#KnitPetiteProject: Petite Plus; what are the fit issues, and how do they line up against sizing charts?

Our last post where we looked at bust, waist, and hip circumferences.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

…Youtube video coming soon…

The rest of May and June will be filled with very practical posts that will focus on:

  • comparing petite measurements to “regular” CYC charts
  • “diagnosing” fit issues
  • helping us decide how we feel about fit
  • determining tools to alter fit to our liking
  • learning to identify patterns that work for our taste and/or are easily modifiable
  • and very importantly, considering how we differ from a general sizing chart so we have a set of general rules to consider before we begin knitting a pattern1

For some of you this information may be old news, and for others, it may be brand new. If you read this and believe something should be added or changed, please let me know in the comments! It’s important that we make the #KnitPetiteProject as comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive as possible.

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.2

A few things before we jump in to this week’s topic:

I know if something doesn’t fit me! Why should we look at “diagnosing” fit?!

Please head to May 9th’s post to read my personal story of discovering the value in diagnosing fit.

Please consider joining the #KnitPetiteProject Ravelry group so we can enable this knowledge sharing and help each other to diagnose fit issues!

Remember, Fit is a moving target!

We’ve already touched on this in previous posts, but fit is incredibly complex, and is made more so by the fact that it is both subjective to your own tastes, and dependent on the style of the garment. In the examples below, please keep that in mind (particularly style considerations).

Over the next four posts, you may see a bunch of repetition

I hope that these posts will be able to stand on their own AND fit together, so that readers can take as comprehensive an amount of information from each post as possible. Please excuse the repetition!

Body Positivity

This is worth repeating: looking at the shape of your body and measuring it is not a contest, and it’s not a judgement on your worth as a human being. This is intended to empower you to get what YOU want out of your knits.

In May we’re looking at diagnosing fit, and seeing how our numbers and general “petite” numbers compare to the “regular” numbers of the much-used CYC charts.

Let’s get started.

Petite Plus; what are the issues, and how do they line up against sizing charts?

What Are the Issues?

Width tied to Length

I wanted to devote an entirely separate post to petite plus because from personal experience, information from the #KnitPetiteProject surveys, and my own research, the petite plus knitter is very under-served and because of the way sizing systems for knitting work, petite plus folks have some particularly compounded issues in sizing.

Ysolda touch on this somewhat in her blog post introducing her new sizing chart in February. In it, she wrote:

You’ll notice that some lengths are consistent across the size range. This is because the sizing chart is based on women of the same average height across the size range. Whether larger bust sizes should also be proportionally taller is a matter of some debate, and you may wish to make slight adjustments to these measurements.

The length of the underarm to neck area *will* increase between sizes, some designers handle this by reducing the sleeve and body lengths as the sizes increase. 3 (bolded emphasis my own)

She also stated that her charts are for “average” height, which, according to my research tends to be around 5’5″.

As for how Ysolda handles lengths and widths, she states:

Personally I prefer to keep sleeve and body lengths close to the same across the size range allowing knitters to make adjustments as required for height independent of bust size. The exception is for very close fitting garments where a little extra length is required to follow the curves of the body in larger sizes.4

From this you can see the leeway, and/or the designer’s interpretation, that can go in to determining size and length.

Widths being tied to lengths in charts means that those of us on the out-sized ends of sizing systems have our numbers skewed.

In my search for a more representative sizing system, or any detailed information about petite plus sizing, I found the accomplished sewing designer Kathleen Cheetham. We’ve looked at her charts in the past.

This week she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions for us here in the #KnitPetiteProject about her sizing system and petite plus folks. AND, give us a few coupon codes! Check them out at the bottom of her interview.

Kathleen Cheetham

#KnitPetiteProject QUESTION: Your work in petite plus sizing is so important! I love how your Petite Plus Patterns® are designed specifically women with “narrow shoulders, D cup bra, rounded tummy!” With these fit aspects in mind, I’m wondering: What fit sacrifices does a petite person make when wearing a non-petite sized garment? What are some of the tell-tale signs that a garment (particularly tops) isn’t sized for a petite (and petite plus) body?

KC ANSWER: We often think of length as being the issue in fit for petite women wearing regular-sized garments. More than length though is scale and proportion – the width of the shoulders, depth of the neckline and armhole, the overall scale of collars, cuffs and pockets are all too big for the tinier figure.

#KnitPetiteProject QUESTION: I really appreciate that your resources are designed specifically for petite plus women! It’s difficult to find information on this topic, and I’ve found your book “Perfect Plus” to be a great help in understanding petite plus fit concerns. One of my favourite parts of your book is your body measurements chart.

For all the #KnitPetiteProject readers I’d love to know: how is your chart different from other charts and what sources of data did you use to create your sizing chart?

KC ANSWER: I developed my measurement chart from data compiled from a number of sources including, – standard measurement charts in place for decades within the pattern drafting industry and my own research, measuring actual petite women.

