Our last post where we talked about taste and the subjectivity of what’s “flattering”.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.
All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.
Survey results time!
As a refresher, this is the survey. Only 2 questions, short answer format:
- As a petite woman, what fit issues do you encounter in knitwear?
- What suggestions do you have for the #KnitPetiteProject?
As of the writing of this post, 85 people participated. I’ll be keeping the survey up if people are still interested in participating.
Let’s go over the answers; I’ll do a wee recap, and then include all the responses below.
Of all the responses…
64% of people specifically said they have issues with the length of sleeves, yokes, and sleeve caps
46% of people specifically said the shoulders of sweaters are too big for them (there was a total of about 3 people who said shoulders were too narrow for them)
27% of people specifically mentioned bust size as an issue; of this percentage, 33% said it was too big, and 67% said it was too small
26% of people specifically said the necklines are too low/wide
42% of people said there’s issues with the backwaist length
a number of people particularly mentioned issues related to being petite plus, and other expressed concern with proportions of design elements
And there were a bunch of really great ideas for the #KnitPetiteProject that will absolutely influence what we do this year, including:
- creating a Ravelry group so everyone can share ideas easily
- tips for approaching pattern adjustments
- How to compare pattern schematic measurements with actual measurements
- suggestions for knitters to recognize the fit issues they have and how to correct the pattern for better fit
- Identify and explain the sweater styles that can most easily be customized for varied body shape
- Help knowing a good rate of decreases/increases on sweater bodies or sleeves; arithmetic!
What does this show us?
- the variety of bodies out there! It’s valuable, grounding, and refreshing to hear so many people are different in so many ways.
- people’s knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding diagnosing fit issues. This is a big issue with me; I find it tricky to figure out how some things do or don’t fit and why. Diagnosing fit is the first step to learning the tools and tactics to achieve the fit you want.
- we need to spread the word and let people know what the #KnitPetiteProject is all about! There were a few people who weren’t quite sure what we’re up to, but were keen on participating nonetheless. Let’s share this with as many people as possible so when we start talking about diagnosing fit issues next month, we have even more minds interested in helping out, sharing information, and learning together!
- there’s space and interest in working together to figure out our petite fit issues – our community is growing, and I think it’s time to launch a space for us to share with each other, pool resources as a group, and possibly, hopefully (!), hold a KAL in the near future! (more on that coming soon!)
And now, the RESULTS!
As a petite woman, what fit issues do you encounter in knitwear?
- The biggest issue is that “petite” often means “small all over.” I am short but also plus-sized. I have a small bust for my size so petite tops are great for that, but I also like to wear my shirts long, which petite tops are not great for. Petite dresses are the right length but proportionally wrong for me just about everywhere else.
- Length. Everywhere. Arms, body, often necklines are too low.
- Proportions are never right. I’m broad shouldered and narrow waisted, so require considerable shaping to get the fit looking right instead of being baggy in places and stretched tight in others.
- With an ample bosom, shoulders are always too large. The length between the full bust and waist are too long.
- I’m ridiculously longwaisted, and some patterns think an XL is a size 14
- Arms too long and wide
- Sleeves are too long
- Underarm to waist always needs to be shortened, sleeves are always just a little too long
- Balancing height vs proportion – shorter in height but still full sized in bust, arm and hip circumference.
- Sleeve length, placement of decreases with a smaller torsos
- I am short-waisted, meaning there’s an incj (at most) between my ribs and hip bones. Few patterns help with accommodating that body type. Besides that, petite frames also come with ample busts. I’m a shrimp wearing a 32DD. Shaping in limited space limits knitting options.
- Neckline too wide Shoulder width too wide Sleeve too long Length to waist too long
- If I choose a sweater pattern by bust size, the shoulders are too big. I can adjust lengths fairly easily as I knit my sweaters top down.
- Shoulders/arm holes…always too wide/long
- Arms are usually way too long. 3/4 length sleeves look like I’ve made a mistake or run out of yarn because they look *almost* normal length. This is fairly easy to fix. At the same time, the body of a jumper is never long enough. Maybe because I’m quite wide? Thats harder to fix. I often knit different parts in different pattern sizes to get the right complete garment.
