Knitting for plus sizes: a matter of ease
Ease. We throw this term around quite a bit. We know it means the amount of extra space between you and your sweater—or the lack thereof. We talk about fit and flattering your shape and on and on, but ease is more than just a matter of practical preference. Ease affects style.
Look at the Williamsburg Cardigan from the Fall issue of Interweave Knits. The sample garment measures 42.5” at the bust, modeled on a woman with a 34” actual bust. That makes for 8.5” of positive ease. The look is dramatic, oversized—but so elegant, so Katharine Hepburn in its long square silhouette hanging from the shoulder. The nod to menswear, via toggle buttons and a left-front buttonhole band (conventional in men’s clothing), is really accentuated by the generous ease.
This design illustrates the point I’m slowly getting to—body-conscious fit may be figure-flattering, but it does not always adhere to one’s sense of style. We can cram dressing rules down your throat, al a Stacey and Clinton, but what about individuality? If you want drape and drama, go for lots of ease.
In the opposite direction, negative ease can work stylistically for plus sizes, too. I am working on the Olivier Pullover from Interweave Knits Weekend—with quite a few mods—but I am loving the super-elastic body ribbing. I would never have considered working a cropped hemline with a 7” + deep ribbed band. I have no waist, what am I thinking? But the dramatic blousing of the top of the sweater, in contrast to that ribbing, really is flattering on me. And the ribbing is generous enough, in its lateral stretch, that it doesn’t buckle at the side seams or look strained. It just hugs in. But more than anything, this sweater has style. The vintage form, worked here in a chunky yarn, fits my dressy but androgynous approach to dressing. It is feminine, but not girly. It fits me, and it fits me.
Think about ease when choosing a size, but also think about ease as part of design. What does the fit of your sweater say about you?