ENLARGING PATTERNS FOR A PERFECT FIT
How many times have you wanted to make a beautiful crochet jacket, top or sweater pattern you have seen in a book or magazine, only to discover that the sizes given in the instructions do not include yours? By following the four steps outlined in this article, you can successfully enlarge patterns for a perfect, professional look and fit regardless of your size or shape.
Unless you are adept at pattern drafting and the mathematical formulas required, avoid cap or raglan sleeves when enlarging pattern sizes. The drop-shoulder-style sweater is one of the easiest to enlarge because the sleeves are straight across the top sleeve, and the length of the sleeve is simply extended to fit into the armhole opening.
STEP 1: TAKING MEASUREMENTS
Most women know their bust size and sleeve length, and all too often use those measurements when determining the size of pattern to make.
The amount of ease allowed (the difference between your actual measurements and the garment’s finished measurements) is rarely given consideration when you decide which size to crochet, yet it is a critical component when it comes to how a garment fits. It is not unusual to discover that the most comfortable fit for a jacket or other outer garment has more ease than one expects. To ensure a comfortable fit, you may prefer 6 to 8 inches of ease, which will allow enough room for comfortable, unrestricted movement.
Start by choosing a favorite cardigan from your own closet with a relatively simple structure and, most importantly, that has a comfortable fit.
Measure your cardigan (see Fig. 1) and write down the following:
1. Bust (around the fullest part of the chest)
2. Sleeve length (underarm to wrist)
3. Armhole depth (underarm to shoulder seam on flat garment)
4. Shoulder to shoulder (sharp bone on each side of body)
It’s no secret that women come in all sizes and shapes, yet many crochet garment patterns are only written for specific sizes and measurements. If you are one of many who want to know how to enlarge a pattern size, help is at hand.
STEP 2: MAKING SWATCHES
Before making any changes to the pattern you wish to enlarge, crochet a swatch at least 4 inches square using the yarn and hook size required to obtain the stated gauge in the pattern stitch used to make the original gauge swatch.
Remember, when crocheting, you are creating fabric. You need this first swatch to determine the feel and look of the fabric in the original pattern. Your swatch will reveal whether the fabric created is firm or soft, does or doesn’t have drape, and how close or far apart stitches are placed.
STEP 3: MEASURING GAUGE ACCURATELY
Gauge is the most critical element of any garment because it determines not only the garment’s measurements, but also the ultimate outcome. After completing a swatch, smooth it out gently, and lay it flat. Do not touch or adjust the swatch again before measuring.
Use a slotted gauge and lay it flat against the swatch (see Photo A), counting and writing down the number of stitches, including partial stitches, that show within the 2-inch horizontal slot. Then, measure and record the number of rows shown in the 2-inch vertical slot.
If the stitches that show within the slot are not full stitches, then use the 6-inch side of the gauge to measure over 4 inches or more until you have isolated only a specific number of full stitches. Measuring a second time, over a greater number of inches, also serves to ensure that your first 2-inch measurement is accurate.
STEP 4: DOING THE MATH
After comparing your own measurements to those given in your pattern schematic, you may be able to enlarge the pattern simply by using a larger hook. For example, try making another swatch with a hook one size larger than the size called for in the pattern using the same number of stitches specified for the first swatch. Compare the two swatches, writing down the differences.
When it comes to measuring gauge, the number of stitches per inch is more important than the number of rows per inch, as it is the number of stitches per inch that determines the width of the fabric you crochet. If your row count is a bit off, you can crochet to the lengths given on the schematic or to the desired length. A 1/4- or 1/2-inch difference in total length doesn’t make a big difference in how a garment fits, but a difference of 1/4- or 1/2-stitch per inch makes a great difference in the width of a garment.
Shown below are examples of how gauge affects the width of the back of a jacket with a required 20-inch width and 50 stitches (see Fig. 2). As you can see, when you smooth out a swatch and alter the true gauge by as little as 1/4 inch, the true difference in width makes a significant and usually unexpected alteration!
I do not recommend increasing the hook size by more than one or two sizes because doing so causes distinct changes in the fabric itself. The larger the hook size, the looser and more stretchy the fabric becomes, resulting in the loss of the integrity of the fabric itself. Changing hook sizes by more than one size works best for lacy fabrics, granny squares or motifs.
This technique is best used for items other than garments such as afghans, handbags, pillows or other items where specific measurements are not as critical as those needed for well-fitting garments.
Using your swatch and gauge, you can now calculate the number of stitches required for the width of the finished size you desire. The following example explains this process.
Determine how much you want to enlarge your project and write that down. The back will be half that amount. Then multiply the number of stitches per inch by the back measurement to get the total of stitches needed for the back. Write this number down at the bottom of the schematic for the back. Remember to adjust this number to account for multiples in your stitch pattern. Work the back to the desired length or number of rows to armhole. Fasten off and follow instructions below.