- The waist shaping hits me at the wrong spot. I am almost finished with a new bottom-up sweater, and I modified the waist shaping so that I went directly from waist decreases to waist increases. Looking at myself in the mirror, it’s clear that my natural waist, which is my narrowest part, is directly under my rib cage and my body only takes that width very briefly. I think I should probably modify the armscye and sleeve depth as well, but I don’t really understand how to do that throughly. I am lucky to have a B or C cup bust and find that my bust/shoulder range is fairly accurately represented by standard patterns, but it could still be improved.
- 1. shoulders and sleeves too wide, waist shaping in the wrong place 2. sock patterns are always too big
- Not small enough in the bust.
- Sleeve length and waist placement on shaped garmets
- Everything has to be shortened and I use my upper bust measurement to select a size instead of bust size. That way the shoulders will fin.
- Width between shoulders!!! So many adjustments to make.
- Shoulders too wide in pattern is the most difficult to manage; sleeve, skirt and torso length are easier to adjust but all need consideration.
- I’m petite size 4 bottom but I wear a size med to large top. Only 5 ft 1/2 inch tall!
- Shoulder and back measurements on non-raglan sweaters don’t work for me. overall length is easy to customize, and there are a lot of tips for bust adjustments, but the yoke/shrug/set in caps on sweaters don’t seem to adjust for height, only width
- Bust depth too deep. If I lift up the shoulders by about an inch or so the bust shaping is then in the right place. V necks too low. Sleeves too long.
- I always have fit issues in the shoulders for both knitwear and ready-to-wear.
- Arms and torso are always needing to be adjusted. Especially any waist shaping.
- I am 5’3″with a fairly athletic body shape and broad shoulders. My biggest problem is my torso is of average length but my arms and legs are short. I guess technically even though I am short, that does not make me petite. If I fit my shoulders, the sleeves are at my fingertips. To have the sleeves the correct length, I need to go to a child’s pattern. I have found through trial and error, that a top-down, raglan pattern fits me the best because I can try it on and customize it as I knit. I have found a few knit designers whose patterns really fit me well with just sleeve length alterations so when I look for a pattern, I go check there first. I pretty much avoid the trendy designs because I know they won’t fit. I just grab my old raglan pattern and change pattern stitches, add lace or cables, etc, and come up with something that works for me.
- I’m 5’1″ and VERY BUSTY – a G cup. Have always had to redraft a sewing pattern and frankly have stopped sewing fitted garments because I can’t get it just right. Working on my first cardigan and it’s a top down pattern that is not very fitted and hoping to adjust as I go along.
- Fitting my large bust and small waist at the same time.
- Back length; armhole depth; back width; sleeve length
- Sleeves too long; waist shaping is too low; need to customize all sweater pattern that I knit for myself
- Since I am some 4’10” tall and 91 pounds (in the same size range as an eleven year old girl, according to an old growth chart) many sweater patterns for adults are too long and wide. On the other hand sweater patterns intended for children are not shaped properly for my figure. Children’s sizes often have no waist or hip shaping, but I need such shaping.
- armhole too deep, neck too large, sleeves and garments too long, waist shaping in wrong place.
- I’m very short waisted & always struggle with adapting waist increases/decreases. Also between my petite-ness & my lack of buxom-ness, my V-necks always seem to dip down to my navel.
- length! body length, sleeve length, armhole depth, waist shaping actually at the waist, and so on.
- Obviously the length of garments, but more importantly, the shaping of most clothes is in the wrong place (ie waist shaping going in where my hips are starting to go out) and not enough room across the back shoulders. For more complex designs, often the pattern or detailing is too big across a smaller frame, or if the design element “travels” diagonally up and across, i run out of torso before the design element gets to where it’s supposed to be.
- sleeves too long, body too long – which can generally be dealt with reasonably easily; shoulders too wide, necks too deep or wide or gaping – a bit more of a challenge; too much ease in sleeves and at underarms – can sometimes be simple to fix, sometimes not
- None – I adjust based on measurements
- I have avoided sweater knitting due to concerns over correct measurement taking. Fit issues concern mostly neck to waist measurement, sleeve and across shoulder and chest measurement. Other issues consist of proper placement of decreases and correct row adjustments to accommodate my smaller size. Of course then any pattern (color work, for example) must also be adjusted, a further major concern.
