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  • Writer's pictureNicky

5 Ways To Level Up Your Pattern Writing Today

When I first decided I wanted to write my own patterns, it seemed like such a daunting task. Although I had been knitting for decades and creating custom pieces either by modifying existing patterns, or without a pattern at all, I still worried that I didn't have the knowledge or experience to write quality patterns. I took Aroha Knits' SWATCH course which gave me a framework for how to design, write, and launch a pattern. It improved my confidence immensely, but I quickly realized there were some things I'd only learn through experience.

Some of you only know me as a designer, but I'm a technical editor too - so I see new patterns in progress across my desk every week, and I learn something new from every single pattern I work on. Here are a few of my favourite easy ways to improve your pattern writing today.

1. Size by measurement

Sizes like XS, S, etc are not consistent from one brand to the next. They can be confusing, or worse, alienating. Make sure your customers have an easy time choosing their perfect size by providing the garment measurements instead. Here are the most important measurements for someone deciding to make your pattern:

- Chest circumference

- Upper sleeve circumference

- Waist and hip circumference if different from chest

- Sleeve and body length

- Yoke depth or armscye depth

An easy way to present these measurements is on a schematic. You can ask your tech editor if they offer this service, or learn to make one yourself.

An important thing to include when sizing this way is the recommended ease. This is the amount of difference between the actual measurement of the garment and the measurement of that point on the body. For example, if I wear a sweater with a chest circumference of 38" and my full bust is 36", then I am wearing the garment with 2" of positive ease. The photos of your sample should be modelled with the recommended amount of ease, and the amount of ease shown should be listed to help knitters choose their size. Here's how this will look in your pattern:


  • Designed to be worn with 0-2" of positive ease (or more). Model is wearing size 38" with 2" of positive ease

  • Chest - 31.25 (34.75, 38, 42.5, 47, 50.25, 54.75, 59.25, 62.75)"

  • Upper Arm - 10.75 (11.25, 12, 13, 14.5, 16.5, 18, 19.5, 19.5)"

  • Yoke Depth - 6.5 (7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5)"

  • Underarm to Hem Length - 10.5 (10.75, 11, 11.25, 11.25, 11.5, 11.5, 11.75, 11.75)"

  • Sleeve Length (optional) - 14.5 (15, 15, 15.5, 15.5, 16, 16, 16.5, 16.5)"

I see many designs that list sizes as 28-30 (32-34, 36-38 ... and so on. I suspect this is because this is the way some sizing charts, such as the Craft Yarn Council's, are set up. A discussion with other tech editors recently determined that this method can be misleading. The same size sweater is not going to fit a 28" chest and a 30" chest the exact same way. It also makes an assumption about how much ease the knitter might want. We agreed that giving the finished measurement and information about the amount of ease shown in the photos is much more useful and clear.

2. Convert measurements using 2.5

Trust me, I know how controversial this sounds, but hear me out. I was converted, and when I've explained it to others, I&#x