#KnitPetiteProject: How to identify your petite fit needs

Our last post discussing petite women and national demographics.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

We’ve defined petite, and talked about how many women may fall into that category. So now, let’s focus on identifying our petite fit needs.

As I hinted in earlier #KnitPetiteProject posts, having petite fit issues is something that extends beyond the boundaries of women who are 5’4″ and shorter. There are many interacting factors at play for any one person’s ideal fit. We’re going to focus on vertical fit issues, but getting something to fit YOU perfectly will be an interplay of vertical and horizontal modifications. Ultimately, please keep in mind that fit preferences are complex and are an interplay of subjective assessments and objective evaluations.1

DISCLAIMER

It’s important to me to touch on a few things before we move forward with looking at and measuring our bodies. I am passionate about body postitivity: I want us all to work together to demystify sizing systems to make it work for us. The #KnitPetiteProject is about uncovering the assumptions that standard sizing make so we have the knowledge and tools to modify things to our own tastes. The #KPP is a safe space, without judgement or preconceived notions of how you want to look. I want us to create clothing for our joy, instead of creating clothing to cover our “flaws”. I will not dictate style and taste. Believe me, I’ve had enough of that garbage in my life!

Is that something you’re down with? Let’s move forward together.

An Under-served Market

In the chapter “Sizing systems, fit models and target markets”, J. Bourgourd explains that research into numerous target markets showed that the three groups who were dissatisfied with fit were petite, plus size, and pregnant women:

The extra small petite consumers were the group least satisfied with garments at the neck and shoulder width…(s)imilar issues were identified by the petite plus sizes…2

This is significant  because, as many knitwear design experts will tell you, getting a good fit in the shoulders is crucial to the overall fit of the sweater.3 So, how do we do this? Let’s talk about the important body measurements and how to take them so that moving forward, we have a base of information that we can use to compare our own numbers to standardized sizing systems.4

Taking your Measurements

By the end of this post, we’ll have the following measurements taken and ready to be compared to sizing standard charts in the coming weeks:

HORIZONTAL

  • Upper torso
  • Bust
  • Waist
  • Hips
  • Cross Back
  • Upper Arm

VERTICAL

  • Armhole Depth
  • Back Waist
Upper Torso

In her CustomFit software, Amy Herzog has produced a tool to help knitters create bespoke items by plugging in their measurements and generating a pattern unique to those numbers. Part of the process is, of course, taking good and careful measurements of your own body. This CustomFit pdf outlines the ways you can take those measurements.

Your upper torso measurement (also called high bust) is the number that Herzog says is important for selecting your “base size”. This number will reflect your body’s frame and better fit your shoulders than relying solely on the bust measurement would.

Here is how Herzog describes you should take your upper torso measurement: “Place the measuring tape all the way up in your armpits, as high as it will go. Some bust tissue is included, but not very much (especially important for busty figures). Pull snugly, breathe, and measure with arms down at your sides.”

A bit more about relying on that bust measurement: in her detailed and very informative book Little Red in the City, Ysolda Teague advises the knitter on how to choose a size, underlining the importance of gaining an understanding of sizing standards and how YOU may (will!) differ from a standard sizing system:

The main thing, which doesn’t seem to be talked about much in the knitting world despite being common information in dressmaking resources, is that sizing charts are generally based on the proportions of a fit model with a B cup… Clearly if the bust measurement given as the size in a pattern is based on a B cup and you’re an E cup your full bust measurement is going to be much larger in proportion to the rest of your measurements.5

Though this is a horizontal measurement, the torso (or high bust) measurement is distinctly important in deconstructing and demystifying how sizing standards work and their implicitly accepted “truth” and rule over our clothing choices and options (even within the world of makers and customization!)

Bust, Waist, Hips, Cross Back, and Upper Arm

These three horizontal measurements and how to take them are described here at the Craft Yarn Council’s (CYC) Standard Body Measurements/Sizing. This link is significant, and we’ll be referring back to it rather frequently in the #KnitPetiteProject, because this is the source of sizing standards very often referred to (in my experience) for knitwear design (including publications and independent designers). There are other sources designer use, but that’s a discussion for a future post!

And, as outlined by the quote from Ysolda above, it’s important to identify your bust measurement as THIS is the number set as determining your size in knitwear (and other areas of standardized sizing).

Armhole Depth

Here, the CYC says you should “Measure from the top outside edge of the shoulder down to the armpit.” That, you may well be thinking, is going to be tricky to determine. In my personal experience it’s been frustrating to take vertical measurements because these lengths seem less clear and distinct than finding the widest part of your bust or determining where your waist is.

You can refer to videos where people take these sorts of measurements to get a live-action version: here you can see Amy Herzog taking someone’s armhole depth measurement (with some valuable advice for sweater fit as well).

Back Waist

Have you ever even bothered to take this measurement? I know I never did until I got into knitwear design. It’s easily overlooked, but it has a great effect on how your knits look on your body. I will tell you right now that sizing standards for regular size clothing very likely assume your waist is in a different place than it is (depending on what kind of petite you are! More on that below).

And as a knitwear designer I can tell you that it matters very much to me and the math I do where your waist is (or rather, where I assume your waist is based on standardized sizing). Waist shaping happening in a place other than your waist may not be the look you’re going for, and so it is important to know your back waist length and what the pattern assumes your back waist length is!

This is how the CYC says you should take your back waist length: “Measure from the most prominent bone at base of neck to the natural waistline.” FROM that most prominent bone isn’t super clear; and in some cases, when looking at a schematic, you’ll see the vertical measurements broken up into segments including armhole depth, and then armhole to waist, and then waist to bottom hem.

