Human proportions are pretty cool. Basically, the way that they work is by averages. If you make a sweater with A bust and B waist, it will fit X% of people pretty decently. Of course, there will be some people who have A bust but a waist significantly bigger (or smaller) than B, but on average if you stick to certain proportional measurements you'll get a good number of them. People who have exactly A bust, B waist, C hip, and D inseam can work as "fitting models". They get paid large sums of money to try on clothes. Nope, I'm not kidding, if you happen to have the right measurements you can make six figures a year doing what the rest of us do every time we go to the mall.
I have a not-normal body. My waist and hips are roughly in proportion, but my bust is larger. Bit of a pain when buying fitted shirts, but the nice thing about knitting is that this isn't too hard to fix.
I'm currently knitting Surface by Norah Gaughan. Looking at the bust sizes, with my 34" bust, if I knit a Small I'll have a nice fitted sweater, right?
Not so fast, homes! Always look at the schematic. Why the pattern publishers always put it on the very last page when you really should be looking at it first is beyond me. Maybe they hate us and want us to suffer, I don't know.
So looking at our nice little schematic, we see that the size S has a 36" hip. The waist measurement isn't included on the drawing, but we can do a tad bit of math to figure it out:
The back of the sweater has 90 stitches across at the waist. At a gauge of 23sts/4", that gives us back that is about 15 and a half inches across. Multiply that by two (our sweater has a front and a back since humans are generally double-sided) and you get about 31 inches.
So the Small size sweater's measurements are 34-31-36. Hey wait, those aren't my measurements. While this sweater will fit me in the bust, the waist and hips will be too large for me.
I move down to the XS size, which has a bust of 30". Too small for me, but maybe the waist/hips will be better. The pattern says the hip on this one is 32", which is much closer to my actual hip measurement. When I do the math to get the waist, I come up with 27", which is also close to my size.
So I should be making a sweater with a Small bust but an Extra-Small waist and hips? Doesn't make much sense. And when you factor in my skinny monkey-length arms, it throws another wrench in the mix. So what am I to do?
Stay tuned to the next post for a lesson in darts. And not the kind you throw at a photo of the designer.