Measuring Matters: Sleeve Measurements for a Perfect Fit

19 June 2024
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Sleeve fit is one of the most common fit issues I come across in my sweater classes. Understanding which measurements to take for sleeve fit, how to take those measurements, and how they apply to sweaters is essential to unravelling the mystery of why sleeves don’t fit your body.

Designing good sleeve fit is challenging because knit and crochet designers don’t have sufficient access to body measurement data to help us design better-fitting sleeves. You can help us improve the data by participating in my Sleeve Measurement Survey and sharing the link widely. This will help me gather data to share with designers everywhere.

Sleeve fit is not just about getting sleeves that are larger than your biceps and armholes that are not too shallow or too deep. Sleeve fit is about celebrating the magnificent construction of our shoulders and arms, respecting the mobility needs of our joints, and understanding the underlying bone and muscle structures that support the weight of our sweaters. To do this, we need good measurements that respect our bone structure as well as the softer, more changeable parts of our anatomy.

Bone measurements are taken over relatively boney parts of your body. Because most of your skeleton doesn’t change significantly once you reach adulthood, sweaters based primarily on these measurements are more likely to still fit at critical places like your shoulders, even when there are changes in the muscles and fat portions of your body. Using primarily boney measurements as a basis for fit means your sweaters will fit better where it matters most, and as your body changes, the sweater will fit differently—but it will still fit.

Soft measurements are based on the soft, likely-to-change parts of your body such as bust, belly, and bum. We still need to respect and fit the softer parts of our bodies, but they should not be our primary focus when it comes to good fit.

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Copyright © Kim McBrien Evans except as indicated.
Photo of Kim McBrien Evans

About Kim McBrien Evans

Curiosity and exploration are the name of the game for Canadian knitwear designer and indie hand dyer, Kim McBrien Evans. A lifelong love of colour, texture, and pattern prompted Kim to transition from working artist to textile maven. Her knitwear designs are known for their ability to turn an abstract idea into a textile reality while simultaneously fitting and complimenting a wide range of bodies. This design work has lead her to explore how home sewers and knitters can create clothing that fits, while showing professional designers the beauty of inclusive design. Her yarn company, indigodragonfly, is renowned for its vibrant colours, offbeat names, and ever expanding plan for world domination. Her work has appeared in Vogue Knitting, Knitscene, Knit.Wear, Knitting Magazine (UK), A Stash of One’s Own (ed. Clara Parkes), The Sewcialists and Uppercase. She is co-author of Custom Shawls for the Curious and Creative Knitter.

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