So, another way to have a look at your back waist length is to measure it that way: take your armhole depth and then measure downward to your waist. Amy Herzog demonstrates taking this measurement in this video.

And how to find your waist? The general advice is the smallest part of your torso, but that isn’t clear or applicable to all people. A helpful tip is to bend to the side, and see where that crease is when you bend. Tie a string around that part of your torso. That helps to clarify the waist for this measurement.

Ways you can be petite

With our numbers in hand, let’s take a wee look at a recent study6 and what it has to say about different ways a person can be petite.

This paper used data from SizeUSA, a bank of information gathered using 3D body scanning technology. The significance of this study is that it’s the first to analyze the clothing industry petite sizing system using population data. They took SizeUSA measurements from 18-35 year old petite women and compared them to both regular size women and over a dozen apparel companies. Immediately, I’m sure you can see that this study is limited: they only used measurements from a total of 2,714 women (1, 618 who were petite), and all those women were aged 18-35. Nonetheless, it reveals some interesting information for us in the #KnitPetiteProject.

The study found that the industry sizing system does not represent the average petite woman except for their stature. They also identified four different body types within the petite women’s data: top petite, bottom petite, regular petite, and plus size petite.

Top Petite

This group represented 30% of the population the study examined and had the shortest torso and relatively average limbs. The authors also discovered that this petite body type is generally represented within the ASTM D7878 sizing, which I swear will make sense and become VERY interesting in a few weeks’ time. For now, just know that the top petite folks are the ones who are represented in the voluntary sizing standards put out by ASTM.

Bottom Petite

This group represented 30.8 % of the population the study examined and had the shortest limbs and an average torso length. These would be the individuals who would be more likely to need shorter pants and sleeve lengths, for example.

Regular Petite

This group represented 23.6% of the population the study examined and had relatively longer torso and long limbs.

Plus Size Petite

This group represented 15.4% of the population the study examined and had larger body volume.

And just how do you determine which of these petite body shapes you may fall under? It’s all about comparing YOUR body measurements to standard sizing charts (or a detailed knitwear garment schematic!)

Here are some numbers to reflect on: the chart pictured below is from the study and gives numbers comparing the 4 petite body types, ASTM petite, industry standards from 14 different companies, and the ASTM regular sizing standard. The ASTM standards are behind a paywall, but you can get some of the size info through Wikipedia.

fullsizerender

A few interesting takeaway quotes from the paper:

Because the petite size proportion does have different dimensions from sizes for children or smaller adults of regular height, petite clothing should not simply become smaller in its aspects of length and circumferences. pg 49

So, that seems to say that our knitwear modifications may indeed be more involved than simply making things shorter!

Little research has addressed petite women’s body proportions and shapes…No study has analyzed petite size women’s body proportions and figure types using the recent and larger amount of anthropometric data now available. pg 49 – 50

We’ll get more into the challenges of this sort of data collection next month, but for now it’s worth remembering that the standards we have now are outdated and inherently flawed.

The petite group showed significantly lower mean values than the regular group for all the vertical measurements…[the petites] also had significantly shorter lengths than the regular group by 0.14″ at shoulder length, 0.82″ at the back waist, and 1.52″ shorter for arm length. pg 55

Fun Fact

Remember how I mentioned above that many knitwear design takes the CYC’s standards in order to create their sizes? Not all do! Another popular source of sizing information are the charts created by Ysolda Teague. A number of years ago she removed the charts she had created in order to update them, and the new charts came out earlier this month! Timely for us here at the #KnitPetiteProject! You can read the charts (and more about Ysolda’s thoughts on them and sizing) here; I’d suggest giving it a look before we dive into comparing different sizing systems at the end of March.

Question

Have you ever used a standard sizing chart to create clothing? Which chart did you use?

Resources

1 J. Bougourd, “Sizing systems, fit models and target markets”, Sizing in clothing: developing effective sizing systems for ready-to-wear clothing. S. P. Ashdown, Textile Institute (Manchester, England) Woodhead Publishing in association with The Textile Institute, Apr 20, 2007. pg 130.

2 Ibid, pg 127.

3 You can find this refrain fairly commonly throughout the knitwear design world, but two people I return to again and again for their fit expertise is Ysolda and Amy Herzog. In particular, Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter Craftsy class (and book) outline the importance of determining your base size through the shoulders in order to achieve a good fit, and modifying the rest of your sweater from there.

4 As the year goes on, the measurements might change. That’s ok! We want these numbers so that we can get an idea how sizing standards deviate from our own body.

5 Ysolda Teague. Little Red in the City. April, 2011. pg 34.
Note: Ysolda also makes note for those who may have proportionally smaller busts on pg 38: “In terms of sweater sizing the range of sizes below a B cup isn’t going to have a very significant effect on the fit of your sweater. You can probably get a pretty good fit working with your full bust measurement… It’s still a good idea to compare your other measurements to the standard though, if you have a small bust and broad shoulders you may find that the rest of your measurements indicate going up a size. A good fit in the shoulders is crucial and the resulting positive ease at the bust can actually be quite flattering to smaller busts.” (emphasis mine, not Ysolda’s).

6 Youngsook Kim , Hwa Kyung Song , Susan P. Ashdown , (2016) “Women’s petite and regular body measurements compared to current retail sizing conventions“, International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 28 Iss: 1, pp.47 – 64

#KnitPetiteProject: How to identify your petite fit needs

#KnitPetiteProject: Petite Women and National Demographics

Our last post outlining how we’ll define petite.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

Now that we’ve defined what petite means, let’s examine how many of us there are.

