#KnitPetiteProject: Online classes useful for petite knitters

Our last post where we look at Ravelry and the petite knitter.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

mini survey! Who designs petite (or petite-friendly) knitwear?

…youtube vid coming soon…

This post is an ongoing list: we’ll keep adding to it as a central resource for petite folks to access in order to find information on helpful online classes.

Amy Herzog has many classes on Craftsy, including: Simple Techniques for a Great Fit, Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit, and Knit to Flatter.

CreativeBug has a list of knitting classes; I’ve never taken any myself and haven’t had any direct recommendations. Have you? Do you think they’re helpful for petite knitters? Let us know!

Question

Please let the #KnitPetiteProject know of any online classes helpful for petite knitters!

#KnitPetiteProject: Online classes useful for petite knitters

#KnitPetiteProject: Ravelry and the Petite Knitter

Our last post where we’re compiling a central resource list of knitwear designers who create petite and petite-friendly patterns.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

mini survey! Who designs petite (or petite-friendly) knitwear?

…youtube vid coming soon…

This post is an ongoing list: we’ll keep adding to it as a central resource for petite folks to access in order to find information on how Ravelry can help a petite knitter.

ravelry-logo-81r-300x

Ravelry is a wonderful resource for knitters. It’s filled with folks who have both questions and answers for nearly any aspect of knitting. Chances are you’re already a part of this online community, but if you aren’t yet, I hope this post convinces you to join!

Ravelry is free to join. You have a wealth of patterns with excellent search customization, information on yarns and LYSes, a multitude of forums for nearly any interest and community, and a efficient digital sorting and recording system for your own patterns, FOs, and yarn stash.

Let’s take a look at the different ways Ravelry can specifically help the petite knitter with fit issues.

Forums and Groups

Ravelry is filled with forums and groups of nearly any interest you can imagine. These groups are communities within the larger community of Ravelry.

Every new Raveler is automatically subscribed to the Main Boards:

  • For the Love of Ravelry: Ask questions and talk about Ravelry! There is also some general chat about knitting like “your favourite FO”, for example.
  • Patterns: A place to post and ask about patterns in general, and in some cases specific pattern questions and ISO (“in search of”) requests. This would be a good place to ask ISO questions relating to petite patterns.
  • Yarn & Fiber: Looking for a particular yarn? Have questions about fibre, weight, spin, etc? This is where to go!
  • Techniques: It’s all in the name! A place to ask about specific techniques. This would be a good place to ask questions about fitting tips and techniques.
  • Needlework News & Events: Here you’ll find general news (including sales, promotions, contests) and any special events (Stitch n’ Pitch, knitting retreats, festivals). This is where I posted to let the Ravelry community know about the #KnitPetiteProject.
  • Tools & Equipment: Much akin to the Yarn & Fiber board, but for tools and equipment.
  • Loose Ends: A place to post on Main Board topics (ie: Ravelry-supported crafts) that don’t fit in any other boards.

Each forum + group has their own focus and, in some cases, specific rules. Make sure you know what the rules are before posting (you want to make sure you’re on topic). Also, it’s always a good idea to try searching within Ravelry’s forums before posting your question, as it’s possible that someone else has asked the same thing before!

Here is a list of groups that may be of interest for you and your petite fit concerns.

  • #KnitPetiteProject: We’re on Ravelry, and always here to discuss petite fitting concerns in knitwear. Join us!
  • Petite Plus: This, like most of the other “petite” groups on Ravelry, is not very active (as of this writing, July 22, 2017). It may hold answers to questions you have: the forums history is searchable.
  • Shorties: Again, not an active group, but you may find answers to your questions in the forums threads history.
  • The Bustline: This is an active group. They focus on “[h]ow do you get clothes that fit and flatter when nothing seems to be made for your body? Let’s share tips, tricks, and resources!”, with a focus on bust adjustments whether large or small. A “sister” group, the Itty Bitty Titty Committee is unfortunately inactive, but may also be a place for you to search for tips, techniques, etc…
  • There are a number of groups focused on plus size knitters, including The Curvalicious Sisterhood, Big Girl Knits, and Ample Knitters. These groups are all pretty inactive, but may hold answers to your questions in the thread history.
  • As many folks have suggested, Amy Herzog and her CustomFit software is very useful for fit information. You can check out Herzog’s group here.
  • Also from Herzog is the Fit to Flatter group, and they are, “… a place to learn, to discuss, and to connect with others on the journey to sweaters that make you feel (and look) fantastic.”

Patterns

Ravelry’s pattern search is great. Each design has the ability to be tagged to incredible detail, making knits searchable from design elements like neckline shape and construction to yarn weight and size range.

These tags are added to the design by the person who inputs the design onto Ravelry. That means that the person is adding tags in good faith, so to speak. For example, when I added TPCT to Ravelry, I tagged it with “negative ease”, “gathers”, “adult (sizes)”, “twisted stitches”, etc… There is also the option to add tags like “petite fit”.

For some of you, searching for “petite” in the patterns tab will deliver you satisfactory results. The person who added the pattern to the Ravelry database may have included the “petite fit” tag because the instructions are modification-friendly, the bust sizes extends to the lower end of the scale (32″ and lower seems to be the general idea of “petite”), or any other such justification for the petite fit tag.

For the purposes of the #KnitPetiteProject, this petite fit tag is one that you’ll have to sift through critically. My own search for this post produced over 5,200 results. Some of the top options include Amy Herzog’s CustomFit (and patterns that have been added to that software, including the very popular Featherweight Cardigan).

A recent addition to Ravelry, Bláfjöll, includes the following note: “The pattern comes in seven sizes from XS to XXXL and contains instructions for petite fit (5’2” and shorter persons), medium fit (5’3” tall to 5’8” tall persons) and tall fit ( 5’9” and taller persons).”

Amazing! Wonderful! This is the sort of thing that is very helpful and useful to petite knitters. Unfortunately, not everything you find under the petite fit tag will produce results like this, so search critically.

The Notebook

Your notebook section includes space for you to fill in all sorts of information about your FOs. This helps you very directly keep track of what worked and what didn’t.

And of course, because this is a community, other folks fill out their own notebooks and what they have to say may be of great use to you!

One way you may access this information is while searching a particular pattern. Within that pattern’s page will be a tab with the WIPs, FOs, and notes from all other knitters who have shared their thoughts and experience with this design. In some cases, you may see a wee life-perserver icon next to their project; this indicates that someone else on Ravelry has found these notes helpful.

Question

How have you found Ravelry helpful with your petite fit issues?

Resources

 

#KnitPetiteProject: Ravelry and the Petite Knitter

#KnitPetiteProject: Who offers petite sizing in knitwear design?

Our last post where we looked at the results of the Workbook + KAL survey.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

mini survey! Who designs petite (or petite-friendly) knitwear?

…youtube vid coming soon…

This post is an ongoing list: we’ll keep adding to it as a central resource for petite folks to access in order to find information on knitwear designers who offer petite or petite-friendly sizing.

Petite Sizes

So far, I have not been able to find a knitwear designer who specifically offers petite sizes. I would love to add some to this list, so please do let the #KnitPetiteProject know if you’ve found one such designer!

