Shaping Tips to Help You Crochet Sweaters that Fit

You're just itching to crochet that sweater, but the waist is too big and the bust is too small, even though the hips are just right. What to do?

Well, because of our earlier enewsletters, you have your measurements in hand and you've compared them to the schematic—that's how you know all that stuff about the sizing. But how do you make a sweater that fits?

You can shape the fabric to fit you even if it's not in the pattern! To change the shape, you work increases or decreases in the middle or at the edge of the fabric. It's that simple! Start by working the bottom of a larger size that fits your hip measurements, then decrease to your waist measurements, and increase to the size that best fits your bust.

The subtlest way of adjusting measurements is by working decreases or increases at the edge of the fabric. To determine how many stitches you will need to decrease, check the gauge. If, for instance, the pattern has a gauge of 4 stitches = 1" and you want to decrease the waist by 1½", you need to decrease 6 stitches. To decrease 6 stitches, work 2 stitches together at each end of the row for three rows. Work even until just above your natural waist. Then increase for the bust by working 2 stitches in each row-end stitch until you reach the bust measurement. For a more even edge, work decreases and increases one stitch in from each end.

Darts are a more tailored way of shaping. Darts create gracefully defined shaping on the front, or back, of a garment. For a bottom-up sweater, work as written to about an inch below the waist. Mark a stitch about 1/3 of the way in from the left edge of the piece and a second stitch about 1/3 of the way in from the right edge. To make the dart, decrease at the marked stitches by working 2 stitches together; move the marker up each row. Decrease each row until the waist measures your desired size; note that decreasing more than a few inches will distort the fabric. Then work even to just above your natural waist. Now increase by working 2 stitches in each marked stitch until fabric is wide enough for the bust.

If you need to increase the bust by more than a couple of inches, you'll need another kind of shaping. Stay tuned and we'll tell you about it in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, pull out your swatching yarn and crochet up a little sample. Thumb back through your old issues of Interweave Crochet to find those sweaters you thought you couldn't make because the sizes didn't measure up to your own shape. Consider how darts and edge shaping can make that sweater work for you.

And to crochet a sweater tailor made for darts, see Annie Modesitt's graceful South of the Border Jacket.

Best wishes,


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