I’ve talked a lot about ease in the past, but in this blog post I’m going to be specifically talking about ease in drop-shoulder garments. In this construction style, the silhouette of the garment typically has these characteristics: angled shoulder, sleeve line that comes straight down from outer shoulder and boxy body (although sometimes body shaping can be involved too):
Here are just a few examples of drop-shoulder designs I have created:
How sizing can be different in drop shoulder garments
You may notice that in many drop-shoulder sweaters that the suggested amount of ‘ease’ is much larger than in other sweater styles (note: if you are new to knitting sweaters and aren’t sure what “ease” is, check out my blog post here for an introduction to it). For example, in raglan sweaters, it’s common to see the amount of suggested ease in the 1-4″ range. But in drop-shoulder garments you will often see 8-12″ of positive ease suggested. Why so much? Because in many drop-shoulder sweaters, it’s meant to drape off your frame loosely, not hugging your curves at all but instead just flowing downwards from the shoulder. So in order to have that ‘flow’ you need to pick a size whose finished circumference is approximately 8-12″ larger than your bust circumference. In all of the above photos, I’m wearing the garments with approximately 10-11″ of positive ease at the bust.
But every body is different!
So with all of that said though, every person’s body is different and although the range of 8-12″ of positive ease is commonly suggested, you can pick a different amount of ease that suits your style, body shape and desired fit. To give you an idea of what a drop-shoulder sweater can look like at different amounts of positive ease, below are some photos of other finished Azalea tops – thank you so much to these wonderful knitters for sharing!
As you can see from the above, there is a wide range of ease amounts – and they all look fantastic! It’s important to keep in mind that there is not absolute “right” amount of ease – it’s more about what’s right for you and the look you are going for with the particular design. It may also depend on the season you plan to wear your garment and if you’ll be wearing any layers underneath, or how you will layer over it. I have found with drop-shoulder garments there can be such a wide range of sizes that you could pick from, and the one you decide on just depends on how you plan to wear and style it.
Here are some more tips about drop-shoulder garments and ease:
Sleeve/Armhole Opening Considerations: If you choose to make a size that will give you a lot less ease than what the pattern suggests, it means that your sweater will fall closer to your body – this goes for your sleeves too. Your sleeve/arm opening will fall higher-up on the arm than if you had chosen the suggested ease, and so the sleeve may likely fit tighter on your arm. So one tip I have is that if you choose less ease, you may want to consider knitting the armhole depth of a size or two larger (it will just depend on your desired sleeve fit and your own upper arm measurement).
Add Body Shaping to Allow for Different Hem and Bust Measurements: Let’s say you want 8-12″ of positive ease at the hem, but you have narrow shoulders and are afraid that amount of ease would be too much width at your shoulders – consider casting-on for the size that is 8-12″ of ease, and then working some decrease rounds in the body so that by the time you get to the underarm, you have the amount of stitches on the needles of a size smaller (note: in the above photos, this is what Vivian did for her Azalea). I go into more details about how to do this on this Azalea Body Tips page.
If you would like more tips specific to Azalea, you can check out my Azalea Sizing Tips page. I hope some of this information has been helpful, and as always if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out!