Petite-Friendly Sizes

This list is for specific patterns that are easy to modify, or designers who generally offer easy-to-modify instructions.

Designers
  • Amy Herzog and her CustomFit program. CustomFit allows you to plug in your own measurements to a selection of patterns, and the program will generate that pattern for you and your gauge.
  • Jill Wolcott: On her post “Or to desired length…”, she states: “First, I always put “or to desired length” after giving a specific measurement to knit to so someone needing to make an adjustment will know this is where to do it. Generally these are length measurements and they occur in places when nothing will be negatively impacted as long as any corresponding piece is likewise adjusted.”
  • Thea Colman writes the following on her pattern, Vodka Lemonade: “As with all my top down cardigans, this is easy to modify for length or width, and instructions are given with tips and hints on how best to alter for your shape.”
Patterns
  • Flexi: “Flexi stands for flexibility and is a sweater with a very special construction. You knit it to fit your personal head, arm and bust circumference, making it a fantastic basic model for everyone.”
  • Bláfjöll: includes the following note: “The pattern comes in seven sizes from XS to XXXL and contains instructions for petite fit (5’2” and shorter persons), medium fit (5’3” tall to 5’8” tall persons) and tall fit ( 5’9” and taller persons).”

Tips

  • several people in the Ravelry thread have suggested looking at designers themselves, as they may be inclined to create patterns that complement their own stature

Question

Please let the #KnitPetiteProject know of any petite or petite-friendly designers or patterns!

#KnitPetiteProject: Who offers petite sizing in knitwear design?

#KnitPetiteProject: Sharing the Workbook +KAL Survey Results

Our last post where we looked at practical sewing resources for knitters.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

Please answer this very brief survey to determine the future of the #KPP!

…youtube video coming soon…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Workbook + KAL survey! I’m keeping the survey link live because I want to give everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts.

As of the writing of this post (July 21, 2017) we’ve had 116 respondents. Here’s how the questions break down:

Would you be interested in purchasing a knitting book that helped you understand your petite fit, select + modify patterns AND provide you with basic sweater patterns that are petite sized?

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I’m happy to say that 81% of those who replied (that’s 94 people!) want to see this book happen.

This is encouraging! I’m so pleased that the #KnitPetiteProject resonates with our knitting community. As I mentioned above, I’ll be keeping the survey open. At this time, I have to reflect on these numbers and figure out the best way to move forward – 116 people is a number too low to base an entire print book publication on, but there are some other fun ideas I have circulating! You’ll hear from me over the next few weeks about this. 🙂

Would you participate in a KAL where you choose a sweater and work with the #KnitPetiteProject community to alter the fit for your petite needs?

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A full 50% of respondents (that’s 58 people!) are keen on a KAL. That’s a great number of us, so let’s do this thing!

Here’s what you need to know about the KAL:

  • choose a sweater you’d like to knit (consider consulting some of the earlier posts in the KPP to help guide your choices!)
  • gather all the materials you need to complete this sweater
  • meet in this thread on the #KnitPetiteProject Ravelry Group! Let us know about your project and what you’d like to modify
  • this KAL is open-ended; there’s no firm finishing date. You set your own goals and work at your own pace
The KAL will begin on September 1

Please feel free to start talking about making your sweater choices and sharing your yarn search in the thread right away!

What suggestions do you have for the #KnitPetiteProject?

And as always, I want to make sure the #KPP is responding to your needs and interests. Here’s some of what folks have had to say.

  • Cardigan
  • Keep up your great work! It’s a real inspiration and great to read in depth because of all your excellent research. Thank you so much.
  • Because I have sewn my clothes for many years I suspect I have an advantage in getting sweaters to fit, although I have certainly made my share of mistakes in knitting sweaters. Certainly suggestions about how to plan alterations — and the order in which to make adjustments — would be very useful. (I understand adjustments for a petite and slender individual, but not for heavier or buxom women)
  • Discussion on adjusting ease to make patterns more versatile
  • I’m not sure if this has been covered, but including information about yarn weight and what types (silhouettes, constructions, etc) of sweaters work best in which yarn weights would be helpful.
  • Cardigans! They’re always so big and bulky and don’t fit my petite frame well
  • As a lefty knitter I typically don’t purchase books that would need to be read in a mirror to apply to me, but I’d certainly participate in a KAL to learn about these kinds of alterations!
  • None, so far so good.
  • ?
  • a project gallery of petite-modified FOs
  • Don’t forget plus size petite!
  • A basic cardi or pull over with details about how to shorten the waist, adjust the bust, and account for sway-back or narrow shoulders!
  • Make sure the section on bust enlargement is pretty detailed! As a petite person, I’m so done with not being able to find a way to modify pattern to accommodate my considerable boobage without the breast area spreading to the back because of the lack of real estate in the front! And it’s even worst when you have to work the modifications while not distorting a pattern, such as with cables or special stitches.
  • I love this idea! thanks so much for reaching out =D
  • Sadly, right now, I have no time. So no KAL. Otherwise I would like to know that the book covered shoulder, upper back & bust area extensively. I have broad back & shoulders but not much bust.
  • love the workbook and KAL idea, i hope it happens!
  • I love these ideas – thank you!
  • That being petite doesn’t mean being small. but differently proportioned and working with that notion (like me: short torso and arms but regular width shoulders)
  • No real suggestions but I await the results, being extremely short waisted, so I think any advice you have will be greatly useful for me. Good luck!
  • Include a focus on ease, both ease for fit (allow the body to move freely) and design ease. I’ve often altered mainstream patterns a bit too much because they pattern weren’t written to distinguish the various margins included in the stitch counts.
  • Those of us who learned to sew as teens have a good basis for making alterations. The book/patterns would have to offer something special and different — going beyond what one can achieve with, say, Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit. Why doesn’t that meet the need?
  • make sure there are plus sizes. Not all petite folks are skinny
  • Advice for altering sweater fit would be really useful! Especially for shoulders/armscrye
  • Would there be videos and suggestions for knitting different petite body sizes?
  • narrow shoulder adjustments as well as length
  • I want to explain my “maybe” answer, because the workbook does sound interesting. You said the workbook would go up to “a plus size”. I am 4′ 10″ and a size 2X. Due to mobility issues, I need to wear any top that goes over my head (pullovers, T-shirts, etc.) at least one size bigger (sometimes 2 sizes, depending on the pattern). People come in a wide range of sizes. While smaller than average sizes are necessary for thin petites, please do not ignore the other end of the spectrum. The workbook does sound interesting, but if you limit the sizes to ignore plus size petites, it would be useless for me.
  • I’m still catching up on all the posts, videos, etc., so no specific suggestions, but would love to participate in a KAL!
  • Just that the pattern designers would realize not every one is short and thin. Most of us are more full bodied but still want a fashionable look.
  • Necklines and sleeve width at the armhole are the hardest for me to calculate. Sometimes I’m lucky but mostly I’m frustrated
  • Make patterns easy for yarn substitution.
  • Include petite plus sizes
  • I can’t think of any suggestions at the moment, but am really enjoying learning more about fit and how to achieve the fit I would like.
  • Define petite. Short? & wide? or just tiny sizes?

Question

Will YOU be joining the KAL on September 1? Share your sweater plans in the thread!

