Understanding Crochet Shaping

By Candace – 6 Comments

Shaping is a very important concept in crochet, especially when it comes to wearables. Knowing how to manipulate shape comes in handy for designing and altering patterns to get the best fit. This guide is a handy reference for anyone who needs to add a little extra or take anything away.

Increasing and decreasing are common ways of adding shape to projects. Patterns such as chevrons and ripple afghans take advantage of the properties of these techniques to create points and undulating curves. Decreases make downward points, while increases create upward points.



More densely packed increases and decreases create more dramatic shaping. Conversely, increases and decreases spread out over more stitches create more gentle curves. See the picture below. The swatch on the left was decreased by two stitches over three stitches. The one on the right was decreased by two stitches over four stitches.

Another manner of shaping involves using stitches of varying heights. This has a similar effect to “short rows” used in knitting, where additional rows are worked within rows to create bust shaping, sock heels, and other design elements. The following swatch has single crochet stitches on the outside with double crochet stitches in the middle.

With a few rows of double crochet added, you can see the cupped effect that the difference in stitch heights has created. This manner of shaping is useful for altering patterns to fit your own proportions when a pattern you like just doesn’t measure up.

Do you have any questions about shaping? Leave a comment, and I’ll be glad to help.

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6 Comments

  1. Kit says:

    Very handy! People have started approaching me wanting things made directly from a picture. I think I am getting the hang of it, but I reckon this will come in handy.

  2. carol says:

    very helpful. understanding why a pattern calls for something like that makes it easier to follow.. thank you. i will soon be up to Intermediate skill! LOL!

  3. Varsha suraiya says:

    I would like to know how to shape arm holes esp if creating a design and not with exact instructions?Is it possible to do a shell design for a shrug? I will really appreciate some guidance.Tks

  4. B'smum says:

    I’m trying to figure out how to design and shape my own flat applique objects to sew onto blankets. I’ve been seeing a lot of how to make picture afghans but want the 3D object separate and standing out from a background in this particular project. Probably I should just put the shape I want on a grid and work out increases and decreases as I go?

    • Candace says:

      Graph paper is very useful for this sort of thing, and I love using it for those moments when I need to see my math in action. Remember to plan your grid according to stitch height and with. If you do rectangular gauge swatches, you should be able to figure out the height:width ratio of the stitches you plan to use.

      • B'smum says:

        Yep. Graph paper is what I meant. Thanks, Candace. I’m just trying to shape the top of a rocket. Should be interesting…..=)

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