And to kick this post off, we’ll begin with a story:

My Story: Shopping for Fashion

My own fashion awakening happened when I was about twelve years old – peer pressure started to make me feel I had to change the way I dressed and be cool. This also happened to be at a time when I was extremely heavy.

The subsequent trip to the mall with my mom was my first exposure to selecting my own clothes with an eye to how it looked on me. First, as you may imagine, it was hard to find things that fit (and were child-appropriate) for an overweight, 5’1″ kid. I don’t remember having a lot of fun, but I do remember saying something negative about myself and the salesperson saying that the “clothes are wrong, not your body”.

And I’m sure there were myriad reasons I was experiencing frustration; in hindsight, I think one of them was that I was intent on shopping in the COOL stores, not that ugly, dowdy, petite women’s store. Walking past it, I remember asking my mom about the shop; I certainly fit into that height category, but not a single thing in there held any appeal to me!1

So, in a very casual way, I was aware that petite applied to women who were 5’4″ and shorter, and noted that certainly, since there was only one store in the mall that catered to petites, petites must be the minority.

FYI: that store still IS there and has at some point in the intervening years added a petite-plus section and now has this self-description on their petite-plus page:

Explore Laura Plus Petites for a chic and fashion-forward wardrobe. We believe in comfortable and easy-to-wear pieces to make every woman look and feel wonderful. Designed in sizes 14+ for women 5’4” and under.

This experience shaped my ideas of my own body, and specifically my height. I’ve never felt badly about being short, but I was always under the impression that it’s unusual to be 5’4″ or shorter because “there’s special stores to cater to those people”. It’s not normal; it’s not regular. It’s not the average and it’s not the standard.

National Height Averages and the Petite Woman

As it turns out, stats reveal a different story; in all the countries for which I could find information, the average (important to note that this is the average) height for adult females is 5’4″ or shorter. Incidentally, I encourage you to look up average adult female height for countries not listed here!

United States

The National Center for Health Statistics says the average height for adult females is 63.6″ (5’4″ / 1.68 m). More specifically, you can download the pdf of those stats tables here, and a simple search of the words “average height female” return loads of results.

The data I’m referencing here from the pdf linked above has this to say about its collection:

Data are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a complex, stratified, and multistage probability sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Anthropometry measurements were obtained from 20,015 survey participants. The anthropometric measures included weight, height, recumbent length, circumferences, limb lengths, and skinfold thickness measurements.

Canada

As you may know, Stats Canada has just begun publishing their most recent data from the extensive survey done in 2016. I’m anxiously awaiting the newest info, but for now, we have archived data from 2005-2009 that gives the mean height of 162 cm (5’4″) for adult women aged 18-79.

The source for this info is from the a subsample of the 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey, and a subsample of the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey. You can read more about the current Canadian Health Measures Survey here, and about the Canadian Community Health Measures Survey here.

And, just for interest’s sake, here’s a July 2016 article from the CBC that cites data from Imperial College in London, saying that like many other countries’ populations, Canadians are getting taller, but not at the same rate as other nations.

United Kingdom

The story isn’t much different in the UK.

Information gathered (pdf) from SizeUK shows that the average adult women is 163 cm (5’4″); we’ll get into just what SizeUK and SizeUSA are a bit more next month.

Australia

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2011-2012 the average woman was 161.8 cm (5’4″) tall.

Why this matters

There are plenty of fit points at which sizing standards will not serve you as an individual human.2 Creating ready-made clothes relies on picking some sort of data on which to base numbers.3 But it’s important to keep in mind that not only does averaging things out mean no one gets a perfect fit, these average numbers are a moving target that are subject to being skewed through insufficient or unrepresentative data collection (which we’ll get into in March).4

I was unhappy about not finding clothes to solve my un-coolness problem when I was twelve. Not being represented in clothing stores where people my age shopped made me feel like there was something wrong with me. That (culturally preferred) standard demonstrated by my options is, as has been revealed through data I’ve been encountering, demonstrative of a cultural standard (read: preference) that doesn’t really represent the average woman.

There are lots of reasons why this outdated system is flawed4 (we’ll address in March!), but for now it’s important to state that petite, as defined by the fashion industry for decades, is actually pretty close to the average woman’s height in many countries. What we find in regular, non-petite clothing stores skews taller than the average woman. Depending on the designer, the amount of skew will vary, but all this is to say regular size apparel designers operate on the assumption that as an adult woman, you’re taller than 5’4″.

Fun Fact of the Week

According to this 2017 CBC article, the country with the shortest average adult females is Guatemala at 149.4 cm (4’11”) and the country with the tallest average adult females is Latvia at 169.8 cm (5’7″).

Question

What data can you find regarding the average adult female height of your country’s population? Can you find data that gives an estimate in real numbers as to the percentage of the adult female population who are 5’4″ and under?

Suggestion: Wondering where to start looking? Based on some advice5 I followed from Anthropometry, apparel sizing and design, you can start with resources provided by your government, academia (see if you can access resources at your local public or university library), and information from the apparel industry itself.

Resources

1Incidentally, these 2013 stats from the NPD group demonstrate that there is still a gap in the market, particularly the Canadian one, for plus-sized teens from 13 – 17.