#KnitPetiteProject: Sharing the Workbook +KAL Survey Results

#KnitPetiteProject: Practical Sewing Resources for Knitters

Our last post where we looked at how sizing is different in sewing than knitting.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

NEW #KNITPETITEPROJECT SURVEY! Please answer this very brief survey to determine the future of the #KPP!

This post is one that I hope we can add to on a continuing basis with suggestions from the #KnitPetiteProject community.

Here, I’ll list a few sewing resources that are helpful for knitters. If you have any suggestions to add, please let me know by replying to this post.

Dressform

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This is my own duct tape dressform in action!

Dressforms are useful in a number of ways. You can buy one that’s adjustable and use it to help get an idea of shape, to model your WIP and/or FO, and to generally represent your shape if you’re thinking about fitting issues.

I personally chose to make my own dressform; the advantage to this is that your dressform will be your exact shape, and so can also act as an objective visualization of your actual torso shape and proportions. Making your own dressform also saves a lot of money.

A disadvantage to making your own dressform is the time and energy involved, as well as the fact that it’s hard to pin into the form; your pins get all goopy with tape! But, that’s more of a sewist’s problem than a knitters.

This video below shows you how you can make your own duct tape dressform.

 

Fit for Real People

I’ve been singing the praises of this book over the course of the #KnitPetiteProject; it gives you a great sense of fitting diagnosing and techniques to alter it. While these techniques are for sewing certain aspects remain true for knitters. This book also has the Body Graph which, like the personalized dressform, is a great tool to help you get objective about your shape and thus be more clear on what fit you’re looking for and how to get there.


Robin Hunter is a knitting designer with a wonderful blog that is a rich resource for the petite knitter. A regular feature includes interviews with knitting designers, where many have answered the very important question, “How did you determine your size range?”
You can check that out here.

And even though her blog is named “How to become a Professional Knitter”, it holds great tips, tutorials, and practical info for some of the topics we’ve been looking at in the #KnitPetiteProject including taking tricky measurements, why sizing systems don’t seem to represent petite folks in knitwear, and how to do things like recalculate sleeve caps.

Robin is also one of us petite folks; I’m so pleased she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions for the #KPP.

#KPP: Much of the advice I’ve found for selecting a size to fit your frame is to pick the bust circumference that matches your torso (upper bust) measurement. This advice intends to give the knitter something that will fit their shoulders, which is very important in a sweater.

Many #KnitPetiteProject survey respondents stressed that they “always have to shorten the sleeve cap/depth” for their sweaters.

RH ANSWER: Before I answer the questions below I’d like to mention that my background is in custom clothing, not from a fashion school where the focus is on industrial garment making for the retail market. Consequently my knowledge and approach is very different from many other designers. I’ve taken pattern drafting classes where the goal was to create a pattern for a specific individual with a more couture style approach. I’ve been a student in tailoring classes with an emphasis on proper fit specifically targeting women. Those classes used Italian tailoring methods adapted from traditional menswear techniques. I’ve also done dressmaking with a custom clothier where we produced samples of specific techniques not used in the retail market and we were expected to produce garments using challenging fabrics. The consequence of a custom clothing education means I think more about the body and its relationship to the garment. I think of the flat pattern shape as a starting point to achieve correct fit and expect to make small incremental steps after the pattern is created to accommodate the process of moving from a flat pattern to a three dimensional body.

#KPP QUESTION: As sleeve cap math is very involved, how should a petite person proceed in choosing a size to fit their shoulders?

RH ANSWER: Many people have told me sleeve caps are difficult, but I think the old adage “it’s easy when you know how”applies here. Knitting takes advantage of the simplification of the sleeve and the sleeve cap being reduced to a one piece symmetrical style due to the stretch of the fabric. It’s very different from the two piece fitted and curved sleeve shape for woven fabrics. That sleeve has a cap which differs at the front and back to accommodate the shape of the upper arm. Knitters are creating both the fabric and the shaping at the same time. This is what gets them into trouble. In the sewing world no one considers this to be a difficult task because they work with a real size pattern which has a line in the sleeve cap to fold out extra length and a corresponding line on the torso to make the same adjustment. Having a full scale visual really helps when developing the mental representations required to make alterations. When I teach knitters to do this, I teach it visually by using real size knitter’s graph paper in the same gauge that they are getting on their swatch. It’s a two-step process for the knitter. First get the flat pattern right and then transfer the information into stitches and rows. The knitter doesn’t have a way of choosing a pattern size to fix this. They need to learn how to do it once and then transfer that knowledge for alteration to every pattern they knit, knowing they will have to adjust the sleeve cap for length. In my case, I know my preferred armhole depth for a set in sleeve is 6.5 inches. Armed with that knowledge I can look at the schematic for my size, compare and adjust accordingly. I explain the process on my blog here. Once a knitter develops a set of key garment measurements this becomes much easier. BTW I have come across knitters who catch onto these concepts very easily without a sewing or pattern drafting background.

#KPP QUESTION: Is taking the torso measurement the best approach, as it is for regular sizes?

RH ANSWER: I agree with this advice as it’s certainly a better starting point than the full bust measurement where cup size comes into play. Having said that, it is only a starting point. Most patterns will still be too long in length even if the shoulder width is correct. Where I think this is failing for knitters is in the understanding of relationships of the parts of the body. The phrase “standard sizing” seems to have taken on a different definition than the one which I learned to understand in my custom garment background. It appears that knitters today think standard sizing is hard data which equals real life body sizing. My understanding of standard sizing is that it is the sizing of a specific retailer, designer, or pattern company. The relationships of the measurements are based on a specific fit model who could be very different than you. Bodies vary in size and shape much more than is commonly recognized by novice garment makers. Pattern alterations are three dimensional in nature but we are fooled by the flat pattern making system in our early learning stages. Knitters are even more challenged because they don’t work with full size individual pattern pieces. The final confusion comes from that single schematic which does not reflect the actual proportions of all of the sizes. It’s normally based on the smallest size and would change in significant ways proportionally if you drew the largest size to scale.

For a sample comparison of real world sizing (me) to the Craft council standards please see this post.

#KPP QUESTION: Is there any special information or instructions you can recommend a petite knitter should consider in addition to this?

RH ANSWER: I think knitters need to spend time looking carefully at the schematic provided. I’ve often had questions which make it clear they look at the photo and ignore the details provided on the schematic. I’ve worked with knitters in my classes who are totally focused on body measurements before they understand the concepts behind ease and how it is impacted by the hand of the fabric you are creating. To get around this, as you are building knowledge, it really helps to start measuring garments instead of your body. You can even use one which doesn’t fit the way you want by pinning it and using the resulting measurements. When you finish a garment which doesn’t live up to your expectations don’t just move onto the next one and hope for the best. Use pins to mark where it should be different and start taking notes. What weight yarn did you use? Does the fabric drape or is it stiff. Most importantly measure it. What length would you prefer? How deep is the sleeve cap and should it be shortened? Where should you make waist shaping decreases and increases. Keep in mind you will learn the most from trial and error. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from moving forward.

#KPP QUESTION: Another challenge for petite women is that sizing standards assume our bodies are longer than they may actually be; we then have to make any horizontal (and vertical!) modifications in a truncated amount of space, compared to a regular-height knitter.

