Hello everyone! If you've been following along with these blog posts in real time, then today is the day that we start our Glittery Shrug! For those of you who are just now joining us, it's not too late to work up a gauge swatch and jump in! You can also look back at these posts later and follow along at your own pace.
Selecting a Size
When you read through the pattern before you start the garment, you'll notice that the shrug is made in two pieces, a top half and a bottom half. Since the whole base of the garment is just two pieces, it's easy to customize. The finished bust measurement is a bit flexible since this isn't a traditional cardigan. Also, some people will want to wear the shrug closed across the bust, and some will want to wear it open, in which case it can afford to be a little smaller. The first set of numbers in the measurement section is the Finished Circumference for the front opening. This measurement is the edge that comes around your neck, down the front, around your back and back up again. This finished circumference is made up the top (collar) edge on the upper half, and the bottom edge of the lower half.
To find this finished circumference measurement on yourself, take a tape measure and measure around your neck, down the front, around your back and back up again. Pull the two sides of the tape measure together on your front. This will simulate the finished measurement of the shrug when closed with a button. Here's what that measurement looks like.
This circumference (54" around for the smallest size) happened to work for me, since I intend on wearing the garment closed. If you would rather have the two front edges of the shrug stay open when you wear it, closer to your arms, then find this finished circumference measurement, and apply the difference when you are getting the length for the top edge (collar) of the upper half, and the bottom edge of the lower half. For example, if you would rather have the finished circumference to be 4 inches smaller, then take off 2 inches from both of those edge measurements when you are making the garment.
UPDATED Editor's Note: If you're having trouble with measuring in the way described above (your measurements vary a lot from those in the pattern), we recommend that you take a look at this standard women's sizing chart (from the industry group, the Craft Yarn Council) and select the size you will make based on your bust measurements.
I am a very small person, so I will be making some changes to customize this garment for my size. I am about 5'4" and have about a 32" bust measurement. If you are a similar size to me, you can make exactly the same changes that I do for your own garment if you wish! If you are new to garments, don't feel like you have to make any changes at all! The easiest thing to do is to follow the pattern as written for the size that you need.
Another change I will be making to this is to eliminate the slope of the underarms on both pieces, and making everything straight. This will eliminate the extra fabric under the arms and give the garment a closer fit. Eliminating those slopes also makes changes the measurements much easier since everything will be straight. You'll notice on the schematics the the sleeve lengths are different for both halves. The sleeve is 5 inches on the upper half and 6 inches on the bottom half. While these measurements are different, it's the differing slopes on the underarms the make the sides pieces fit each other when sewn together. What I am going to do is to skip the increasing when I start my sleeve and simply make each sleeve straight, and then chain enough stitches to reach the maximum amount for the piece (for me it's 84 inches). I have decided to make my sleeves both 5 inches since I am a little shorter. When figuring out how long you want the sleeves, don't forget that you will be adding cuffs at the edges of the sleeves, which will add extra length.
Working the Lower Half
Even though the pattern calls for starting with the upper half, I'm going to start with the lower half, as it is all single crochet and will take much longer. I like to get this part out of the way first, but if you've already started or want to work the upper half first, look for next week's blog post on the topic. If you don't like the idea of making the entire bottom in single crochet, making the pieces with all straight edges like I am doing will allow you to substitute other stitches. As long as the pieces equals the measurements that you need, everything will work out. You can even make both the upper and lower halves using the same double crochet mesh stitch or substitute just straight double crochet or half double crochet for the bottom. Remember to do another gauge swatch for whatever substitute stitch you are using if it is not part of the pattern to make sure that you are chaining the correct number of chains to get the correct measurements.
I started my left sleeve for the lower half by chaining the number of stitches it calls for and then worked in single crochet for 5 inches without increasing. After this it is time to start the body portion. I got the opportunity to try this shrug on, and it is very long on me! Look at the finished length measurement for this garment and compare this to yourself. I knew I wanted to take off about 4 inches total from the length, which will be 2 inches on each half. According to the gauge, this means eliminating 10 stitches from the lower half of the body. At the end of a wrong side of the sleeve, I chained enough stitches to reach 74 in total (10 fewer than the total number of stitches for the smallest size), plus 1 extra chain for the turning chain. Then I will work the body straight for the number of inches called for. You can refer to the picture to see how the sleeve looks going into the body without the slope.
When you reach the desired width, it's very easy to start the right hand sleeve. Using my project as an example, on a right hand side of the piece I would only stitch the first 26 stitches (enough for a sleeve for my garment) then turn and go back without working the remainder of the row. After this I will only go back and forth across those 26 stitches until my right sleeve reaches 5 inches in length.
Next week I will be starting the upper half of the project. Good luck starting your garment, and if you have any questions feel free to post a comment below!