advertisement

Free EBooks

Topics

Tags

Knit For Your Shape: Waist Q & A

Feb 28, 2008

Lots of interesting questions in your comments this week, so I pulled out a few to answer in the hopes that together we can clarify some of this! In the end, though, remember that the important part is to know your body's shape and be able to transfer that knowledge to your knitting. The terminology is just there to help describe certain things. If the fancy terms don't help you, then...don't use them! Find another way to document and work with your own shapely self.


Sarah L:
I always thought being long-waisted or short-waisted was related to the proportion of your torso to your legs. I am tall, and have more torso than the average tall girl, so I have to adjust my tops and dresses accordingly. If that's not being long-waisted, what would you call it?

Sandi:
I would call that "having a long torso." Realize that "body shape" terminology can be used very inconsistently from one "expert" to another! (Welcome to the wacky world of fashion.) As for "long-waisted" being related to your height: I would argue that the length of your legs has very little effect on how your sweaters fit the curves of your torso! If you are in a wheelchair, the proportions of your torso remain the same as if you were standing; if your legs lengthen due to some sort of bone condition, your waist stays in the same place. If you are long-legged, you might wish to add a bit of length to your hems, but you wouldn't have to adjust the waist shaping because of your leg length. I like Katie's comment on this point best:

Katie H:
You can have a long torso and be short-waisted, or the other way around. The short- or long-waisted measurements only have to do with where *your* waist falls on *your* torso, no matter its overall length.


Stef M:
This gives me one (neck-to-waist) measurement in front and an entirely different one in back. As well as long waisted and short waisted I guess some of us also need front waisted and back waisted? And do I measure following the contour of my belly? Or straight up and down?

Sandi:
In this exercise, we were strictly looking at proportions rather than actual measurements; the tape measure was just an aid to helping you visualize. Again: Look at yourself in the mirror. Is your waist closer to your neck (short-waisted) or closer to your crotch (long-waisted)? You will need to know more exact measurements for fitting your sweaters once we get to that part of the Knit For Your Shape series—and yes, there, it is very possible that you will have a different front waist measurement than back waist.


Marisa L:
I'm also confused about where my official "waist" is.

Sandi:
Instructions on finding your waist and how-to-measure photos are here.



Bertha: Long waist, short midriff

Kelley D:
Okay, so I understood that the length of waist was the measurement from hip bone to rib bone....only an inch or less on me, but as much as 6 inches on other girls. So I am short waisted, but the other girls would be long waisted.

Sandi:
This is one of those "experts using the same terms for different things and making us all wacky from confusion" thingies. In truth, there really isn't an official term for this. I call it the "midriff length" but that's just my little terminology. So take a look at Bertha: She has a long waist, but a short midriff length. I, on the other hand, have a long waist and a long midriff length.


Laurie R:
You don't need to be totally bare, but if you're going to wear something, they need to be close fitting. As for the drawing...why not do what we did as kids? Grab a roll of newsprint or butcher paper, tape it to a wall (using as many sheets as you need to since those of us more generously endowed might need the wider width), and have a friend draw you. I guess you could lie down on the paper, but I don't know how accurate it would be since our bodies change depending on whether we're standing, sitting, or lying down.

Sandi:
I love it! And no, you do not have to be in your birthday suit. It is actually preferable (and easier) to do this in your bra and underpants, as these give you the actual shape that you "wear" under your sweaters. Just be careful you do not use a purple crayon on a painted white wall ;)


 

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.

  

Knit Cardigan Patterns From Knitting Daily: 7 FREE Knitting Patterns

Every knitter has dreamed of the perfect cardigan pattern that he or she might knit some day. From a cozy cable knit to luminous lace, this free ebook will be your dream come true. This is a wonderful and varied collection of cardigans-which is one of the most important pieces in your wardrobe. You'll want to make every one of these knit cardigan patterns, so download your free eBook now and get started (and don’t forget to tell a friend so they can enjoy their own copy!).

