I am knitting a gauge swatch in stockinette stitch right now with a garter stitch border to prevent curling and hopefully get a more accurate gauge. I have already measured myself for making the skirt.

Now once I get the gauge, I am thinking of multiplying that stitches per inch by a measurement a bit smaller than what I measured myself to be so that I know how many stitches to use for the ribbing. I haven't decided on yarn yet but I want to use a soft acrylic that is worsted weight. I have decided on using size US 8 circular needles. As long as I use the same yarn weight and needle size, gauge doesn't change from brand to brand.

I have restricted myself to using 4x4 ribbing or smaller. So the number of stitches I calculate will restrict that further based on factorization. Anyway, since I have a lot of yarn that I wouldn't use for other projects(mostly variegated is what I wouldn't use) should I knit about an inch of every ribbing that factorization will allow in the round as separate waistbands, bind off, and try them on?

And how will I know when I have found a good ribbing to be both elastic enough to stretch when I change position and sturdy enough to hold the whole skirt up when I don't know yet how much the rest of the skirt will weigh compared to the ribbing?

  • 2
    Will your waistband have a casing to hold elastic or a Drawstring? Using elastic or a drawstring would make your ribbing choice easier.
    – Robin L.
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:25
  • My waistband will have a casing to hold elastic in it. So that means that if I want to make the casing out of ribbing, I will have to knit to twice the wanted length and fold it in half(or as close to in half as I can get).
    – Caters
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:54
  • Will the waist have a zipper, or velcro, or any kind of closure?
    – Robin L.
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


You are asking all the right questions, and thinking about the right variables, so that's a great start. There a few other things you might consider as well:

Rib knits stretch more than stockinette, but stockinette will stretch. Acrylic and wool yarns are usually far stretchier than cotton or linen. A 4x4 rib is stretchier than a 2X2 (for example). In addition to these stretch variables, as you have pointed out, the degree of heaviness of your base skirt will also contribute to the final garment stretch.

Even testing each independent variable (e.g., the waistband rib) one at a time, in isolation of the system, could result in a misleading result. For your example of knitting a section of waistband with various ribbing, at a minimum you would need to knit each test band the actual length you plan to use since the stretch of the band will change with increased length. But you will still not really know how the band will hold up under the weight of the base skirt. The rib band might need to be knitted on smaller needles to provide more stability and less stretch. You don’t say what skirt length you plan to make, but obviously, the shorter the skirt the less pull it will have on the ribbed waistband.

I also think the successful execution of your design depends your body type, e.g., if you are curvy with a small waist you will need to cast off stitches at the waist when you start your rib if you work from hem to waist, or cast on if you work from rib waist to hem.

One idea that might help with your questions specific to the waistband would be to hem the top edge and run a drawstring or wide elastic through it so you can tighten it if needed.

Without making a prototype skirt and adjusting it to meet your needs, similar to making a muslin in sewing, there's no surefire way to calculate the simultaneous effects of all your variables on the final garment.

I suggest looking at knitted skirt patterns to get a general idea of what your initial yarn, needle, rib, etc. variables should be and adjust from there. For example:


Your project sounds like a great idea, good luck!


how will I know when I have found a good ribbing to be both elastic enough to stretch when I change position

The waistband ribbing and the elastic both have to stretch enough to go over your hips.

and sturdy enough to hold the whole skirt up when I don't know yet how much the rest of the skirt will weigh compared to the ribbing

The waistband Ribbing isn't what holds the skirt up. The elastic In the casing hugs the waist and holds up the skirt. Use wide non-roll elastic to hold up a heavy skirt.

The elastic should be a bit shorter than the waist measurement, so it is both snug and comfy around the waist. Test it in the fabric store.

The waistband ribbing measurement should be long enough that it can stretch around the hips, and short enough that the ribbing doesn’t add an unflattering amount of bulk to the waist.

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