While having yourself professionally measured is the most accurate way to obtain your measurements, it’s not always feasible nor something that you might want to go out and do. For me, I don’t think I’d want the possibility of someone snarking at my abundant measurements (although this has never happened) and I feel more comfortable doing this myself in the comfort of my own home. If you have someone that can help you — you’re darn lucky! If you don’t, no worries. You can do most of these measurements yourself!
First off, you’ll need a measuring tape and a full-length mirror.
Mirrors are always a good thing to have in your sewing room to check out your garment sewing process and they’re a good way to make sure that you’re measuring yourself in the right places. For this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to measure on my dress form [as it’s easier to display] with a few examples of me measuring myself. [Yes, there’s lint on my form that I’m finding difficult to get off…]
If you’ve been sewing for any time, you’ll know that every pattern envelope has three basic measurements: Bust, Waist and Hip. These are the measurements that you really need, but to get a better fit, it’s best to do some added measurements. You may also want to take waist and hip measurements while sitting down.
- Bust: Measure across the fullest part.
- Waist: Place a string on the slimmest area of your torso and measure that.
- Hip: Measure the fullest/widest part of your thighs.
It’s also good to measure your upper and under bust, especially if you are full busted.
- Upper bust: Measure under the arms and above the bust.
- Under bust: Measure just below the bust
- Bust apex to apex: Measure straight across the bridge
- Side neck to bust apex: Measure from the base of the neck at the shoulder seam to the apex on the same side of the body
- Bust apex to waist: Measure diagonally to the string at the waist
More Bodice Measurements
These measurements are great to have, especially if you’re making a fitted bodice. You’ll need help with the back waist measurement.
- Neck: Measure at the base of the neck.
- Front waist length: Measure starting at the base of the neck to the waist
- Back waist length: Measure from the base of the neck to the waist
- High hip: Measure about 3 inches below your waistline
These are very important when you’re making woven shirts with sleeves, especially if you have fuller biceps. I tape my measuring tape to myself to get the right measurement. It really helps to have someone help you with this.
- Bicep: Measure around the widest part of your arm
- Shoulder length: Measure from the base of the neck at the shoulder seam position to the shoulder
- Shoulder to elbow: Measure from the shoulder to the elbow
- Elbow to wrist: Measure from the elbow to the wrist bone
- Wrist: Measure around your wrist
For a tailored fit, these are very important when sewing trousers. These measurements are difficult to do on your own and it will work out much better if someone helps you.
- Thigh: Measure the widest part of your upper leg
- Inseam: Measure from the top of your inner thigh to your desired pants length
- Outseam: Measure from the waist to your desired pants length
- Crotch length: Measure from the waist back through the legs and up to the waist front
You’re probably going to need help with these measurements, too, if you want them more precise.
- Waist front to below knee: Measure from your waist to your knee
- Waist front to floor: Measure from your waist to the floor
- Body length: Starting at the back, measure from the base of the neck through the legs and up to the base of the neck on the front
From here, you can take any pattern and make it your own!