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You can help make my book more useful

March 11, 2010


One of the things I’m really trying to focus on with this new book is helping you to get a good fit, whatever your size and shape. Obviously, I’ll still be basing the patterns on a set of standard measurements that probably don’t really fit anyone perfectly, but I’d like those measurements to be a good starting point for as many people as possible. I’ve become a little obsessed with this – er more obsessed! Recently I’ve found myself talking to a lot of women of different sizes (it would be a bit creepy really if I’d been talking to lots of women of the same size) about the sizing and fitting issues they’ve experienced.
One thing I’m not sure most sizing charts get right is armhole depth. Apart from the fact that everyone seems to define armhole depth differently, sizing charts generally operate on the principle that armhole depth increases proportionally to bust measurement. Since sizing charts also operate on the principle that on average people get slightly taller as their horizontal measurements increase this sort of makes sense. Obviously individuals can be all over the map in terms of height / width proportions, but I can go along with the idea that there’s an average proportional increase. The thing is, is that I’m not sure armhole depth really increases as much as sizing charts would have you think. What does increase in reasonable proportion to bust measurement is the upper arm circumference, again this will vary, but it makes sense that we’ll see an average proportional increase. This means a couple of things in relation to armhole depth, if you think about a set in sleeve the sleeve cap will be wider and consequently wider at the base. If you were to wrap the measuring tape all around from shoulder, around the underarm and back up again that circumference will be larger. The thing is, that not all of this additional length will be added horizontally not to the armhole depth. I’m beginning to wonder whether sizing charts er on the side of caution and do add some of that extra length to the armhole depth. If the designer doesn’t add enough width at the underarms when grading sizes there will at least be enough ease somewhere in the armhole / sleeve cap area for the wearer to move her arms. Now it’s generally helpful to be able to move your arms, but that seems like a pretty hideous minimum standard, especially when it’s one that mostly affects larger women – shouldn’t we also be trying to achieve a good, flattering fit?

So this is where you come in, because it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong about this and there’s no problem with standard sizing charts, but I’d like to at least find out. If you could take a few measurements that would be wonderful – some of them might seem really irrelevant, but it’s helpful to be able to see where you fall in relation to average proportions. Either metric or imperial measurements are fine, whichever is easiest, and of course you can share anonymously.

Armhole depth – lots of definitions of this, but I want you to measure straight (like with a ruler) from level with the top outer edge of your shoulder bone down to level with your underarm. This is not the same as the armhole depth of a flat sweater example – I’m trying to see the relationship between the straight vertical and the 3 dimensional. If you can get someone to help you can get the most accurate measurement by using a pencil to make marks on the wall. If you do this in a cafe like we did you should probably ask first!

how to measure-1

how to measure-2

how to measure-3

Armhole circumference – measure from the top of your shoulder bone down to your underarm, under your arm and back up to meet where you started. Don’t pull this uncomfortably tight, but make sure the tape is snug and straight vertically.

how to measure-4

Underarm width –catch the tape between your body and arm at your underarm and measure from where the tape is level with your arm at the front to the back, eg. how much of the tape is hidden by your arm.

how to measure-6

Bust –this is a little tricky and something I’m going to talk about a lot more in future, but what I want you to measure for now depends on your bra cup size. If you’re a b cup or smaller measure your bust at the fullest point, and if you’re a c cup or larger can you measure your high bust – level with your underarms. I don’t need to know where you took this measurement, just call it bust for now.

how to measure-5


Ok, I hope my not very good pictures make this clearer!

Thank you so much for doing this! If there are any particular aspects of fitting you think I should address, whether here or in the book, please do let me know.


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