Adjusting a pattern to your size: how to get the perfect fit

Adjusting a pattern to your sizeOne of the most frequently asked questions at Yarnplaza is: “How do I adjust a pattern to my measurements?”. If you are going to put so much love and energy into knitting or crocheting a new piece of clothing, you naturally want it to fit perfectly. But where do you even begin with adjusting a pattern? Let us delve into this question and take you through it.

Adjusting a pattern to your size – It seems like it’s a difficult task. And—admittedly—if this is your first time adjusting a pattern, then there is a certain amount of thought and calculation involved. Before you begin knitting or crocheting, first take the measurements of your body. Each pattern comes with an overview of the necessary measurements to take. Compare your measurements to those given and see what parts of the pattern need to be adjusted before you start.

Tip: to make things easier for yourself, take the measurements of a similar item of clothing that fits you perfectly.

Gauge swatch

The first step is always: make a gauge swatch! We know it’s not the most exciting job (because you’re desperate to get onto the fun part of creating your new dream project), but working up a gauge swatch is really crucial. Use the stitch that you need for the pattern. Everyone crochets or knits differently, whether loosely or very tightly, so it is important to know how many stitches and rows you need to knit or crochet to produce a 10 x 10 cm swatch. It helps you determine whether you need to use a larger or smaller hook or needles. Once the gauge swatch is finished, we can move on to adjusting the pattern to your size.

Knitting a gauge swatch

Adjusting a pattern

Grab your pen, paper and a calculator; it’s time for some math! From your gauge swatch you know how many stitches and rows you need for 10 cm. Let’s say you need 16 stitches and 24 rows to produce 10 x 10 cm. A quick calculation will tell you that you need 1.6 stitches per 1 cm. For 60 cm, you would need 60 times 1.6 stitches, so 96 stitches. Edge stitches would need to be added to this number. Then for the height: you need 24 rows for 10 cm. This works out to 2.4 rows per 1 cm. For 55 cm, you would need 55 times 2.4, so 132 rows. If you don’t come out with a whole number, simply round it up or down. These now form the basis of your new item of clothing.

Now if, for example, you are knitting or crocheting a sweater, you then also need to know after how many rows to start working the armholes and neck. Suppose the armhole starts at 35 cm in the pattern. Using the numbers above, that works out to 2.4 x 35 = 84 rows. You also need to decrease 6 cm, which works out to 10 stitches (1.6 x 6 = 9.6). For the correct distribution of the stitches, check the instructions in the original pattern. Most decreases are worked over a number of rows instead of all in one go.

The decrease for the neck works in exactly the same way. Let’s say the stitches need to be cast off after 50 cm for the neck. According to our calculations above, that is 2.4 x 50 = 120 rows.

Following this process, you will be able to adjust any section of a pattern, including working out the increases and decreases.

Tip: make sure you are using the correct measurements. For example, if you are making separate front and back pieces, then you need to use just half the chest circumference. If you are working both together in the round, then use the whole chest circumference.

Adjusting a pattern

Handy tools

This Prym knitting calculator may come in even handier than a plain ol' calculator. Count up the number of stitches or rows of your gauge swatch and enter it into the knitting calculator. In the blink of an eye it will show you how many stitches you need for the required measurement. It makes adjusting patterns a piece of cake!

Adjusting a sock pattern

If you are wanting to knit yourself a pair of socks that fit perfectly, check out our free online sock knitting course. Part 1 includes a size chart with all the details of how many stitches you need for your desired shoe size.

Which handmade item of clothing are you most proud of? Share a photo with us on our Facebook page or Instagram with #yarnplaza.

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