4 – 2 1/4″)
Easy firing + 6 – 8 cm (2 1/4 – 3 1/4″)
Loose fitting + 10 -15 cm (4 – 6″)
Generous + 18 cm (7″) or more

2. Template

2.1 Existing garment

Even with the same size, knitwear come in all sizes and shapes. As Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote in many of her books (such as in The Opinionated Knitter), use your / his / her best fitted knitwear as a template when you design a knitwear from scratch. What I have found the most useful is to choose the template garment as similar in thickness and texture as the garment you will have create with the chosen yarn.

Many years back, I didn’t think much and used the best-fitted jumper as a template as told. This jumper was, however, much thinner than the yarn I was going to use and much more consistent in texture (thin, machine knitted). When I knitted up my garment, it was completely the wrong fit. So I have learnt my lessons.

Using the best-fitted jumper as your template is particularly useful if you are “secretly” knitting something for your loved ones because you can sneak out the jumper from the drawers and get the measurements quickly. If you are living with a very observant husband / partner who may notice the way the clothes are put away, you can just say that you were tidying up the cupboard for him (LOL!).

2.2 Existing patterns

It’s also a good idea to see what sizes are used for already-published patterns. Again, choose the patterns that use similar yarn, texutre and designs.

2.3 Other resource

If all this turns out to be impossible, try browsing the internet clothes shop to see if they put any of the actual size of the clothes. This will give you some kind of idea where to start. For example I find Boden very helpful because it gives you all the actual measurements on the each clothes. Though bare in mind that the measurements you get from such source will not be complete and you would probably need to use other templates for measurements.

—————–

Phew! I am off to knit alfresco now :D Happy knitting weekend!

Responses to “How to Design a Knitwear from Scratch – 1.2. Get the Right Fit”

  1. Pili

    Amazing post again! Full of super useful information!

    I hope you’re having a great weekend!

    • kyoko

      Hi Pili!
      You know, it’s too hot for me knit here in London (although I am trying!). Actually it is too hot for me to do anything, so I try to be productive by writing little by little. I bet it’s hotter there than here!!
      Have a wonderful weekend!

      x
      Kyoko

  2. Mary

    Another great knitting guide. It will definately come in useful.

    I hope you are feeling better now that it is slightly cooler.

  3. Thanks for all this! I know this is going to be super useful in my near future. Glad I finally realized your blog moved…it only took me a year!!!

    • kyoko

      Hello Cerise!
      Hehe, no worries. I deliberately left my old blog just so that people can still see my old posts.
      So thrilled to hear that you like the series. Hope more is coming!
      Happy weekend!
      x
      Kyoko

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