Waist Shaping

Quick edit: Notice I don’t talk about bust here. I happen to like the same width for my bust and waist, a slight negative vs. a slight positive ease. Everyone is different, so think about what is best for you.

I don’t know about you, but when I see a pattern with body instructions that read”knit straight stockinette for 14.5 inches”, I laugh. If only. With my tiny shoulders and large hips, I always like to add at least a couple of inches around the bottom of the sweater. Here is how I do it:

Waist Shaping.png

  1. Make a swatch. Really, if you’re making a sweater, you should be making a swatch already. Make sure you know the stitches and rows per inch, because they are both important. In my most recent sweater, my swatch was 4″x4″ with 24 stitches and 32 rows.
  2. I measure my waist (A) and my hips (B). If the difference between my hips and waist is about 4″ (A-B), I might decide to add 2″ to the circumference of the bottom edge. Why? I like a little more negative ease on the hips than the stomach.
  3. Based on my gauge from step one and my measurements from step two, I know I need to add 12 stitches between C and D (in a top down sweater).
  4. Next, I measure under my arms (C) to where my waist is (D). This tells me where I should start the waist increases (again, in a top down sweater). On me, this is 6 inches. That means I should knit straight stockinette for 6 inches after I have divided the arms.
  5. The final measurement between my waist and hips (D and E) determine how frequently I should increase the number of stitches. For me, this is 4.5 inches.
  6. Once I am at D (my waist), I place two stitch markers, centered about 2 inches apart on the back (shown on image in purple).
  7. In step 3, I calculated a 12 stitch increase. I plan on doing 2 increases per row, which means I need 6 repeats over 4.5 inches. My swatch gave me 8 rows per stitch, so each repeat should have 6 rows. So, this is what I knit for each repeat:
    1. Knit until 1 stitch before the first marker, mfb. Knit until marker, mfb.
    2. Knit 5 rows in straight stockinette.
  8. Once the increases are complete, I knit straight stockinette until the body is at the desired length (minus ribbed hem).

So, what are your variables? In other words, what do you change to customize it for other people’s bodies? I made this work sheet to help with the calculations. Hopefully it isn’t too daunting. It’s actually very straight forward. Don’t forget, this will require more yarn! My Christmas in July sweater called for 2 skeins of main colour, but I used just over 2.

You can see the results of my freshly blocking Christmas in July. I drew lines on to show where the increases are (the lines also show the path the stitch markers travel).


This can be applied to bottom up sweaters, you just need to decrease (symmetrically with ssk and k2tog) instead of increasing. You will start the project with the extra X stitches calculated in step 2. The calculations should remain the same. I did this in my Tweedy Owl pullover.



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