Knit 101: Finding the Perfect Fit

One of the best things about making your own clothing is that you can modify the design to fit your body. As I’m sure you know, off-the-rack clothing often doesn’t fit quite right: the sleeves are too long or too short, the waist gaps or pinches, the legs are too tight or too loose. That’s why we knit: to make garments that fit and flatter our bodies, no matter our shape. (For more on fit and understanding body types, check out our fantastic ongoing “Focus on Fit” series.

As I embarked on this sweater-making journey, I spent some time talking with project editing guru Laura Hulslander about the pattern for my chosen project, the Killarney Tunic by Sarah Solomon (Interweave Knits Winter 2017). We discussed the basics—sizing, gauge, notions, stitch patterns—but we also went over what, if any, modifications I might want to make. We still have the sample tunic photographed for the issue kicking around the office, so I was able to try it on and see what I liked and what I might want to change (that’s one of the perks of working at Interweave!).

perfect fit

Left: The Killarney Tunic on our lovely (and much taller) model. Right: The Killarney Tunic on yours truly. Even allowing for the fact that the sample is two sizes larger than the tunic I plan to make, you can see why I want to make modifications to create a more flattering fit for my petite frame.

Disregarding the fact that the sample is not in the size I’ll be making, I immediately noticed a few things I wanted to change, starting with the overall length. This tunic is meant to be long, but super-long garments make me, a petite person, look stumpy. In my selected size, the tunic will be just over twenty-eight inches long, which is a bit much for me; I plan to shorten the body from nineteen inches to sixteen inches for an overall length of just over twenty-five inches.

There’s no hip, waist, or bust shaping in this tunic—it’s designed to fit loosely in all sizes—so I don’t need to worry about any possible modifications there. Thank goodness! (If the sweater did have shaping and I wanted to shorten it, I’d have to think about adjusting the shaping, too.)

perfect fit

Shown Here: The schematics for the body and sleeves of the tunic.

I also plan to modify the length of the collar. I’ve never been a big turtleneck fan (as a child, I practically strangled myself trying to pull off the turtlenecks my mom dressed me in to protect me from the frigid North Dakota winters), so I plan to shorten the collar a few inches for a more comfortable fit. Because the collar is worked at the end, I can try on the (mostly) finished piece as I go to see what feels right.

If I’m feeling ambitious, I might try to adjust the sleeve circumference. I prefer a fairly tight fit in my sleeves, and the ones in this tunic are a bit looser than I would like. Sleeve fit is not a deal-breaker for me, though, so if my skills aren’t up to it I might not pursue this modification. (Although Love of Knitting editor and knitting pro Deb Gerish tells me that adjusting the sleeve circumference is pretty easy—it just requires increases or decreases in the sleeve taper with minimal math. Maybe by this point in my knitting I’ll be feeling up to the challenge!)

I’m really looking forward to making this sweater my own! Getting that just-right fit will be so satisfying—and flattering!

Happy sweater knitting,


P.S. If it seems like I’m stalling on starting this project . . . you’re right. Unfortunately, I’ve hit a snag with the yarn I wanted to use, so I’m diving deep into understanding this pattern while I figure out a good yarn substitution. More on that next week!

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