Download Your Free eBook Today

 

 


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

lkimc wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 9:42 AM
This is great stuff! Thanks so much. Is is possible to accomplish waist shaping just from changing needle size? If so, how many sizes is it necessary to go down to see any significant shaping without affecting the look of the sweater?
DJS wrote
on Mar 5, 2008 7:18 PM
Maggie Righetti has some good pointers about this knitting/fitting thing in her book 'Knitting in Plain English'. She had dressmaking experience before she started knitting, and so brings a good perspective to the forum.
PattW wrote
on Mar 4, 2008 10:37 AM
This is a very interesting topic for me because I have scoliosis. It is mild, but enough to notice some things. The measurement of my hip bone to rib bone is different on each side. Enough to notice! When I wear pants one leg is longer than the other, so I have to hem one shorter to make them look right. As for skirts, if they are too close fitting, you can definately see them bias. This can also be corrected with clever hemming. Some of the longer and looser sweaters can bias on me too. Using short rows on one side of my sweater helps hide the difference. Some sweaters, I can block to make longer on one side than the other. As I age, the curve of my spine gets worse. But for now most everyone says they do not notice. Thanks to clever dressmaking skills and the knowledge of my body shape I am able to avoid looking too "bent out of shape."
PattW wrote
on Mar 4, 2008 10:37 AM
This is a very interesting topic for me because I have scoliosis. It is mild, but enough to notice some things. The measurement of my hip bone to rib bone is different on each side. Enough to notice! When I wear pants one leg is longer than the other, so I have to hem one shorter to make them look right. As for skirts, if they are too close fitting, you can definately see them bias. This can also be corrected with clever hemming. Some of the longer and looser sweaters can bias on me too. Using short rows on one side of my sweater helps hide the difference. Some sweaters, I can block to make longer on one side than the other. As I age, the curve of my spine gets worse. But for now most everyone says they do not notice. Thanks to clever dressmaking skills and the knowledge of my body shape I am able to avoid looking too "bent out of shape."
LaurieR wrote
on Mar 4, 2008 8:27 AM
Wow...so many amazing tips! I especially like Stacy W.'s tip! Thanks everyone!
LauraD@3 wrote
on Mar 3, 2008 10:04 AM
Sandi, I think the correct term for the length from your crotch to your waist is the rise. The easiest way to find your waist is to stand upright facing a mirror and bend to the side. The place where you have a crease when you bend is your waist. If you are high waisted this will be farther away from your crotch than it would be if you were short waisted.

Laura Duren
TonitaD wrote
on Mar 3, 2008 9:25 AM
An easy way to find your waist is to stand up straight facing a mirror. Bend to the left or right keeping the hips facing straight. The natural bend between hip and torso would be your natural waist. You may wear your clothing above or below depending on personal comfort.
Toni wrote
on Mar 2, 2008 10:43 PM
Ohmygoodness, thank you! That is so helpful, especially the "how to measure" link. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
DianeB wrote
on Mar 2, 2008 12:16 AM
I'm supposed to have a waist???
DianeB wrote
on Mar 2, 2008 12:16 AM
I'm supposed to have a waist???
JaneG wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 9:03 PM
I have a comment on all your posts in general- and a question- I have notices that all the pictures of sweaters that you post look good - granted some look better on some people more than others - but the seaters themselves are all beautiful. Now I don't wish to cast disparaging remarks, but I have noticed that in some magazines and catalogs, the knitted items look amateurish and not very pretty. And some of these are items that I have seen elsewhere looking super! Again, without nameing names, I have noticed that the sweaters in the Knit Pics catalog all look bad- there isn't one of them that I would consider knitting based on their pictures. I would like to know why that is, because if I spend alot of time knitting something, I certainly want it to look good when it is finished. Is it lack of blocking? I would love to read your ideas on this...
StacyW wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 2:00 PM
As an old-hand dressmaker from the theater costume trade, I'd like to share a really good way to identify "waist". Take a piece of something like string - yarn is okay, but narrow elastic is best. Give it a little stretch and tie it around your middle. Now, do that calisthenics stretch thing - you know, arms over head, bend to side-side-front-back. The elastic will roll to a natural settling point on your body. THAT is your waist. NOW, the important part; LEAVE THAT MARKER IN PLACE while you take the relative length measurements, because that ensures you are always measuring to, and from, the same line! (This method will identify pretty much the same point that our Hostess Sandi describes, and will mark your place for you!)
Lynn G. wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 10:37 AM
I'm like Adrienne L.'s sister, with the super-long torso (or midriff, according to Sandi's term), but I'm only 5'2" tall. So, if her sister is ridiculously long-torso'd, then I'm super-ridiculous. I'm also long-waisted, by the definition Sandi gave the other day. Maybe super-long-waisted since there is only about 2 inches between my waist and my hip bones but a very long expanse from my waist up to my collar bone. Even the long rise that I have for my short height doesn't help to compensate for this. I wouldn't be surprised if the measurement from waist to collar bone was double the distance from waist to crotch. I guess this means that my sweaters should be knit longer than the pattern indicates for the very smallest size offered.
BarbaraH wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 9:19 AM
Re the debate about high waisted or low waisted, my husband says that when he was a lad the girlwatcher's term was "high assed or low assed" perhaps this clarifies the question a bit, but then again, maybe not.
JaniceC wrote
on Mar 1, 2008 12:15 AM
Hi
Here is my 2 cents worth about measuring. I am apple shaped and don't have bones I can feel. (And am a long time sewer.)
Waist - tie thin elastic - the cheap kind - you can also use string but elastic is best - around your "waist" - the thinnest part of your body between your bum and your bust. If you have 2 or 3 thin parts of your body (yup, I have "two waists"!!), put it around the top one. Now here is the scientific part :) - bend over from side to side a couple of times (the elastic will move [roll] to the proper spot). Where does the elastic end up? That is your waist. Your waist is where your body BENDS.