2Preface to Sizing in clothing: developing effective sizing systems for ready-to-wear clothing. S. P. Ashdown, Textile Institute (Manchester, England)
Woodhead Publishing in association with The Textile Institute, Apr 20, 2007.
From Susan Ashdown, a professor at Cornell University in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design: “Since the time of the industrial revolution and the first widespread introduction of mass-produced clothing the apparel industry has struggled with the inherent contradictions of providing well-fitted clothing within the constraints of economical and practical sizing systems for the variety of people in a population. People vary along many dimensions, resulting in a multitude of sizes, proportions and postures to be accommodated.” Ashdown goes on to state, ” The complexity of sizing for clothing is unmatched by any other consumer product.” pg xvii

3ibid, in the chapter “Creating Sizing Systems”, by A. Petrova, pg 63. “The structure of a sizing system is based on the division of the population into groups with similar body measurements. The body dimensions that are used to classify the population in groups are called control dimensions…The primary control dimension separates the population into major size groups along the body measurement that is considered to be the most important control dimension for a specified type of garment.”

4 ibid, in the chapter “Sizing Standardization”, by K. L. Labat, pg 94-95. “Basing a sizing system on ‘good’ data is a necessity but the acquisition and interpretation of valid data can present problems. Most standard sizing systems available today are based on old data that do not represent current consumers. In many cases, the methods used to collect the data were flawed.”

5 In particular, I pulled these suggestions from the chapter “National size and shape surveys for apparel design” by J. Bougourd and P. Treleaven, pgs 146-149.

#KnitPetiteProject: Petite Women and National Demographics

#KnitPetiteProject: What does Petite Mean?

Our last post, outlining the plan for the #KnitPetiteProject.
All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

Before beginning this knowledge + skill-building journey, it’s best to first clarify the parameters of the folks who this may apply to.

That is, what does petite mean?

The English language uses that word in a bunch of different ways, but if we’re demystifying this weirdly mysterious sizing system we live in, let’s start here:

For the purposes of the #KnitPetiteProject, “petite” means any woman who is 5’4″ tall (1.62 m) or shorter, or has vertical body measurements which align to a shorter length than is served by established sizing systems.1

Let’s break that down a bit.

Height

You’ll note in the definition above that total body height is the only clarified measurement given. That’s because having a height of 5’4″ or shorter makes it more likely2 that you’ll have vertical measurements that are shorter than the established sizing systems.

The height of 5’4″ wasn’t chosen at random; it’s a well-established line that clothing retailers have drawn in the sand, excluding 43% of American women from the “regular” size that is catered to. Next month we’ll get into why and how that line was drawn.

Vertical Measurements

Human bodies are all different, which may be obvious but is worth repeating, particularly in a discussion of this sort. The definition of petite we’ll be operating under for the #KnitPetiteProject makes note that a person may in fact be taller than 5’4″, and still have vertical measurements that are shorter than the established system may presume. This brings these 5’4″+ folks under the #KPP umbrella because they too may face vertical fit issues.

Body Shape: Weight

A question that arose multiple times in the first #KPP survey was:

Does petite just mean short or does it mean a more general slight stature? Because I am short but round.

Here is where we should emphasize that while the word petite may mean a variety of other things in the English language, for #KPP’s purposes, it applies to vertical measurements only. All weights are included. We’re not just talking about (or even focusing mostly on) slim women.

In fact, the petite-plus market is growing, and clothing retailers would do well to serve these people.3

Body Shape: Age

Also of note is that the #KnitPetiteProject is talking about women of all ages.

In the very interesting chapter on sizing in the home sewing industry in Sizing in Clothing, the authors explain that “[o]ur bodies do change with age, but everyone changes differently and at different rates.” They also note the kind of changes that commonly occur with age, including “…shoulders that move forward, a back that becomes more rounded, shorter overall height, a thicker waist, a lower and fuller bust, a rounder abdomen, smaller hips, flatter buttocks, and a tilted waistline (higher in the front and lower in the back).” (pg 341-343)

Much of this information will come to bear in our discussions on measuring our bodies (later this month) and determining approaches to making our clothes fit us.

What do you think?

The #KnitPetiteProject is collaborative; if you have any questions or would like to add to the info above, please comment on this post!

Fun Fact of the Week

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, petite, as a size in women’s clothing, is attested from 1929. We’ll be getting into the history of sizing standards much more in March.

Question

Because the #KnitPetiteProject is a collaborative effort, I’d like to ask questions each week to help gather as much info as possible.

What sources can you find that explain why the petite size for women’s clothing is a) a specialized, out-sized category and b) defined as 5’4″ and shorter?

Resources

1 A clarification on terminology, taken from K.L. Labat’s chapter “Sizing Standardization” in Sizing in Clothing:
on sizing standards, “…a published document that has been developed and established within the consensus principles of a governing standards organization. In the USA, ASTM International provides a structure for developing and updating voluntary clothing sizing standards that may be used by clothing producers.” (pg 88)
on sizing systems, “…the total range of size and fitting combinations available in ready made garments, with each system containing a number of size ranges, each catering to the sizing requirements of a specific group of the population.” (pg 88-89)

2 For more info, taken from S.P. Ashdown, L. M. Lyman-Clarke, and P. Palmer’s chapter “Sizing for the home sewing industry” in Sizing in Clothing:
“The term petite refers to height only…Someone who is a petite size overall would be shorter proportionately in every part of her body that an average height person. However, a person who is 5 feet 2 inches or under is actually not necessarily petite overall, as she can be short in the legs only. Some women who measure petite in statue are actually longer in the waist and crotch that a tall person.” (pg 340)

3 Here is a 2008 article from the CBC and a 2016 article from Retail Dive. There’s many more such articles, many of which cite data from the NPD Group (see Resources above for more info about them). Assuming the validity of the NPD data and all the news sources that rely on it, 43% of American women are 5’4″ and shorter, AND the average American woman now wears between a size 14-34. That Venn diagram could certainly have a significant overlap of petite-plus women!

