If your bust is 36

I’m making a sweater for my mom…it is a cardigan type…I would do a link, but don’t know how to…anyway…
her bust measurement it 36 inches and the length from the nape of her neck to her derriaire (behind) is 22 inches.

Here are my choices:

Bust at underarm: 36 (40,44,48,52)
Length: 23 and a half (24,24 and a half, 25,25 and a half)

My first instinct is to go for the first size, but then wonder if it would be “just the right fit” or “form fitting”.

I know there are terms like “negative ease” and I’ve read a little bit about it, but I don’t really understand it.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, since I told my mom I would make this for her 1 year and 10 months ago :oops:


I remember reading articles about ease in Knitting Daily emails. I went back to look and found that there is a lot of info with pictures of various size women trying on the same sweater and how it looks with negative to positive ease. Here’s a link to a list of the articles.

Does the sweater look baggy or more fitted? And what are the actual measurements? Take the total number of front and back stitches and divide by the pattern gauge sts/in for the small and see if it comes out to 36" or more or less. If it’s less, that means the sweater should have negative ease; if more, positive ease, if the same then it’s zero ease.

Sue, thank you!
The picture shows a loose fitting sweater. As far as “acutal measurements” the only other thing it says is
P (S,M,L,XL). I’m going to guess that the “P” means Petite??? And my mom is 5 foot 6 inches, and that’s not petite.
The back stitchs are 70(78,86,94,98)
The Left Front and Right Front stitchs are 34(38,42,46,50)

The total for “P” in 70 plus 34x2=138…138 divided by 3.5 stitchs per inch (guage)=39.42857
The total for “S” is 78 plus 38x2=146…146 divided by 3.5 stitchs per inch (guage)=41.71428

So for each case it is “positive ease”.

Which one would you go for?

Thanks so much,

Thanks Plant Goddess! That is where I saw the neg/positive ease article! I will go back and read it. As you can see here, Sue asked me a couple of questions and I answered them, I’m hoping this will be a quicker way for me to get the answer I need, plus I know, she knows about this stuff and can hopefully tell me what she would do!

Thanks so much!


Well that’s a hard call for me to make, Jen. It looks like the finished measurements will be about 3" more than actual sizing. Since it’s a cardigan, you want it loose to fit over other clothes. Do you have measurements from another similar type sweater? That would tell you if it’s in the 39" or 41" range.

Sue, do you mean 3 inches overall as, the bust would end up measuring 39 inches instead of 36 if I knit the “P” size?
and by “do you have measurements from another similar type sweater” do you mean one that my mom already has?

Yes to both.

No, I don’t have a sweater to measure.

Hmm, I don’t get why if I make the “P” size 36 inches…it will come out to be 39 inches!?! Is that just a given? Does that mean if I make the small size it will come out to be 43 inches?
Is this what all this positive and negative ease stuff is about? That when a pattern is written the pattern writer takes this in to account?
I have to go out of town this afternoon, leaving in 5 minutes, so I will think about all this and see what you answer to these last questions and make a decision and then go for it!!!

Thanks again so much for you help, I really appreciate you taking the time!


The sizes given are the people sizes; because it’s a loose fitting item, the [B]actual finished size[/B] will be larger. Size small will come out to be about 41", the med 43". Yes this is the positive/negative eash thing.

My bust size at fullest measurement is 37 and I was told to add four more inches for a finished bust size of 41 for a cardigan. I like cardigans bigger than smaller and so far it’s working out except that the wrist size of sleeve is too big so I’ll have to alter that somehow.

Once again thanks Sue! I’m going to go with the “P” size. I don’t want this to be swimming on her.
When it’s done I’ll post it!


Hi Sheri,
It was hard deciding which size to go with, but I don’t want it to be too big on my mother, so I’m going to go with the “P” size. It is 5 inches bigger than her bust size, but this is suppose to be loose fitting to begin with.

Hey Jen!
Thanks for asking this question! I always wondered about the “negative/positive ease thing” too!!:wink:

Hi Jen,
Does the cardigan have an overlapping closure? That might account for the added 3 inches to the overall measurements. That might mean that the actual finished P-size cardigan when closed would have no ease for a 36" bust. Is the pattern on-line?

Basically, negative ease means that the finished project is smaller than the wearer’s measurements so that it stretches around the wearer. Positive ease means that it is larger than actual measurements, making it varying degrees of loose.

If there is an overlapping closure on this cardigan, and the picture shows a loose cardigan, then I would go for the small size rather than the petite.

This is another good article explaining ease.

Good point - if the front edges just meet, then 3" is enough. but if they have a regular buttonband or a wider one, then you may want to go larger.