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Size Inclusivity in Knitting Patterns: Where Are We Today?

Size Inclusivity in Knitting Patterns: Where Are We Today?

This is the second part of a blog series focusing on size inclusivity in knitting patterns. In the first part of the series I focused on finding an definition for the concept of size inclusivity and examined it from a designer's perspective.

In this second part I'll take a look at the status quo of size-inclusive patterns today. What features are typical in a size-inclusive pattern?

For the third and final part I'm going to need your help. The third part focuses on size inclusivity from the knitter's perspective. What are you, the knitter, looking for in a size-inclusive pattern? I would truly appreciate it if you'd fill out this short survey!


For this post I gathered data on 487 Raverly pattern pages from 121 unique designers using the #sizeinclusive hashtag. I limited the search to knitting patterns that were in the clothing category for the upper torso.

If both kids' and adult sizes were available for the same pattern, only adult sizes were included in the following analyses. Eight patterns were excluded because they were either fully adjustable or recipe-style and didn't therefore provide any size data. This resulted in a pool of 479 size-inclusive knitting patterns. All measurements were converted to inches for ease of comparison.

Out of these 479 patterns, over a half are sweaters (56%). The next most popular garment category is cardigans (26%), followed by tops and tees (13%). Fourteen are vests, 5 coats, 4 dresses, 3 shrugs, and one poncho.

Size-inclusive knitting patterns: number of sizes

Sizes and Labels

On average, size-inclusive knitting patterns are graded for 9 distinct sizes, corresponding with the CYCA size measurements for sizes XS to 5X. However, the number varies vastly between 2 and 20.

Size-inclusive knitting patterns: size labels

The two most common ways to label sizes are letter sizing (S, M, L etc., 44%) or giving the size as finished garment measurement (34%). The next most popular way for size labeling is sequential numbering (15%). In the minority are to-fit measurements (18 patterns) and alphabetical size labels (A, B, C etc., 13 patterns). Only two patterns indicate the size following a ready-to-wear sizing convention (0, 2, 4 etc.)

A typical size increment, that is, increase from one size to the next, is 4 inches. This varies greatly, too, from 1.88" to 20". In only one third of the patterns the size increments stays consistent between all sizes.

Knitter's vs. Garment Measurements

Nearly all patterns indicate finished garment measurements in the pattern notes (92%). Only 19% give the knitter's or intended wearer's to-fit bust measurements. Approximately 14% give both measurements; 8 patterns give neither.

Size-inclusive knitting patterns: to-fit bust measurements

A typical range for to-fit measurements is from 30" to 62". The largest size difference in a single pattern is a whopping 54" in a top pattern graded to fit bust sizes from 16" to 70". The smallest is just 22": to fit bust sizes 30" to 52".

Size-inclusive knitting patterns: finished garment measurements

On the whole, finished garment measurements in size-inclusive patterns range from 34" to 64" in chest circumference. But like with nearly all the figures, there is great variance in this, too. On the low end is a sweater with only a 15" difference between the smallest and largest size, graded from 44" to 59". And on the upper end: the same top pattern as mentioned above, with 17 sizes ranging from 20" to 72" in the finished garment.


Over 70% of the 479 patterns indicate either a suggested or modeled ease.

Size-inclusive knitting patterns: average ease

A typical ease in size-inclusive patterns is 4 inches. In the majority of the patterns indicating ease, ease is given as a range (62%); for the rest, as a single number. Suggested ease ranges from -15" to 0" for garments intended to be worn with negative ease and from 0" to 28" for garments intended to be worn with positive ease.

Typical Size-inclusive Pattern

To summarize the results above, a typical size-inclusive pattern is graded for 9 sizes in 4" increments with a finished garment measurement from 34" to 64" and intended to be worn with 4" of positive ease.

Typical Size-Inclusive Knitting Pattern

In the third and final part of the series I'll take a look at your responses and compare them with the results above. Do knitters' wishes regarding size inclusivity come true in today's knitting patterns?


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Size Inclusivity in Knitting Patterns: Where Are We Today?

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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