Do you have any tips, advice, or resources you can suggest for petite women (of all ages and weights) with these sorts of issues?

RH ANSWER: I think the most important thing is to first learn your own preferences and knit accordingly. I made this mistake many times early on. I looked at a great pattern photo, said “I want that” and plunged in without considering the details. If you’ve never worn a dolman sleeve sweater, don’t invest all the knitting time to create it before you know it will make you happy. Look at what is currently in your own closet and what you enjoy wearing. If it’s a silhouette new to you, try on a friends garment or go to a retail store and try the target style on to get a sense of what works.

If you are a petite, chances are you have already purchased clothing from a retailer who targets that segment of the clothing market. Measure those garments (especially the knits) and compare where they fit you and where they don’t. How much ease do you like? Do you prefer tailored styles or loose flowy clothing?

You can continue to use patterns but be aware what you will need to spend time on adjustments. Knitter’s graph paper is your friend. You can print it out in the correct ratio and draw your garment or a specific problem area out.

My series here may be helpful.

Finally, remember you can experiment and make changes to a pattern, there are no knitting police!

#KPP QUESTION: What sweater construction would you suggest for a petite person (particularly, one who may have to think about sleeve cap and depth?)

RH ANSWER: I know many knitters become strong defenders of one form of construction over another. I think every type has its pros and cons. Each construction method can be adjusted to work with a specific body shape. It’s important to understand first what the end goal is in terms of fit and then to secondly address the technical challenge. As an example, often well-endowed petites find top down raglans a challenge because the classic design has an increase rate which makes the armholes too deep by the time the bust is large enough. My fix is to cast on more stitches on the front to increase the size there and I cast on more stitches at the underarm to solve the circumference problem and keep armhole depth appropriate.

#KPP QUESTION: Would you suggest any sweater constructions to avoid in particular if you are petite and need to adjust sleeve depth or any other vertical measurements?

RH ANSWER: No I don’t think we need to avoid any specific construction types, for me it’s more about shapes and silhouettes which are sometimes driven by the construction. I think we need to make sure that things are proportionally correct. I suspect we petites end up suspicious of some silhouettes because we try them on in regular sizes and feel overwhelmed by the extra length and the overly wide necklines and shoulders. Once those issues are resolved I don’t see the problems being specific to construction. I do sometimes see problems with the scale of design elements. A very wide cable panel may look different in relation to the overall sweater if it’s been shortened significantly. The rectangle which is the torso of our body does become squarer in nature for shorter women. Certain stitch patterns make not work if the canvas of the body isn’t big enough to carry them. However, I do want to emphasize this should be about pleasing yourself and being comfortable in your clothing not about addressing some perceived figure flaw. I would suggest knitters focus on a specific silhouette and work on several garments in that style and construction before moving on to another one. Each project will be incrementally better and you will learn faster.

#KPP QUESTION: I love the discussion you outline in your post here:

“Most hand knitting patterns come in from 3 to about 7 sizes with no variation in length or figure type. There are many reasons for this simplification several being due to cost, publication space, the difficulty of grading each size individually, the inability to have every size test knit as well as an industry that underpays designers. So what’s a knitter to do? I’m still thinking about this. As a designer I’m considering doing patterns that would target these specific markets but the question is would you buy them?

What would you suggest a petite knitter should do?

RH ANSWER: My recommendation is the same for all knitters regardless of their fit challenges. If you want to knit garments, take the time to educate yourself on how to make changes to the pattern. Don’t just follow it blindly. One of the best things about making our own clothing is we can get exactly what we want if we are willing to invest in some trial and error experimentation.

#KPP QUESTION: What fit resources can you recommend for petite knitters? (Anything! From knitting books/videos/classes/websites to information from crafts other than knitting like sewing manuals etc…)

RH ANSWER: There are now an amazing number of easily accessible resources to help you through your journey to improve fit. If you don’t like one, just move on, another instructor might work better for you. Keep in mind different makers will have different approaches and they won’t always give you the same exact instructions. You don’t have to become a designer but understanding the processes involved will help you through making the necessary adjustments to an existing pattern. You will find lots of patterning making links on Pinterest and videos on Youtube.

As you know I have lots of resources on my blog which includes an index here.

I especially like this Peggy Sager explanation of length, circumference and depth as it relates to fit.

The first 16 minutes of this video shows the process demonstrated.

Here’s the process for drafting a sleeve cap for woven fabric. Knits are simplified because they are symmetrical.

This site has some wonderful visuals explaining fit and ease.

I can highly recommend Shirley Paden’s book Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits and her Craftsy class Handknit Garment Design. If you are math phobic just ignore the segments on the magic formula and instead plot curves and angles visually on knitter’s graph paper as I show on my blog in the Pattern Drafting posts starting here.

This post is about Deborah Newton’s method for creating a muslin for hand knitting from T-shirt fabric. It’s for plus sizes but the basics still apply to petites.

#KPP QUESTION: Do you know of any knitting designers who create patterns specifically for petite folks? (There are a few who do this for sewing, but I’ve yet to find someone who addresses the petite market in knitwear).

#RH ANSWER: I don’t. The most I’ve ever seen in a knitting pattern is in the instruction sections where the pattern will say to x inches or desired length.

I do include this in my pattern notes: All length measurements included in the instructions are suggestions only and should be customized to suit the intended wearer.

Question

Do you have any sewing resources to add to the list? Please comment on this post!

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#KnitPetiteProject: Practical Sewing Resources for Knitters

#KnitPetiteProject: How is sizing in sewing different than in knitting?

Our last post where we looked at how sewing resources can help a knitter.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

NEW #KNITPETITEPROJECT SURVEY! Please answer this very brief survey to determine the future of the #KPP!

The world of sewing has fantastic fitting resources that knitters can use, and we’ve already referred to a number of them in the #KnitPetiteProject.

But there’s a few important differences between knitting and sewing that you need to keep in mind when you’re delving into those sewing resources, and a number of different ways sewing can help you as a knitter.

I’ll let the great Maggie Righetti take it from here:

“There is forgiveness to knitted fabric… Forgiveness means that, unlike woven fabrics, home-knit fabrics give and take a lot. You don’t have to be nearly so exact and accurate with knit measurements as you do with gabardine or oxford cloth or crepe. The knit fabric will adjust and forgive you. Cloth won’t! Many of the shaping details that must be used with cloth simply aren’t necessary with knit fabric.” 1

After this paragraph, you may wonder why I’d point you in the direction of sewing resources since they sound so very different. It’s that difference, in fact, that makes the sewing world so much more rich with petite fitting information than the knitting world.2

Sewists using woven fabric are working with materials that are, as Righetti says, not as forgiving as us hand knitters. Woven fabrics need to be shaped much more precisely than knits do. An extra quarter inch could result in a garment that is ill-fitting with wovens. Sewists need to pay incredible amounts of attention to their own shape and the shaping of their fabric in order to achieve the fit they desire.

I point this difference out because you may encounter language or instructions within sewing resources and patterns that are different from anything you’ve seen with knitting. Knowing that sewists need to be more particular about fit because their fabrics behave differently than your handknit fabric is important.

