Three Key Measurements for Handmade Tanks

Hi Friends, it's Bess writing this week. Jen and I just returned from Chicago where we attended H and H Americas, an industry trade show. It always fills us with ideas, and we've made it an annual joy to stop by String Theory in Glen Ellyn.

This year, we spent an evening with String Theory talking about getting the most out of your knits. We also took measurements for everyone (I'm pretty sure it was everyone!) and looked at choosing a size together. It was so wonderful!

Knowing some key measurements (beyond full and even upper bust) makes a world of difference in knitting something you LOVE versus something you halfheartedly leave in the back of your closet.

In this article, I'm going to specifically talk about key measurements for tanks; however, these are also really important measurements for set-in sleeve sweaters! Let's dive in.

Jen stares down her shoulder in a perfectly fitting tank.

One of Jen's super helpful articles on taking your measurements covers these three measurements and even more! Read It Here.

Upper Bust

Yes, I did say we were going to go beyond upper bust, and we will! Still, we are going to start here for anyone that hasn't gotten acquainted with this important measurement.

Most of our patterns (excluding some deep back catalog) offer sizing guidance based on your upper bust measurement. This is essentially the circumference of your torso without any breast tissue.

To measure, you wrap your measuring tape around your shoulder blades, and then at a slight angle under your underarms to wrap around the front of your chest just above any breast tissue.

In a One Wild pattern, you'll see an upper bust measurement listed for each size offered in our pattern. Choosing the size that is closest to your upper bust measurement gives you the best fit in most cases.

Cross Front

Here's a case where upper bust WON'T give you the best fit, when you're knitting a tank or a set-in sleeve garment and you have a smaller or larger than predicted cross front.

This measurement is the width of your front at the underarm. Holding a pencil under each of your armpits and asking a friend to measure from one pencil tip to the other gives you this width.

A set-in sleeve garment will fit best if the seams land right at this width. A tank may have a narrower measurement here and still fit you well; however, this is a great way to check if your bra straps will be wider than the garment. To some people this is a make or break detail, and adjusting the width of your tank to the width of your bra straps can be done fairly easily! (If you make the arm side narrower, add some to the neck, and vice versa.)

Bess lounges on a leather sofa, her hand knit tank is in focus showing a sculpted ribbed neckline.

The elegant neckline of Betty's Mystique creates a slightly more narrow shoulder, some folks may want to cast off fewer stitches in the arm shaping and decrease more stitches at the neckline for straps that will sit a bit wider.


Finally, armscye depth is an important measurement to know for all handmade tanks, tees, shirts, sweaters, bras, or dresses. This is a highly variable measurement, meaning often people do not have the armscye depth predicted for their torso size. My armscye is deeper than predicted while Jen's is shorter than predicted. We do like to share the fact that our armscyes are nearly an identical depth despite the fact that we are two sizes apart in our torso.

To measure your armscye, you'll once again grab a pencil and hold it in your armpit. Then, measure from the top of your shoulder (even with the pencil, halfway between front and back) to the pencil.

As mentioned, it's common to find that your armscye depth is different than the one predicted for your size. In this case, you're going to get your best fit from either adding or subtracting rows in the armholes of your knits. Use your row gauge to determine how many rows you'll need to remove. Thankfully, there are usually simple places to make these changes in tanks and set-in sleeve tops!

I hope this has been helpful for you in getting ready for your next cast-on! If you've got a question, go ahead and hit reply, let's talk.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!

Bess is sitting and gazing into the distance in a rose gold hand knit tank with a stunning ribbed neckline. You see her through out of focus grasses and feel like you're spying.
Three Key Measurements for Handmade Tanks
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