If you want to sew an item of clothing for yourself or someone else it is obvious that you will need the correct basic body measurements. You will need the measurements even before you purchase the pattern as commercial patterns don’t usually have all of the size options in one packet. They vary from one pattern company to another and even from one style to another. You probably won’t find a pattern with exactly the correct sizes for all of your body areas, so buy one which covers your sizes and be prepared to make some pattern alterations to it before you begin your sewing project. So knowing how do I take my body measurements is important in making a garment the right size.
When you are choosing which pattern to use it is worth remembering that not many items of clothing fit us as snugly as the set of measurements you will take. Most garments have shape and style which gives the body room to move about, so the set of size measurements for a size 10 for example, are not what the actual paper pattern or the finished garment will measure. You can also directly measure the paper pattern yourself to see how this compares to your size. Remember there will be a seam allowance on the pattern.
When you buy ready to wear clothing you will be used to seeing measurements for the bust, waist and hips, however to get a good fit on a garment which will be perfect and look exactly how you want it to, there are other measurements you need to take as well. Considering some people, myself included here, choose to make their own clothes, or to have them made, is because ready to wear just does not fit them, this is important. RTW only cater for the average height and sizing, and people who are symmetrical. Most of us are not average but when we buy off the peg we have to make do with the best fit that we can find and it’s not always the correct fit.
So how do you take your measurements?
First of all you will need someone to help you. It is difficult to take accurate tape measure readings of your own body by yourself. So as well as a tape measure which is long enough to measure all of your body parts including your height, you will need a pen and paper to write it down. So dress in your regular fitting underwear and you are ready to begin.
Measure across the widest part of the bust,under the arms and across the widest part of the back with the arms hanging loosely by the sides of the body.
To measure your cup size, measure around the body just under the bust, take this measurement away from the first measurement and if the difference is one inch you are an A cup, two inches difference is a B cup, three is a C cup, four is a D cup and five will give you a DD cup.
Mark the waist by tying a string snugly around your middle. It will roll naturally to your waist. Take the measurement where the sting settles.
Keeping the tape measure parallel to the floor and level all of the way around, measure the fullest part of the hips which should be around eight inches below the waistline, depending on the individual.
This is the distance from the base of the neck, shrug your shoulders to find this point at the neck, to the edge of the shoulder.
Apex of bust
The distance from the base of the neck to the point of the bust.
Back waist length
This is sometimes called nape to waist and is the distance from the prominent bone at the back of the neck to the waist.
With your hand on your hip measure from the top of the shoulder to the wrist. Note this down as one total measurement and two separate measurements, top of shoulder to elbow and elbow to wrist.
Measure from the base of the neck at the centre back to the desired hem length. The back of the knee is a good reference point if you are uncertain of desired finished length at this stage.
You will need the following measurements if you are making trousers/pants.
Sit down on a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor and measure from the waist to the chair seat.
From the waist at your back under the body between your legs to the waist at your front. Also note down how this divides into two measurements, back waist to the centre point between the legs and the front waist to the centre point between the legs, This may not be an equal division of the overall measurement.
From the midpoint under the body to the finished hem length, if you don’t yet know this, measure to the ankle bone.
Measure from the waist, over the curve of the hip, down to the desired hem length or the ankle.
Now that you have all your measurements, keep them safe and check them every six months for any changes.