Bust into Perfect Shaping for Crochet Sweaters

In our past few enewsletters, we have shown you how to take your measurements and read a schematic, then compare those figures for a perfect fit. We talked about darts and side shaping to make the waist and hips fit. Now, let’s say the 38-inch bust circumference sweater fits you in the waist, hips, and back, but your bust measurement is 41 inches. What to do? Bust shaping with short rows. This method should be just right if you need to add more than a couple of inches to the pattern’s finished bust size or if you are a C cup or larger.

Short rows are rows worked only part way across the established row of the pattern; they are “short” rows rather than long rows. To work short-row shaping, work according to the pattern to just below the fullest point of the bust. Then measure about 1½ inches from the center of each underarm and mark these stitches. Working in the opposite direction from the last row worked, join a new ball of yarn with a slip stitch in the second marked stitch. Slip stitch in the next stitch, then slowly build the height of each of the stitches and work back down to a slip stitch, creating a little arch between the two markers. It might look like this: work 2 slip stitches, 2 single crochets, 2 half double crochets, 5 double crochets, 2 half-double crochets, 2 single crochets, and 2 slip stitches. The actual number of stitches will vary depending on your gauge: A thick yarn might require only eight stitches to make an arch; a sock weight might call for 20 or more stitches. Repeat the row until you have the desired ease. As with the number of stitches, the number of rows will depend on your gauge. A worsted yarn should need only 2-4 short rows. Sock weight yarn will require more rows. For my mini sweater mockup I have created three rows of short row shaping in a contrasting blue yarn.

VestNow, it’s time to put your knowledge of darts, row-end shaping, and short rows to use. Find a garment that you love but have been hesitant to attempt. Pull out your body measurements, and study the garment’s schematic. Jot down where you need to increase, decrease, or add short row shaping. And, really, write it down; you’ll need to duplicate your results, especially if the garment requires you to crochet separate back and front pieces. You might think you’ll remember, but I know from experience that these numbers can be slippery. Also, if you make changes from your predicted adjustments, be sure to note what you actually do.

If you’re a tad intimidated by altering a pattern, start with a project well-suited to alteration. The Ripple-Lace V-Neck Top (IC Spring 2008, see below) is a perfect candidate. I loved the V-neckline and chevron lace at the hem, but I wanted a little more shaping. This vest already uses edge shaping, so I simply added another row of shaping to draw the waist in about another quarter inch. The V-neckline allows for some extra ease, so I made it more fitted by working one fewer increase through the bust.

Now pull out your hook and yarn and jump right in. There’s nothing like making a garment with your very own hands that fits you perfectly.

Best wishes,


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