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Waist Shaping: Not Just For Waists Anymore

Mar 6, 2008

Stef M. and Tephra both brought up a concern that has been echoed by many folks: What if your waist is not the narrowest part of your torso? And a related question: What if your waist is not something you really want to highlight—but there is another part of you that you DO want to highlight?

How about some underbust shaping?

Well, we're not Waist Snobs around here. No one here says you can only use waist shaping on actual waists.

Perhaps it would help if we chucked the usage of the word "waist" for a bit and just said: Shaping. Shaping is not just for hourglass figures, nor just for those whose waist truly is their narrowest bit. Shaping is for EVERYONE—but YOU are the one who gets to say where you want your shaping to be.

I'm going to paraphrase the amazing Elizabeth Zimmermann here (I don't think she'd mind a bit) and say: Be the boss of your shaping.

Be. The. Boss. Use shaping to highlight what you like, and to draw attention away from what you don't. It's not about what any fancy TV show says you ought to wear; it's about finding out what makes you feel confident, attractive, and looking like YOU (not like whatever Hollywood says you ought to look like).

After all: You are in control of your knitting needles. (They pretty much have to obey you, since the pointy little darlings do not have brains of their own.) So make 'em make you look good!

Here's an example: If you have a large belly, and your narrowest part is actually your underbust, plus you have an attractive bustline, then who needs waist shaping? Try a bit of underbust shaping instead. But guess what? The same principles apply, no matter what you call it. You would work staggered decrease rows continuously from hem to underbust, then increase to give enough room for The Ladies. You might even consider something like the Printed Silk Cardigan. That's perfect for a gal with larger bottom half and a pretty, but smaller, bustline!

Let me know what you think! What do you think of the Knit to Fit Your Shape series? Has it inspired you to knit something you might not have otherwise tried? Is the information too hard, too soft, or juuuuust right? Your comments and feedback help me to know what you want to see on Knitting Daily, so speak up and be heard!

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I'm working away on the Gathered Pullover, which spent some time in the meditation pond, and also on the Secret Project. But I've also been spinning and beading and making all kinds of crafty trouble.

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CarolW wrote
on Apr 11, 2008 8:03 PM
I was interrupted, and didn't print out the armhole gusset how-to. It makes a wonderful difference--I'm 5 feet 4 inches, and weigh 82 lbs, so it SHOWS on my literally bony no-shape Please do it again. I don't do blogging well--don't know what all the envelopes,etc, mean where and to which person yet. thanks. carol Chemo med = weight problem.
Suzanne King wrote
on Mar 20, 2008 7:25 PM
I love the knit to fit your shape series - all these years of knitting and I never knew - Thank you so much. Can you recommned a patten for a large busted woman and sort of large bottom.
pamphish wrote
on Mar 19, 2008 2:35 PM
These are great posts. I hate to shop for clothing & I usually wear draped, sack-like tops because the selections are so awful at out local stores. This is why I started crocheting again & why I taught myself to knit: so I'd have more choices. Recently, I found a great sweater that actually has the specific shaping that fits my chest & waist, so I bought two. It looks great on me, ever without jewelry. My body looks totally different. The idea that I can knit the correct shape for my body into my clothing comes home to me now & completely changes my outlook on fashions for my body. This will change my life.
DeeJ@2 wrote
on Mar 19, 2008 10:43 AM
The most complete info. on this topic ever. I've saved it all!
on Mar 17, 2008 6:26 PM
In answer to your question about the shaping series - I love it! This is just the type of information that I'm looking for.

I'm really enjoying Knitting Daily - thanks so much for listening to all of us!

P.S. - I have successfully achieved some nice subtle shaping results by just changing needle sizes. I choose a size smaller needles for a few inches where my waist falls. Simple and effective!
RachelD wrote
on Mar 14, 2008 7:23 AM
I'm a really tall gal and while I have learned so much over the series about waist shaping and ease, my problem lies with pattern armholes not being large enough. Most cute close-fitting sweaters have 7.5" or smaller armholes for size 34/36 where I need more like 8.5 or 9" armholes (measured pit to top of shoulder). I would be interested in learning how to lengthen this part of a sweater. It is so daunting because you have to fit a sleeve in the armhole. Thanks for your consideration in adding this to the series~
conharwell2 wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 11:48 PM
Okay, I'm fearless now! Your series on making a sweater fit your shape have inspired me to make my first sweater. I know I can do it now. And, if I run into trouble, Sandi is only an email away. Right?
Connie in Texas
Lynn G. wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 10:52 PM
I think you're handling this shaping series in a very manageable clear way, perhaps a bit too simplified, but that's better than too complicated. Where to distribute the decreases/increases across a row or round would be nice to know...