#KnitPetiteProject: What does Petite Mean?

#KnitPetiteProject: Plan Outline

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey! Your responses have guided the following plan outline for the #KnitPetiteProject.

That said, this plan is flexible and can change with new knowledge and questions we may have. I intend to make this a collaborative process! We’ll be talking and sharing information across platforms and always using this website as the base of information.

Throughout the year I’ll be checking in with pertinent surveys and other activities so we can learn and talk about this topic in a fun, open, collective, and body-positive manner.


February: Who is Petite?

Feb 14: What does petite mean? Looking at height, vertical measurements, body shape, weight, and age.

Feb 21: How many petite women are there in the population of various countries?

Feb 28: How do you know if you’re petite or have petite fit issues? How do you identify your petite fit needs?

March: What’s the deal with Sizing Standards?

March 7: How did we arrive at the sizing we have today? Why isn’t petite the standard?

March 14: How exactly is the standard for petite different than the standard misses/women’s sizing?

March 21: Should there be a compulsory (inter)national sizing standard that companies must adhere to?

March 28: What are some different examples of sizing charts, and WHY are they different? 

April: Petite Sizing Issues; Why Should we Care?

SURVEY: Now that we know what petite is and how we’re under-served, let’s discover the major fit issues we come up against.

April 4: Is there a significant and valuable difference between the standard and petite when it comes to knitwear?

April 11: What fit sacrifices does a petite person make when wearing a non-petite sized garment? Sometimes “just make it shorter” doesn’t work!

April 18: A valuable word on taste and what’s “flattering”.

April 25: Sharing survey results!

May: How Petite affects Knitting

May 2: Is a valuable change affected in “petiting” a knit? Let’s examine some real life examples.

May 9: Shoulders, back and arms; what are the issues, and how do they line up against standard sizing?

May 16: Looking at the variety of torso length measurements; what are the issues, and how do they line up against standard sizing?

May 23: Bust, waist, and hip circumferences what are the issues, and how do they line up against standard sizing?

May 30: Petite Plus; what are the issues, and how do they line up against standard sizing?

June: Tactics to Petite your Knits

June 6: Your personal variety of modifications; what are they, and how do they differ from the standard?

June 13: What to look for in a knitting pattern; hallmarks of a design you can modify.

June 20: Are there general modification rules we can follow when looking at a pattern we want to modify to our personal petite-ness?

June 27: Math, (im)modifiable design features, and your personal taste.

July: What the World of Sewing can teach Knitters

SURVEY: Petite knitting: workbook and KAL?

July 4: Where can you find petite sewing patterns and resources and how can they help a knitter? What’s a “sloper” and how can it help a knitter?

July 11: How is sizing in sewing different than sizing in knitting? 

July 18: Why is it easier to find petite and jr petite (vintage) sewing patterns than contemporary ones?

July 25: Sharing the survey results!

August: Petite-friendly Designers + Resources

Mini Survey: What designers do you go to for your petite patterns?

August 1: Who offers petite sizing in knitwear design? What sizing standards do they use?

August 8: Ravelry and the petite knitter. 

August 15: Online classes useful for petite knitters.

August 22: Books useful for petite knitters (want to do a read-along, anyone?)

August 29: Sharing the mini survey results!

September: Shopping for Petites

September 5: Off-the-rack tactics: how can we take what we’ve learned this year and buy smart? What should we look for in off-the-rack clothes?

September 12: What modifications can we make to off-the-rack clothes? How can we find hidden gems in our closets and make them work for our petite body now?

September 19: Where do you love to buy clothes? Why is that a good shop for you?

September 26: Reflecting on the strengths of making your clothes work for you!

October: Creating YOUR #KnitPetiteProject

SURVEY: Checking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October 3: Anybody want to KAL?

October 10: Focus on your FOs and UFOs; is there any new knowledge you can apply to those pieces to make them conform to your fit desires?

October 17: Focus on your WIPs; is there any new knowledge you can apply to your on-the-needles pieces to make them conform to your fit desires?

October 24: Focus on your future patterns; what choices are you going to make when selecting a pattern?

October 31: Sharing the survey results!

November: Reinforcing Knowledge Through Community

November 7: Revisiting information explored earlier in the year; what did we miss? What can we expand on in November?

November 14: Body positive chat; destroy the negative and embrace what brings you happiness.

November 21: Victories and advice!: What would you say are your own petite fitting tips?

November 28: Share your favourite petite-fitting resource!

December: Year in Review

SURVEY: Did the #KnitPetiteProject improve your petiting confidence? Is the #KnitPetiteProject a valuable resource for petite knitters? How can we improve/expand the project?

December 5: What did we learn?

December 12: How best can we use this resource we’ve created?

December 19: Sharing your accomplishments!

December 26: Sharing the survey results and moving forward.

#KnitPetiteProject: Plan Outline

#KnitPetiteProject: Survey Results

WOW! We had an incredible surge in responses to the survey over the last 3 days and we’re up to 116 replies! Thank you so much everyone! This gives us a lot of info to move forward and construct the framework for our exploration of petite sizing issues in knitwear this year.1

This post will go over the survey results; I’ll be sharing the #KnitPetiteProject plan for 2017 in tomorrow’s post.

Let’s take a look at the survey results (to date):

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To be honest, I figured this question would be heavily answered with YES!