Hips - my waist is the largest size of my body and my hips are the smallest (My bust size is in between the two!). What I do is find the widest part of my bum and measure that. If you have thunder thighs, measure that too. If the thighs are larger than the hip measurement, use that measurement for comfort.

I would add to the bust measurement - put two fingers under the tape when measuring across the widest part of the bust. Do not squish yourself or your friend! If you are measuring someone else, face their back. Make sure the tape measure runs parrallel to the floor.
JenniferH wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 10:27 PM
Oh, rise! That one always got me. Mom would wear juniors [shorter in the rise] & I would wear Misses [longer there].
Actually, I really don't like to wear pants, much, because they are uncomfortable & hurt my back, while skirts don't. But, the short/long waist & the rise, still apply.
Thanks so much, everyone.
Linuxwitch wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 8:10 PM
I'm also with Julia S on the waist length being the distance between the floating rib and hip bone. I have a VERY short waist (approximately 1") and am just shy of 6'... my sister who is 5'10" has a ridiculously long waist at about 5 or 6". It might be interesting to do an informal poll on torso dimensions!
Linuxwitch wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 8:04 PM
I think the term you're looking for instead of "midriff" is "rise". It's a critical measurement when drafting trouser patterns, and is taken from the waist level in center front down between the legs and back up to the center waist in the back. Typically, the waist level is higher in the back than in the front (i.e. your waist line isn't parallel to the ground).
CatherineL wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 6:10 PM
Hi Sandi
your Sister (or is it Cousin) Magazine "Threads" had a great article on how to make your very own personalized "Bertha" using duct tape and enlisting the aid of a friend. I have yet to do it because I don't want to clone myself at my present size. I keep thinking I will get around to downsizing and THEN I'll do it. Hmm looks as if I'll never get it done at this rate.
Article: Clone Yourself a Fitting Assistant
http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002_p2.asp
cathy
KayA wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 6:02 PM
I'm five feet tall, long-waisted, and very curvy, so clothes shopping is a nightmare. Here's to hoping this Knit For Your Shape series keeps helping me figure out what alterations to make and where.
SaraJ wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 5:34 PM
Thanks for taking and answering these Sandi, it really helped clear things up for me! I neeeeed to go measure now, but I do need some assistance. At least to make sure things are going around straight and not dipping or raising as I'm measuring around. Sounds like it could be either "fun" for me and the hubby, or "frustrating" - sometimes he balks if he doesn't get the point of what I'm trying to do. Then again, the in the skivvies thing might help that issue (er, blush.)