With the caveat that: you may notice that sewists also mention “knits” or “knit fabric”. There are indeed some machine knitted fabrics with stretch and “forgiveness” that sewists work with. A good example is t shirts. If you look very closely at t shirt fabric, you may recognize the tiny shape of the stitches as miniature versions of those on your needles! Knit fabric sewing patterns usually have different types of shaping than for woven fabric because of this “forgiveness”.

Righetti goes on to highlight more differences between sewing and knitting:

patterns for knits have no seam allowance…
with knits, the back and front sections are usually the same width…
From shoulder to bottom edge, the front and back of a sweater are usually the same length…
back and front armholes are shaped identically… 3

These are just a few of the points she names. Most of these notes have to do with the much more particular shapes that have to be created for a good fit with woven fabrics. I want to mention, though, the point about seam allowances.

While knitwear designers certainly must take into account a few stitches worth of your handknit for seaming, I believe Righetti is pointing out the much more generous seam allowances that are (usually) built into a sewing pattern. This has to do with how fabric for sewing has raw edges that must be finished and sewn together.

Another important way sizing is different in sewing (particularly with wovens) is ease allowance. I’m a big fan of negative ease; we can use this in knitting. It’s that forgiveness and stretch in the knit at work. You can knit a sweater that’s several inches smaller than your actual body measurements. Try doing that with woven fabric and you won’t be able to get it over your head! So non-stretch woven fabrics will always have some positive ease, otherwise you couldn’t put on, or even move in, the garment.

But, while our lovely hand knitted fabric gives us forgiveness, that forgiveness doesn’t solve every issue. We sometimes need to employ some shaping tricks to get the knit to fit the way we want!

Vertical darts, for areas where abrupt changes in width are desired, are made on the sides of an imaginary line with decreases or increases.

Horizontal darts, for areas where special length is needed, are made with short rows.4

Maggie Righetti isn’t the only knitter who looks to sewing for tips, resources, and inspiration.

Last week I touched on how much June Hemmons Hiatt shares about sewing in her book The Principles of Knitting. The whole of chapter 24 is devoted to this topic.

IMG_5773
Example of a modern pattern with multiple sizes, printed on tissue paper.

In it, she discusses how you can use a sewing pattern to successfully design a hand knitted garment. If you’ve never seen or used a sewing pattern before, it may be a bit of a puzzle. They usually come in an envelope of some kind, and are printed on a tissue that you (usually) have to cut out. Each piece will have all sorts of different symbols on it that help the sewist know things like how many pieces to cut, what direction the grainline is, how big the seam allowance is, and most modern patterns come with multiple sizes all on one pattern piece.

If you’re keen to try June Hemmons Hiatt’s suggestion of designing from a sewing pattern, then there’s a few things to note:

“Sewn garments often have a greater variety of separate pieces than would typically be used for a knitted one. These may be necessary to refine the fit, introduce stylistic details, or as a means of finishing the raw edges of a woven fabric – think of princess seams, darts, peplums, and plackets. In a handknit fabric, these aspects of a design are more often done as an integral part of the construction.” 5

IMG_5774
Example of a vintage pattern with only one size. Note the “seam line” vs the “cutting line.

While there certainly is a number of things you need to take into account when attempting this sewing-pattern-as-handknit-design trick, there is a wonderful advantage for the petite knitter looking for a good fit: paper sewing patterns are quite easy to alter, add or remove length or width, and test out in a way that can be much less time consuming than knitting up a whole sweater, only to find the fit is off.

In a sewing pattern, once you identify the fit issue you want to tackle (narrow shoulders, broad back, short waist, extra full bust compared to frame size, etc…) you can pretty easily find free tutorials all over the internet to alter that tissue paper pattern and solve your fitting issue.

One of the sewing books I’d recommend you purchase as a knitter is Fit for Real People. We’ve talked about it before in the #KnitPetiteProject. I praised it for the information on identifying your body shape and diagnosing fit issues, as well as the really fun, cool, and informative tool of a Body Graph.

Well, I think there’s yet another thing that Fit for Real People is great for: the author’s technique of “tissue fitting”. Palmer and Alto share with you how they take the tissue of a sewing pattern and can fit it to a person before they even cut into any fabric at all! So, if you’re thinking of trying out June Hemmons Hiatt’s technique of using a sewing pattern to design a handknit, Plamer and Alto’s tissue fitting step-by-step will help you and save time!

I hope I’ve got you thinking a bit about what sewing can do for you as a knitter.

And now, there’s a special treat! We get to hear about fitting from someone trained in knitting and sewing, Jill Wolcott.


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Jill is a knitwear designer and teacher with a background in fashion design in both
sewing and knitwear. In 2000 she began teaching at FIDM in San Francisco, in topics such as technical design, product development, on line development and portfolio development. She has taught grading for plus sizes online, and created sizing standards for yarn companies.Jill-Headshot 3x4

I’m so pleased Jill has agreed to share her thoughts with us here in the #KnitPetiteProject!

