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Measuring for sweater fit - a survey for knitting

Measuring for sweater fit

A survey for knitting

Clothing size charts for women are based on 1939-1941 data collection of women's body measurements that only included white women aged 18-30. Size charts today still strongly reflect this data, including for knitting. Over the last decade, some sweater designers have worked to change that. Read on to participate in a survey toward creating a size chart for knitting that represents women's bodies today.


History of women's size charts

Did you know that modern size charts for women's clothing are based on data collection in the US from 1939-41? The survey was conducted by R. O'Brien and W. C. Shelton through the Bureau of Home Economics and their research became the model for sizing throughout the world. The problem is that the research was carried out on a relatively small group of white women aged 18-30 - not at all inclusive then nor representative today of women's bodies. 

The history of women's size charts is rather fascinating and astonishingly, many size charts still strongly reflect the numbers used in that original research by O'Brien and Shelton. There is no 'standardized' size chart - companies create their own as part of building their own customer loyalty. 

Size Charts in Knitting

The size charts for knitting have had a similar history except for the work by some modern knitwear designers to change that. In 2017, Teresa Gregorio of Canary Knits worked on sizing for petite women through her project, Knit Petite Project. She has some great articles with additional resources listed for reading more about the history of size charts. I especially appreciated this article: How did we arrive at the sizing we have today?
Ysolda Teague also has worked on size charts. Her blog post from 2017 offers her size chart. A 2019 post offers insight into choosing a sweater size. 

Amy Herzog published a book in 2018 called Amy Herzog's Ultimate Sweater Book. The book is excellent for understanding sweater fit, sizing, sweater construction, and how to make adjustments so that your knit sweater will fit you.

Survey for size data collection today

Recently, I've been taking classes from Kim McBrien Evans of Indigo Dragonfly on size inclusivity in knitting. Kim currently is collecting data for her ongoing research to create a size chart for women that is inclusive and representative of women's bodies today. If you want to dive deeper into sweater fit and making alterations so sweaters will fit you, Kim offers a series of classes through Vogue Virtual Knitting Live that are worth your time. Sign up for Vogue's emails so you'll be in the know on their next virtual event class lists coming in Sept, Oct, Dec, 2024. Kim, along with Natalie Warner of Natalie in Stitches, started a new Marketplace Extra session for the Vogue Virtual events where they field knitters' questions on sweater fit and sizing. The Marketplace Extra events are included in all the class packages, as well as the marketplace only ticket. The sessions are a great introduction to Kim and Natalie's work on sizing and getting fit in your sweater knitting. 

How to participate in Kim's surveys 

Kim's body measurement data collection has been ongoing and you can participate in that here: Measurement Research by Kim McBrien Evans. Just last month, Kim added a new survey to tackle sizing and fit for sleeves, an area where there still is little detailed information for knitters. You can access that survey here: Sleeve Measurement Research by Kim McBrien Evans. Both surveys offer detailed instruction on how to take body measurements. 

I encourage all of us to participate in Kim's research as it is, in my opinion, absolutely what is needed next to help knitters unravel the mystery of sweater fit in knitting. In talking to our June Cashmere community, sweater fit is an ongoing issue and rightly so. We invest time, money, energy to make a sweater and if the result is something that we cannot wear, it's devastating. 

As always, find joy in knitting with our yarn! 

-Warmly, Amy

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