Crochet Tips and Tricks

A Deep Dive into Crochet Garment Ease

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Woman trying on a crochet garment.

Ease is a word you will likely hear a lot when crocheting garments. But what exactly is it and what does it have to do with crochet? Ease is simply the difference in body measurement and finished garment measurement.

Three Categories of Ease

There are 3 categories of ease that you will often see when crocheting any sort of wearables.

Positive Ease is when the finished piece measures more than the body size. Many sweaters, cardigans, tops, and other clothing items have a positive ease to them.

Example: A size small body size is a 34″ bust circumference. If a sweater has 2″ of positive ease, the finished garment will have a 36″ circumference measurement.

Negative Ease is when the finished piece measures less than the body size. Often hats and socks have negative ease. Sometimes you will even find tops and sweaters with negative ease.

Example: A toddler size head circumference is 20″. If a hat has 1″ of negative ease, the finished hat will have a 19″ circumference measurement.

No ease is when the finished piece measures the same as the body size. Sweaters, tops, cardigans, and many other wearables can be found with no ease.

Example: A size small body size is a 34″ bust circumference. If a sweater has no ease, the finished garment will have a 34″ circumference measurement.

Photo of yarn, a crochet hook, and the beginning of a crochet top.

How to Determine Crochet Garment Ease in a Pattern

Most designers will tell you in the pattern or the pattern listing how much ease the item has. They may also give you both the body size measurements and the finished size measurements. If the finished size measurements are larger than the body size you know it has positive ease. Same with negative ease and no ease. You can easily determine the ease by looking at the measurements.

Some patterns may only have the body size and tell you the ease. For example, the pattern may say the garment has 2″ of positive ease and list the body sizes. Add 2 to the body size to determine what you finished size will be. If it’s negative ease, subtract 2. With no ease, you know that the finished garment will measure the same as the body size.

If they only have finished size and not body size in the pattern, you can determine the ease by looking at the Craft Yarn Council size chart. With a larger finished measurement than body measurement, you know it has positive ease. If it’s less, you know it’s negative. If it’s the same, you know there is no ease.

Choosing Size Using Ease

You can use crochet garment ease to help you determine what size you want to make. If you have a sweater pattern that has no ease, but you want it to have a bit of ease, you can size up to give you that ease.

If you have a pattern for an oversized sweater, but you want it to be a bit more fitted, you can size down and have no ease or less ease to the garment.

Another thing to consider when factoring in the ease of the garment is the yarn and stitch. Does the yarn your using grow when blocking or washing? Is the stitch very stretchy and drapey? These will all factor into how much ease you get in your garment.

For example, if you have a sweater with negative ease, but the yarn grows after being blocked, you may end up with a sweater with positive ease.

Woman wearing a purple crochet top.

As you can see, ease is super important when it comes to sizing your crochet garments and determining how they will fit. But it doesn’t have to be super complicated.

If you run into a pattern and the designer doesn’t state what the ease is at all, just send them a quick message and ask them. This information is imperative when determining what size you will make.

If you have any questions about ease, please feel free to ask in the comments.

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