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What Size Do I Make?

Throughout this season, we’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

What Size Do I Make? | Lion Brand Notebook

You've found the perfect sweater pattern. It's just challenging enough to keep your interest. You think you'll be able to wear it a good part of the year for many occasions. The yarn is something you can afford.

But before you can begin, you need to answer one question: What size do I make?

Studying the size information, you note there are 4 sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. Usually you wear a medium. But wait. The pattern states for the medium size, the finished chest measurement is 50". That does not seem right at all, you think. In fact, it seems like the sweater will be way too large!

Before deciding the pattern is wrong or what size you'll make, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Ask yourself how you like your sweaters to fit. Do you like them tight? If you do, perhaps you will want to choose a smaller size. Do you like them loose? Do you layer them with lots of other pieces or with just a camisole underneath? Do you wear your cardigans more like jackets or buttoned up as a top? Keep all of your preferences in mind as you consider the size.

Generally a sweater is not worn skintight. The difference between your bust measurement and the finished chest measurement of a sweater is referred to as "ease." Some garments have more ease than others, depending upon a number of factors.

The overall design of the garment dictates the amount of ease. Some are intended to be more form fitting, such as a shell. Others are meant to be roomier or "slouchy" in style.

Also, keep in mind that cardigans are worn over other clothing. They were designed to accommodate the extra bulk that is taken up by the clothing worn under the cardigan. Therefore, you will likely see a larger finished chest measurement for cardigans than pullovers.

Finally, sweaters that use very bulky yarns have more ease. The yarn itself literally takes up some of the allotted ease of the garment.

If in doubt, measure a sweater that fits you well which is similar in style and weight to the one you plan to make if at all possible. You might be surprised to find the finished chest measurement of that sweater is larger than you think!

[Pattern pictured: Knit & Crochet Winged Jacket]

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  • JoAnne

    I'm making a jacket from a pattern I designed. Patchwork, done in Tunisian crochet.

    I wear a 42 sweater, or extra large shirts. Could use advice on width of fronts of jacket.

  • Pat Meyer

    I wish patterns would include the amount of ease in the fit. This would make it much easier to decide on the right size to make.

  • William Elg

    my mom recently purchased silver Lexus IS 250 Sedan only from working online...
    find out site46.com

  • More Than A Mom

    I am making a sweater for someone and am using an existing one that she likes the fit of as a guide. She is an XL but I find with my knitting gauge I need to use the M for width and the XL for height. It matches the existing sweater so I hope I'm doing it right!
    I love the sweater in the photo - is there a pattern you can link us to?

  • Autumnrose

    After reading the comments below, my heart broke for everyone who was hurt or disappointed after working so hard on a hand made gift for someone who really didn't have a clue of how unique it was.
    I also have limited my knitting and crochet talents for those who really appreciate the gifts.
    That has worked out beautifully for me and them.
    While you are weeding out people on your list, it may help to make things for people in nursing homes etc. for the holidays. My church collects these and delivers them to those in need.
    I usually put a card in my wrapped gift signed by "Mrs. Santa Claus" telling the person that this lap blanket, scarf, etc. was made especially for them.
    By indicating what is in the wrapped gift also helps those distributing the gifts to give the most useful item to the person in need of it.

    Doing this makes my heart happy. And hopefully theirs as well.
    I've also made scarfs for children that participate in the Special Olympics.
    If you contact that organization they will tell you what colors should be used and when I did it Red Heart sold the yarn at discounted prices. A win win all around.
    I even received thank you notes from the boys and girls.
    So keep those hooks and needles going and create happiness.