- As a sweater knitter, waist shaping. It’s always in the wrong place. Straps, like on tank tops, are always too long.
- Proper fit through the shoulders and arms. I have narrow shoulders so the neck line can be an issue too-either too low or shoulders too wide. I also don’t have the bust to support some tunic pieces.
- I have to do the math for where and over how much length to do shaping, and for overall length of everything. But . . . I’d have to do it most of the time even I wasn’t short, because I rarely “get gauge.”
- Shoulder depth is often too long, especially as I have a large bust and am usually knitting an XL size. I am 5’3″, but have a short torso and long legs proportionate to my height.
- neckline too low/big, torso too long, sleeves too long
- I always have to shorten the sleeves and have learned the hard way thst top down is ALWAYS going to be my best choice for a good fit + length I want
- Always have trouble with shortening neck to armhole length.
- sleeves too long, neck opening too large
- The shoulder width is too wide in comparison to the torso (bust, waist, hip) measurements. This is difficult to modify since with a set in sleeve it will have knock-on effects on the armhole shape and the sleeve head. The waist is usually too low, and the sleeves are too long, but these are easier to modify. In some styles I find the neckline too wide and too low, but again these are relatively simple to modify. I really love it when a pattern contains a very comprehensive schematic so I can tell which bits I am going to have to alter.
- Fit around the shoulders, sleeve length, and waist placement.
- short waisted but relatively long arms, large bust
- Waist length too long.
- I am not only petite (5’0″) but also slim (30″ bust), so I go through this sequence of events a lot: 1. I discover a gorgeous sweater pattern on Ravelry, and I fall in love. 2. I discover that the pattern only goes down to a size 34″. The finished dimensions chart (if one exists or if you’re allowed to see it before purchasing the pattern) indicate that the size 34″ is 4 inches too long. My excitement plummets into disappointment. 3. I pull out Excel and try to recalculate sizing using a smaller gauge. Maybe I can knit the pattern using a smaller weight of yarn, and this will fix the width problem. Size 30″, here I come. Excitement increases. 4. I browse through all the projects on Ravelry and try to find somebody else who has made this in a size 30″. Nobody has, uh oh. 5. I read more comments and project notes. I realize that the sweater has bust darts, waist darts, hip darts, and darts halfway up one’s nose. How does one shorten darts or move darts up lengthwise on a pattern? Also, I have to shorten the arm holes too. And the arms. And the torso. Ugh, this has now become way too hard to modify. I might as well write a pattern from scratch at this point. Also, I have no idea if it’ll even look good on me anymore. Screw this pattern. 6. I give up and continue browsing patterns. 7. Rinse, repeat from 1-7.
- Shoulders, neckline usually too big. Sleeves too long. Adjusting armholes and overall length for narrow shoulders and shorter torso while still allowing sufficient room for bust (D cup). I’m not only petite but also older, so bust is lower than it used to be.
- The sleeves are too narrow at the top and too long
- Sleeves too long and many designs are just overpowering on a smaller frame.
- Sleeve length: Figuring out how to shorten sleeves proportionately while staying in pattern.
- I’m petite but have boobs – 28FF bra size. I need very small chest size garments – say 30″ – to which I can add room for my bust via increases and darts. That’s a lot of increases/added volume in a very short vertical height, only 4″ or so between waist and largest bust circumference. This is quite challenging! Basically very difficult to achieve unless there is a plain panel at the side fronts where I can locate horizontal bust darts, which rules out a lot of patterns. I can’t blame designers but it is a frustration. Armholes are often too deep and sleeves, well, sleeves are always much too long. But I’m resigned to just redoing the arithmetic for the incs/decs.
- Very few issues – I mainly knit loose fitting sweaters. However when I try to adjust sweaters to fit better they tend to be too small!!
- There are no actual petite sizes for me in most patterns. I’m 5′. Usually sweaters are too long or not wide enough,bust isn’t right. Sleeves start at the wrist and I don’t know when to shorten them ? My grown daughters are the same height as myself, but much skinnier. Vogue never has petite sizes and those don’t fit well when I make items from that magazine for my daughters. My instructor tries to help, but she only knows so much.
- The arm length is too long as well as length in skirts and dresses.
- Waist placement is too low and I have to shorten the pattern by 1 1/2″
- I do not like the sleeve width circumference to be too large. I do not need knit as many inches usually from underarm to hem.
