A Suit That Fits

My green sweater is proving to be a challenge. Actually that’s not quite accurate on two counts. It’s not mine; it’s for my partner, so not exactly mine. Also not really green. Not grey either….somewhere between the two. My mother and I have always disagreed on whether something is green or not. It doesn’t matter of course and yet it seems to matter to her. Whatever, it’s a challenge. I am determined to knit this garment in the round, no seams, and equally determined that it should have a saddle shoulder. And fit properly. As is so often the case my determination gets the better of me and it would have been easier to knit all the pieces separately and sew them together, especially as I am no stranger to difficult sewing projects. In fact it would have been easier to cycle round the world whilst singing the soundtrack of Mamma Mia in Swahili. Anyway, saddle shouldered and seamless it must be and so I am now on my third go, from the underarms upwards, the first two attempts falling too short of a good fit. Encouragingly the second attempt was better than the first.

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No, I don’t want to follow a pattern. I need to do this myself.

And yes, I took measurements, knitted swatches, checked my tension, but of course measurements alone are not enough. My partner is not necessarily the same 3-dimensional shape as another man with the same measurements. He is – how shall I put this? – deep. If we were both Weetabix he would lie in the bowl flat side down with a little milk on top and I would be standing on one edge, quite dry. It’s not about weight or too much of it – it’s simply about shape.

Which brings me to my son. He came home this week for a visit. He lives overseas – in the USA to be precise – and has come over for the first time in a year. He needs a suit. Children, no matter how old they become, need something, always. Thankfully. My parents are still kicking and I’m quite sure they feel the same way about me. So we went shopping and OMG how difficult is it if you don’t fit the current fashion trend? My son is an athlete; sure he’s a big man – well over 6 feet and lots of muscle, no body fat at all, but I had no idea how difficult it could be. He is now returning to his new home feeling like a freak. We went up to a size 46 jacket and the problem is actually the same as the green sweater. The measurements are ok but the cut is hopeless. The armholes are just too small. The back is too narrow. He barely squeezes his arms into the sleeves and once there he’s stuck. He wouldn’t even be able to lift his right arm, pint in hand, to his mouth, and believe me that’s a good test. And of course once you go to a size 46 he could fit a reasonably sized sheep inside the jacket at waist level, not to mention the size 40 waist trousers that match the jacket. And when the 10th retail assistant told us that “we have a seamstress who can alter the trousers” I was ready to slap someone. Right, so you’re going take out 6 inches from the back seam and expect him to wear this outfit to an important interview with the outside seams dragging somewhere across his buttocks??? Please. Interestingly, as we were preparing to leave the final port of call, having decided that the case was hopeless, go to the pub instead, and that he might fare better across the pond where, dare I say, people CAN be larger and men CAN tend to dress more conservatively, a man the same size as my son but a little older came in and began trying on the same jackets… I was very tempted to set up a support group there and then as he desperately tried to move his upper limbs. My son dragged me out, fearing embarrassment. Quite right.

So I began looking at people walking down the street and assessing the fit of their jackets. I even stopped at cafes and bars so I could look. More than once I had to rapidly avert my gaze in case someone thought I was perving. Really not. And it’s true – everyone’s suit fits…..badly. When did we get to a point where tailored garments are supposed to behave like t-shirts? I’m working myself up into a frenzy so I’d better get back to the green/grey sweater.

There HAS to be a way of knitting this garment to fit, and I will (probably) go to my deathbed working it out if I have to. Unfortunately knitting takes a while to produce and therefore when one has to pull it all out and start again it’s rather different from undoing a fabric seam and re-sewing it. No matter. There’s more wine in the bottle, or the supermarket, and I have gone back to my tailoring roots to come up with a solution. The key, clearly, is to think 3-dimensionally. I’ll keep you posted.

If only my son was here for a couple more weeks I could have made him a suit that fits. Oh well.

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