#KnitPetiteProject QUESTION: How is sizing in sewing different than sizing in knitting? Should a petite (and petite plus) knitter be concerned about the sorts of petite modifications you suggest in your book?

KC ANSWER: I am not a knitter, but I’m sure that the same concerns of fit with regard to length, scale and proportion will be of concern to knitters as to sewers.

You can find more from Kathleen at her website here: Petite Plus Patterns

Join her Petite Plus Patterns Facebook

Interested in learning more from Kathleen? The Threads class, called Plus Size Petite: Tops and Tummies can be seen online or purchased as a video through Taunton Press’ web site. This link will take you to more information and a 20% off discount.

Kathleen has taught five classes through Craftsy, four which relate to fitting specific areas of the body and one that teaches how to grade patterns up and down in size.

Check out the classes:

  • Create any Size, Pattern Grading for Sewers: Coupon Details: Get 33% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Kathleen Cheetham. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires August 1, 2017.
  • Custom Fitting: Back, Neck and Shoulders: Coupon Details: Get 33% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Kathleen Cheetham. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires August 1, 2017.
  • Adjust the Bust: Coupon Details: Get 33% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Kathleen Cheetham. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires July 20, 2017.
  • Custom Fitting: Waist and Hips: Coupon Details: Get 33% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Kathleen Cheetham. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires August 1, 2017.
  • Plus Size Pant Fitting: Coupon Details: Get 33% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Kathleen Cheetham. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires August 1, 2017.

Also, for us knitters, Kathleen recommends this Craftsy class:

  • Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit by Amy Herzog: Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires August 1, 2017.

How do the issues line up against sizing charts?

CYC Sizing Charts

We’ve talked a bit about the CYC sizing charts here on the #KnitPetiteProject before, and I’d like to use them again here to illustrate some differences and act as a bit of a base level from which to operate.

We can’t assume EVERY knitting pattern we come across uses CYC! But many do, and if you find that you experience similar fit issues across knitting pattern designs then looking at the CYC charts may be helpful.5

CYC Woman Size Charts

As Palmer and Alto point out in their book Fit for Real People, going solely by measurement numbers can misrepresent fit; they note that you could pick a size that has the same measurements as your body, but you may still experience excess fabric, tight pull lines, or other fit issues because of the complexity of our body’s shape. For our learning exercise here, let’s take these numbers as a starting point as we put together the puzzle of fit and trying to determine what general fit alterations we can consider for knitting patterns before we start knitting them!

You’ll notice that these CYC charts have nine different points of measurement, and that they include sizes up to a 62″ bust circumference.

All these numbers can help you in estimating the shape of your body and the shape of the body in patterns designed using these charts. Remember: not ALL patterns use these charts, but many do.


Last week I prompted to you to take a closer look at the bust measurement, and try instead to use your high bust (or upper torso) measurement to select a size.

Pretending that this number is actually your bust measurement. Does that set of numbers come closer to your own measurements?

This piece of advice comes from a variety of sources including Ysolda and Amy Herzog; picking size based on upper torso instead of bust will let you know more about your actual frame, and may provide you with a set of numbers that is closer to your actual numbers. This is particularly of use for petite plus folks.

Sleeve Length

As you trace your finger along the chart to the larger sizes, you’ll see the sleeves grow inches longer. The same happens for the armhole depth. As Ysolda points out, larger sizes may indeed need longer lengths in the underarm to neck region. Is this number close to your own measurement?

Back Waist

Particularly, take a look at the back waist length. One of the larger sizes, the 50″ bust, is 18″ long. For comparison, the charts from Kathleen Cheetham give a back waist measurement of 14″ 7/8. Which sizing chart is closer to your measurements? Do Kathleen’s charts better represent your body?

Cross Back

Do the same with the cross back measurement from CYC and Kathleen’s charts. There’s a pretty stark difference in width! Which chart better reflects your size?


As a petite plus knitter, what are your favourite sweater patterns?


1 Amy Herzog refers to this as well in her excellent Craftsy class, Knit to Flatter. She clarifies and defines “Miss Average”, and states that while you will differ from Miss Average, you’ll “always differ in the same way”, so getting your numbers is a big and important first step.

2 Anonymous #KnitPetiteProject Fit Survey respondent.

3 Ysolda’s Sizing Charts for Knitwear Designers, 2017. Accessed May 8, 2017.

4 Ibid

5 I take that this is a good piece of advice because author Anne Marie Soto gives very similar instruction in her article “Petite Pizzaz” from Vogue Knitting Winter 92-93: “In patterns for home sewing…both Miss and Miss Petite sizes have been standardized. Thus, the measurements in home-sewing patterns can serve as useful guidelines for altering Misses knitting instructions to suit your smaller frame.” pg 16.



#KnitPetiteProject: Petite Plus; what are the fit issues, and how do they line up against sizing charts?

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