Also, a comment: I decided to resubscribe to Interweave Knits after a break, and I love a few of the spring patterns that do seem suitable style-wise for small women, but still, the smallest size is not quite small enough for me in all but one pattern, and I don't know if I should choose a thinner yarn and tighter gauge or do math-gymnastics to try to calculate a smaller size. Interestingly, the Spring issue that just was posted includes some spring tops that are similar to the ones in the current issue of IK, but the smallest sizes in this case ARE small enough. So, if there is any way that you can get the editors to extend the size range at IK just one or two notches further in either direction, that would really be helpful. It's one thing to learn how to shape things and another thing entirely to know that not a single dimension will be small enough for me, and that I have to rewrite the whole pattern. I'm disabled and not up to that much work. Thanks!
PiaP wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 1:24 PM
Your "knit to fit" series is fantastic! I've learned SO much. Even tho' I am on the petite end of the scale, I still have the same 'fit' problems. Most patterns are too boxy, too big in the arms, too long, etc. Your tips have given me the info I need to downsize things where I need it. Keep up the good work!
Megan wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 1:03 PM
I like the way the waist of the printed silk cardi falls lower on Bertha. How does the pattern need to be altered in order to get the waist lower?
LorraineL wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 8:52 AM
Because of the information that has been shared on the shaping and fearless knitting, I was able to knit a sweater for my daughter that actually fit her - she has a beautiful hourglass figure. With the wrong fit she ends up looking huge or at times even pregnant. Not the look she is going for at this time. I now have enough gumption to rip out and re-do a shapeless sweater that I did for her a few years ago - cabled and gorgeous, just unwearable. I look forward to learning more and being encouraged. Thanks!!!
Starlight59 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 7:20 PM
did you ever get to publishing the info on bust darts? just wondering if i missed that.

jacksonville,state of jefferson
DeborahT wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 7:16 PM
I think the instructions and posts for waist shaping are great. I'm trying out shaping in my version of Rambling Rose (IK Winter 2006), which I am making in one piece, with 4 added scallops to account for my large hips, and decreasing at the sides for waist shaping. I'll see how it turns out.
LisaM@9 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 6:22 PM
Do the same rules apply to increasing and decreasing ease?
AveryK wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 6:14 PM
p.s. to my post.

Thanks to Bella Filati in Southern Pines NC for this tip:

If you want to convert meters to yards, add 1/10th to the meter measurement. So if you have 90 meters, you have about 99 yards. And if you want to convert yards to meters, subtract 1/10th. Or if you have a calculator,
yards = meters*1.10
AveryK wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 6:06 PM
Bonjour Laetitia M!

Re: inch to cm conversion,
will do the inch to cm conversion for you. Manually, multiply inch measurement by 2.54 to get the cm. And multiply cm measurement by 0.393 to get the inches. Example: you know from yarn labels that 4 inches is about 10 cm. So 4*2.54=10.16 and 10*0.393=3.93.

Hope this helps!

MarieR wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 1:55 PM
Since I am the proverbial apple, I have always had to find a way to make sweater patterns fit, and it doesn't always work. Thanks for all the effort put into helping ladies like me figure out easier and better ways to do so!
ChristyT wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 1:31 PM
That is great! Can you let us know what is going on with the "Best of Interweave" patterns we voted on awhile ago? My stash is dying to be used up on some of those beautiful projects!
GloriaF wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 1:25 PM
I have loved the series and hope you keep it up. I'm a 65 year old that needs help with shaping. I'm shaped almost like a cupie doll...just not as cute. Thanks for all the help. XOXO
DeirdreL wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 12:49 PM
I love your series on shaping, especially your comments on "the ladies." My "ladies" have increased in size with age, which means I now actually have a bust. I love designs with a shaped waist, because they flatter my new, post-menopausal shape.

CherylS wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 12:38 PM
This has been quite helpful & a good resource for future reference. My guess is that I am not the only one who has spent countless hours knitting up a garment with exquisite yarn only to be disappointed by the final fit. The only permission I ever gave myself to deviate from a pattern was to shorten the sleeves. Your series on shaping make sense and gives me more confidence to alter patterns for a better fit for a less-than-perfect figure.

LauraC@5 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 12:30 PM
While all of these measurements seem like quite a bit of work, as someone who is truly hourglass, with a smaller waist and bigger hips, it will be a lifesaver.

Thank you for showing clothes on all body types. That is one thing missing in the fashion world.

Laura, Portland, OR
ChristineB@6 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 11:56 AM
As there is not a Crochet Daily email (we crocheters feel slighted), it should be noted in these emails that shaping works for both knitting and crochet.
Rebecca@2 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 11:49 AM
I do like to know about shaping because not only has it inspired me to knit but also sew pretty summer tops that I would not have because I had NO clue about how shaping works. Plus, I have to give you all KUDOS!!! about the patterns in the new Interweave Knitting - love the fact that you tell if the sweater on the model is positive or negative ease and how much. That is the greatest. Loving it. Please don't stop.
Anonymous wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 11:32 AM
I love the shaping series! My DD haas an elegant narrow waisr, but slightly hippy. I am going to knit the silk jacket for her. I am almost a box, with a camparatively small bust, so I may get brave and try shaping for me.
JohannaD wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 10:21 AM
I think the shaping series is great! Please keep on teaching us how to look as great on the outside as we are on the inside. You're making us all into shapeshifters.
IreneE wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 10:17 AM
since i consider myself an upside down pear (extremely top heavy naturally, no butt to speak of, tiny legs, a belly that has too much to it), it's hard for me to have the courage of knitting myself a sweater. even in stores, just when i think one cut looks better on me, i try it on and it doesn't hang quite right. i don't like anything that hugs "the ladies" but i also don't want to look 20lbs heavier because of all the extra fabric. this series of fitting has really helped!!! and i've actually casted on a sweater that i'm designing with the help of the owner of my lys!!!! any comments or suggestions on cuts that might work for me would be greatly appreciated!! thanks again for all the fabulous info!!
LaetitiaM wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 10:11 AM

Your posts are really great but I have one very important question: how can we girls from the Old old continent (namely France) deal with all theses weird mesearements in inches? The needle size is often mentionned in both sizes but I don't know where I can find a kind of table to translate inches in centimeters??
RobinL@2 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 9:58 AM
Love the waist shaping information! I am about to embark on my FIRST adult sized cardigan. Now I am confident I can move the shaping from the pattern to a location where I actually have an indent. Also,my other scary bit is how much to increase so the bust drapes nicely...I think i can figure it out now :)
RobinH@2 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 9:26 AM
Thanks for this series on shaping. I've been knitting a very long time, and am very comfortable dong the numbers for yarn substitution or size changes. But I've never tried shaping, as my shape is somewhat problematic (in that there's just too much of it!) I really am kearning something I can't wait to use.

