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How to Downsize a Completed Sweater

Every time I start knitting a garment, the excitement of getting something new to wear is just indescribable! I LOVE NEW CLOTHES!

This creative gas fuels me along to the finish line, especially if I have an event or holiday right around the corner to wear my new design. Step on IT!

SCREECH! What's this? That fabulous pulli is hanging like a sack around my waist? OR, I followed your pattern, Ms. ChicKnits, and this sweater still gapes as bad as those drivers lookin' at a man changing a tire on the freeway...


the Template

One of the easiest and accurate ways to fix your BIG garment is to use a SMALLER garment that fits you perfectly as a TEMPLATE and Downsize It . (For some more thoughts on the origins of this approach, read this article ...)

Of course, the easiest things to fix are sleeveless garments, so we'll start with a shell. After you understand how this works, you can move up the food chain to a ..... Pullover or Cardi!

Here is my favorite shell *template*. I've had it probably ten years - it fits me like no other. I've stopped wearing it as clothing and donated it to the ChicKnits Workshop...


Apply Template to Larger Garment

Using the garment you've chosen that fits you best as a template, pin it to the larger garment with big T-pins, just like you would a sewing pattern. Be especially careful to place the template equidistant from both sides of the garment. As you can see, the only places that needs to be altered on my shell are the side seams.

Here is my template pinned to my larger garment. This poor shell was made from very stretchy cotton - sometimes YOU JUST DON'T KNOW how the fabric you make is going to behave until after the knittin' is done.

In this case, the fabric bloated out to GRANDE proportions and left the viewer with a goodly amount of my BRA exposed under my arm (truly not for the faint of heart!!!)


Make a New Seam on Larger Garment

Using a sewing machine, carefully put the two knitted garments under the presser foot. I have set my presser foot to the mid position (out of left, mid, right choices). The left edge of the presser foot will travel alongside the edge of the template.

Using a closely matching thread and a mid-size stitch, sew your seam. Sew one more row of straight stitching very close to the outside edge of the first seam. THEN, zigzag a seam very close to the outside edge of the second straight seam.

IF you are uncomfortable leaving your template on the garment as you sew or if it would cause undue stress to the knitted fabric, use a contrasting yarn to baste a temporary seam.

Remove your template and sew your seam as given above, but on top of your basted outline.

If you do not have a sewing machine, use the yarn you knit the garment from and backstitch a new seam slightly away from the edge of your template.

Here is the sewn seam - you have to look carefully because I really matched that thread!


Trim the New Seam

Using the sharpest pair of scissors you own, trim your new seam as close to the zigzag seam as possible without clipping the threads of that seam.

If you sewed your seam by hand, use a matching colored thread, and blanket stitch the edge of your new seam so it won't unravel.


The New Downsized Garment

Here's the completed downsized garment, wrong side out.


Steam to Finish

Depending on the fiber content of your garment, steam or iron the new seam AWAY from the front of the garment.



Here is my much improved and nicely fitting shell!



┬ęBonne Marie Burns
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