Selecting a Size
#KPP QUESTION: Much of the advice I’ve found for selecting a size to fit your frame is to pick the bust circumference that matches your torso (upper bust) measurement. This advice intends to give the knitter something that is more likely to fit their shoulders, which is very important in a sweater.
Many #KnitPetiteProject survey respondents stressed that they “always have to shorten the sleeve cap/depth” for their sweaters.
JW ANSWER: Sleeve caps are definitely the least understood and often the trickiest part of a garment.  However, you can’t just adjust sleeve caps—it is an interlocking puzzle.
#KPP QUESTION: As sleeve cap math is very involved, how should a petite person proceed in choosing a size to fit their shoulders?
JW ANSWER: There is little standardization in knitting patterns, so I have no good advice. I think you should only buy patterns that give schematics and measurements, and find brands that have their sizing chart available.
The absolute crucial measurement is the shoulder width.  But no one knows this. There are lots of misconceptions about how to interpret this measurement in a garment.  Let’s just say, I’d look at that shoulder/upper chest area before I started worrying about the sleeve cap.  The adjustments made in that area will impact your sleeve cap.  It is all interlocking!
The easiest thing to remember is that the length of the sleeve cap edge (where it will be sewn into the sleeve) needs to match the armhole where it will be sewn in.  Usually, the wider the sleeve at the underarm, the lower the sleeve cap will be to accomplish this.
#KPP QUESTION: Is taking the torso measurement the best approach, as it is for regular sizes?
JW ANSWER: By torso do you mean bust?  The thing is that a well-fitting garment isn’t built on a single measurement.  Or even three or four.  We are creating a garment from scratch, and there is an assumption that all measurements are created equally, but they aren’t.  You need to know your measurements (what they aren’t isn’t important!) and then how they compare to the garment you want to make or create.  But yes, any measurement is important in any size.
#KPP QUESTION: Is there any special information or instructions you can recommend a petite knitter consider in addition to this?
JW ANSWER: This is my advice to all knitters.  Know your own measurements.  Know your measurements in relationship to known sizes.  If a regular size 10 has a 16.75” back waist, and yours is 15.5”, you know you need to shorten your top.  But you also need to know where to shorten it!  In the armhole? In the neck? In the body?  Yes, to all three. Remember all clothes are built for a mythical body.
#KPP QUESTION: Another challenge for petite women is that sizing standards assume our bodies are longer than they may actually be; we then have to make any horizontal (and vertical!) modifications in a truncated amount of space, compared to a regular-height knitter.
Do you have any tips, advice, or resources you can suggest for petite women (of all ages and weights) with these sorts of issues?
JW ANSWER: I think circumference and length get the same answer.  See my answer above!  Proportion is really important (as you probably know).  You need to be honest about what looks good on you, and what adjustments will get the proper proportion for your individual body.
#KPP QUESTION: What sweater construction would you suggest for a petite person (particularly, one who may have to think about sleeve cap depth?)
JW ANSWER: Well you could go for sleeveless, but that probably has a whole different set of problems!  I think that a sweater with good information is going to help.  But also the knitter has to be realistic.  What we are talking about is making a custom fit garment, that you are also creating the fabric for.  This is an undertaking in and of itself.  I would start with something very basic.  I would work with a sport weight yarn and I would make my best-guess changes, but I would also expect to have to try the garment out as I worked on it to see if it was working.  It likely takes three tries to get a good fit that you can rely on.  But once you know what to do, it is relatively easy to transfer that to all your future knitting.
You may need to have someone help you.  Put pins in to make adjustments.  Take photos—you are looking for clues as to where problems are.  Sometimes an adjustment for one thing exacerbates something else, so always be judicious.
The easiest adjustment to make is to slope your shoulder.  It is like taking a dart at the armhole and can get rid of some of that bunching under the arm or above the bust!
#KPP QUESTION: Would you suggest any sweater constructions to avoid if you are petite and need to adjust sleeve depth or any other vertical measurements?
JW ANSWER: I guess I’m not very happy with avoiding things as a solution.  I believe each of us should find what works for us, then work within that.  It is all about proportion, not about garment type.  I know I have a very short (square) torso, but very long legs.  The best thing for me is to not try to get the same look as someone with a different figure.  I am very critical of what looks good on me.  If I don’t care, why should anyone else?  I believe that looking good is its own reward!  It will change how you feel about yourself, and how others perceive you.
Petite Patterns in the Knitting World
#KPP QUESTION: I LOVE your text here below; this is something noted by a number of #KnitPetiteProject survey respondents: if only knitting
patterns would make note of this, like sewing patterns do!
“First, I always put “or to desired length” after giving a specific measurement to knit to so someone needing to make an adjustment will know this is where to do it.  Generally these are length measurements and they occur in places when nothing will be negatively impacted as long as any corresponding piece is likewise adjusted.”
“I’d like to add that this flexibility is one of the great things about creating your own garments.  Likewise, it is the headache of anyone who doesn’t fit the standard sizing scheme that the pattern writer (me, in this case) is using.” (Blog Post “Or to Desired Length”)
JW ANSWER: I do think that many knitting patterns do say something similar, but I believe clarity works well for everyone.
#KPP QUESTION: Do you know of any other knitting designers who add these sorts of instructions into their patterns?
JW ANSWER: Quite honestly, I don’t look at the written instructions for a lot of patterns by other designers.  I’m too caught up in what I am doing myself.  However, I am always a little horrified by the shortcuts that patterns take.  I can elaborate on this at great length!
#KPP QUESTION: Do you know of any knitting designers who create patterns specifically for petite folks? (there are a few who do this for sewing, but
I’ve yet to find someone who addresses the petite market in knitwear).
JW ANSWER: I think you might be able to find some on Ravelry, but I am not a petite person, so I must confess that I don’t look.
Teresa, what I always find interesting is that there is an assumption that only certain types of people need to make adjustments.  I think the reality is that there are very few standard-sized people and it is just that when you fall outside the “normal” it feels like you have special issues.
The fact is that until the 60s and 70s, people didn’t buy as much ready-to-wear clothing as we do now.  If they did buy RTW, they anticipated that their dressmaker or tailor would make adjustments to customize the fit.  People spent a considerably larger portion of their incomes on their clothing, had less of it, and valued fit over quantity.
Sewing and the Petite Knitter
In July, we’re looking at what the world of sewing can teach knitters about fit and sizing.
#KPP QUESTION: How is sizing in sewing different than sizing in knitting?
JW ANSWER: Theoretically it isn’t different.  I think what may be different is the willingness to understand the underlying concepts of construction and fit.  We are blessed by flexibility in our fabric, and it is often used as a substitute for fit.
#KPP QUESTION: What are some sewing resources that can help the petite knitter understand and achieve her desired fit?
JW ANSWER: I hate to keep harping on this, but if you want fit, you need to understand your body and its relationship to garments.  Most people who knit don’t know as much about garments as those who sew.  Everyone today has access to tons of information, but sorting out what is good and what is relevant is a huge challenge.
I learned to sew when I was about 8 years old.  I learned how to fit myself and others by trial and error and observation.  I took risks, made a lot of mistakes, and filed it all away. Then I learned industry construction and pattern making, which I have translated into hand-knitting garments.  This is not easy.  My patterns are priced higher than most, but I have considered a lot of things when designing them.  I have tried to make garments that are generally flattering, and that fit well through the shoulder area.  But I’m not doing custom garments.
Suggested Resources
#KPP QUESTION: The System of Grading courses you offer on your website are in-depth ways for designers and tech editors to learn more about grading.
What fit resources can you recommend for petite knitters who are interested in learning about ways to achieve their own personal fit goals? (anything! From knitting books/videos/classes/websites to information from crafts other than knitting like sewing manuals etc…)
JW ANSWER: So I would love to spend more time teaching this sort of thing, but it requires a lot of time on my part and the part of the participants.  I think the best thing to do is to learn to sew, and take a basic fitting class.  Then transfer what you learn to knits.
I believe if we would value the time we put into making things, and be willing to do it in a meaningful way, we would have fewer, better things.  But it is an investment of time and money.  I buy clothing because I don’t have time to make it!  But I am pretty ruthless about what I’ll spend my money on.
Quick solutions:  Wear colors that are flattering.  Be brutal about whether something looks good on you—but be realistic about your body as it is unlikely to radically change. Use accessories to get variety and have a small palette so you can interchange things. Try new things!  We should all spend more time trying on clothes to find what looks best (perhaps without regard to fit and without purchasing).
#KPP QUESTION: What’s next for Jill Wolcott Knits?
JW ANSWER: I’m really interested in teaching online classes.  I don’t want to go around the country teaching classes, but I’d love to do remote teaching.  I want to help people understand that clothes are transformative.  I would love to help designers and knitters value the inputs of our knitted garments so that we could enjoy the making and not always be rushing off to the next thing.  Seriously, if you are knitting a garment there are going to be dead boring times.  Allow yourself a little time off (but be very disciplined) to make something fun, then get back to the big project.
I see so many comments on project along the lines of “my gauge isn’t quite right, but I’m sure it will be fine.”  That just sounds like  a recipe for disaster—or at least disappointment.  I’m doing online Swatch Workshops which teach my secrets.  I am preparing more professional development classes (with a parallel for non-professional knitters), and I am reworking some of my patterns.
My goal with reworking the patterns is to turn them into patterns with a teaching focus. A primer if you will.  This would be perfect for KnitAlongs, but I am not really sure how to get knitters on board.
You can read Jill’s full CV here.
Check out her website for more, including tutorials and her own sizing charts and sleeve length calculator!
Other helpful resources from Jill Wolcott include:

Question

Have you ever used a sewing pattern as a guide to creating a handknit?
Resources

1 Maggie Righetti. Sweater Design in Plain English. St Martin’s Press, 1990, pg 23.

2 FYI, this is my humble opinion.

3 Maggie Righetti. Sweater Design in Plain English. St Martin’s Press, 1990, pg 26-27.

4 Ibid, pg 30.

5 June Hemmons Hiatt. Principles of Knitting. Touchstone Publishing, 2012, pg 485.

#KnitPetiteProject: How is sizing in sewing different than in knitting?