ChrisP wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 9:08 AM
I love your emails! I was wondering if the orange semi-fitted cardigan pictured is available as a pattern for purchase?
Chris Prybylowski
Camilla WV wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 9:01 AM
Love this post; any all "making to measure" hints are useful, especially given gravity and "the ladies." Whatever happened to Sand's gathered top??
JeanneH wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:56 AM
Sandi, my compliments on the Shaping Series. I teach knitting classes in a yarn shop, and getting sweaters to fit and flatter is a challenge. The most important thing is to have good measurements. I found the initial post with the string going around the figure a good illustration. While no one with a big belly wants to emphasize it (unless she's pregnant!) the belly still needs to be taken into account when choosing a sweater style. Looking forward to more. - Jeanne
PixieB wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:54 AM
We teach a Sweater Construction and Design class here at WEBS in Northampton, so I sent the links for the fit your shape series to the instructor, who passed in on to her students. They have found it extremely helpful. So, thank you, Sandi, for the great series! Pixie, Education Manager, WEBS-America's Yarn Store
Youngsonpolk wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:33 AM
First I want to say that Sandi is the best. Every week day, I look forward to your posts! Your writing is imaginitive and fun to read. I love the fit you shape series. It really gives us the tools to alter an pattern to make sweaters that fit and look great.
Cinders wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:33 AM
Thanks for the shaping series. Please keep it coming.I'd loe you to adress the issue of larger ladies shaping. Alot of the jackets in the spring IK seemed to be knied for slim young things, which I'm not!!!
AmyE wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:21 AM
Your series on shaping is great. I think it really helps demystify the process. I am loving all the advice - but I have a question. I have a waistline and a 35" bust, but I have broad shoulders and narrow hips. That particular body shape doesn't seem to be mentioned by anyone. When I make a garment to fit my measurements it is often too tight at the armholes because of my wide shoulders. How can I fix this and how can I minimize the wideness of my shoulders? (I also have long arms, but I know how to deal with that.)
I will appreciate any thoughts. Thanks
Vis_Major wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 8:01 AM
I'm really enjoying the knit-to-fit series; it's great that you're demystifying the hows and whys of garment construction and guiding us towards creating garments that show off our best features.

I like the text based instructions, but for this kind of topic, I personally benefit from the "Step 1: Do This; Step 2: Do This Other Thing" model of instruction. However, I don't know how feasible it is for you to cover all that (overview plus specifics) for every knit-to-fit topic.

Hint, hint: If you were to go crazily in depth with this fit info in an Interweave Press book, I'd buy it.
ChristyH wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 7:32 AM
I find knitting daily very helpful. Perhaps IK could show some of us, or perhaps just me, HOW to make these changes to a sweater.
MARIEP@2 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 6:26 AM
I look forward to the newsletter everyday. Great information that is not readily available to knitters. I was wondering if you will talk about lenghthening sleeves at any time?
Fliss wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 4:58 AM
I second the request for it to go into easily readable form - maybe downloadable pdf? That way it could be printed off for ease of reference. My "saved newsletters" bit of my email is getting a bit full - thank you for such an informative series. You really do make one feel fearless(almost). Fliss
Fliss wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 4:50 AM
Totally see what you mean about putting the shaping where you want - that underbust shaping looked great. But there's quite a few of us out here who are skinny minnies and would welcome some help with using shaping to try and enhance what we haven't got!
JeanM@2 wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 4:49 AM
It is great!
For a year now I have been in a wheelchairdue to leg amputation, I have put on weight around the middle, did not know how to adjust for this, NOW I do thank you.
JaniceP wrote
on Mar 11, 2008 4:16 AM
trying to crochet "tyrtle sweater" by Robyn Chachula but there is nothing saying how many to chain to start the sweater. please help
AnnaM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 11:40 PM
I think the shaping talk is great! And I also think that the Spring designs are appropriate for many age groups and size groups. I'm 68 years, and a 1X on top and a 2X on the bottom, and the gently fitted shapes are really good on me!
The Printed Silk Cardigan will look lovely on full-figured folks, and it will NOT make you look pregnant! If you use color under the cardigan cleverly, you will be stunning: just make your pants and your top the same color, or tonally close colors, and let the cardigan be the accent color. If the pants and top are a receding color, they sort of disappear in emphasis, and the person who looks at you isn't worried about what is underneath the sweater.......
Try it!
KimberlyM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 11:39 PM
You are really helping me understand knitting. Now I know why no one wears the sweaters I knitted many years ago! This is great! My family will thank you, too.
DevaV wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 11:35 PM
This is a great series and perfect timing for me. I am trying to do some waist shaping right now in a sweater that already has some waist shaping but I don't want to go as small as the waist is in the pattern. I do have a couple of questions about altering the pattern, the first being when/where to space the decreases if you are not making the shaping as small as is published in the pattern? Do you just start later and do a couple of the decreases in the same places or do you space the decreases over the same amount of inches in the pattern?

