Knitting Help – Finer Points of Garment Fitting and Blocking

Knitting Help – Finer Points of Garment Fitting and Blocking

In this video we’re going to talk about the
finer points of garment fitting and blocking. And I get a lot of questions about this in
email or all over social media and so I want to put it all together, I put all my thoughts
together into a six point program for you to do all the necessary steps before you start
knitting the sweater to make sure that you get a good fit in the end. When I talk about
this I’m mostly talking about wool sweaters or other animal fibers or blends and I’m not
so much talking about cotton or other cellulose fibers or synthetics. If you’re knitting with
cotton or a synthetic fiber you can follow most of these steps, but the real fine tuning
on getting a sweater to fit properly really only works with animal fibers. But a lot of
it will work so lets go through it. Six steps. I will put the six steps in the video description
field on YouTube as well as on my website. So when you actually start knitting a sweater
you will have those in front of you and you won’t miss any of the steps. So the first one is to, I have them written
down too, I will not miss one. The first one is to choose the correct size and that’s kind
of a whole other thing. You of course want to pick the correct size and I have a video
on that called Choosing a Sweater Size. Just click the little “i” in the upper right-hand
corner and I’ll give you a link to that video because it really explains how to always pick
the correct sweater size. And most sweaters are sized from the bust or chest measurement.
That is the main measurement that you’re going to look at, and any tweaking you want to do
will be with the other measurements and not that one. And then the next step you absolutely do not
want to miss, and I’m sorry I sound like a broken record, but you need to knit a swatch.
You need knit a swatch using the yarn and needles that you want to use in the sweater,
and that’s a whole other thing. I’ll give you a link to my video called Stellar Swatching.
But you definitely want to knit the swatch, wash and block the swatch the same way you
will the finished sweater, and then check your gauge, measure your stitches per inch
once the swatch has dried. The reason this is important is that you want to know how
the knitted fabric is going to react once it gets wet. Because if you don’t know, it’s
happened to me before, where I didn’t know that a yarn was going to go completely loosey
goosey crazy once it got wet, and I ended up with a sweater with monkey arms. This is
a long time ago, before I started swatching, back when I was a baby practically. But now
I know much better, I mean that was a big lesson learned. You’re going to put 40 to
100 hours in this sweater, we want to get this right. We have not started the real sweater yet.
We chose the correct size, we swatched, and the next thing that I always do is I take
the pattern schematic, and I know you won’t have a close up look at the schematic from
the camera, but this is a really simple schematic for a sweater that I knit recently. We just
have a basic body shape and a basic sleeve shape, and I take a look at this. I’ve been
dressing this body for over forty years. I pretty much know that I’m always going to
add two inches to the sleeve length. I’m always going to add two inches to the body length,
and that’s just something that I always do because I’m tall. But if I wasn’t sure, I
could go in my closet and grab a sweater that I know I like to wear, I like the sleeve length
or body length on that sweater, and measure it and kind of use that as my base line when
I’m looking at the schematic. So I take my pen and I write, next to the measurement for
my size I write plus two and on the body length plus two, and then anything else that I see
that maybe I want to tweak. Not doing too much tweaking now. I haven’t started knitting
yet. I just know that these are changes I’m definitely going to want to make because I
want to give myself the best possible outcome for fit. So I’ve got the schematic change to my little
preferences and then I’m actually going to knit the sweater. You can actually make the
sweater at that point. You knit the whole sweater and weave in the ends but then stop,
because there are more things we’re going to do. This is where this is the bit of fine
tuning that doesn’t really work with cotton or synthetic sweaters. Take your sweater and
measure it again, and you have this schematic thing. Your sweater really should mostly match
the schematic if the pattern is written well and if you’ve stayed engaged the whole time,
but measure it. Measure across the shoulders, across the bust, across the hips, sleeve length,
arm hole opening, and body length. Measure all those things. These are just a base line
for the next step which is to try the sweater on. And this is the exciting part because
you know if you’re using a wool blend yarn, you literally have some wiggle room here and
that’s what we’re going to be doing. So try the sweater on, you haven’t blocked
it yet, try it on. Do the sleeves look good? Is it long enough? How does it feel around
the shoulders? The neck line? Is there anything you want to change? And then mark all these
things down. We’ve already marked down the actual measurements of the fitted sweater
and now you decide, yeah, I’d sure like an inch across the shoulders. I could use a half
inch more, the neckline feels a little odd to me. Sleeves look good. Mark all this down.
Sleeves good, neckline plus point five, shoulders plus one. Mark all these little things down
because the animal fiber yarn is going to be, or most likely, very, very likely, to
be forgiving enough to let you give it a tug and to get that extra length or width that
you want out of things. Now things can go crazy when they get wet
but not necessarily in a disastrous way. Sometimes I’ll have my wet sweater in the sink and I’ll
grab it by the shoulders and pull up and the sweater kind of stretches out with the weight
of the water in it. That’s really no problem. At that point I always put the sweater in
the washing machine on a spin cycle and to get the access water out. But the act of pulling
it up out of the water might have stretched the body and the arms a little bit. So you’ll
measure the arm whole width and be like, oh, that’s half the size it was, and the sleeve
is ten inches longer then it was, and you can just coax that back into shape the way
it was. So the sweater is wet, you have these little things all . . . everything you need
is all written down here and you got done, leading up to this point where the sweater
is wet and you can fine tune these things. So get the sweater all set out and get your
tape measure again and coax things into place exactly the way that you’ve set it out with
your notes on the schematic page. And for me there’s really no need to ever pin things
out. The only thing that I ever pin on a sweater is, I knit a lot of cardigans, and so the
cardigan front I like to be a sharp point. I always put a pin right at the bottom of
the cardigan fronts to make nice sharp points. But unless you’re knitting a lace sweater
there’s no reason to pin anything, just scooch it out and smooth it out to the measurements
where you had it, where you know want it. Sometimes it takes some time, like especially
if the yarn, if you pulled it out of the water and things kind of got stretched, but with
time you’ll get it all the way it’s supposed to be. Okay, that is the whole process. I’ll go over
these steps again. Choose the correct size. Swatch. Make changes that you know you’ll
want to make on the schematic page. Knit the sweater. Try it on. Mark down the actual measurements
of the sweater when you try it on, and then block it and make all the measurements exactly
the way you’ve laid it out for your final sheet. It’s a lot of steps. I will put it all in
the video description field and on my website for you and I hope that answers a lot of the
questions I get about fitting garments and blocking. Good Luck.