- Busts are always too big–there are very few patterns for bust measurements below 36″ and many patterns have a very small size around 31″ then 36″, 38″, 40″, etc., completely skipping smaller sizes between a tiny teen and a larger woman.
- uhhhh….. all of them. I’m 5’0′ and 103 lb, and even if I make the smallest size in a pattern it is inevitably too big, sleeves are too long, hem hits in a weird place. These days I only knit top-down sweater patterns so I can adjust as I go
- Sleeves too long, shoulders too wide for the bust measurement I need, neckline too low/long.
- 1. Having to raise the lowest point of a neckline in scoop or V-neck styles. 2. Reducing vertical spacing between neckline and bustline/armholes.
- These answers are based on my rather limited experience with knitting sweaters. The fit of the neckline/shoulder is too wide for my narrow shoulders (I am 5′ 1 1/2″, 100 lb.). The length can be an issue as well, not always sure how to shorten if there are increase/decreases involved. (I prefer top to mid hip length)
- The torso is too long and shoulders too wide
- I’m a large but short woman. Plus sized garment patterns are entirely too long in the arms, too deep in the arm-scye, and often too wide or low in the neck. I don’t mind the extra length on the body because I like to wear tops that are long, and I can adjust that length very easily. Patterns designed for shorter women usually do not accommodate heavier women. I also have a tiny head, and adult hat patterns are usually too large on me.
- Picking the right size to knit because my bust is a bit larger, but my frame is still small and my shoulders are narrow. V-necks can be too deep. Sleeves are usually easy to modify, although sometimes decreases can be challenging.
- Oh, where to begin? Sweater patterns where the only thing altered for different sizes is the width. Before I knew better, I once knit a sweater that had the same size neck opening for every size – it had a 11″ boat neck for the 32″ bust size and the 48″ bust size. Drop sleeved pullovers and cardigans can be very difficult to alter for a shorter sleeve and body length. Sweaters with waist shaping but no indication how many inches up waist shaping begins and ends so as to make appropriate modifications (with a lot of work you can sometimes figure it out, but it is a complete hassle). That’s probably enough for now
- The difference between smaller sizes is too big/not proportional
- Sleeves and body are generally too long by the time it fits me in the bust
- Having to modify the shaping on the body and sleeves; shoulders not being narrow enough for the bust.
- redesigning sleeves for proper length and decreases. shortening body and re designing shaping
- Length and where & how to shorten
- How to deal with broad shoulders plus a short waist on sweaters.
- I usually avoid knitting garments because I’m concerned about putting _so_ much effort into making something that won’t fit. I expect that I’m petite plus, though that’s a shape I’ve never come across in stores.. I’m 4’10” and currently most comfortable in a size 16 pant My top and bottom halves are rather proportional to each other, and over the past few years I’ve become somewhat round around the middle. I also have a fairly large for my height bust (d cup). I don’t know if describing my unusual shape helps, thought I’d add what I can.
- sweater patterns seem to be pretty okay for me–I think I have an average or longish torso but shortish arms and legs. I tend to knit top-down, trying on as I go. this way I can tweak the fit if necessary. I find myself often lengthening the bodice and shortening the sleeves, but perhaps some of this is more out of personal preference (I prefer 3/4 length sleeves) than out of being petite, I don’t know. I do have problems with off-the-rack clothing from stores though. necklines and shoulders are an issue. what’s currently in style can add to that problem. (dropped shoulders and boxy cuts, augh.)
- Sleeves always too long
- Sleeves that are too long (though that’s easy to modify, usually). Torsos that have all the wrong ratios for where the bust, waist, and hips fall and the increases/decrease to get those. Shoulders that are too broad. Necklines that would fall off my shoulders (and shouldn’t). Patterns that go in rows instead of inches/cm. I have to recalculate everything, and heaven help me if my gauge is not the same as my swatch. It really discourages me from knitting sweaters, knowing I have to re-do all the pattern stitch/row counts. I’ve had to learn a lot about garment construction and fit to understand how to change those counts, too. (Which was fun to learn! But it’s not fun to slog through a sweater’s worth of calculations.) Cowls and scarves and hats sometimes have problems with length/width, but those are generally easy to modify.