I also am very curious about sleeve alterations. Thanks so much for these columns, I am picking up a lot of information it has been great!
on Mar 10, 2008 9:56 PM
I love the fitting/shaping information but don't feel sufficiently fearless (yet) to be able to apply it to a published pattern. Perhaps we need to encourage the pattern creators/publishers to give us some options, e.g., **here is the point at which you may want to adjust for bustline shaping; this patterns assumes ...
JoB wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 9:26 PM
Here's one of the many things I love about talking with other knitters -- to see a pattern through another's eyes. I looked at that issue and passed the printed silk cardigan right by. Now that you've pointed out this little factoid on the waist shaping, I'm giving it a second (and third look). Thank you!
on Mar 10, 2008 9:22 PM
Thanks Sandi. I really appreciate all you put into Knitting Daily and am very interested in the shaping instructions. I've just bought the Spring issue of Interweave Knits and am looking forward to putting your ideas into practice. I also want to change the neckline so that will be another challenge. Keep up the good work! I'm also dyeing of curiosity as to what the secret project is that you are still knitting!
Megan wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 9:18 PM
Oh sigh. The spring issue patterns are lovely! But even with all the excellent shaping advice in the world, I can't picture a 48-year old woman who is size 14 wearing any of them! I've said this before, please consider your demographics! How many of us (your readers) are 18 year olds wearing size 6! Give me some cool, interesting designs that work for the "mature" woman. (Not to mention a few more patterns for the men in our lives)
LauraO wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 8:42 PM
Thanks so much for the info about shaping, for the large bottom, small bust girls out there! I've figured out that curvy (as you see it in magazines, knitting books, etc.) really means large chested -- what's a real pear to do? There's no real info for us. Thanks! Anymore of the same?
JeanRevill wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 8:29 PM
The series on shaping is very worthwhile - not only for newcomers to the techniques - but as a refresher for those of us who've done it before. Underbust shaping might seem like a good idea when one's waist and belly aren't the most slender areas, but some of us more amply-built women need to be careful that it doesn't create a 'maternity' look. My own waist is not well-shaped (I always say I'm zucchini-shaped, rather than apple or pear), but I found a modified waist shaping (about half the amount recommended in a Perfect Fit Pullover pattern from Interweave back in 2002), gave me the illusion of a waist so I looked less 'square' in the torso.
Keep up the good work!
TarynW wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 8:20 PM
I love everything you've been talking about with shaping. I'm still a pretty new knitter that hasn't made a lot of garments yet, but I have noticed myself falling in love with more and more patterns. This series has been great because I never thought about modifying those patters so I look gorgeous (not just the adorable little models). This helps so much, and is coming at the perfect time in my knitting career. Thanks Sandi - you rock!
JoanneK wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 7:52 PM
I love, Love, LOVE the "Knit to Fit" topics. I have been reluctant to try knits other than cardigans, because I am built more like and oompa-loompa than a hollywood starlet.

Thanks, Sandi!!!

Jo Kubiak
Catladyluck wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 7:33 PM
I am still stifled about how to shape for a round belly and low bustline, without making what looks like a maternity top. I'm a little too old for those now, LOL!
TessieS wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 7:17 PM
I have learned a lot from this series. Being a "larger" woman, I get so frustrated with patterns that are sized for small women. It seems when I find one I want to try it never is large enough. Anything I can learn to do to fit things to me is wonderful. Thanks, Arachne
Kellymccraw wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:55 PM
Excellent series; thanks for posting it.
aschemidt wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:54 PM
I am a new knitter so I have found the shaping articles very informative. I am especially interested in something Sandi mentioned in passing: using a smaller size for the back than in the front. I think that would be perfect for me. An article about how to make that work would be cool!
CarolW@3 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:53 PM
I like the shaping series. I have never made a sweater with shaping and would like to. So, how does one do the shaping? Can shaping be applied to a pattern that does not have it? I have done all the measuring and patting of the clothes in my closet, I have my body measurements and I am ready to go! Can you stear me to a simple pattern to start my shaping adventure? Carol W
KarenB@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:51 PM
After years of knitting things for myself that were often too large, occasionally too small and seldom just right--I have found the articles on sizing and shaping great. Now that I have a better understanding about the dynamics of shaping I am ready to dive into the world of knitting things that fit and that I will actually like and wear.
StephenieS wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:36 PM
I just absolutely adore the fact that you guys are teaching us this valuable information! This is really going to help make each item that we create for ourselves unique to our own beautiful bodies! And not to mention clothes- even sweaters- look fantastic when they are truely fit to your body. Thank Goodness For You All!
kharman777 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:35 PM
The shaping series has been wonderful! It's really helped me to understand that I can actually knit my sweaters to fit me, rather than some ideal model. I've been having a blast with short rows along the bustline, and darts and decreases on the torso. What fun!
Boothacus wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:31 PM
I really like the shaping series too. I'd like to understand a little more how to implement what we've learned and how the math fits in, etc. That would help, too. But this is the best hands down knitting news letter.
CynthiaK wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:30 PM
The shaping series is great. It often makes the difference between a "homemade" sweater and a "hand crafted" sweater. As others have mentioned, I am having a difficult time not only figuring out where to begin for the armhole, but also how much length I should allow for the armhole.
CynthiaK wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:30 PM
The shaping series is great. It often makes the difference between a "homemade" sweater and a "hand crafted" sweater. As others have mentioned, I am having a difficult time not only figuring out where to begin for the armhole, but also how much length I should allow for the armhole.
MeriT wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:25 PM
Yes! I love the shaping instructions. They have inspired me to try it! I've got about 3" of the Bonita Shirt from the Summer 06 issue of Interweave Knits done. I had deleted the section on the waist shaping and was going to make it into a boxy shape. After reading all the waist shaping newsletters I've decided to re-do the measurements to fit my body and stick the shaping back in! This couldn't have come at a more opportune time! Thank you Sandi! Of all the knitting newsletters I receive, this one is the one I look forward to the most!
OsmiaL wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:25 PM
I've saved every Email/link to this series. Although I've not yet attempted anything that requires shaping, I know one day I will and I want to have all these pointers available. Thanks for a great series.
ShirleyD wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:18 PM
Personally I still think the new sweater designs only look good on young girls. Most of us do not look as slim as they do no matter how much we try.
MireilleT wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:16 PM
I'm just now becoming fearless enough to really tackle sweaters so I love this series. I won't have to waste years making tubes that may or may not fit my actual body! I want to echo the sentiments of people who want to see this information used to modify actual patterns. Maybe a gallery of the same person, same basic pattern, different modifications - please include the math!
on Mar 10, 2008 6:15 PM
Most of us can knit and produce acceptable fabric in our projects, but this stuff on fitting is what makes the difference in producing a custom garment, instead of buying ready-to- wear.
Knitting seems to have come a long way from a few decades back, when lots of patterns were square shapes with lots of dropped sleeves--not too great on us bigger-sized people.
There can be quite a bit to it--one of my sewing books explains how to alter a sewing pattern from a standard "B" cup size to bigger-bosomed arrangements (or smaller).
Pregnant-looking or not, give us some more ideas for the "budda-bellied". See if you can find someone with the Volkswagon figure (you know, the trunk is in the front) to pose for the Gallery shots?
I had fun linking to a Brit site that took a figure & sizing survey, (I think it was off of "Big Girl Knits"), but my figure type was "Modified Potato"--not quite as alluring as "Pear"!!

