Lion Brand Notebook

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Perfect Sweaters for Your Body

July 29th, 2010

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Everyone knows that dressing for your body shape is important, but crafting for your body shape is even more important.  It’s easy enough to try on something in the store and say, “This is so flattering” or “This does not suit my body shape”, but when you’re planning on working on a sweater for hours and hours, you want to know it’s going to come out looking just right on whoever gets to wear it.

First of all, you need to know your body shape.   As you can see below, what differentiates one body type from another are the proportions between shoulders, waist, and hips.

Once you have a good understanding of your body shape, you can pick projects that flatter your figure.  Here are a few patterns we thought would flatter each body type.

Banana (or rectangle) means that your shoulders, waist, and hips are all similar sizes. We suggest the Airy Lace Shell which is slimming, or the Ginger Sweater, which gives the illusion of curves.

Apple (or Inverted Triangle) bodies are wider across the top and more narrow in the hips.  We suggest shapes like those seen in the Ardsley Jacket, the Essential Jacket, and the Peplum Cardigan to balance things out and give the illusion of hips.

Pear (or Triangle) shapes are widest in the hips.  We suggest balancing this out with oversized collars, as with the Middlemarch Cardigan, or something that fits loosely over the hips, such as the Dinner at Eight Top.

Lastly, hourglass figures are about the same size in the hips and shoulders, but smaller in the waist.  Anything that is fitted in the ribs or waist will be most flattering.  We suggest the Circular Yoke Vest, the Empire Top, or the Short and Chic Cardi

The great thing about making your own clothes is that you can customize anything to be just right for your body. When making garments for other people, it’s especially helpful to have an idea of  the general shapes that are going to flatter them.

These patterns are just a few suggestions, and we’d love to know what your favorite flattering garments are.  Leave a comment below to let us know.

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  • Shelby

    Thanks for the help on how to find the best sweater to fit your body! I really like the grey sweaters, they just look great and would be something that I would have in my closet.

  • Christine

    The post about body size is great. Do you have any tips for knitting for the overweight, because I have found that knits are very clingy in all the wrong places, no matter what design you use. I believe I am in between an apple and a pear,

    Zontee says: Hi Christine, actually, we do! Click here for another article that has useful tips, such as wearing V-necks, which elongate your shape and wearing structured pieces so that they don’t cling too close to the body. Also, don’t forget to check out books that specifically have designs for plus-size women, like Margaret Hubert’s Plus Size Crochet: Fashions That Fit & Flatterclick here for a free pattern sampled from Margaret’s book. Hope that helps!

  • Eve

    What about those of us who are ORANGES with huge bellies (middle age spread 3x+) & who don’t have any bosom to carry it off?? What about a sweater vest that has “wings” at the outer shoulder? Found a sewing pattern for one at Hancock’s several weeks ago, but have not found one for knitting or crocheting.
    Thanks!

    Lindsey says: Hi Eve, If you’re looking for a sweater with wings, you might like the Elizabeth Wrap Cardigan or the Winged Jacket. Hope those help!

  • Luna

    How about some pictures of bodies that aren’t size 6?

    I fit best as ‘pear’ in that group, and those would look AWFUL on me because I have a belly too. I’d look like I was wearing maternity clothes.

  • Kristy

    I agree with Laura. Those models are sticks. I can’t tell by looking what figure they have. Something more true to life would be nice. I am also a woman with an expanded waistline (belly).

  • Sally

    It would be nice to see the actual pear and hourglass sweaters on bodies that are really that shape. The models pictured are not that shape by any means.

  • Phyllis

    It was nice to see the lovely models wearing knits for their body shapes but how about sweaters for those of us who are less than perfect in shape and weight. Garments that are slenderizing and enhancing!! I’d love a poncho but the way they’re made only makes my wide hips look even wider, almost framed in back. Sweaters are either too long and create a bubble look in back or they’re too short emphasizing my weight!
    Help us Lionbrand!!!!!

  • Holly

    I agree, would be nice to see the sweaters on ‘real’ people instead of the regular models that everyone uses. Just saying, they do employ ‘plus sized’ models!

  • Vicki Hamilton

    I was so hoping for some real examples. While the advice seems valid, it’s easier to envision it if you don’t use the same models for different body shapes (banana brown sweater and hourglass mauve, and then apple grey and pear navy). I cannot see how those sweater shapes would actually, truly, even sorta look on the body shape you describe.

  • Sara

    I have a real problem finding a flattering sweater for my body type. I am Plus sized and Tall. When I was younger and slender I was more Hourglass but My waist no longer clearly defined. Any suggestions of a sweater type for a tall pumpkin?

  • Victoria Christie-Healy

    Thank you for this excellent, practical article. I am a knitting instructor and I usually discourage my students from knitting sweaters for themselves because the results are often disappointing. I must also agree with the other comments that some of us have zaftig silhouettes and do not need all the extra cabling and ribbing that some of these designs feature. Since a sweater cannot be tried on before knitting it – Please use real life people to model your sweaters.

  • http://iknitthereforeiblog.blogspot.com Kathy Kathy Kathy

    Pear shape recommendations fail!

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  • Sheryl T

    I love all the examples of body shapes but, why oh why, are all the live models so thin & perfectly shaped. Where are the plus size models?????

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  • http://Ravelry.com/knitvonpurl Jo Annie

    I really love all these sweaters but I would really love to see some in crochet for my pear shape.

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  • Susan

    What knit pattern is like “Dinner at Eight”?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Susan, a patterns with a similar A-line shapes would be the Shaped Cable Top. Knit tank patterns on LionBrand.com include the Blissful Blue Top and the Chevron Tank Tunic. For more options, you may want to check the yarn community Ravelry.com, as it has a large pattern database that’s easy to sort. Hope that helps!

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