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Interesting: looks like there’s a significant percentage of people who encounter petite fit issues, but may not be modifying their knitting patterns to fit better.


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Ah! I thought this might be the case. Looks like there may indeed be some room in the knitting world to have a discussion about petite sizing issues.  Excellent! Let’s move forward.


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Well, look at that! I am comforted to see I’m not the only one who hasn’t found much in the way of petite knitwear pattern options. We can absolutely address that!


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I asked this questions because I was specifically looking for guidance on topics to address in the #KnitPetiteProject. I had so many angles of approach swimming around in my head, I found it hard to pick a starting point!

Since the options above are truncated, I’ll list them here as well:

  • The history of sizing standards (31%)
  • How to tell if you’re petite (25.9%)
  • The difference between petite and “regular” sizes (56%)
  • How to modify off-the-rack clothing (62.9%)
  • You to modify your knitwear designs to serve your petite fit concerns (88.8%)
  • Where to get petite knitwear designs (67.2%)
  • Other (7.8%)

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Wow! My friends, I’m so glad this question was such a goldmine for valuable info! I’ll list the rest of the answers below:

  • I’d love to learn more about the different ways that one can be petite – that piqued my interest from your live video.
  • Waist shaping is always an issue, since my torso is not super long and never seems to align with where shaping starts/ends in a pattern. I have tried to do the math with my measurements and gauge and the schematic. Disaster.
  • Calculate yardage, obviously as petite I need less yarn than what the pattern calls for…
  • How to flatter different petite body types with knitting and off the rack clothing
  • Petite can mean two things: One is being short, the other is being smaller, all over. Not all petites are the same. I’m short, but average sized! The waistline of fitted clothing always hits me in the wrong place (it’s too low). I can adjust this on knitting patterns, but store-bought is trickier. The other thing I’m currently thinking about is proportion. Short and average sized means wearing a sweater with yoke patterning that comes down onto the upper arms just makes me look shorter and wider. Not flattering! So what kinds of designs would give me a longer, leaner line?
  • I’d like a nuanced conversation about ease. I’m petitely built and slim and finding a balance between clothes that have relaxed ease and look like a tent is rough. I found Fit to Flatter a good starting point but would like more info.
  • How to adjust for large bust size but small shoulders
  • I hardly ever knit clothing, but as I buy clothing in mostly petite sizes, just want to mention it would be great to be able to selectively modify patterns — for example: long arms + broad shoulders relative to an otherwise petite frame.
  • What are common adjustments Petites need to make? For example, I’m 5’4″ with long legs and a short high-waisted torso, narrow shoulders, and a small bust, so I often have to adjust armhole depths, overall length, and inc/dec frequency.
  • I am used to adjust patterns for so many years, I don’t have a special question. Though I would appreciate it, if regular sized patterns would give the length from hip to armpit so I can adjust waist shaping for myself.
  • I wonder about modifying for my petite, large-breasted, but not fat-bellied body. If I select a pattern for my bust size, it’s often too big in the waist and shoulders.
  • Sizing on patterns only accommodates regular sizing. Patterns need to have options for those who are smaller than a size 4 or a size small. some of us knitters knit for people who are xxs. it would be nice to see these options in patterns.
  • So far, I’ve only knitting intentionally loose-fitting sweaters; I’m nervous about close-fitting sweaters! Don’t want to heck it up! (4’11”, slender save for bust and hips.)
  • How do you know when to modify?
  • How do I make changes to existing patterns? Where on the garment do changes need to be made? Basic garment, knitting and otherwise, construction.
  • I think I’m less petite but need an adjustment between boob size (FBA) and smaller or regular shoulders and neck. the area between collarbones and top of bra line seems to get no mention in designing knit wear
  • I’m petite and full figured, and I feel that I need to resize the length of sleeves but not the length of the body, what gives?
  • I’d like to know where best to begin bust shaping (such as short row darts) as my shoulder to full bust and shoulder to underbust is shorter than most pattern allow for. I also have a relatively small waist compared to my bust and hip measurement and I think my neck to waist measurement is a bit short.
  • I have short arms and am narrow through the shoulders but a regular bust size and distance across the back. Neck and shoulder fitting and shortening sleeves are sometimes difficult.
  • Modifying shoulder width in sweaters – I have narrow shoulders, but my arms are heavy
  • Loving a pattern and need resource to modern fly or downsize for example a sweater sz35-36 to modify to a 32-33 or less
  • Is there a classification for petite so at this time?
  • How to add darts to knitting patterns for the busty petite.
  • Armhole and sleeve length sizing
  • Why do the designers think that if my bust is larger, my arms and shoulders have also grown immensely?
  • How to modify garments to fit my narrow shoulders without being too tight in the sleeves and on the rest of my L/XL torso.
  • Why is it so difficult to modify a knitting pattern when you are short waisted
  • How to measure and how to modify
  • When I see a pattern I like then I would try it. I could always frog the pattern.
  • I must knit kid patterns which aren’t fitted or aren’t meant to look sophisticated, so I always get ‘nearly there but not quite’ results. Thanks
  • Why is it assumed that just because you’re petite, you don’t need a size larger than 14/16 to wear
  • Petite doesn’t mean skinny. How do I modify designs for a petite, not skinny, older ( in my sixties) woman. Are their patterns for petite men?
  • How do I shorten torsos and increase hips in patterns?
  • how to calculate how to adjust waist shaping, particularly with full bust
  • Where can you find petite knitting patterns? Didn’t know they existed.
  • I’m actually having more trouble with sewing issues than knitting. I know with knitting that I can either make oversized or top-down with narrow sleeves (I have tiny arms) and for my figure, especially a tiny armscye. I look like a cute mushroom if I don’t make the armscye to my frame. Most knits are designed for women with longer torsos. I’m not just short, but I’m short-waisted and have a “column” torso with a gentle triangle shape (I have a thick torso but I also have very strong shoulders that aren’t broad, but muscular). I tend to make the same knit cardis over and over again because I know two patterns in particular flatter me.
  • fitting and sorting out plus petite sizing for sweaters
  • I need to modify knitting patterns for size and style. I love fisherman knit patterns, but the cables and other details can overwhelm me at 5′ and 110 lbs.
  • I’d like to know what flattering lengths are for knit garments and how I can modify them to fit my frame better.
  • I avoid raglan styles due to difficulty in shortening pattern proportionally
  • making adjustment in complicated cable and texture designs where modifying number of rows affect look of garment
  • Length is not the only issue, where to adjust shoulders, torso difference.
  • I need help modifying accomodiating smaller shoulders and larger bust.
  • Designers should add sizes for petite in pattern