When we are all done with fittin (if ever) then there is a lot to say about choosin gthe most attractive color for yourself.
MarthaH wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:11 PM
I think this will be very helpful when I get back to knitting sweaters. (right now it is socks!) Respectively, Martha H.
MarthaH wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:11 PM
I think this will be very helpful when I get back to knitting sweaters. (right now it is socks!) Respectively, Martha H.
MarilouM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:10 PM
The shaping series is wonderful. I have always simply "followed the pattern" and then may be disappointed when the finished product does not do a thing for my. Now I can take matters into my own hands. thanks
EmilyZ wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 6:09 PM
So what if my bust is disproportionately larger than the rest of my body? Bust darts, right? Whatever happened to help with those? (Unless I missed something, we were promised charts or more detailed instructions [RE: Tomato] that never happened?)
elizaduckie wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 5:45 PM
Sandi this SO needs to be a book!!! Keep working at it as you are -- love the interactive nature and that you actually listen and respond to our concerns...then publish a book for us, just so I don't have to keep stashing the info a computer folder. I'd love to have a reference. Although there are many books out there there isn't one that focuses as well on this subject in quite this way. It's those great real human's in the real knitted garments [the gallery] that makes such a huge difference. The gallery really helps us "see" what you are talking about. One thing that I'd really like to see in the gallery and that needs to be addressed at some point is the much heavier woman.
Thanks for all you do and how well you do it!
ColetteH wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 5:41 PM
I am very glad that you are addressing the issue of shaping.I have sewn for years and there are several "tricks" such as slashing and spreading and well as darts, that a seamstress can use to make an item fit and be stunning. How knitted fabric acts is different than a firm fabric, so adjustments may need to be "tweaked" a little . What about other body parts such as sloped shoulders?
KellyT wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 5:27 PM
I really love the shaping information you are giving. I'm saving all of it in a special folder for future reference.

Very helpful!
ElsaX wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 5:26 PM
These tutorials have made me realise that a fitted garment will be more flattering on me, and I think I can work out where my waist is and adapt patterns accordingly. But how do I adjust for narrow shoulders and thin arms. Shortening sleeves is easy enough.
Happygoo25 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 5:14 PM
I really like the fitting posts! But for those who want heavier sweaters these ideas can easily be used on heavy wools. If making a bulky weight straight barn jacket one can still decrease at the back waistline area to eliminate bulk without changing the straight line all that much. It is sort of like set-in sleeves versus drop shoulders. The armhole shaping eliminates bulk but doesn't necessarily change the shape of the garment. And besides, a shaped sweater uses less yarn so it is also a money saver.

