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Your Perfect Sweater Length

Where Will Your Sweater Land?

Whether you're knitting a crop top or a tunic, it's important to predict where your sweater will land.

Here's a tidbit - size charts almost universally are built for bodies that vary in weight, but not height. So that means that almost every sweater pattern you follow is designed for a woman who's approximately 5'5.5".

What About Trying on as You Go?

I can hear you now. "That's why I like top-down in-the-round sweaters. I can try on as I go!" But here's my take on that - most of us have a gauge that changes with blocking. You can get pretty close that way for some knits, but for most, you won't get very useful information. Especially if you're working with a slippery yarn like superwash merino!

Measure Your Body

  1. Start with Inner Neck - Put one end of your tape measure at the inner neck. That's the point where your neck meets your shoulder, halfway between the front and back of your body.

  2. Drop the tape straight down, over the bust, and see where your sweater will end. If you're modifying your top by adding short rows for bust shaping, add the length created by those extra rows. Where the tape ends, the top ends.

For even better accuracy

Our shoulders are slopes. Our inner neck is higher than our outer shoulder. So if a garment is perched out at the end of the shoulder, we need to measure from that location to accurately predict length.

To assess length when your garment fits close to the neck, like The Ruffle Addendum, you'll put your tape up against the inner neck. If the garment has a wider neck (such as a boat neck), measure more accurately by moving the tape away from your neck and towards the shoulder.

Boroka wears a delicate ruffled handknit tank top.
This is Boroka's Ruffle Addendum

Where to add the length?

Once you've determined where your garment will land, and that you want to add (or remove length), where does it go?

  1. If you're changing the length for style preferences, you will want to adjust between the underarm and the hem.

  2. If you're changing the length because you are taller or shorter than the size chart, you may want to adjust the rows in the armhole depth AND the rows between the underarm and the hem

Add or Remove Rows Between the Underarm and the Hem

If you're knitting a body that's straight from the hem to the underarm, slip those rows in and out anywhere you want!

If you're working a pattern with shaping, you'll need to make some choices.

A-line shaping

If your garment has a-line shaping, it will be wider at the hip than the bust. To change the length of your garment, add or remove rows between increase/decrease rows.

Molly wears a teal handknit tank top with ties at the v-neck, lace detail, and a gentle a-line shape
Molly added 1.75" to her The Ruffle Addendum

Tip: You can increase or decrease on the wrong side of the work - knitting patterns typically keep all the shaping on one side for convenience, but there's nothing to keep you from working shaping on either side.

Waist shaping

If you're going to be narrowing for a waist and then returning to your starting width, you'll need to use that dropped tape measure to determine your waist so that the narrowest part of the sweater matches your natural waist (the narrowest part of your body). Then adjust your rows accordingly.

Adding rows to the armhole

If you are adjusting length because you are taller or shorter than 5'5.5", you may need to adjust the armhole depth. Otherwise, you may end up with an armpit that binds or reaches your waist!

As a cheater's guide, for every inch you are taller or shorter than 5'5.5", add or subtract approximately 1/10 of an inch to your armhole depth/raglan depth/yoke depth.

Go Further

Get YOUR best fit ever!

Did you know I offer 1:1 consults with knitters? We can talk about your fit needs and possible modifications, getting a better fit by choosing a size more accurately, or I can help you get unstuck. Learn more here!

Adjust your sleeves, too!

Once you're happy with your body length, visit this blog post to nail down your sleeve length.

I hope this helps you get your best fit ever! If you try this or have questions, let me know in the comments!

I'm committed to providing high-quality educational information for knitters - without a paywall. If you'd like to support this work, visit my Ko-fi page to learn more about becoming a member or leaving a one-time tip :)

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