It is time for Making Sizing Adjustments, Part 2. You should look here for my June 21, 2016 blog on adjustments between the bottom and the bust. What I’m addressing are simple adjustments and are simply meant to be a first step; they may not solve all your needs. Finding a great fit and solutions that work for you will likely take about three garments. Doing too much at one time can cause more problems than not doing enough. Knits are forgiving though, so don’t feel that the initial efforts aren’t going to be wearable. To the left are my favorite tools. Pencil, graph paper, and an eraser. Once I know my numbers, then I can fine tune things.
Finding Shoulder Width
The most important adjustment to make sure that you are going to bring your armhole in to the proper shoulder width. I think shoulder width is a key to good fit: think how your garment hangs. it is typically sitting on your shoulder framework and hanging over the rest of your body. Wrinkles and pulling between bust and shoulders indicate fit problems here.
- Shoulder Width. Measure yourself (or get someone to do it for you) between the outside of your shoulder bones going across first the back, then across the front. There may be a slight difference, with the front typically being smaller. Use different widths if the number is greater than 0.5 to 0.1″. Blame this on too much texting, computer work, driving.
- Final Garment Shoulder Width. Now consider where you want the final outside edge (including trim) of your garment to sit within the previous measurement. Measure (do it one side) in from the outside of that shoulder bone to where you want that final edge. Multiply that measurement by two. Deduct that from your Shoulder Width in 1.
- Adjustment for Trim. If there is trim, how far inside the outer edge does that trim attach? Multiply that measurement by two. Deduct that from your garment shoulder width found in 2.
Once you have figured out the stitch numbers, if it isn’t already there, add a stitch on either armhole edge for the selvedge stitch which will disappear when the trim is added. I often knit a garment in one piece to the armhole, so I need to add this in at this point. The above calculation is one I figure out for every garment!
Getting To Shoulder Width
- Garment Bust. Find your garment bust measurement for the front.
- Garment Bust to Garment Shoulder. Deduct the Garment Shoulder Width found in 3 above from the front Garment Bust.
- Difference Each Side. Divide the difference by two.
We do armhole shaping by:
- Binding off or putting stitches on holders.
- Decreasing using
- double decreases
- single decreases.
I am not a fan of doing two rows of bind offs at the underarm, so I will make adjustments to get rid of additional stitches if needed. Otherwise, I take the number of stitches needed to be gotten rid of, divide it by two, and then figure out how I want to address dividing the stitches between bind offs and the two types of decreases.
How the Adjustment Numbers Are Found
This is just me randomly selecting numbers, so it is simply an example.
Gauge: 5 sts/in and 6.5 rows/in
Example: Finding Shoulder Width
- Shoulder Width: 14.5″
- Final Garment Shoulder Width: 0.5″ x 2 = 1″. 14.5″ – 1″ = 13.5″
- Adjustment for Trim: 0.75″ x 2 = 1.5″. 13.5″ – 1.5″ = 12″
12″ x 5 (sts/in) = 60 sts
Example: Getting To Shoulder Width
- Garment Bust Measurement: 39.5″ / 2 = 19.75″. 99 sts (assume 2 selvedge stitches were added for 101 sts)
- Garment Bust to Garment Shoulder. 19.75″ – 12″ = 7.75″.
- Difference Each Side. 7.75″ / 2 = 3.875″. 19 or 20 sts (you have to round up or down).
101 sts – (19×2) 38 sts = 63 sts OR 101 sts – (20×2) 40 sts = 61 sts
If I have 19 sts each side, at this gauge, I might do 7 stitches in bind off. I would then have 12 stitches left. I would do 3 double decreases (6 sts) and 6 single decreases. I am often happier doing two single decreases on a row to get that double decrease rather than doing a double decrease. I divided by three and allocated stitches roughly that way. If I didn’t want so many stitches bound off I might do more single decreases instead. How I order the decreases depends on the curve I want–fast or not-so-fast. Row gauge may determine how the stitches get divided as well. I would rather not extend the decreases too far up the armhole (no more than halfway).
All these adjustments assume that you don’t have pattern to consider. It is pretty easy to figure this out, and if there is pattern and you may want to graph it out so that you can end the pattern in a logical place or adjust to be attractive.