Maybe a tutorial on bulk elimination should be next.
raisner1217 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:57 PM
Your finished bust sizes on patterns seem to end with 47 inches, or maybe up to 51 inches, for finished sizes. What do you so with bust sizes that start with 50 to 52 inches, not the finished sizes. American women are big, big, bigger these days. What does a woman do who does not want breast reduction sugery. I think you need to be more in league with reality.
NancyD@4 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:56 PM
Sandi: great stuff. very helpful. I really appreciate all the hard work you pur into Kniting Daily.
AgnesL wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:55 PM
I am very much enjoying the shaping series. I am beginning to experiment with a number of things such as combining things I like from two different patterns into one sweater. I would love to have a workshop on seaming after you finish this one. This is one aspect of knitting that scares me to death for some reason so I keep making raglan sweaters from the neck down. How I long for some set-in sleeves!!! Keep up the good work, Sandi. Love your humor and and the way you make us feel good about ourselves whatever shape we are in!
NancyP@4 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:54 PM
I love the shaping series. Have always thought a set in style sleeve was more flattering than the dropped shoulder and this confirms that a bit of shape elsewhere is better too. I love the Printed Silk Cardigan except the gap at the front. Wondering how to get the edges to hang straight together. If that happened, I would be casting on in a heartbeat! :-)
CaroleL wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:52 PM
Love your shaping series! I am a fearless knitter who wants to learn as much as I can to make a knitted garment FIT! I am now learning more about EZ's percentage method and find it both challenging and informative. Your series on shaping complements EZ's method and give more information on where to increase or decrease! Great information! This is the first time I have found anything that addresses something other than basic or general advanced knitting! Keep up the Great work! More, More, More!
SusanG@3 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:51 PM
I haven't been reading this series as I do not want to knit form-fitting garments,but I see they are "in style" so it may be a hot topic. I think too much advertising is overloading the newsletter.
I already subscribe to several publications,thought this one would have something different,not repeats of the magazines.
LauraM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:37 PM
The Shaping Series has been very informative, and especially the final segment, Being the Boss, sets just the right note.
EstelleM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:34 PM
I think you should address plus size women - we don't necessarily want to "show off" any particular part, just make them all look nice. My bust is 48 and my hips are 50 - it's really difficult to get your patterns to fit me and I wish they did.
Anonymous wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:25 PM
I love this shaping series, please continue. I echo what someone mentioned in these posts about doing a series on how to take all this neat shaping info we have on ourselves and figure out how to actually modify a pattern. I know my numbers, but am brain dead in trying to apply those numbers to a pattern!
EllenF wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:24 PM
What do I think? I think your knitting daily e-pages are great. I love your wit and I'm learning oodles. Keep up the good work! Ellen Foley, Salt Lake City, Utah
JudeM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:24 PM
This is an excellent set of articles. It reinforces my new-found recognition that a little shaping might actually be flattering on me, instead of my usual baggy, shapeless look. Now, my big challenge, and what I'd love to know more about: my shoulders are somewhat narrow, and I'm a plus-size person. Clothing that fits in the bust hangs off my shoulders and sags and bags between bust and underarm. I despair of doing my own tailoring in that upper-chest/shoulder area!! Can you please do a workshop on shoulders?
RebeccaW@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:23 PM
Thank you Sandi for the great series on shaping, and figuring out how to measure, and putting everything into perspective. I feel more comfortable reading the pattern, looking at the drawing showing the finished measurements, and envisioning the the completed project fitting properly.
LauraH wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:18 PM
I think this series on shaping is GREAT! But please don't forget that some of us just find that an up-and-down jacket is our favorite thing.
jgpac00000 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:16 PM
Thank you for a wonderful series, I've learned a lot here. However, I would love the printed silk cardigan to have a less "scooped" out neckline, or maybe a whole different pattern would be called for, with the under bust shaping as in the original. Any suggestions?
QueenM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:16 PM
I think it is rather hard to take you seriously when you think your 'girls' are big. It would be nice to see some of the gallery pics on larger sizes. My 'girls' measure 55 inches yet few patterns accomodate me.
thistle12 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:14 PM
I'm not even a knitter, really, and I enjoy reading these tips on shaping. (I crochet--thread, mostly--and am teaching myself very slowly to knit.) Thanks for this series of posts. They're very informative, and they've nearly persuaded me to research a new project....
Korie BethB wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:13 PM
This is a great article that speaks to me. I've recently gained too much weight in the stomach area, and after a lifetime of an hourglass figure am learning how to dress the current crisis.
RuthR wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:08 PM
I like the tutorial. Could you please send someone to hold my hand while I do what you say? It all sounds right and logical when I read the printed word. When I am staring down at yarn and a fabric that is supposed to be like the illustration in the pattern, nothing is logical.
CarolD@6 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:05 PM
The series on shaping has been excellent. The best talkabout knitting I've seen in a long time! Who doesn't want their knitting to look flattering when the garment is done?! Perhaps when you feel you've ridden the topic long enough you can move onto color and texture and how they affect the way a garment looks: ie: a fuzzy yarn or textured stitch will make an area look larger (or will it?); a bold stripe of color, properly placed might make something look smaller. Just a thought. I trust the frog to whisper good ideas to you.- carol d.
Catherine wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:04 PM
I love all this help on shaping!! The reason I never wear my sweaters is because of problems with the waist! I am ready to take apart part of the Cable-down raglan from last spring and redo it to fit the long-waistedness I never knew I had... and if it doesn't work, that sweater was one of the more enjoyable things I've ever knit, so I'm not afraid to fuss and take apart, over and over. At least, I don't think I'm afraid.

Another problem I have is with baggy underarms of sweaters- any help for that?
Stimps wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 4:01 PM
I love the articles, but they really (no, completely honestly here) have more to do for me knitting for others. I'm a shoulder followed by a bust which then follows a straight line down to my hips, an then some legs. There really isn't a line that goes farther in for me, unless (which I often must) go in for the pregnant underbust shaping thang. I'm not carrot shaped, I'm kind of, well, maybe sort of human-style ginger shaped. Sigh.