q1

Ok, I see now that people might have felt a little, uh, pressured to name me in here! But aside from that bias, there were lots of fantastic comments within these answers, which will lead to some interesting topics for the future of #KnitPetiteProject (I’m not telling YET!)

Below I’ll share the rest of the answers for this question:

  • Canary Knits. They are original, feminine, and flattering.
  • Joji Locatelli- simplicity, well written patterns. Josee Paquin- short rows shaping abilities create great garment drape for my shape. Isabela Kraemer- creativity, garment drape.
  • I think Ysolda Teague is an inspiration in her devotion to research on fit, especially in the upper size range. You are one of my favourite designers and I’m thrilled that you’ve chosen to focus on the lower end of the size range. I’ve always really appreciated your understanding of negative ease and the way you create flattering, fitted knitwear. So much talent ❤
  • I love Shannon Cook’s designs (simple but well thought out, and her sweaters seem to work on a variety of body types rather than only tall and willowy); love Helen Stewart’s eye for shawl design (even if I will never catch up); and all about Justyna Lorkowska’s accessories, especially over the past year.
  • Michelle wang, Hana fettig, Norah Gaughn, Kim Hargreaves
  • I don’t knit a lot of other designer’s patterns because I’m designing/knitting accessories patterns with my knit time. But a perfect design is Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Stopover. The yoke patttern stays up on the shoulders, which is more flattering, and the pattern is well written and easy to follow. I like patterns that follow normal pattern writing conventions; I’ve read so many of them that it’s how my brain works.
  • I love TinCanKnits. Most patterns span a huge range of sizes and have suggestions for modifications.
  • Julie Hoover, Laura Aylor, Carol Sunday, Emma Welford: classic designs, interesting shapes
  • Tincanknits, joji locateli, verra valimakii because all thier designs seem simple and theyre pattern writing is clear.
  • Purl Soho – modern, lots of variety
  • Laura Aylor is a favorite right now. She goes down to XS or even XXS in her patterns, they’re well-written, and her love of top-down seamless construction makes them easy to adjust. I don’t usually need to mess with them very much at all. Her designs are classic and easy to wear as well as being easy to adjust.
  • Concerning shape and fitting my favourite designer is Domiknitrix (Jennifer Stafford) but I knit any pattern of any designer with my own modifications, if I want to have the garment. If you like, have a look at my favorites at ravelry. removed for privacy
  • MK Carroll and Nicole Winer are friends of mine
  • Too many to name individually but I prefer designers who offer many different sizes/fit options
  • I have patterns from my mom from the 30’s that I love. I also knit things that I pick up at book stores from knitting magazines from the UK as well as on line knitting sites.
  • I like you! Also Stephen West and Ann Weaver for their punk aesthetics, Shannon Squire, Lee Meredith, Kirsten Kapur…
  • Thea Coleman- wearable, one piece, easy to modify. I also loved your tpct for the same reasons
  • Not sure at the moment, I’ve only made accessories.
  • Where to begin?!
  • I don’t really have one.
  • I don’t knit may sweaters due to concerns with fit and I design most of my own patterns, mainly for accessories. But I like garments that are easy to wear and not too fussy, such as those by Lete’s Knits and Tincan Knits. If I knit something more busy and complex it’s likely to be an accessory such as a shawl.
  • Joji Locatelli, Stephen West, Alicia Plummer Vanessa Smith. All for style and uniqueness .
  • Other than you, I like Joji Locatelli, Elsa Torrente, Sweaterbabe. Creative but very wearable patterns.
  • I like the look of many of Nora Gaughan’s designs, many of her sweaters have set-in sleeves which I prefer. Ragalin look terrible on me, but so many newer designers rely on them.
  • Norah Gaughan since many of her designs are sized for smaller women
  • Marley Birdbecause she is easy to follow. Linda Howell just because I like her. Robin chela easy to understand.
  • Don’t have a favorite as I mix and match patterns,
  • Rowan
  • Kim Hargreaves for her classic style. Amy Herzog for Custom Fit. Thea Colman. Anne Hanson.
  • Lanaknits because I know she is short like me. And Heidi Kirriemuir.
  • Debbie Bliss-clean designs; Carol Sunday -unique and beautiful designs
  • Kate Davies
  • Don’t have enough experience to know!
  • I normally go for free patterns. I don’t bother with specific designer’s name, just company.
  • Alice Plummer, Carrie Bostick Hoge, Isabell Kraemer, la Maison Rililie, Melissa Schaschwary
  • I’m sorry, I don’t remember their names.
  • None in particular.
  • Anne Hanson because her designs are classic with delicate details. She looks small, too!
  • Andi Sutterland because her cropped, top-down cardis create un-fussy lines for my particular torso. Carol Feller created the first blanket cardi that was proportional to my petite frame — the Florence Cardigan — and since then, I’ve adapted all my waterfall cardis/blanket cardis to those proportions. I tend not to shop retail and adapt existing clothes and patterns to my frame to the best of my self-taught sewing/knitting/crochet ability, so I’m not always sure what looks good on me until someone gifts me secondhand clothes that look FANTASTIC on me. Then I just have to figure out how to copy the pattern well enough to make repeats for myself. A long process, as I don’t have time to work on my wardrobe full time 🙂
  • Amy Hertzog and custom fit
  • Norah Gaughan, Melissa Leapman, Patty Lyons
  • Kathy Zimmerman – I have test knit for her for many years so know how her mind thinks Nancy Whitman – just like her designs Ericha Jacoby
  • Jean Slicer-Smith because the designs are from the shoulder down, more A-line.
  • James C Brett. Gorgeous yarns
  • Amy Herzog for fit, Teresa Gregorio, Norah Gaughan, Linda Marveng, and Lynne Barr for ingenuity of design.