#KnitPetiteProject: How can petite sewing resources help a knitter?

Our last post where we looked at what the limits of modifications are.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

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

NEW #KNITPETITEPROJECT SURVEY! Please answer this very brief survey to determine the future of the #KPP!

It’s a new month, and a new focus here in the #KnitPetiteProject. We’re moving from our very practical look at sizing in May and June to the topic of sewing and what it can offer the knitter.

When I first began knitting, I was not a sewist1. I was annoyed and frustrated that nearly every detailed petite-fit resource I found was for sewing. Faced with that wall of google search results I felt 1) petite fit wasn’t an issues in knitting (which I think we’ve shown isn’t true! and 2) sewing has nothing to offer me – it’s like a language I don’t understand, and certainly don’t need to understand!

But, there’s plenty of support from around the knitting world that says knowledge from sewing can help knitters: Ysolda referenced sewing resources to build her sizing chart. Interweave recently shared how some sewing tools and tips can help a knitter. June Hemmons Hiatt has a whole chapter of her book dedicated to how a knitter can use a sewing pattern to design and learn about fit! The list does indeed go on!

My hope for the posts this month is to create a knitter-to-sewist dictionary. The world of sewing has so much to offer knitters! And, you don’t have to learn everything about sewing to get value out of it for your own petite fit needs.

Today, let’s start with a wee intro on the world of sewing with some terms and gentle, beginner-friendly sewing resources that are useful for knitters.

And, there’s a treat at the end of this post. We have an interview with a petite (and petite-plus!) sewing pattern maker!

…this information can be enhanced by also working with sewing patterns. You will gain skills doing this and acquire a familiarity with the proportions and subtleties of fit in [the upper bodice area] of a garment that will provide you with a much wider scope of design possibilities.2

How can Petite Sewing Resources help knitters?

The above quote is from the inimitable June Hemmons Hiatt. Her incredibly thorough book The Principles of Knitting is on nearly any list of indispensable knitting books, including the #KnitPetiteProject’s!

She goes into great depth in Chapter 24 about the value of using sewing resources and knowledge in order to plan a design for your own sweater. And before you think that you can’t design, or just don’t want to, remember what we talked about last month: depending on the pattern, and the amount of modifications you want to make, you may just have to reverse-engineer that sweater. Which is a run-around way of saying you need to gather some designing skills to get you to your end goal.

Please don’t be intimidated! The #KPP community is here to help!3

There’s many terms that you may recognize when you look at sewing resources. Sewists and knitters share terminology like drape, ease, hem, armscye, seam allowance, and selvedge.

Sometimes there’s terms that are either quite different or entirely new-to-you in sewing resources that make things confusing or intimidating. Let’s begin our look at what the sewing world has to offer knitters with this short list of helpful terms for your foray into googling “petite fit alterations”:

apex: highest point on a rounded area. Usually refers to bust apex, which is important to know in both sewing and knitting for instances of bust circumference alterations.

Big Four: this is a term used to refer to the largest sewing companies (Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick, McCalls). This may be important to whatever you’re reading because it’s those Big Four that have used a (fairly stable) sizing system for decades. This sizing system assumes many things about your body, including a bra cup size of B. Other independent sewing companies have made a point of using a different cup size as their base (for example, Colette uses a C cup size).

darts: Knitters can also create darts in their sweaters, but the production of the dart is different for a sewist. In sewing, a dart is a fold of fabric that’s stitched down to help round out / narrow an area. Usually found at bust and waist.

grain/grainline: direction of the threads in a woven fabric. The grainline is a marking on a sewing pattern that helps you line up your pattern piece with the fabric’s grain. This is important because the direction of the grain will affect the look of the finished garment.

muslin: a “rough draft” of a garment. This is made using inexpensive fabric so that the sewist can try on the pattern and see any fitting issues before using a more expensive fashion fabric. Unfortunately, knitters can’t really create a muslin in the same way  sewists can!

princess seams: these are alternative ways to cut and sew fabric to shape a garment through a vertical seamline. These seams do the same kind of thing as a dart, but look quite different. Princess seams run from either the shoulder or the sleeve and curve down and over the bust, sometimes going all the way to the bottom hem of the garment. Because of the ways a knitter can shape their fabric, they don’t have to worry about seam lines in the same way a sewist does.

slash and spread: this is a technique for making a pattern larger in a certain area. Following particular lines, you can cut it apart and shift it out to add room where you need it.

sloper: this is a base pattern that has been made to fit a particular person’s measurements, from which the sewist can then develop other patterns and styles. This is a very important and useful tool for sewists who are interested in a perfect fit and want creative freedom. Check out the WORKBOOK idea below for a knitter’s “sloper” option!

Beginning Sewing Resources for a Knitter

  • Craftsy has a free, downloadable guide on fitting. This 24-page pdf is a gentle introduction to fitting that’s aimed at sewists, and includes info on plus and petite fitting. The plus-size section is actually sub-titled “it’s all about vertical dimension”! This is really something we can use!
    FYI: one of the reasons I included this resource is because under the Petite section they say, “The importance is not always to look taller (even if that’s not a bad thing), but to find great proportions and style.” I love that they spell out that the goal is NOT always to look taller! Phew! (sorry, it’s just a pet-peeve…)
  • Simplicity, one of the Big Four sewing companies, has their own fit guide you can access for free here.
  • This post from Craftsy goes over some petite fitting issues, and shows both the shared ground and solutions as well as the differences between sewing and knitting. Sewists can make a muslin (essentially, a “rough draft”) to rework and adjust in a quick and inexpensive way. Knitters can’t really do the same thing! But, knitters do get to work with a much more “forgiving” fabric; sewists generally have to be more particular about fit (which makes accessing their fit resources really useful for knitters!)
  • And, don’t forget about our interview earlier this year with Petite Plus sewing patternmaker Kathleen Cheetham!
  • Sewist’s blogs are a rich source for general petite info because these folks are already having conversations about practical things like petite alterations, aesthetics, and history. A great example is this post from Betsy of SBCC, our interviewee this week!
  • Just last month I references a series of posts from the lingerie designer, sewing teacher, and personal stylist Maddie. This includes an overview with general-rule modifications to petite in sewing and a couple posts on guide on length and width reductions from our interviewee this week Betsy.
  • The indie sewing designers at Colette have a handy little newsletter Snippets that sends out helpful sewing tips. Many of these tips are at a beginner or intermediate sewing level, so it’s a nice way to be introduced to sewing terms, tips, and techniques.
  • The (mostly free) online magazine Seamwork (from Colette) gives you access to loads of informative articles that will teach you about fit from the sewist’s perspective, but also about developing your own wardrobe, details about different fibres, and interesting fashion history. I’ve signed up for their newsletter and it’s a nice monthly prompt to check out the issue.
  • The Curvy Sewing Collective is a great blog resource for petite plus knitters. They get into great detail about fitting with posts about starting out a sloper, 10 things to know as a beginner, and choosing patterns to minimize adjustments.
  • We’ve already talked about Fit for Real People here in the #KPP; this book has great information on measuring yourself and identifying you own body’s shapes. The special feature I recommend this book for is the step-by-step instructions on creating a Body Graph.