- overall length of garments, placement of shaping (I have a short torso and there’s hardly any space between the underbust and my waist), design elements in the wrong place, just because I’m short doesn’t mean I don’t have a large bust or carry weight in the belly and upper arms. It’s frustrating (mostly with commercial clothing) when designers think that petite means everything’s small/skinny.
What suggestions do you have for the #KnitPetiteProject?
- Stay awesome? I have no idea. You’ve been doing a great job so far!
- Keep up the good work! We short gals need equal time! 😆
- Remember that petite refers to height, not weight. Plus sized petite patterns are almost non-existent.
- At 5’4″, I’m on the edge of the petite sizing as regards to my height, so it’s all about the shaping for me. This is easy to adjust for plain stocking stitch knits, but very difficult if it involves lace or cable patterns.
- Help people find what they need to personalize to THEIR body type.
- Not sure
- Perhaps some sort of easy access chart that shows a ballpark reduction in the measurements given in a pattern. I have one bookmarked on my computer that I refer to when dressmaking – http://www.madalynne.com/patternmaking-how-to-make-a-pattern-petite – BUT there is no substitute for (a) knowing one’s measurements; and (b) trying on as you knit
- I hope the project will create size/grading guidelines for pattern designers.
- The only thing that has worked for me is looking a store made sweaters and compared the WIP to it.
- Neckline and shoulder width are my biggest problems, especially with raglan and top-down designs.
- Patterns should come in petite sizes i.e. for persons with small shoulders and larger chests as this body type does not conform to standard sizing. Shaping should be stated as eg. 1′ before the waist start decreasing rather than as a standard length.
- Sweater pattern w/sizes for larger bust.
- I don’t think there is an easy answer because there is no one set of measurements for short people any more than there is for people of any size. There is no average.
- None so far! This is really interesting stuff and I appreciate your synthesis of all the factors that go into this complex topic. I look forward to the new installments.
- seems to me that petite fit issues are the same as any fit issues…no two people are alike and very few are standard sizes…something that fits me at 5’0″ and 150 lbs will not fit someone who is 5’0″ and 100 lbs…nor will it fit someone who is 5’4″ and 150 lbs…
- Make sizes that fall in between child’s size and the usual women’s small.
- Measure as many petite women as possible and that should help provide new guidelines
- Be sure to cover those of us who are not shortwaisted. I am narrower between the shoulders, but my petiteness (hee is that a word) comes in my lower leg length.
- Some designers include an ‘adjust here’ notation – more extensive use would be great. More comprehensive schematics too – many patterns don’t even bother other than ‘Size 10’ or ‘M’ but even those that do usually only have bust measurement and maybe sleeve or torso length.
- Knitting a dress? Almost impossible.
- Patterns that suggest not just length in numbers but in body position would be great (i.e., knit the sleeve to elbow, or knit back to bottom of shoulder blade)
- A whole garment approach rather than just chopping off the bottom inch or so. Eg with sleeves I hardly ever reach the point where all the increases are made before I need to cast off for the armhole edge. Result? Never wide enough above the elbow without amending the rate of increases at the start of knitting a sleeve.
- Use smaller models when designing for us. A 5’9″ or taller model doesn’t give us a usable pattern
- I think this is a wonderful project and don’t quite know what to suggest. I know there are lots of short/vertically challenged women. Many have given up knitting garments and just do socks, shawls and stuff for kids and grandkids.
- Petite doesn’t necessarily equal size 0-2 in Ready to Wear. there are 12-14s out here who are also short/petite and I would guess we need more help adjusting patterns for our petite stature than our tiny friends.
- I’m not clear on what exactly you are. Are you going to teach fitting techniques, or are you trying to get designers to change the way they fit patterns?
- Ideas for how to make adjustments in specific areas. How to compare pattern schematic measurements with actual measurements.
- Sizing options for petite folks
- Along with offering patterns for petite wearers, or examples of how published patterns would be adjusted, suggestions for knitters to recognize the fit issues they have and how to correct the pattern for better fit. For example, some knitters need to adjust for a full bosom, in addition to being petite, so they need that adjustment as well as the “shorter” lengths for petite.
- no suggestions, just thanks for starting this!
- Anything with a waistline detail that flatters and falls in the right place
- looks good so far
- How to tweak shaping, and how to tweak design elements to account for a shorter body length.
