Whether you like it or not, knitting industry sizing is related to fashion sizing, only not as consistent or cohesive. Every company in the fashion industry and each company selling hand knitting patterns can choose how it applies sizing standards to create garments that meet the needs of its customers.
Knitting Industry Sizing
I find it fairly surprising that few companies who publish knitwear patterns seem to feel this is an important issue. They use the rather spartan CYC standards or let the designer decide. Even when they do provide measurements, they are only for major areas and are not enough to provide a good framework for cohesive and consistent sizing within a brand/company.
Ideally, every company publishing knitwear patterns in the United States would use the same sizing standards, and those standards would be comprehensive and address the realities of their customer. In a perfect world knitwear pattern publishers would establish a set of basic measurement standards, allowing for deviations by each company to allow them to address their customers, but always guided by the industry standards.
The basic measurements that most fashion companies use are the ASTM sizing standards. There is no industry sizing standard, but everyone starts from these same numbers, then tweaks them. I know there are a few companies in our industry that have decided that this is the way to go. I created sizing guidelines for some of them because the company wanted to control their own sizing by have a set of measurements to give to designers creating work for them. The idea is that working from those measurements, any designer will add in ease and make adjustments for gauge and stitch pattern. This makes it easier for the company, and gives the designer a nice framework to work within.
Fashion Industry Sizing
As any woman can tell you, there is seemingly little cohesion in fashion industry sizing. I believe that this is based on these factors:
- We have mostly alpha-sizing instead of numeric sizing, meaning that there is more room for variation between sizes.
- Models may not accurately reflect the customers of the company (the average woman is 5’4″ and 140 pounds).
- There is much less emphasis put on fit because consumers do not demand it.
- Consumers want low prices, and therefore repeated fit samples are not made due to need for economies needed to keep prices low.
Nevertheless, most companies are working from standards!
What Industry Sizing Could Do For You
Companies could define themselves for the portion of the market they are targeting via their sizing and designs: contemporary, junior, better, bridge/designer. Within plus sizing there can be the same variations so that different age groups/body types can find the fit that works for them. If this happened, knitters could more accurately select patterns that would flatter and fit their end user, and have confidence in the product they were purchasing.
Let’s face it, knitting a garment is an investment of time and money. It would be nice to know that the pattern you purchased would be supporting a positive fit outcome. For the same reasons that the fashion industry focuses less on fit, knitwear publishers are currently constrained by pricing (and undoubtedly other factors) acceptable to their customers. It is just another one of those egg v. chicken arguments, but there might be an opportunity for companies who were willing to engage on fit.
- If you knew what the sizing standards were you could more accurately choose the pattern size you need.
- It would make it possible to move between companies/brands and have a likelihood of consistent sizing and fit.
- Once you put in the effort to find your size, you would be more likely to identify what worked for you and your knitting efforts.
I do know that there is not a really good reason for there to be any change: knitters are fairly fixated on obtaining inexpensive patterns, do not express the desire for fit in a manner that it can be addressed, and there is little training for applying standards to make unique knitwear with fit standards.
Go here for my sizing charts. Want to share your thoughts? Email me! I would love to hear your thoughts1
Your email link isn’t working. It links me back to your website. I’ll use the email address on your contact page.