Survey: the future of the #KnitPetiteProject

The survey this month for the #KnitPetiteProject asks you just a couple simple questions about some tools we can use to help each one of us on our petite fitting journey.

The first is a WORKBOOK; this would be written from a petite perspective, for petite folks.

It would include all the very practical, helpful resources, tips, tricks, and basic sweater knitting patterns that would be both already petite and built for easy modification.

fit
Seamwork, issue 28. “Our detailed fit guides will help you pick the right size and make adjustments to get the perfect fit. You can find these fit guides on the each pattern’s page in the catalog and in the PDF instructions.

It would include great tools inspired by the sewing world, like the fantastic fit guides from the indie sewing company Colette (image at the right). Over past year or so they’ve been including these guides to help sewists understand the fit the designer was aiming for, and enable simpler and more straight-forward alterations.

The new, simple sweater designs included in the workbook would already be petite sized, and would be designed specifically to be easily modified so you can essentially create your OWN knitting “sloper”. You’d have a perfectly fitting sweater with less work, and it would be something you could use over and over as a blank canvas onto which you can add whatever fun design detail or feature your heart desires!

Do you want this workbook? Let me know by clicking YES on the #KPP survey!

The other tool we can use together is an open-ended KAL. This would be based in the #KPP Ravelry group, where knitters could choose whatever sweater they like and bring their questions and advice to the community for support and encouragement. Petite knitters working together!

Do you want this KAL? Click YES on the #KPP survey!

And as always, the #KnitPetiteProject is open to comments, questions, and suggestions. Anything you want to share, just include it on your survey, too.

And now, on to a special treat for this post!


SBCC-Logo

Betsy is the talented patternmaker behind SBCC Patterns; a line of sewing patterns for petite women, with 5’1″ as the base size for her designs. I knew I had to talk to Betsy when I read that she’s a fit-obsessed perfectionist with over 10 years of experience in the fashion industry.

#KPP QUESTION: You are one of the few independent designers in either sewing or knitting who directly serves petite (including petite plus) people. I love your work and believe it is very important!
What led you to select the petite market for your patterns?

athens, ga
Betsy of SBCC

SBCC ANSWER: My original idea was to make home sewing patterns for the standard/average height female customer, as it’s second nature to me from my ready-to-wear career. However, during the development I realized that I would have to alter the patterns just to fit my petite frame. Why should I invest a ton of energy and time, and not have something that I can wear straight out? Selfish? Perhaps, but I realized that I am not alone in this problem and there are many petite sewers out there looking to make a garment without a ton of alterations.
After further investigation I found that a large section of the female population could be considered petite- a whole lot more, potentially 70%. Petite is traditionally defined as anyone short in stature but also can be considered anyone with a short torso with long legs, or short legs and a longer torso. Also, some petite fits feature narrower body widths a well. There are so many approaches that there is definitely room in the indie sewing market to cater to this group.

#KPP QUESTION: With knitting patterns, there’s been a great dearth of designs catering to petite people, resulting in petite knitters having to wear designs as-is or independently learn ways to alter the fit to suit their tastes.
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?

SBCC ANSWER: I like to say the biggest indicator is when you choose your size and it just feel like you are a kid playing dress up. The proportions are off and you definitely don’t look like your tall friend who can wear the same thing, but it looks so much better on her.
Some of the primary fit indicators include:
• Overall body length is long
• Sleeves are long
• Armholes are too low
• Necklines are too low
• Waist level hits below the navel
• Rises and inseams are too long (pants)

There are also considerations of styling. The details of the style may appear out of proportion, like waistband heights, collars and even leg openings.

#KPP QUESTION: I love that you serve petite women of all sizes with SBCC. In general, what are some differences in your pattern sizes from “regular” pattern sizes? (ie: certain body measurements or proportions?)
Why are these differences important? (SBCC Sizing info)

SBCC ANSWER: My fit approach is intended to cover all petite bases- overall short and slightly smaller body frame. Traditionally for RTW (ready-to-wear), petite is proprietary formula of reductions based on a regular misses pattern. Each company has their own rule for how much to reduce the armhole height, reduce the total torso and inseams, to name a few points. For SBCC Patterns I develop the pattern specifically for petite so all the details are proportional from the start. I have my own base numbers that I start with and go from there.

#KPP QUESTION: You have many patterns designed for knitted fabric including the Bronx Dress, Cabernet Cardigan, Gimlet Top, and Cosmo Maxi Skirt.
Knitted fabric and hand-knitting are more “forgiving” for fit than woven fabric in that knits stretch.
As you’ve created so many pieces that are in a knit fabric the answer may be clear, but I’m curious: what, if anything, is the value in petite sizes for knit fabric?

SBCC ANSWER: Yes, I do love knits! Knit fabric is like my grown up version of Play-Doh and works great for all size ranges. I can stretch it, twist it, mold and drape it depending on the look I am going for. Knits are just so functional for an active lifestyle and very forgiving to work with. I am particularly drawn to the drapey quality of knits as I can achieve more looks that I could in a woven fabric. With knits, I can also fit a wider range of women without having to make fussy adjustments. Also, the sewing techniques used tend to yield a quick and easy project.

#KPP QUESTION: What’s next for SBCC?

SBCC ANSWER: There are always more patterns in the works, of course. I would like to be able to complete a few new summer styles, but my mind is already on fall. I have a great blazer planned that I think is really going to be a hit. Jackets are pretty much what I grew up making in the industry, so it feels really good to bring those skills to a tailored garment, just for petites.
I’m also devoting a lot of time to my business Patterngrade where I work with a lot of indie pattern designers and up-and-coming/established ready to wear designers to bring their ideas to life and in other technical capacities. It’s a heavy workload, but I always try to squeeze SBCC styles in when I can.

You can read more about Betsy and SBCC on her website, and in this interview with Kollabora, Madalynne (and another here), and Blueprints for Sewing.

Question

Have you ever accessed a sewing resources to learn more about petite fit? Were you able to use it? Why, or why not?

Resources

1 I’m using the word “sewist” throughout these #KPP posts for a couple reasons. 1) It’s pretty widely used among the sewing community, and 2) typing out the word “sew-er” ends up looking like “sewer” – that is, the place where the toilet water goes when you flush. Yuck. So, sewist it is!

2 June Hemmons Hiatt. Principles of Knitting. Touchstone Publishing, 2012, pg 481.

3 I want to create a #KnitPetiteProject workbook that will make knitting and fitting a sweater for YOUR petite body just as easy as it is for knitters of a “regular” height. Click YES on the #KPP survey if this workbook is something YOU want!

#KnitPetiteProject: How can petite sewing resources help a knitter?