Here's workin' up the courage to ask for some help! At least front side stuff I can see it all myself. Mostly. Lol.
Shelly@2 wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:38 PM
To add more terms to the confusion, growing up I learned high-waisted and low waisted. High-waisted meaning one's waist was closer to the neck, low closer to the hips.

I don't know that it would apply to people, but in dogs and horses a short distance between ribs and hips would be close-coupled.

I'm really enjoying all the information on fit, thanks.
MonicaE wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:32 PM
this is all very handy information, but I went to check the sweater pattern I am making and they give no finished measurements but the bust. This sweater is shaped at the waist. Being long waisted I added an inch to the waist length, but I'm not sure that will be enough. When I buy a bathrobe I always have to lower the belt loops by 2 inches so it doesn't tie around my ribcage.
KathieT wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:27 PM
As to Stef's concern about a front and back waist measurement,she's right on target. The front measurement is taken from the collarbone to the waist, but the back measurement is taken from that knob at the top of your spine to your waist. A simple jewel neck T-shirt will help visualize the two .
SarahL wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:18 PM
Sandi: "As for "long-waisted" being related to your height: I would argue that the length of your legs has very little effect on how your sweaters fit the curves of your torso!"

To clarify, I always used that term to explain why store-bought shirts are rarely long enough to look "right" on me. I ended up with a LOT of tops that showed belly or back as soon as I started moving around. I am loving the current trend to have shirts, sweaters and blouses come down to hip-length (past crotch-length on some people, just right on Sarah!).

As always, thanks for the great tips :-)
ViolaN wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:07 PM
I sewed professionally for a number of years. to obtain the torso length, tie the string around your waist or where your waist should be; then have a friend measure your BACK, from the bone at the base of the neck to your waist. (it's a good idea to have someone do all your measurements and be sure to keep them in a small notebook, date them and measure periodically to keep them updated as a person's body does change over the years.) I've never had a problem when knitting or sewing a garment for either myself or someone else. Viola
ViolaN wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:07 PM
I sewed professionally for a number of years. to obtain the torso length, tie the string around your waist or where your waist should be; then have a friend measure your BACK, from the bone at the base of the neck to your waist. (it's a good idea to have someone do all your measurements and be sure to keep them in a small notebook, date them and measure periodically to keep them updated as a person's body does change over the years.) I've never had a problem when knitting or sewing a garment for either myself or someone else. Viola
Cfbandit wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 4:05 PM
I think I'm starting to understand this a little.

I am long waisted (by an inch and a half) but I have a shorter torso than most people, so that's why things fit me oddly. I'm always cutting shirts down, tucking things in, etc.

Interesting. Now I want to go home and retake all of my measurements to double check!
Happygoo25 wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 3:51 PM
Loren C that is a perfect illustration! I am petite with a short back-waist-length but cannot wear petite clothing because the waist shaping is always too high and everything looks like it shrunk. When I sew my own clothes I never shorten the front-waist-length but usually take out length in the back with a horizontal dart before cutting out my fabric.

Now that we are learning about shaping in knitting I am understanding better how to make alterations in sewing.
LorenC wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 3:29 PM
Sandi, I am both long-torso'd and long-waisted. As a former tailor, I know this, but here's some evidence, and an easy way to tell. If I go to a store and try on a dress with a fitted waist, the waist-band invariably hits me in the middle of my ribs! It's oh-so-obvious that it's way above my waist. Anyone who's had this experience frequently is long-waisted. I've been adding an inch to the above-waist measurements of things I sew--and knit--since I was 16!
JuliaS wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 1:25 PM
I was under the impression that short vs long waisted depended on how close your rib cage was to your hip bones. I'm not sure how finding that I am actually long waisted (17 in above waist and 10.5 below) will change the way I dress, though.
JuliaS wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 1:25 PM
I was under the impression that short vs long waisted depended on how close your rib cage was to your hip bones. I'm not sure how finding that I am actually long waisted (17 in above waist and 10.5 below) will change the way I dress, though.
YavannaR wrote
on Feb 29, 2008 1:08 PM
thanks for the additional pics. I'm a very visual person, as I'm sure many of us here are, and so this really helps clarify the terms etc.

I measured myself today and it seems I am short torso but long waisted. I always just assumed I was short waisted because of my overall body proportions.This should really help me with fit when fit really matters.