Monday, December 26, 2011

Design-a-long - Taking Measurements

Standing straight, wearing lingerie or lightweight clothing take your measurements with a flexible measuring tape. If you have someone who can assist you in taking the measurements, that’s even better to ensure accuracy. Take your measurements with the tape horizontal on your body. The tape should lie firmly against your body without being snug. You will also require length measurements for your intended design. You can use a narrow belt, a piece of elastic or a length of yarn to define your waistline. 

When dealing with knitwear garments the upper body measurements are vital, as this is where the garment hangs from. The bust is measured at the bust point or at its fullest part. Your high hip measurement is about 6-7 inches below your waist and needs to be considered if you are creating longer garments, especially if your hips are much bigger than your bust.  The full hip is measured at your derrieres widest point if you are knitting a garment of that length. The cross shoulder measurement is taken between the shoulder points directly above your armpit where the sleeve seam should be. It will be different at the front than it is at the back. The middle back to wrist measurement starts from the bony protrusion at the base of your neck out and around your arm with your arm bent at a slight angle. Some people like sleeve to hang longer and if you do take the measurement level to the base of the thumb. The back neck to waist measurement also starts at the bony protrusion at the base of your neck and is required if you are planning to have waistline shaping. 

The silhouette of the garment you are planning determines the actual measurements required. The fabric that you are creating has varying amounts of stretch that you need to be comfortable with. Some people are happy with negative ease and others are not. Some of these measurements are very difficult to take directly on the body but much easier to take from an existing garment that you can lay flat.
Put the target garment on and note any changes you would like to make in fit or lengths. Pay attention to where the hems hit your body and if you would want the garment to be tighter or looser. Mark your actual waist and where you would like your waist to sit if you want to adjust it for better visual proportions. Some of us are narrower below the bust line than we are at the true waist. You can use pins to mark any changes you would prefer. You can also choose to use several different garments for comparison as the information you are getting here should be highly individualized to your preferences.

Take the garment off, lay it flat and take measurements from it that correspond to the body measurements that you have indicated on your chart. The chart is meant to become an ever evolving reference for your knitting. Use a notebook not a single piece of paper to save these measurements.  Don’t be surprised if you find as you work through several projects that you will continue to refine the numbers. You may even want to make your ease notes based on yarn weights as thicker yarns generally call for more ease than fine yarns do. 

There is another important factor that I want you to consider and that is that bodies are not static. When we move, our measurements change. Take your arm measurement with your arm straight and then compare that measurement to a bent arm measurement. It will not be the same. Check your bust measurement when wearing different bras, the measurement will change with the amount of support and padding. Body measurements and shapes change with movement. Take your waist measurement in a standing and then in a seated position. Compare the two, are they the same? Have you noticed garments that fit snugly when standing straight can become uncomfortable when you sit down? That's why understanding ease is so important.

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