Sweater Fit Questions & Answers: Sleeves (Part 1)

8 February 2023

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The following question was sent in by Gayle F.

Q: How do you customize a sweater when your upper arms are a completely different size from the rest of you? For instance, my upper arms are a size 18, my torso is a size 12. It makes knitting sweaters hard.

One of the most frustrating parts of sweater fit is finding a size that fits both your torso and your arms. Sleeve fit, specifically armhole and biceps fit, is one more thing we can blame on standard sizing charts. It’s also one of the main issues I’ve tried to resolve with my sizing table, published right here in Digits & Threads.

Do you have a question about how to make sweaters so that they fit better? Ask here!

Continuing Kim McBrien Evans’s series on garment size and fit, this instalment tackles more reader questions.

Other pieces in this series:

  • Reader questions on choosing which size to make
  • The first step to modifying a sleeve is to identify the sleeve and armhole construction of your sweater, and to identify what part of the sleeve you want to modify. In every case, making a change to the sleeve or sleeve cap will affect what happens to the armhole, and vice versa, so a good understanding of the construction of your sleeve and how it connects to the body is an excellent start. In this article, we’ll look at two common sleeve/armhole combinations, each with a unique construction: drop shoulder and circular yoke. We’ll address set-in sleeves and raglan constructions in future columns, as adjusting those requires different strategies.

    All images by Kim McBrien Evans.

    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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