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Cloud Chaser: For CurvyGals Too

July 8th, 2010

Yesterday, I received a great question on Ravelry.

I have a 36DD chest and 42 inch hips. Would Cloud Chaser still look good on me?

I was initially taken aback. Of course it would! See, I designed this vest, like most of my designs, to look good on me. (I’m kind of selfish that way!) No, seriously, if I design for myself and my shape, I have a way of checking in as I go, being able to try on, and modify the fit if I think it’ll work better in a particular way.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was worth a blog post about how garments like these can work really well on a variety of shapes and sizes.

I don’t have the sample garment in Toronto at the moment. It was visiting the great folks at Lorna’s Laces during the TNNA tradeshow, and will be on the way back here soon. But it might be useful to show you some of the quick photos I took right after blocking it.

Let’s compare for a moment. On the left, you’ll see my very good friend Z. On the right? Yours truly.

It’s the same vest – the size M, approximately 38 inch finished. And while it fits both of us differently, I would knit the same size for myself, were I to do it again. My actual bust measurement is just over 42 inches, and my underbust is around 36. (This means I have to shop in specialty shops or Bravissimo, but I digress.)

Because of my shape, no garment is ever going to hang the same as on a more petite woman. In the case of Cloud Chaser, this means that the cabled collar will… um… stick out a bit more. However, the best thing, in my opinion, about this kind of shape is that it’s exceptionally forgiving.

The front sections still drape beautifully and have the added bonus of hiding my least favorite area; my belly and sides. I tend to carry my weight in the front, and despite the fact that I’m blogging about it, am quite self conscious of that area. What’s good about drapey-front garments is that they hang straight down from my chest, and never cling or highlight my stomach.

But rather than being drapey and oversized all around, Cloud Chaser can be quite fitted in the back, showing off your shape and fitting nicely.

There’s little worse than the feeling of having to wear something simply too big, because your front parts wouldn’t fit otherwise. I gravitate a lot towards cardigans and open-fronted garments for this very reason. I can pick a size that fits across the back and still have it work well in the front. In the case of Cloud Chaser, the back is rather elastic because of the cabled sections. If you select a yarn with some drape, like silk or alpaca content, it will tend to accommodate your shape slimly across the back, while hanging delicately on the front.

So, what size would you pick?

It depends.

I’ve taken to including some fit notes in my patterns, particularly for cardigans. For me, I prefer to choose the size that will cause the back to fit well. I use the measurement of my underbust to determine fit, knowing that the fronts will work even if they are a bit smaller on me than on someone with a smaller chest.

In this case, I went with about 2 inches of positive ease; I chose the size about 2 inches bigger than what my chest measurement would be, if I had two backs instead of a back and a front.

This works for my body. But it might not work for yours. For an unstructured garment like this, you might prefer to pick a size closest to your actual bust measurement. I could have gone up to the 42. The main difference would be that I’d have more fabric draped down the front; not necessarily a bad thing. The back would also be slightly wider, but with the cables, it’s likely it would pull in enough anyway.

What you don’t want to do is pick a size that’s too too big. In this case, I would never recommend going for a size much larger than your actual chest measurement. Because the fronts have so much fabric, you’re just going to be enveloped in an oversized garment. If you want to pin the fronts closed, you’ll have plenty of opportunity without going with a too-large size.

So, I hope this helps. These aren’t the best pictures of me. I took them with a self-timer the morning I finished the vest. I’ve started to use my friends as models because I can get better quality photographs, and I can art direct the shoot in a way I just can’t if I’m in front of the camera.

Oh! One more thing. If I’m not sure what styles will work on me, I sometimes go to a department store and just try on different shapes and sizes. It’s not ideal, but it’ll give me a great ‘preview’ before I invest all that time knitting.

In summary; I think Cloud Chaser is entirely wearable. At my office, three of us tried it on the day it was finished. We all have different shapes and it worked well on each of us. When I get the sample back, you know I’ll be wearing it a lot this fall and winter! It’s a great layering piece, and so fun to wear.

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9 Responses to “Cloud Chaser: For Curvy Gals Too”

  1. Jaki Says:

    I really appreciate this post – both for your honesty about the parts of you that you’re self conscious about, and for helping me feel this will be OK for me too. Albeit, in a larger size than you required (and I’m self conscious about many of my parts). Your thoughts on choosing ‘not too big’ are valuable as it’s something many of us “larger” girls do.

  2. Heidi Rosin Says:

    I am so glad I decided to PM Amy on Ravelry which generated this fantastic post! This one is getting turned into a .PDF for future reference on fit!!!

    Thank you so much Amy…for great designs and great feedback and as the first responder said…your honesty!

    Can’t wait to see more patterns from you in the future!!!

  3. beth Says:

    Thanks so much for addressing this! I am larger, have bought the pattern and quite excited to have this as a fall wardrobe piece!
    My question is yarn choice. I havent been able to find the new Lorna’s yarn yet anywhere. Have been trying to come up with something of a similar drape. Do you think Fleece Artist Wollie-Silk 3 ply would be a good choice? I am using it now for a project and love the feel. Any other yarn subs you would be willing to offer?
    thanks!

  4. Walden Says:

    Very nifty post. Thank you! I am making the cloud chaser now and did have some hesitation because I am a bigger girl, but this post helps ease some of my concern.

  5. amanda Says:

    i had a chat about this very subject with a shop owner last week. you will be pleased to know i gave your same answer even though i never read the blog post. i am a 40″ under-bust and a 48″ bust and though it did look a touch small on me yours still fit me when singer handed it over and i promptly put it on ;-) personally i would knit it in a 42 for myself probably.

  6. Eleanor Says:

    Thanks for the info on all the chat on this vest. My LYS boutgh the pattern and even had sample of the yarn. I was put off because I am busty and not sure it would look good but your input has helped. I am buying the pattern and yarn to make one for myself. Thanks

  7. Cindi Says:

    Thanks for the post. I just bought the pattern to make for my daughter and I was really unsure about the sizing. This cleared it all up. Now to find the perfect yarn. . .

  8. Joetta Fort Says:

    Can I get help understanding the directions for doing the collar? It seems like the idea is to start knitting, picking up stitches to join the collar as you go.

    But then, on page 4 it says to start picking up stitches anong the front right edge, and move around to the left side, Then, with all those stitches on the needle, you cast on 63 stitches at the end of the left front?

    Then, you knit the collar back along the way you came? It doesn’t make sense.

  9. Su Jolly Says:

    Thanks for this. I decided to knit this pattern, being curvy as draped fronts work well for me. But I find the pics of you in it, rather than your slimmer friend more helpful. Your figure is more like mine, albeit a bit smaller. I like to see patterns on a range of sizes.

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