knit to fit for men

WillyG's picture

I like to teach. One of the best ways for me to learn something is to teach it; otherwise, I find it difficult to buckle down and do the homework. So when a LYS owner asked if I'd be interested in teaching "knit to fit," I decided it is time I tackle the elusive concept of fitting a sweater. So, of course, before I can tackle fitting a women's sweater, I should probably figure out how to have a sweater that fits me really well.

There are some wonderful resources available, including some Craftsy courses (I bought into Amy Herzog's class), as well as a book I have by Ysolda Teague. The information is great, and the "how to" makes a lot of sense: you take a series of measurements, and use them to custom-fit a garment that fits your specific shape. Great. But there are certain shapes and lines that are generally considered "flattering," and these resources don't really touch on men's bodies at all. For women, curvy and balanced is considered a good thing. What about for men? What kind of broad strokes are helpful in guiding the look I should aim for? The ideal I always think of is the triangular V-shape. The fashion magazines talk about different builds, but the models are still proportional for their build.

I have used sweater recipes and try-on-as-you-go methods, and knit a few sweater vests, but I have yet to make something that I feel really good in. I'm out of shape, but not heavy-set. Sweater vests seem to emphasize my small shoulders and give me man boob and a belly. And the couple full sweaters I've made have way too much fabric in the back. In the resources I'm using, the answer for the fabric in the back would be to use fewer stitches to follow the waist, creating a curvy hourglass effect. Shaping at the back would create a curvy look. But I'm not sure how to work it for a masculine look. I'm thinking some shaping should exist, but draw the sweater in toward the waist, without expanding for hips - the upside-down triangle, or V-shape. Right? And using a stiffer fabric would help with a better sense of bulk than something slinky, minimizing man-boob and belly. Am I on the right track? Does anyone have any pointers from the mysterious world of sewing that might help?


superi's picture

Sweater Design in Plain

Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti is also a great source book.

AKQGuy's picture

My suggestion is that you

My suggestion is that you should take a sweater form your own closet that you have bought that flatters you well. Heck, a good fitting t-shirt can work two. Measure it's panels by depth and width in several spots and see what that compares to on your pattern and change the pattern to reflect these shapings.

WillyG's picture

Even the sweater I have that

Even the sweater I have that fits okay is a hand-me-down, heheh! I'm definitely gonna measure it. Thanks, Quinton.

Bill's picture

Willy, a lot of it is common

a lot of it is common sense. Emphasize things you want people to see, de-emphasize things you don't want them to see.
(there's a reason for darker sides)
Use flattering colour near the face.
Use vertical or horizontal lines and shapes.
Skimming the body, if it's not perfect, is better than form fitting it.
There is almost nothing written for men...all for women...but the principles are the same.
(...although you might skip using a rhinestone broach to draw attention to your cleavage....)

WillyG's picture

Man, Bill, I guess I have to

Man, Bill, I guess I have to rethink my accessories...

By skimming, do you mean "shaped so that it traces the body, but still with positive ease"?

And, pardon my lack of common sense, what do you mean by "darker sides"? My mind went to Darth Vader...

Bill's picture

Look at opera costumes...the

Look at opera costumes...the Wagnerian soprano in black velvet with a silver panel down the center. Look at women's dresses that have darker panels on the side and a light one in the center.
What that translates to for keep the accents in the center, not sides,
Don't put the most important cables on the sides...keep them centered.
Call people's attention to the parts you want them to notice.
If you put an accent horizontal stripe on your probably should be at chest level...not tummy level....

Tallguy's picture

I remember seeing photos of

I remember seeing photos of Mae West, before they were touched up, and discovered she was rather short, and thick-waisted! But she always wore black panels at the sides of her outfits, and always stood in front of a black background. That was so it could easily be retouched to create a slim waist without it looking obvious!

Use cables, or travelling stitches to draw diagonal lines at the back, or sides. Use fewer stitches at the waist and then increase towards the broad manly shoulders! Patterns are only guides, you know; they are not meant to be followed blindly! (from EZ)

WillyG's picture

Oh, now I get it! Thanks for

Oh, now I get it! Thanks for the illumination! I tend to forget all the places you've been...

So Charlie Brown could probably use a fashion-savvy friend to let him in on the secret about the accent stripe...

Bill's picture

I'll bet Charles Schultz put

I'll bet Charles Schultz put it there for exactly that reason....LOL

Nehkhasi's picture

Waiting to hear some of these

Waiting to hear some of these answers, because these are some things I'm interested in and would like to learn myself. There's a lot of knowledge amongst the gentlemen on this site.

WillyG's picture

There definitely is. This is

There definitely is. This is probably the best place online that I've found in terms of being surrounded by friendliness and expertise. I don't know why I'm not on here more often.

Nehkhasi's picture

For me Willy, I think that I

For me Willy, I think that I had to be humbled by the needles and the yarn, but I'm back, hopefully more consistently. :-)