Knitting for the fuller figure....

Happy new year from the UK.

We went shopping with some friends of ours before Christmas and came across a rather fetching waistcoat/tunic affair in a very nice shop. It was knitted in 1x1 rib and straight... By which I mean no hem.

Our friend who tried it on was very disappointed by the fit and I glibly said that I'd knit one for him. So we came home and over tea I got out the tape measure. Our friend has a 'fuller figure' and I'm wondering how to make something fit nicely when the measurement across the back is quite a lot less than the measurement found the front....Any ideas?

I'm posting a couple of pictures as my brother at 46 is expecting his first baby and I, also in my forties, are about to be a very splendid uncle for the first time. So a baby blanket from some lovely hand dyed wool from Pam Murray in Orkney and a cardigan from a lovely book by vibe ulrik Sondergaard called 'lullaby Knits!

Wishing you everything good in 2015

David x

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cobwebmsnd's picture

Depending on the design of the garment, the easiest thing to do in order to knit for a fuller figure is to make the back one size and the front the larger size. However, this would not be desired if the item has a fitted shape, or if they have narrow shoulders (more an issue for women than men). The more complicated, but effective way to knit around curves is to knit according to the size of one's ribcage (rather than the bust size for women or the larger of the waist or chest size for men) and add vertical darts and short rows to accommodate for the added width and length needed for the extra curves. It's not for the faint of heart, but if done properly, nothing will ever fit them as well. Not knowing if you friend is a man or a woman, I'll do a brief description of both. You may need to get the tape measure back out, I'm afraid. I recommend finding a pattern that has a detailed schematic of all the measurements and shaping involved - and finding and maintaining proper gauge will be more important than ever.

For a woman, you'll need to get the measurement under the bust, around the rib cage and select the size of the sweater based on that measurement for the bust, rather than the full bust measurement. For a 1x1 rib, you probably wouldn't want to add bust darts, as they would interrupt the pattern and the fabric will stretch to allow for some extra size, but you may want to hide some increases at the edge of the arms to add a bit more ease if the difference between the front and back measurement is more than 6-8 inches. Most importantly, you'll need to measure from the top of the shoulder to the waist, over the shoulder blades in the back and over the bust in the front. Subtract the first number from the second and that is how much extra length is needed to accommodate the bust and prevent the front from riding up as it stretches over the bust. I recommend one set of short rows for every inch or two of added length, with each set separated by a few rows. This makes it easier to hide the short rows under the arms instead of having a dramatic line in the fabric. The arm scythes can be tricky, as some women with carry more weight in their arms than others, but proper measurement (or possibly measuring a favorite piece of clothing) should confirm and question on what size in the pattern to use.

For men, if their bellies are larger than their chest (for instance), depending on the design, once again, for a bottom-up sweater, you can cast on for the larger size in the front and knit to the height of the widest measurement, then use decreases (evenly spaced for stockinette, at the sides for ribbing) to reduce the size down to the pattern size for the chest and follow the pattern for the arms and neck. You'll also need short rows in the front, just as described above, but along the side seams above and below the widest measurement, rather than at the arm-holes.

Knitting Daily has some fairly good instruction on garment shaping in their tutorials section. There is also a great group on Ravelry called "The Bust Line" that has some fantastic information in their group pages on all this stuff. Hope that's helpful!

I've never knitted a sweater (yet?) but -- wouldn't the goal really be to create an illusion of a more triangular shape so it's flattering to wear, rather than just making it a shaped item to accommodate the shape of the individual? Dropped shoulders, darker color, maybe (subtle) angled vertical stripes?

cacunn's picture

Please forgive me for not speaking the Queen's English, being one of the rebel upstarts, in America I need to check my understanding of terms.

I understand a waistcoat to be similar to the U.S. vest with buttons in the front and tunic to be a U.S. pullover vest with no buttons.

For a vest/waistcoat could you use the Knitting Daily's "Classic Camel Vest" as a start. This comes in different sizes up to 52 inches (21 cm).

With a vest/waistcoat pattern could you knit the back to the size given in the Classic Camel Vest, use the pattern for the front, while adding additional stitches for the belly area. As you move up from the waist decrease the number of stitches along the front button line.

What are your brother's measurements?

Having not knit a sweater or waistcoat/tunic I am not sure how effective this would be.

cacunn's picture

Have you looked at the Knittingfool's sweater pattern generator?