THANK YOU EVERYONE!


1 FYI, I’m leaving the survey open! Please participate at any time.

#KnitPetiteProject: Survey Results

Tudor Roses: Review and Giveaway

Basic Infoimg_2936

Paperback version to be released in February 2017
$29.95 USD

The original Tudor Roses, published in 1998, has stellar reviews on Amazon.
I was sent this 2013 revised update; and here you can see it on Ravelry.
It includes 14 patterns (mostly garments).
Measurements given in metric.
Size Range: usually 4 or 5 sizes ranging from 88 – 123 cm / 34.5 – 48.5″ depending on design

My Thoughts

Straight away I was impressed; this is a beautiful book. It doesn’t have a dust cover, but a dust cover would be a shame since the outside of this book is covered with a soft fabric, lovely, crisp cover photo, and embossed lettering with gold inlay. The spine has this lettering as well, so it will glow sitting on your bookshelf!

I really dig history, so I would have immediately been interested in flipping through a knitting book like this. And I’m glad to say it really delivers on the history content in the very best of ways; it includes background information on the Tudors (including a family chart, and quotes from contemporaries and the individuals themselves). It includes 14 patterns (6 sweaters, 1 vest, 6 cardigans, 1 wrap), each named after a Tudor woman, with accompanying background information.

All that is to say, I feel intellectually sated by this book; the tone indicates a belief that the reader is intelligent and interested in history. Yes! This is no fluff book.

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It also stands perfectly at the intersection of history and knitting because while the designs are inspired by historical figures, and certainly do contain elements that could be considered historic looking, these are garments that you can wear without onlookers believing you’re headed to an historical reenactment*. These are not costumes, they are stunning patterns. And each pattern has a thoughtful description in the back of the book under “About the Knitting” where the designer details her inspiration and connection to history for each pattern. It makes you fall even more in love with the pieces!

Another thing that I love about this book is the diversity of techniques and complexity of style. It includes garments that run from straight stockinette with pretty shaping and finishing details all the way to cable and texture-covered glory. And oh my! The COLOURWORK!

All the charts are nice and big, and easy to read. The colourwork charts use symbols instead of colours – I know that some people very much prefer that to a straight up colour chart.

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I spoke about the beauty of the exterior of Tudor Roses; the interior is stunning as well. The photographs are clear and crisp. I can see the interesting details for each sweater, and get a good idea of how all the elements work together. There’s at least 4 pictures for each garment. The photograph backgrounds are simple, but match the tone of the book and complement the styling of the models (which I LOVE! Wowzers, you have to check out the hair styles they’ve given these folks. I am inspired!)

Adding to the luxurious feeling of this book are the pretty illustrations dancing across the pages. These are also period appropriate and give you a small taste of a 16th century book.

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Incidentally, I think my favourite sweater is the textural glory that is Anne of Cleves – not just because I’ve always enjoyed her story as one of King Henry VIII’s wives, but also because of the fantastic way Starmore (in this case, Jade Starmore) has decorated the surface of the sweater with a variety of stitches, all of which lead up and around the body perfectly. Just check out the shoulder and neck details to see what I mean!

In sum, this is a gorgeous book filled with classic-looking sweater patterns that I think would be a challenge and perhaps teach you about both history and knitting.

The Giveaway

One lucky winner will get themselves a copy of this LOVELY hardcover book! Please comment on this post with YOUR favourite sweater from the book and why it’s your favourite. PLEASE REMEMBER to leave me a way to contact you!
Comments will close 11:59 pm EST, Friday January 27; winner announced Saturday January 28.

Good luck!

T

ETA: JANUARY 28 /17

Congratulations to winner Brenda! Thank you to everyone who commented! Brenda, I’ll make sure the book is off to you right away.


*Incidentally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing like you’re going to an historical reenactment! Wear what brings you joy, friends!!

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Tudor Roses: Review and Giveaway

#KnitPetiteProject: Works Cited

This post will be an ongoing resource of works cited in the #KnitPetiteProject, including some annotations on the sources.

Do you have a source you think is excellent and should be added to the library of resources for the #KnitPetiteProject? Please comment on this post.


Feb 14

Feb 21

Feb 27

#KnitPetiteProject: Works Cited