Picking a Size for Cruel Summer

As with most garment knitting, sometimes the hardest thing is just deciding on what size to make! The more garments you make though, the easiest this decision gets because you’ll become more accustomed to your own measurements and the type of fit you prefer. Cruel Summer is all about drape so you’ll want to pick a size that is larger than your actual measurements. But how much larger depends on a couple of factors: 1) your own personal style and 2) keeping all of your proportions in mind. Let me talk a bit more about this…

To start, it’s a good idea to know these two measurements on your body: bust/chest and high hip. Below is a diagram to show where these measurements are on you. Please note that your high hip is generally at your hip bone and approx. 4″ down from your natural waist. If you plan on making your own Cruel Summer longer, then measure the circumference of wherever you want your hem to fall on your body. For more info about taking your body measurements, check out this article from Interweave.

Next, take a look at the finished garment circumference measurements for the hem as well as the chest (these are listed on page 1, or on the schematic on page 8). The key with this piece is that you want positive ease at both the hem as well as the chest. What that means is that you want to pick a size whose finished hem circumference and finished chest circumference are both larger than what your actual measurements are at those 2 places. In the below diagram you can see the shape of Cruel Summer and why you need to account for both of those circumferences:

In case it helps as a general guide/starting point, below is a “to fit bust/chest size” range (meaning, of the 7 size options, find the range that your actual bust is in and then consider making that size). For example, if you are a 42″ actual bust, then size 3 may work well for you which is the 40-44 range).

Approximate “to fit bust/chest sizes”: 28-32 (34-38, 40-44, 46-50) (52-56, 58-62, 64-68)”

However, I strongly recommend you still measure your high hip as I instruct above because if it is larger than your bust/chest, then you may need to size up. For so many people, their bust/chest is not their widest circumference so it’s always important to keep all your circumferences in mind when you are picking a size (for any garment). This is demonstrated/explained further in example 1 and 2 below. And of course, your own personal style is also a factor, which I talk about in example 3. For a more flowy/drapey look, you may also want to size up.


Example 1 – my sample:

My actual bust circumference is 33″. My high hip measurement is 34.5″. So when I look at the size options for Cruel Summer, although the chest circumference of size 1 is 40.5″ (which would give me over 7″ of positive ease at the bust), the hem circumference is only 31.5″, which is 3″ less than my actual high hip circumference. This “negative ease” would not have provided the drape the I wanted and would make the garment look too fitted at the bottom. Size 2 has a chest circumference of 46.5″ and a hem circumference of 37.5″ – this gives me 3″ of positive ease at the hem and 13″ of positive ease at the bust. Size 2 seemed like the best match for my proportions – and in a dolman-sleeve shape like in Cruel Summer, having 13″ of ease in the bust is totally fine – it’s meant to be more oversized like this so don’t be concerned with having 10-18″ of positive ease at the bust potentially (even though that may seem like a lot!).

Example 2:

Let’s say you have a bust circumference of 37″ and a high hip circumference of 40″. Looking at the schematic measurements, although size 2’s chest circumference of 46.5″ would work well, its hem circumference of 37.5″ would not. So looking at size 3, the chest circumference is 51.75″ (which would give 14.75″ of positive ease at the bust) and the hem circumference is 42.75″ (which provides 2.75″ of positive ease at the high hip) – so that is the best option then as you’ll have positive ease at both locations!

Example 3:

Let’s say you have a bust measurement of 48″ and a high hip circumference of 44″. Looking at the hem circumference options, size 4 is the first size that would allow for positive ease at the hem (since it’s finished hem is 48.75″, providing 4.75″ of positive ease). The chest circumference of size 4 is 57.75″, which would provide 9.75″ of positive ease at the bust. That size will definitely work! But let’s say you really want your Cruel Summer to be super flowy and have more of an oversized look to it. Then you could consider going up to a size 5 then which would give you 10.5″ of positive ease at the hem and 15.5″ of positive ease at the bust. So in this example, personal style can also play a role when you are deciding between 2 sizes.

Changing the length can have an impact on fit

If you plan on making your Cruel Summer longer and if your lower hip circumference is larger than your high hip, then you’ll want to make sure the size you pick has a hem circumference that is larger than your lower hip measurement. The best way to know whether or not you want to lengthen your garment is to look at the schematic on page 8 and then look at the “J” measurement. This is the overall garment length from the top of your neck down to the hem. Look at what that measurement is for the size you want to make and then take a tape measure and measure where this falls on your body. If you do want to lengthen:

  • Decide how many additional inches you want.
  • Make sure that your bottom circumference at this point is still less than what your size’s finished hem circumference is.
  • Add in those inches after working the hem but before you start the side shaping.