Short rows at the bust - how does this affect the width?

Hi all, I had a general question about short rows for the bust. I’d like to add some to a top because it has a band underneath the bust, and I want to make sure that band is level across the front and back, so I want to add some extra vertical length to just the front (with short row bust darts).

But I was curious - when you add short rows to the front, should you remove width from the bust at the same time, so there isn’t extra fabric?

Like if you’re adding 1" of vertical short rows at the bust, would you subtract 1" of width from the bust measurement to account for it?

The number of sts across the entire row will stay the same so you won’t have to change the width of the bust sts. There are extra rows worked over the middle section of the bust but eventually you will work over all the sts in the row. You’re having an effect on the length of the front rather than the width.
There’s a nice discussion of bust short rows here:

and a more quantitative dicussion here:

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thanks for sharing those links! I understand that short rows don’t change the stitch count at the bust. But let’s say I have a garment that is exactly the correct width at the fullest point of my bust, but I’d like just the front of it to be longer so it doesn’t ride up in the front. If I’m adding extra length to the front, then I’m basically adding more volume to the bust section. So if I don’t decrease from the width at the full bust, won’t that cause excess fabric? I don’t see any mention of it in the blog posts I’ve read so maybe I’m imagining an issue that doesn’t exist?

It seems to me that you’re adding fullness to the bust and preventing the front from riding up by adding the extra rows. I don’t see that that is going to add to the width. It may be that the best way to be sure of this is to try it either on a swatch or on your project. If you work it on your project, you might add in a lifeline before the short rows just in case you don’t like the way they look.


This is something I do frequently. Adding length in the front does not affect the width in my experience. I usually decrease a # of stitches below the bust but above the waist to give the sweaters some form. The short row horizontal “darts” are done after I increase back out to full width.
I’ve done this ever since I saw it suggested in my Passap patterns, for ‘stout’ women. Now days I’m not so stout but the shaping helps me anyway. I have a post menopause thicker waist. Shaping just above the actual waist & in the bust area actually flatters the area.


What a phrase! Lucky to have it in context or I’d think it meant women who enjoyed drinking stout as their ale of preference.

@keira_knitly in my mind the extra rows and extra fabric are used up in the straightening in length of the front, so the fabric is already used up on length and wouldn’t be bigger on the bust. As salmonmac and fluffyYarn said. I haven’t done it myself but it sounds very interesting and I am interested in adjustments for fit. To me it seems one of the hardest aspects of knitting.


As someone who uses short rows extensively for shaping on sweaters and tops I can assure that done correctly short rows do not add width. The whole purpose is to add length where it is needed without increasing width. I use them to keep the neckline from getting too deep, too fast while continuing to add length to the armhole a few inches below the shoulder. I use them lower to add that length back in below the bust. Determining exactly how many short rows turns and the best placement is your real challenge.


No, you should stick with the same width.

I can’t really explain this, just point you towards tutorials on short-row bust darts, such as this one:

You can see the the garment still fits nicely width wise after the bust darts are done.

Some people combine horizontal and vertical bust darts to get the fit they want, but you don’t have to use both.


Do a swatch and measure. You’ll see how it works then :slight_smile:

This shows both types of darts: short row, which adds length; and inc/dec, which adds and subtracts width (can be used to shape waist as weell).


Oh, just one more thought. If you knit bust darts into a piece of knitting and then lay the piece of knitting flat and smoosh down the dart volume, trying to force the 3D piece to be flat, the sides of the piece next to the bust darts will bulge out.

However, when the garment is worn, the dart volume will be filled by the wearer’s bust, and the side seams will be straight (if the darts are the right size).

When you block a garment with bust darts, you can fill the bust area with scrunched up plastic bags or similar so it dries in the right shape.


Oh, one bit of advice, when measuring and planning your horizontal short row darts, stay away from the apex of the bust 1 inch or so. If you run it all the way to the apex, it draws attention to the area and the shaping is not nice and rounded. It can look pointed. Plus it will invite closer inspection, making any small bumps from the short rows stand out more.


thanks everyone, this thread has been super helpful! I’ve used short rows for myself but I have a pretty small bust so it would be tough for me to see any dramatic difference in excess fabric. but I was trying to think about how to customize a pattern I’m working on that really requires getting the length of the front bust correct (photo at bottom of this post - you can see that there’s a tie right under the bust, so obviously you can’t get that length wrong or else the tie will be in the middle of your bust :D), which I’d like to make work for people with larger bust ratios as well. I don’t have any close friends near me with those measurements for me to try a sample on, so just trying to work on getting the math as close as I can before I hand it over to test knitters. Hearing all of you strongly validate that it won’t affect the width gives me more confidence to move forward! Truly so grateful for this forum, I really appreciate everyone’s expertise!


What a pretty design! Is it knitted from the top down?

If so, maybe this tutorial would help (the video):

To try on samples of larger bust sizes, you could pad a sewing mannequin by putting a larger bra on it than the mannequin’s size and padding out the bust. (Bra from op shop would work.) Or even put the bra on yourself and pad it!