HOW TO TAKE ACCURATE BODY MEASUREMENTS

It’s important to take accurate measurements
when making your own clothes. Here's some tips to help you get the best fit possible!

Did you know?
Many new to sewing clothes make the natural assumption that the clothes size that they’d choose on the High Street is the same size that they should choose to make a pattern. This is one of the main reasons why many sewers end up with garments that don’t fit as well as they had hoped! Very few of us will match a pattern company’s standard measurements.

Successful measuring:
Take your measurements over your usual underwear and don’t be tempted to pull the measuring tape as tightly as you can. You’ll do yourself no favours when your garment is too tight. Ask a friend for a coffee and ask them to help you. They will be able to get more accurate measurements, and round up to the nearest whole centimetre for a more precise measurement.

Choosing a pattern size is all about accurate personal body measurements.
The standard set of body measurements for bust, waist and hip are key to choosing a pattern size. If you start with the right measurements, fitting will be much straightforward! Very few of us will match exactly a pattern company’s standard measurements for each of the measurements of a size so there are many things to consider.

What measurement do I need:
A. Height

Stand with your back, head and heels against the wall without shoes. Ask a friend to place the ruler across the top of your head and mark. Measure from the floor to the mark for height. Height is important and you will need to confirm your height and back-waist length measurement and match to the charts on the back of the pattern envelope
B. Chest
Measure immediately under your armpits and across the top of chest.
C. Bust
Measure across the fullest part of your bust and the widest part of the back.
D. Waist
Measure your natural waistline. To find where your natural waistline is – tie a piece of string around your waist and let it settle as you bend left and right.
E. Hips
Take the measurement around the fullest part, this is usually 18cm-23cm below the waistline

What other measurements might I need:
Shoulder length

Measure from the base of the neck to shoulder point.
To find base of the neck – place tape measure around your neck under the thyroid.
To find the shoulder point – raise the arm to shoulder level and this is where the dip forms at the shoulder bone.
Waist height from floor
Place a book between your waist and the wall, and mark this position on the wall and measure distance from waist mark to the floor.
Front waist length
Measure vertically down from the prominent shoulder bone over bust point to the waist.
Back waist length
Measure from the top of your spine to natural waistline.
Arm length
Measure from the shoulder bone to elbow and then with elbow bent measure to the wrist.

Pattern Types
Misses

This pattern style is designed for women of average proportions between the height between 5ft 5″ and 5ft 6″ (without shoes)
Women
Designed for women who are between 5ft 5″ to 5ft 6″ tall (without shoes) with larger bust and hips than Misses.
Petite
These patterns are designed for women with a shorter back-waist length, and a height of between 5ft 2″ and 5ft 4″ tall (without shoes).

Other things I may need to know:
Garment ease

For a garment to fit comfortably, the pattern might say it has ease. This is so you can move freely.
Wearing ease
This is the minimum amount of ease for a garment to be comfortable. Within the sewing industry wearing ease is usually 6.4cm at the bust, 2.5cm at the waist and 7.6cm at the hip area.
Design ease
This is an amount that the designer has added/subtracted to create a specific silhouette. To determine ease, measure the pattern from seam to seam (excluding seam allowances) and compare it with your body measurements to the total circumference measurement of the pattern. The difference is the amount of ease the pattern has.

Update your measurements: Always keep a record of all your measurements but redo these every time you start to make a garment, even if it’s a pattern that you have made before unfortunately we don’t all stay the same size, no matter how hard we wish it!!).

Tips for choosing a commercial pattern:
For skirts, shorts and trousers – use your hip measurement to choose a pattern size
For dresses, tops and jackets – use the bust measurement to choose a pattern size