Designing for all body types

I design patterns that are fun to knit, but my true goal in designing is to create clothing that makes women feel powerful and sexy, and those attributes belong to ALL women.

Rachel Barish
Nov 13, 2018

Size inclusion is one of the most important issue facing the knitwear design community today. This craft is for ALL people of ALL sizes.

Eight months ago, I was working my booth at Stitches West, speaking passionately about my latest pattern release to some customers, when a woman approached me and asked if the pattern would be available in her size. I looked at my design, displayed on a Size 0 manikin, and responded that the pattern was only going to be available up to an XL. She very politely thanked me and left. I felt a little embarrassed in that moment that my brand was not representative of all women. The woman returned to my booth a few minutes later to tell me how disappointed she was that myself and other designers didn’t offer patterns in a full size range. I got defensive, explaining that I didn’t have the money to get the pattern graded up to a 5X, that I can only afford so much this early in my career. It’s easy to get defensive about these types of issues as a knitwear designer, especially when you’re just starting off and may not be familiar with how sizing and grading works. But I knew I needed to do better!

Two months later, after a lot of late nights and many emails between myself and my talented tech editor and grader Kristine Mitchell, we had successfully changed all of the patterns in my library to include all 9 sizes (XS-5X) as established by the Craft Yarn Council. I am so thankful for the woman at Stitches West who gave me the kick in the pants I needed to make this change.

My brand should have always been about inclusiveness, specifically regarding size. I design patterns that are fun to knit, but my true goal in designing is to create clothing that makes women feel powerful and sexy, and those attributes belong to ALL women. Not just women of a “certain” size. When I started the process of adding new sizes to my patterns, I knew I wanted the general shape of the garment to be the same throughout, but I needed the fit to change with the body. Length needs to be adjusted to accommodate a larger bust, short rows need to be added in the shoulder shaping—each size needs its own special adjustment to make the garment fit in the most flattering way for all body types. I often see patterns graded improperly, where the pattern just gets bigger and bigger in all its dimensions, not taking into account how proportions change throughout sizing. Size inclusion is one of the most important issue facing the knitwear design community today. This craft is for ALL people of ALL sizes. I want Born & Raised Knits to be a part of making knitting accessible to all people, and I want to do everything in my power to help other knitwear designers incorporate size inclusivity into their brand. That’s why I’m so excited to be collaborating with Making Things on this series of articles, which will dive deeper into the grading process and talk design tips for expanding your range of sizes!

Until next time, my fibre friends!

- Rachel, Creative Director & Founder - Born & Raised Knits

Back to the blog