Before deducting stitches for the armhole opening, check the width of the upper sleeve, which must equal the total of the front and back armhole depths. If you have slim arms, you may wish to make your sleeves narrower. If you have full arms, you may wish to widen the upper sleeve, remembering to alter the armhole depth accordingly. For example, if you need an upper arm width of 22 inches (half this number results in an armhole depth of 11 inches), multiply 22 by your gauge to get the total number of stitches needed for the upper sleeve.
Next, deduct your shoulder-toshoulder measurement from the total back width. Multiply this number by your gauge. Divide that number in half to determine the number of stitches that must be skipped at both the beginning and end of the next row of the back to shape the armhole. Skipping the required stitches at both the beginning and end of the next row, work even to within two rows less than desired length.
To determine the number of stitches for each shoulder, you must first determine the back neck width times the gauge. For example, if you wish for a back neck width of 8 inches, multiply 8 x your gauge to determine the number of stitches.
Subtract the back neck stitches from the number of stitches needed for the shoulder-to-shoulder measurement and divide that answer in half. The answer is the number of stitches needed for each shoulder. Work across this same number of stitches for the first shoulder, working remaining rows indicated in your pattern or until desired depth needed. Fasten off. Skip the back neck stitches. Attach yarn to next stitch, and work the same total number of stitches as were worked for the first shoulder. Fasten off.
Each front requires half the number of stitches of the total back. Divide the number of stitches used for the back in half to determine the number of stitches required for the lower width of the jacket, remembering to adjust this number to accommodate the stitch multiple used in the pattern. No changes are required for the armhole depth or for the shoulders as they will remain the same as the back.
The only other change left to make is to calculate any adjustments that need to be made to the front neck shaping, resulting in the same number of stitches remaining for the shoulder as for the back. Simply work even until it is time to work the neck shaping. Stop and take time to read over your pattern to see how many stitches you will need to adjust to end up with the same number of stitches on each shoulder as the back. Divide that number in half and begin by initially increasing the number of stitches at the base of the neck to skip when beginning the neck. The remaining stitches can be decreased by working additional decrease rows. If you need to decrease a large number of stitches, you may have to begin your neck shaping a few rows sooner in the fronts. When all decreases are completed, work even until the front length and number of rows equals that of the back.
Begin by determining the length desired for the sleeves. Deduct the length of any edging that is worked after the sleeve is completed. Write this length on the schematic. Write down (across upper sleeve on
schematic) the total number of stitches required to fit the armhole (as previously described). Using a tape measure held in a circle, determine what width is required to comfortably insert one hand. Use this measurement and multiply it by your gauge to determine the number of stitches needed for the first row of a sleeve. Deduct the number of stitches in the first row (wrist) from the number required for the last row (upper sleeve). Divide this number by two—this is the number of stitches that must be increased, at each edge of the sleeve, to achieve the total needed number of stitches at upper sleeve. For example, if 28 stitches are required for the first row, ending with 48 stitches across the top of the sleeve; 48 minus 28 equals 20 stitches. Divide 20 in half, which means 10 stitches must be increased on each edge of the sleeve. Multiply your row gauge by the desired sleeve length. As an example, a sleeve length of 161/2 inches times a gauge of 2 rows per inch equals 33 rows. Divide 33 rows by 10 (number of stitches to be increased) to determine how often to work the increases. Using our example, you would increase one stitch at each end of every third row 10 times to equal the needed total of 20 stitches to be increased, and then work the remaining three rows even.
The sleeve extension (beyond desired sleeve length) is required to fit into the armhole and must match the measurement of the skipped stitches as closely as possible. Measure the armhole opening and work evenly in the pattern on the sleeve for the total number of inches needed and fasten off.
The four steps detailed above can be used for most garments using simple stitch patterns. Regardless of your size or shape, you, too, can now have comfortable, perfect-fitting crocheted garments. C!
AnniesYarnShop.com 5 sc = 1 inch; rows 1– 10 = 3 inches Take time to check gauge. Repeat or delete rows 4– 7 as needed to lengthen or shorten Bracelet. Weave in loose ends as work progresses. Chain- 5 at beginning of row counts as first double treble crochet and chain- 1 unless otherwise stated. Row 1 (RS): Ch 12, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across, turn. ( 11 sc) Rows 2 & 3: Ch 1, sc in each sc across, turn. Row 4: Ch 5 ( see Pattern Notes), sk next sc, dtr ( see Stitch Guide) in next sc, [ch 1, sk next sc, dtr in next sc] 4 times, turn. ( 6 tr, 5 chs)
Instructions given fit size small; changes for medium, large, X- large, 2X- large and 3X- large are in [ ].
Bust ( closed): 34 inches ( small) [ 38 inches ( medium), 411/2 inches ( large), 461/2 inches ( X- large), 50 inches ( 2X- large), 54 inches ( 3X- large)]
• Plymouth Yarn Linen Concerto light ( DK) weight rayon/ linen/ cotton yarn ( 13/4 oz/ 101 yds/ 50g per ball): 8 [ 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] balls # 0006 chambray • Sizes C/ 2/ 2.75mm and D/ 3/ 3.25mm crochet hooks or size needed to obtain gauge • Tapestry needle • Stitch marker • 1- inch buttons: 3