- I’m not a pattern designer so maybe this would be very cumbersome, but some notes about how to adjust some petite fit issues in the pattern such as percentages of stitches to remove and where to make those changes. In the case of necks too deep, how many rows to add or what to change in gaping necks. It’s not quite like sewing where you fold the pattern tissue – what would the equivalent be in knitting?
- Is it possible to include some “sample” projects to try out any new skills the Petite Project may address?
- Take the time to research patterns for your petite frame, pay particulate attention to those that have photos and are being worn by a person with your body type. I am very small in the shoulders and bust and have short arms. I’ve learned what to look for in patterns and I accept the fact that there are sweaters I’d love to know, but because of my size they won’t work.
- I’m not sure what the objective of the project is, other than to help knitters resolve the issues. Giving people tips about how to modify patterns? I’m curious if there are other issues petite knitters have.
- Awareness!: the craft yarn council measurements do t work fo many many of us!
- I can’t think of anything
- non yet
- I would love to know more about how to assess items I have knitted for fit and to determine where the problems are and how to solve them in the future. For a lot of my sweaters I find the shoulder seams slide backwards in wear (pulling the front of the sweater up) and I am having trouble identifying what alterations I should make to solve this.
- Nothing in particular.
- Suggestions for adjusting waist shaping
- Short people come in all shapes. Don’t forget the slim petites; we’re out here.
- Keep going! This is fascinating.
- A way to easily resize shaping to modify for shorter torsos and arms
- How to adjust patterns so that they are not so overwhelming
- Helping with arithmetic formulas to shorten sleeves in pattern.
- Encourage designers to be realistic about the limitations of their patterns. It’s OK that not everything will work for me! but please don’t tell me that a 34″ is a small size. No, it’s really not.
- I’m afraid I have no suggestions – but look forward to the discussions, which might give me some bright ideas!
- I don’t have any suggestions but thank you for doing this! I have hope for us short people now 🙂
- To make an app or tool of some kind that you can put in your measurements and it will generate an appropriate version of a pattern.
- Schematics! They really help me see what the project is intended to be so I can see how I need to change it.
- I wish all designers would include a schematic in the pattern. Usually beginners may not know they can tweak a pattern to fit their body better. I don’t have any suggestions.
- I find European and Japanese patterns fit me much better–US designers seem to think that all US petite women are fatter than Europeans or Japanese women, and we’re not!
- I’m just glad this is a thing, honestly. I’ve been struggling with fit in sweaters since I was 12 and knit my first one.
- Since I don’t know if this is classes or KAL or what, I am not sure what to suggest. Maybe list good fitting tutorials?
- Need more aran and cable designs that look good with a smaller chest area.
- Just recently came across your project and am delighted to see petite fit issues addressed. I welcome suggestions on how to tailor the fit of a patten. Please continue to share your findings!
- How to fit knitwear for petites with larger chests
- Address the needs of the short but stout crowd!
- Take into account that petite does not always mean small bust. I’m a size 2 but often can’t get things to fit properly on my chest.
- Identify and explain the sweater styles that can most easily be customized for varied body shapes (despite all the hoo-ha about bigger sizes, there isn’t much good advice for petites) example: if short in the limbs, vs short in the waist, what style would be most complimentary & easy to adjust to fit? Thank you
- Short does not equal no bust
- tutorials on calculating descreases, how to find your waist if you still have one
- Instructions on how to ‘petite’ garment patterns
- I find that length between shoulders and bust is an issue. Especially in raglans, by the time I get to the number of correct increases, the armpit is 3 inches too long.
- Help knowing a good rate of decreases/increases on sweater bodies or sleeves (i.e. at what point is it too much too soon and gives it a funny look)?
- I’ve never delved deeply enough into garment making to really wrap my head around it, so I don’t yet know what I don’t know! I do appreciate your work and look forward to finding out what I can learn.
- a dedicated Ravelry group could be helpful. I’m not very chatty, but I like to share relevant projects to groups and browse the projects others have shared. this would make it easier for fellow petites to spot others with a similar build and see what patterns and adjustments (if any) they’ve made.
- It would be great to get a list of sweater patterns that are designed with petite proportions in mind — or a list of those that are particularly easy to modify