Saturday, June 12, 2021

"Japanese" or fully-fashioned shoulder

"Japanese shoulder" construction means that the front shoulder parts are knit longer and back shoulder parts are knit shorter. They meet at the back. There is a series of unusually complicated decreases on the back that create a decorative welt. On the contrary, the front sides have increases to mimic the armhole shape. Overall, it looks like a machine-made product. And the most important part - the eventual fit is better than the usual shoulder construction.

I first found the pictures and descriptions of this kind of shoulder on Russian websites and really wanted to try my hand at making it.

Over the course of the last year I tried several new shoulder constructions. I made a cardigan with a shoulder like this:

And a sweater with a shoulder like this:

You can imagine how pleased I was when I discovered "Japanese shoulder" in the old Phildar magazines. Only it is called differently - fully-fashioned shoulder. This is a term for the construction and it is never translated into French. So, I figured, it must have come from England. At least to France. Maybe to Japan as well, who knows? 

Anyway, I decided to start with a vest. They are very much in vogue at the moment. And I can understand why - it's hard to find a more versatile item of clothing. I chose a vest from the cover of this old Phildar - N° 80 PHILDAR femme et homme printemps 1980 - in English.

I had about 1000 m of yarn from in a sandy beige shade that I picked for my experimental vest. Since I was working with tiny needles - US 0 (2.00 mm) - it took me a while to finish the front and back. 

Working with only stockinette stitch is hard not only because it is tedious and sleep inducing, but also because every irregularity or change of tension is visible. Fortunately, after washing and blocking, the yarn gave me a very neat and even fabric that looks almost like machine-made.

In the pattern the ribbed armhole borders and neckband are done separately, folded in two, and then sewn to the vest. I knit them separately but I didn't want to fold them so I made them shorter. 

When I started stitching a border to an armhole it looked so plain and boring that I really wanted at least a little splash of color to break the dullness of the overall impression. That is why I used some red yarn leftovers to mark the place where to stitch on the borders. And then I decided to use the same yarn for the actual sewing. My experimental armhole bands made me bold and daring. The neckband that I made from the same color yarn was forgotten and I started adding colors as I went while knitting around the neckline.

If you want to experiment, you must go to the end, right?

So this is my vest with fully-fashioned (aka "Japanese") shoulders.

I think that the final fit is good. Now I can't wait to start another one - I loved mixing up colors, it was the most fun part of the whole project.


  1. Hi Anna! I'm ogarie@Ravelry. Your vest looks great and the matching tin badges are cool!

    I love this shoulder construction and my latest sweater project has this as well. I didn't know it was called "Japanese shoulder" construction! Or "fully-fashioned". I've always wanted to know the name of this construction, so thank you!

  2. Dear Rie, thank you so much for your comment:) I know how much you enjoy finding out about the difference in knitting terms in various languages.

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