Trimmings Mod-A-Long: Frankensizing, I

Holy smokes, it’s been busy around here lately! The boys are getting so very big. J. is in second grade now (and loving it), and little D. is in his last year of Pre-K. Crazypants!

So I’m a little late with the “weekly” installment of modification news on Trimmings. There has been school to start and apples to pick and the last round of book editing to do and crazy amounts of knitting. Whew!

Nevertheless, today I thought I’d press on and step through what to do if your front and back are a different size. “Frankensizing” is actually a fairly simple and common modification that can be done in a couple of different ways; today we’ll focus on a knitter with a larger front and smaller backside. Many of us pick up a bit of a tummy over the years, and one of the more common shapes I see in my Fit to Flatter classes is a busty knitter who also has a belly.

My philosophy on modifications is that the knitter should pick a base size that fits her shoulders, thus ensuring the sleeve cap math will work for her, and then modify anything else requiring modifications. To do this, I have students take their upper torso circumference–stretch a measuring tape all the way around your torso high up in your armpits, above the majority of your bust tissue. Then, treat this as your full bust measurement when selecting a base size; choose a finished bust measurement with 0-1” of positive ease over your torso circumference if you like close-fitting sweaters, 1-2” of positive ease if you like “average” fitting sweaters, and 2-3” of positive ease if you like oversized sweaters.

Here’s an example: My full bust is 41”, but my upper torso is 38”. I prefer close-fitting sweaters, and in my pattern photos I’m generally wearing the sweater samples in a size 38-39” bust. If I wanted a little more breathing room, I might choose a 39-40” size. If I wanted a sweater to walk my hypothetical dog in the winter with a couple of layers underneath, I might go to a 41” sweater.

The busty knitter then needs to add extra fabric to the front of her sweater to accommodate the bust–usually accomplished via bust darts, either using short rows or working vertical darts (my preferred method). We’ll step through vertical bust darts for Trimmings later in this mod-a-long series, but for now let’s focus on the knitter who has both a bust and a tummy to contend with. We’ll work through an example for someone with my torso size–38”, a full bust of 42”, and hips that measure 44”, with a flatter backside and larger tummy. Assume a fairly curvy waist of 36”.

This knitter likes a fairly trim fit, so will want to choose a base size of 38” in the bust. Let’s step through her kitting process.

  • She knits the back and the sleeves of the pattern exactly as written.
  • She casts on stitches for the 42” size for the front, to accommodate her larger tum.
  • She can then knit to the armhole shaping exactly as written for the 42” size, with the exception that she must ensure the length to the armhole matches the back exactly.
  • She knits the armhole shaping exactly as for the 38” size.
  • To get to the proper number of shoulder stitches for the 38” size, she must remove 48 sts in the neckline, rather than the 36 as written for the 38” size. (The CO stitch counts for the 42” size were 126 instead of 114; since she worked the armhole shaping as for the 38” size, she still has 12 stitches more on her needles than she had for the back.)
  • Since the knitter is working a cowl neck, she distributes the additional 12 sts of decrease throughout the existing waist shaping, like so: Initial neck BO is for 20 sts, not 18; work every row decreases 6 times instead of 4; work every RS row decreases 5 times instead of 3; work every other RS row decreases 3 times instead of 2–24 sts remain for each shoulder.
  • She now completes the front as for the 38” size.

You’ll note that the front of the sweater measures wider than the back of the sweater in the bust/belly part of the body. That’s okay! In fact, it’s perfect–it means the sweater is shaped exactly like its wearer, which will mean a beautiful and flattering fit.

We’re just starting to see the very first in-progress shots over at the knit-a-long, so I hope you’ll consider joining us! Next week, I’ll talk about how to “Frankensize” a sweater by attaching a larger bottom to a smaller top, or vice-versa. And in the meantime, I’ll get knitting–check out all of the beautiful sweater yarn I have on deck!

I’m so happy it’s fall!

5 thoughts on “Trimmings Mod-A-Long: Frankensizing, I

  1. That explanation is perfect! Thanks.

  2. This is so clear and very helpful!

    I have swatched, but not yet cast on my Trimmings, becuause, you know, I have another project or two on the needles already. 🙂 Just haven’t sat with the pattern and a pencil yet. This gives me a clearer sense of what to start looking for.

  3. Amy, I’ve copied this into a word document so that I can have it close at hand to refer to as I figure out how to do modifications for my body shape. Thanks for being so available as we create our own versions of Trimmings.

    Your boys look like they are enjoying the apples. I recognize the toothless look of the 2nd grader — my granddaughter’s front teeth are mostly in for the start of 2nd grade so she is happy and smiling again.

  4. Thanks Amy! The mods seem so obvious when you explain them.

  5. Thanks for the explanation of adjusting for this different shaped body, Amy. Most helpful.
    One thing, did you mean:
    Since the knitter is working a cowl neck, she distributes the additional 12 sts of decrease throughout the existing NECK (not waist) shaping, like so:…?

    Doesn’t this make the neck opening rather large?

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