I love the information, but I still wish I could find a way to make my strange shape work better.
syarborough wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:59 PM
I can't thank you enough for addressing the shaping topic! You've opened my mind to new understanding and I look forward to anything you have to say about fitting, shaping, and pattern adjustments. Your writing is wonderful and I enjoy every bit of it!
TracyB wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:58 PM
One more comment/question...can you explain a little more about easy. I don't really under what you mean by negative easy, etc. Thanks again, I look forward to reading your daily posts!
FiberFriend wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:57 PM
I am LOVING the shaping series, it's just what I'm into now, and there aren't that many good references out there. It reminds me though, that you were working on a bust-darts tutorial... did it go to the frog pond, or should I ask?
Or did I miss that email? It's ok to say if it just didn't work out, you can trust us, we'll still love you!
TracyB wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:54 PM
I just love your waist shaping series! I hope you continue to do more series in techniques, color, designing, etc. I love the fact that you acknowledge us bigger girls. You have inspired me to try something new. Thanks!
on Mar 10, 2008 3:47 PM
I love this series on customizing the fit of sweaters. I have filed the e-mails for future reference! Keep 'em coming!
LindsayW wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:46 PM
I'm delighted to have the information you are sharing about shaping. It's making me think harder about the patterns I chose and the way I chose to modify them. Please keep sending us these thought provoking posts.
Mary AnnP wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:37 PM
I really need the tutorials on these fitting topics! I have 3 daughters + myself to knit for- we are ALL very different shapes!
BobbieW wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:30 PM
I've really enjoyed all that you have said or could say in the future about shaping...I recently knitted a long cardigan that was without shape and it took me a whole year. Once I tried it on I couldn't stand it because it made me look huge. That's when I realized I needed some shaping to look more flattering. So thank you again for all your info and I'm now looking for patterns without those terrible straight sides! (My sincerest apologies however to those who love them straight) Sincerely Bobbie
LynnS@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:30 PM
These are truly beautiful, but I just wish you had the same information for those of us who only crochet! Please?

Mliz55 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:20 PM
on Mar 10, 2008 3:13 PM
Hi, I love the shaping series. I am new to knitting and there are so many beautiful patterns out there. My body, however, is a spread, 50-year-old body so I need help learning to shape/tailor my knitted garments to make the most of my good bits. Thank you very much for your advice, explanations, and help! It is much appreciated. Terri Kistler
ClaireS wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:09 PM
This is a GREAT series!! When it comes to trying new techniques, stitches, etc., I'm definitely a fearless knitter. Difficulty of a pattern don't deter me. But a sweater will stop me dead in my tracks. I don't consider myself too far from an ordinary size -- slightly long arms, slightly long waist, and the girls are not huge, but ample. After more than one ill-fitting garment, I am learning that I will need to make adjustments to the pattern. You have taught me to forget the S-M-L sizes and just knit it to fit. And you're giving me the tools to get past my fear of sweaters. I just finished one that fits (hooray) and am about to start one that has (gasp!) a shaped waist.
Carla K wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 3:08 PM
You are giving me the confidence to knit that sweater I've always wanted to. Please continue to add any other thoughts about shaping and such. It really helps us newer knitters.
Fiberlicious wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:55 PM
I dont' have any smaller part - I'm a big square. I've discovered that I look good in shaped business suit jackets that are very structured, so if I want to look like I have a waist in a sweater, I need to make it with a very firm fabric, with enough ease that I can indent a waist a little bit and the fabric still doesn't actually touch my torso.
TessM wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:51 PM
Once again, Sandy has written something that could have come out of my own mouth! I often tell my students that you are the boss of your own knitting, a la EZ, and "those needles and yarn can't do a thing without your help!"

Love the shaping info and particularly applaud the pics of the same garment on various bodies. This practice is the exact opposite of my pet peeve where a publication will "doctor" a garment in a photo shoot to make it look like it is shaped when it isn't. I just finished redesigning a sweater (from a different publication) for which the directions given were completely at odds with the look in the photo. I've documented the whole redesign process (measurements, math and all!) at, which I hope may be of help to others who are trying to adjust patterns for personal fit.

Keep up the good work!
PattyS@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:47 PM
Thank you, Sandi, for your time and effort in producing the best and most educational knitting site I have found. I am relatively new to "real" knitting -- sweaters, socks, etc. The information on shaping is wonderful. I, also, really appreciate the galleries showing how different styles fit on different figures. I will be looking forward to more informative articles.
DeAnnW wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:45 PM
I love this series! The art of learning how to camouflage flaws and accentuate the positive is a good thing. Thank you Sandi :)
Anonymous wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:43 PM
Not only has the shaping series inspired me to take another look at things I would not have dreamt of knitting, things much too close to the body for comfort, but it has actually made me realize that you can have shaping, when so many patterns (especially here in France it seems) are just straight up and down.
Caroline Vidican, Quimper, Brittany, France
MonicaE wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:39 PM
I love the series, I also want the dragon cardigan in adult sizes, and I wish the sweater patterns had more than just the bust size, since I too am elongated. HOW much to I lengthen? When to shape the armhole? I can measure myself plenty, but it doesn't help much if the sweater doesn't have measurements. Not to mention that, being elongated, I'll probably need more yarn. But how much?
on Mar 10, 2008 2:32 PM
I too love this series and look forward to more. For the past year I have been attempting to be a fearless knitter and customize patterns to my measurements. It has been my greatest knitting challenge and I love challenges. This series has opened my eyes to more possibilities and less frogging. Please keep going with the series!
EllenF@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:30 PM
I loved the series, but hated that it made me have to actually THINK about my shape! The post-menopause years haven't been kind! Gravity prevails!
Cats Cradle wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:20 PM
I love the shaping series! It's helped me get "out of the box" that so many sweaters are made in. I have a larger waist, so this series has been a great help in trying to hide that by accenting other parts with shaping.

