How to Take Body Measurements for Sewing Patterns

How to Take Body Measurements for Sewing Patterns

How to Take Body Measurements for Sewing Patterns

October 14, 2014 | Skills | No Comments

Now that I have a lovely new sewing pattern in my possession – and hopefully some free time in the not too distant with which to spend cutting, stitching and finished this lovely dress- I thought I would share a few pointers that I have learnt for getting the best from a sewing pattern. If you’re trying to pick out a pattern  – be sure to check out this one-stop guide to selecting a sewing pattern!

Getting the right fit for garments is the key to looking stylish – this is as true when shopping for making your own clothes as it is when shopping for items on the high street. Taking accurate body measurements is essential in avoiding ill-fitting garments. Here are a few tips for Taking Better Body Measurements…

Taking-body-measurements-step1Taking your own body measurements for dressmaking is a tricky task – it’s hard to hold the tape measure accurately whilst recording the information. If possible, asking a friend to help is always the best option.

A dressmaker’s tape measure is often a lot longer than a standard sewing tape measure, I’m not suggesting that you’re going to need the extra length for measuring around your middle, but it comes in handy when you’re measuring for special occasion garments, that might have long and flowing skirts.

Prepare to take your measurements by removing your shoes and wearing only well fitting underwear. If you take your measurements over your clothing you’ll find that you end up with bunched up fabrics under the tape measure, which will affect the accuracy.

There are three common areas that every dress pattern will require measurements for, these are the bust, the waist and the hips.

The measurements are taken by looping the tape measure around the body in each of those areas so that the tape is flat against the skin; the tape should not be pulling in or draping against the skin. If you’re taking the measurements yourself, try standing in front of a mirror to record them – if the tape measure is positioned correctly, it will be level at the front of your body and the back, this will give an even measurement and greater accuracy.

The bust measurement is taken around the fullest part of the body, the waist is at the narrowest part of your torso and the hip measurement is taken with the tape measure on your hip bones – for most body shapes this is 15-20cm below the waist measurement.

Taking-body-measurements-step2Make a note of these measurements in a notebook, as this will give you a clear record which you can accurately compare to the to sizing chart located on the back of the sewing pattern envelope.

A common mistake when selecting a garment size from the sewing pattern is to assume that the dress size usually picked when buying ready-made clothing on the high street will be the same as the pattern guide. However, this isn’t always the case, using your measurements, select the pattern that best corresponds to your body shape.

It is not uncommon for body measurements to fall across a couple of different pattern sizes. For example the bust measurement might fit the size 12 pattern where and the waist and hips fall into the sizing for the 10. In these cases, it is best to select the larger of the two sizes, as it is easier to tailor the pattern pieces to make the required areas smaller, than try to make the section that is too small accommodate larger measurements. Whilst this might sound like a lot of fuss, this is the perfect opportunity for you to tailor the garments to your exact body shape and achieve well fitting garments.

Taking-body-measurements-step3Depending on the style of the garment you may be required to take additional measurements these can include:

Neck measurement – commonly required for shirts and coats with collars. Take this by looping the tape around your neck at the base holding the tape no tighter than a buttoned up collar would feel comfortable and take the measurement.

Inside leg – this will be required for trousers. Here the tape measure is positioned at the crotch and the measurement is taken when the hemline will sit at the lower part of the leg. This can be tricky to take on your own, if no one is able to help you, try taking a measurement of the inside leg seam on a favourite and well fitting pair of trousers as a guide.

Outside leg measurement – again, this is required for making trousers. Position the end of the tape measure on your waist or hip – depending on the style of waistband on the trousers that you are making, and measure to the point where the hemline will fall.

So, grab that tape measure and get started – remember the more accurate you measure, more more awesome your finessed garment will be!


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