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My question is that I am thinking of making a camisole that's lingerie, not for wearing out of the house, in some very fine silk lace, but I'm curious about how you would design the pattern for the cups. It would be for an A/B cup, so it wouldn't really bear much weight there, but if it were held up by straps halter-style, there would be a kind of crosswise pulling on the cup. I thought I might give this pattern a try, but I didn't really like the angular quality of the little in-between triangle, and I wanted to make a halter. It has the stitches going diagonally. Sorry my question isn't more specific, but I was just hoping for some open-ended thoughts before I start experimenting.


First, I have to give vent to a small rant. Knitted bikinis and knitted bras meant to be worn as real swimsuits and underthings? Are a distintly terrible idea. Handknit fabrics lack the structure functional lingerie and swimwear demand - the wires and seams and hooks and elastic of boughten lingerie are there for a reason, and I'd imagine that there's quite a bit of engineering behind their use and placement. Knit fabrics, without being knit at a VERY dense gauge (denser than most of us care to knit whole garments at), and without clever boning insertions or well-thought-out seams or sturdy facings, are simply too stretchy to make functional bra-tops without looking saggy and sloppy.

But. Your project - a filmy, floaty camisole, in a smaller cup size, that isn't really meant to do all-day duty - is the PERFECT kind of knitted lingerie. Swimsuits, too, that are meant more for sunning or showing off than for swimming, can be wearable and cute. All that said, there are a couple ways I can think of to handle the cups.

The first, easiest solution would be to do nothing at all.

You could just knit the cups as flat triangles, fairly tight across the breast, and let the stretch of the fabric create a supportive fit. If the cups are going to be of lace, this would be my preferred solution - allover lace stretches and opens marvelously, and you could get a skin-tight, peekaboo sort of thing going. In that case, I'd use a motif stacked in vertical columns, or a true allover pattern. An edging would definitely be in order, whether the cups are solid or openwork - you could pick up and knit all around the edges, working whatever edging appeals to you. I'd work it slightly shorter than the space it's meant to fill - this'll create an edge that lies flat across the skin, and a slight fullness to the cup.

Or, you could take this idea one step further, and sew the cups into the body with a shirred or gathered bottom:

Think of how a string bikini top is gathered along the bottom to create fullness in the cup. You'll want only a slight gather for an A/B cup - your flat cup piece should be somewhat elongated, like this:

I'd say start with a triangle an inch or two wider at the base than the space it'll go in, and experiment from there. You could avoid seaming, too, and simulate this with lots of increases all in one row just as the cup begins.

The next step would be a cup with decreases along a line that extends from the base to the nipple.

This, and all princess seam-style shapings, simulate cutting and seaming a piece of flat fabric with a dart to create a contour. Sort of like this:

The knitted fabric is made in one piece, of course, but the same kind of sculptural effect is acheived. You'd want to use centered double decrease, all along one line.

Or, use short rows to create a cup shape.

You can make the short row area as deep as you like, as round as you like, or as flat as you like, just by adding or taking away additional short rows and playing with the length of each one. Start wrapping and turning an inch or so into the cup, making increasingly shorter rows. Then, work across the whole length again, to create a rounded cup.

You can always play with the placement of the short rows, too, for different effects - moving the bulk of the rows to the inner edge, for instance, would flatten the outer edge and create a push-up bra effect.

More thorough instructions for short rows can be found in this nice Knitty article.

Remember that an A/B cup is usually considered to have betwen .5 and 2 inches difference between the measurement of the ribcage (just below the bust) and the fullest point of the bust. Don't go overboard with the shaping...err on the side of slightly-too-small, and the worst that can happen is that you'll look as if your cup overfloweth.


unraveling is an advice column for knitters, with fresh content every Wednesday and Friday. Send your questions to unraveling@eunnyjang.com.


A lovely first question for the new column. I agree with your rant and like the idea of a pretty piece of lingerie. I don't have anything to add to your very comprehensive answer, but I can tell this column is going to be a whole lot of fun.

Impressive start to your new column. Excellent technical writing and illustration, as always. Congratulations on this new baby.

great illustrations -- they tell a good story.

i agree with your advice, particularly regarding cup size and shaping. knitted fabric will have some inherent drape already, so there isn't a lot of knitted-in shaping that needs to go into an A/B cup.

the IK summer 2003 issue has a top that might be a good starting point for mona. there's a pic of the cover here http://www.interweave.com/knit/interweave_knits/back_issues/SU_03.asp. it's a joan mcGowan-michael so you knows she's thought through shaping. she gives different instructions based on cup size and does a modified version of the darted version you showed above.

oops the link translated badly. here it is again


Question- is my computer not the only one that doesn't see the "see Eunny knit" title anymore. About a week or so ago, it just disappeared from the top, leaving it just white. I haven't had a problem before.

I would love to make a little slinky top for those cozy nights at home, but I have a VERY large chest and a very small waist. What would be the best technique for a girl like myself?

Love the new column. You are just amazing. ^_^

Wow! What a great column this is going to be. You've done a wonderful job of explaining your approach clearly. I can't wait to see the next question.

Can I ask you a question real quick? What blogging service do you use? I have blogger and am getting real sick and tired of it. There isn't a way to categorize stuff like you do.

Love it, love it. You little genius, you. What a great addition to your already fantastic blog! Thanks for sharing your knowledge . . . again!

Anna, you could try purging your cache in your preferred internet browser, it might solve the problem.

Those are excellent
recommendations, brilliant!

Love the new blog design.

This was such a great q and a - I think I need to bring you to my house to explain life to my 16 year old daughter.

Keep 'em comin'

I really benefited from this. I have thought about knitting lingerie countless times but was stuck by the same worries.

I am now about to knit Butterfly by Rowan and I will use some of these techniques to make it more "girls happy". Once I am finished that I wanted to design my own camisole.

Thanks Eunny!!!

Emms :D

I saw your name in the new Interweave Knits magazine. Your information on lace is wonderful and so helpful. I appreciate you putting it out there for us!

This is going to be such a great feature, I'm already looking forward to the next one!

You should be writing books!

White Lies Design has some pretty lingerie patterns http://www.whiteliesdesigns.com/patterns/ladies.html that might givce construction clues if one were looking to draft their own pattern. I won her Nicole pattern a few years ago but haven't made it yet, I haven't found a yarn for it that I like.

Great first column. Love the illustrations and options you give! Nice and clearly written! (you make me maybe someday possibly want to knit lace!)

Very informative answer regarding knitted lingerie construction. After reading your "rant" regarding the use of knitting in undergarment construction I guess I'll not ask my question about mohair underpants... just kidding! Great job.

Agreed about the functionality of knitted lingerie. Not. However, I have seen some lovely designs meant for display to one....


This is a great first question! Thank you so much for posting this column, I can tell it is going to come in really handy. Incidentally, like a commenter above, I can no longer see your banner - and a cache clearance and refresh does nothing, is your blog not compatible with all browsers now?

I like the Mason-Dixon negligee. It might give you something to start from.

All those circles and arrows are making my head spin! Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Great column! Thanks Eunny, and great advice!

Do you know what the sizing difference is between rib-cage and a D or an E cup - or suggestions how I would measure it myself? Thanks!

Thank you for this!
I have been trying to make a halter top, but wanted it to be of my own design, though I was at a loss for how to do the cups.
This helped so much and I feel confident enough to work on projects with no patterns.

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