A Guest Post: Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring for a Sweater + Free Sweater Planning Guide

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A Guest Post: Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring for a Sweater + Free Sweater Planning Guide

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Today, we have a guest post from Johnny Vasquez, a knitwear designer, and “Head Honcho” over at the New Stitch A Day blog.  Johnny will be sharing some important tips to help you learn how to get proper measurements to ensure the perfect fit for your sweater!

One of the most important parts of knitting a sweater is being honest with your body and gauge measurements. If either your body or gauge measurements are even the slightest bit off, you risk having a sweater that doesn’t fit as well as you’d hoped. Taking the time to take accurate measurements before you begin your project will pay off in the long run with a great fitting sweater!

Measuring Gauge
I’ll be honest, when I started knitting I didn’t even know that you were supposed measure gauge. I figured they just put it in the pattern as a given fact – you knit with a specific size needles to correspond to the yarn, and you end up with the given gauge. Right? Not so much.  Gauge varies by person, as it depends on your style of knitting or crocheting (if you have a tight or loose style of crafting, it will affect the gauge)

Your gauge (that is the number of stitches and rows per inch) is incredibly important because it will determine how big or small your sweater will be. This also means that knowing how to measure your gauge is key. To learn how to accurately measure gauge, check out Lion Brand’s information on gauge swatching here.

Taking Body Measurements
Let’s take a look at how to properly take all of the measurements that you will ever need to make a great sweater!

It is really difficult to get accurate measurements if you are measuring yourself (believe me, I’ve tried), so enlist the help of a close friend to help you. A great way to make measuring fun is to have a measuring night with your knitting group, make an event out of it!

The following measurements are great to have when in need of getting that perfectly fit sweater.  You may not need these for every sweater project, but they’re great to have just in case.

While you’re measuring, be sure to keep the measuring tape snug but not too tight.

1. Chest/Bust
Measure around the fullest part of your chest. Be sure to keep the measuring tape parallel to the floor.

2. Neck
Measure around the largest part of the neck. If you are creating a circular neckline and would like to make a wider neck, you can add inches here. However, I would not recommend making the neck any larger than 10” larger than your actual neck measurement .

3. Raglan
Measure diagonally from your shoulder seam at the point where it meets the collar to the side seam at underarm. ** If you have added extra inches to your neck measurement to make a wider opening, only measure the raglan to the where the widened neckline will hit at your shoulder (If it is wider, this should make the raglan length shorter)


4. Armhole Depth
Measure from the top outside edge of the shoulder down to the armpit.

5. Body Length
Measure from from underarm to your desired sweater length (crop, regular, long or tunic).

6. Natural Waist
Measure around at height of navel.

7. Back Waist Length
Measure from the most prominent bone at the base of the neck to the natural waistline.

8. Cross Back
Measure from shoulder to shoulder.
Editor’s note: Please note that the cross back measurement should be taken from shoulder joint to shoulder joint; not between the shoulder blades as pictured.

9. Hip
Measure around lower hip at widest point.

10. Sleeve Length
Measure from measure from armpit to cuff with arm slightly bent.

11. Center Back Neck to Cuff
With arm slightly bent, measure from back base of neck across shoulder around bend of elbow to wrist.

12. Upper Arm
Measure around the widest section of the upper arm located above the elbow.
13. Wrist
Measure loosely around wrist

14. Elbow
Measure around arm at elbow with arm bent

You made it! Now you have all of the common sweater measurements and have taken the first step to making a great fitting sweater. The good thing is that you have your measurements and can use them over and over again!
I like to occasionally take measurements for my family members and keep them on hand just in case I decide to make a sweater for anyone (then I don’t have to give up my secret by asking to measure them when the time comes).

If you’d like to learn more about measuring and everything else that goes into preparing to knit or crochet a sweater, download our free Sweater Planning Guide. In this guide, we talk about choosing a suitable yarn, how much yarn to buy and how to plan a sweater that you’ll love!

Click here to download *if you don’t see the guide in your inbox, check your spam filter.

This guest post is a part of the 30 Day Sweater Challenge promo tour. Join us this October as we help 5,000 knitters around the world knit a sweater they’ll love, in 30 days. To sign up just visit 30daysweater.com/lionbrand and download your free Sweater Planning Guide. It will help you get started on the right foot! See you in October!

All CC Images are a courtesy of the 30 Day Sweater group on Flickr and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

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  • Just a reminder for other people who are waiting for their email with the sweater planning guide. Check your spam box.

    • Thank you for mentioning that Lynn! I have just gone in and updated the post to add that reminder.

  • THANK YOU for the free Sweater Planning Guide! It will help immensely.

  • Step 8 says “8. Cross Back
    Measure from shoulder to shoulder.”, but the photo shows the width measurement being taken from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, not at the actual shoulders. Which is the correct way?

    • The cross back measurement should be taken from shoulder to shoulder. A good tip: follow the natural “crease” of where your arms meet your body when your arms are down and follow that line upward to your shoulders; measure from one to the other. Hope that helps!

  • […] Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring for a Sweater Free Sweater Planning Guide […]

  • Please help, my husband has a 42in chest but a 47 inch waist and I want to knit him a jumper, which measurement should I use?

    • Hi Cilla,

      Are you using a pattern? Consult your pattern, or go with the waist measurement — this is the most crucial measurement.

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