26 Replies to “Knitting Help – Finer Points of Garment Fitting and Blocking”

  1. Staci, does a sweater that requires blocking need to be re-blocked every time it's washed?  Or will it have "memory" from the first blocking?

  2. Love your Arrowhead Cardigan…knit in the round? and then steeked? Yikes! The thought of cutting my knitting fills me with horror! 🙂

  3. Hi Staci, do you have any extra tips or hints for dresses? There's a dress I want to knit next fall, and my main concern is the skirt. I'm anxious that that will end up wonky! It's fairly fitted, but I'm just afraid that it will end up too tight, because it is knit bottom up and it would be hard to adjust after knitting for 21 in as instructed! Thanks 😀

  4. So do you recommend weaving in ends before blocking or afterwards? I normally weave them in prior to blocking, but I've read that sometimes with the stretching during blocking the weaved in ends can pop out or look bad. Has that ever happened to you? I've only made two sweaters to date and have steam blocked them both out of fear!

  5. hi, i've heard that other knitters prefer to block pieces separately to match the schematics dimensions before sewing it all together. Your advice is obviously to block the finished piece as a whole garment and make adjustments for your own size – but are there any circumstances where you'd advise piece blocking instead of whole garment blocking? Thanks.

  6. Maybe you could do a video of twined knitting? I heard that it's an old scandinavian technique and I can't find any good tutorials. /Frida

  7. Thank you very much for all the information you give us so clearly. I see people knitting Cardigans top down, could you tell me of an easy pattern for a first time.

  8. Great Tutorial, Staci.  I am very, very bottom heavy, like I need a whole other size around my stomach and hips.  Would I most likely add a stitch maybe every other row when I get toward the bottom of a sweater; does it depend totally on the pattern.  I'm not that experienced with knitting and have stayed away from any pattern that is fitted because of my shape.  Thanks for any help!

  9. You say you put your wet garment into the washing machine to spin dry? Will it not make the garment go all out of shape? I have a top loader. Thank you.

  10. Hi Staci!

    I'm currently working on a dress that I've had to restart 3 times (bad counting!) and I'm finally on track. I'm so worried, because it looks like it's going to be way too big! I'm right where I need to be in gauge, but I think maybe the sizing is the issue. I have a very up and down figure so, with dresses, I always go by waist, because I can always pad the other parts out a bit if I have to! Do you have any words of encouragement for these kinds of situation? I'm also working with a chord a bit bigger than I probably should. I can't find my cord the next size down, so the stitches are pretty stretched on the cord.



  11. I knit a raglan sweater for my husband. My first sweater that fit perfectly before blocking. The sleeves and body grew by 2 inches after I blocked it. I think it was the weight of the yarn after it was wet. It didn't do that with the small swatch. How would I scrunch it up while blocking to fit the length needed? Love your videos very much. Thank you.

  12. Thank you very much for all your videos, I have learned so much. Can you talk about how you store your hand knits?

  13. How would you block a mixed fabric? I have a cowl (PurlSoho's Bandana Cowl) that is made of 75% Acrylic / 25 % Superwash Wool that has had an encounter with a dog. The cowl's intact, just a bit more rhombus-shaped than triangle now.

  14. Hiya Staci I am knitting a cardigan and it has short arms and I would like them to be long, do you have a video on how to change the length of arms on a sweater or cardigan please? I love your videos they are very informative and my go to if I need to know anything Thank you 😊 x

  15. Thank you so much Staci. I’m a little confused on one thing. Do I block the sweater before sewing it together or do I block after it’s been assembled?

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