Thank you so much for presenting this series to help knitters make more flattering sweaters for themselves!
JanetM@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:19 PM
....sorry but this reminds me how eager I am to see what you do with the shaping of the gathered that a dead idea now?
JanetM@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:19 PM
....sorry but this reminds me how eager I am to see what you do with the shaping of the gathered that a dead idea now?
JanetM@2 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 2:18 PM
....sorry but this reminds me how eager I am to see what you do with the shaping of the gathered that a dead idea now?
JenniferG wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 12:07 PM
I love these articles on shaping and hope you continue to do more. I am trying to become a fearless knitter, but like a lot of people, I have trouble with making garments fit properly. These articles on waist shaping have been a wonderful help. I am thin and tall and after pulling out my tape measure, I have come to the conclusion that while I am small around, everything is elongated. If I knit the pattern according to my bust (which is usually all they give you to go by), I end up with a sweater in which the waist is too high, sleeves are too short, the widest bit of the bust doesn?t line up, etc. In the past I have tried to compensate by knitting the next size up, but end up with a garment that may fit in the sleeve length and waist location, but is unflatteringly large & bulky around my body. These articles have really opened my eyes to the reality that I cannot be a slave to the pattern if I want to make a garment for myself with a flattering fit.
AnnH wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 9:28 AM
I am just so grateful that you have tackled this subject with such grace and determination. How about a book of your various musings and evaluations?
AnitaS wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 10:01 PM
I was wondering if the dragon skin wrap sweater is available in an adult size pattern. Anita
KerrieJ wrote
on Mar 9, 2008 12:07 PM
I am thoroughly enjoying your posts - I always do! I especially love that you are tackling issues that knitters want to be educated on. This most recent series is one that blankets all knitters; some of us are short, thick, tall, wide, etc. Shaping is an invaluable technique for any knitter, whether knitting for themselves or others. Thank you so much for this series.
TerryP wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 4:24 PM
I LOVE the shaping series. Too many classic sweater patterns have beautiful stitches and/or colors, but hang from the shoulders like a shapeless sack. NOT flattering. So thank you and keep up the great work.

Terry of Vista
on Mar 8, 2008 12:41 PM
Hello from the buried in snow Midwest! I too have been having trouble receiving emails. Somedays they come just fine, and other days they never come, also usually Friday. The knit to fit series is wonderful and has taught about fitting sweaters esp. for my girls. I agree that I could use help in sleeve adjustments. I have tried on my own many times and failed. Mary L
Aranel wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 11:08 AM
Hanny: The "model" in that photograph was actually a volunteer who bravely agreed to try on the sweater so we could see how it might fit. I wouldn't choose to wear that particular cardigan over that particular top - probably it was just whatever she happened to be wearing!

If I wore that cardigan (probably over a short-sleeved top with a lower neckline), the open front would avoid the I-wish-I-were-pregnant look, while the slight flare might make it look like I actually have some shape around my waist.
JoanB@3 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 10:42 AM
I looked for the Sweetheart socks pattern in my Winter 2007 issue but could only find the Tilting Cable socks by Chrissy Gardiner. Did I miss them? Joan
LisaM@8 wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 10:31 AM
The Shaping posts have been fabulous, although I haven't ventured out with my tape measure yet. I hope you're planning a 'talk' on how to convert a pattern to match one's shaping desires - of waist, bust, arm, shoulder width, etc.!!
AIRknitter wrote
on Mar 8, 2008 8:48 AM
This topic email never made it to my email addy. Went and "fetched it". Wonder how many other subscribers are still waiting for Friday's email from Knitting Daily.
Waist Shaping: Not Just For Waists Anymore
ShelleyL wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 10:33 PM
Love the series on shaping - would love more info on customizing patterns to make them fit!

On another issue, for the past couple of weeks I haven't been getting my emails on Fridays or some Wednesdays - what's up with that? I checked, they aren't in my spam filter.
SharonH wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 6:56 PM
I'll second the sleeve request. I can do waist shaping and bust darts like nobody's business, but don't know much about making sleeves fit.
AveryK wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 4:15 PM
I think the information in this series can make the difference between a sweater that fits and a sweater that looks great.

One thing continues to puzzle me. Now that I know where my waist is, I know the midpoint. But to use that information, I need to know where my armhole is. :) I know that sounds funny. I mean where will the armhole shaping of the sweater rest against my body? If I knew, for instance, that the armhole shaping started six inches after my natural waist, then I could adjust the body shaping accordingly.

I hope a future topic will address sleeve length. I know it's easy to adjust, but like body shaping, it's not always obviously how much to adjust it.
SharonR@2 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 3:57 PM
I am thrilled that I am getting such a good education about fitting-please continue. It is so funny that I never 'got it' and can now begin see. thanks Sandy!
Anonymous wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 2:23 PM
That orange construct where EVERYTHING is hanging out (top undergarment at neckline, sleeves and waist or thereabouts - for whom is it intended? Even if the underbust shaping is a novel idea, wouldn't most folks end up looking pregnant? And who wants to aim for that???
RachelK@2 wrote
on Mar 7, 2008 2:12 PM
i do really like that orange cardigan thingy!!
its really nice :]