Adding Flare to Crochet Tops

Recently, I met two people who had the exact same birthday as mine. But I have never met a person with the exact same measurements. No two people are built exactly the same, which makes shopping at retail chains a bit frustrating.

China Doll by Doris Chan

But one of the greatest advantages of crocheting your own garments, in addition to the relaxation, is the ability to modify a crochet top for the perfect custom fit. With a little bit of garment construction knowledge, you can add a little fabric to the waist or nip it in, increase or decrease the width of a hem. One of my favorite articles in Interweave Crochet is a tutorial on shaping by designer Doris Chan. She covers bust shaping, waist shaping, and hip shaping.

For many of my friends and family it is the hip shaping that causes the greatest difficulty in finding a great fitting sweater. Here is what Doris Chan says about hip shaping:

  The wedge, nip, and flare provide bust, waist, and hip shaping in solid-stitched fabric.

Hip Shaping: The Flare

If you need to add only a couple of inches of circumference, then you may opt to do the flare at the sides of the body pieces. Be aware, though, that too much side shaping will appear as "wings," where the bottom at each side will droop and hang too long . . . Instead, for more generous hip ease, make the flare on each side of an imaginary center panel for the look of hips darts.

1. After working even to an inch past your natural waist, locate and mark a center panel. (Mark two stitches for the position of panels centered at front and two stitches for the panel centered at back. . . . For a plain stitch, take the total number of stitches of the front and use about half that number for the panel centered at front; mark the stitch at either end of the panel. Do the same for the back.) From one side, work in pattern to two (or more if the stitch pattern requires it) stitches before the first marker, work one increase, work in pattern across the panel to next marker, work the marked stitch, make one increase.

2. Work rows even between rows of increases as needed to re-establish your pattern stitch and/or create a more gradual slope. For plain-stitch fabric, the number of rows worked even depends on the height of the stitch and your stitch and row gauges.

Grove Park Tank by Robyn Chachula

. . . For hip-skimming sweaters and tunics, complete the flare increases an inch or so above the fullest part of your hip, then work even to desired length. For a longer, more flared garment, continue the increases through the entire hip, finishing with at least an inch worked even to smooth out the hem.

Shaping Part Deux by Doris Chan, Interweave Crochet Spring 2008

My crochet tops now fit my body like they were custom made for me-oh wait, they were custom made for me.

In addition to Doris Chan's fabulous shaping articles, I have an ever-growing stash of how-to articles and technique sidebars on everything from new techniques and stitches to tips on crocheting lace. Subscribe to Interweave Crochet today and learn crochet tips, techniques, and tutorials.

Best wishes,

P.S. P.S. Do you modify your garments? I would love to hear your modification tips. Share them in the comments. 

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