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?
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.