How to Take Body Measurements
It seems easy enough, but many sewers don't know where or how to take body measurements to that they can buy the right size pattern. When you look at your body in the mirror, you probably notice how tall you are (length) and how wide you are (width). But you’re not a window with just up and down and across measurements. You’ve got curves, depth, and circumference. You need to bend, twist and walk, and your garments need to do so without ripping!
So even though patterns are flat, they are designed to fit those curves and depth. A blouse pattern will have darts to create depth. A skirt pattern will have a curved yoke or darts to create fitting for your tummy. A pants pattern has a curved crotch to accommodate your rear.
All patterns have the same basic shapes; it is the changes from that basic shape that creates style. Once you learn how to take body measurements and have a basic pattern that fits, it gets easier to understand how to make all your garments fit.
How to Take Body Measurements to get the fit and comfort you want
Make sure you have on just your usual undergarments. It's easiest to have someone help you, but sometimes it’s less stressful to take your own.
Use a cloth or vinyl tape that is fairly new (older ones may have stretched). Don’t pull the tape too tight to make the numbers sound less, or add to make something seem bigger.
You know how you think - use the metric side of your tape if you don’t want your wish for the perfect vanity size to influence what you write down! Then translate those numbers to inches after you are completely done.
How to Take Your Perfect Measurements
Use the drawing to see where the tape should be placed.
1. Bust: Place the tape over the fullest part of your bust, under your arms and straight across the back.
2. High Bust: Place the tape straight across the back, right under your arms and across the top of your breast. Patterns are sized for a bra size with a B cup. If you have a full bust (bra cup size C or above) or a smaller bust (A cup or below), then use this number instead of the bust measurement when choosing a blouse or jacket pattern.
3. Waist: Lightly tie a string or piece of yarn around the smallest part of your center and stretch your arms up, then down. Where the string sits is your true waist. Measure in the same place as the string. Even if you wear your skirts or pants lower than your waist, use the true waist as a start.
4. Hips: Find the fullest part of your hips – look at your side view too. Usually the fullest part is about the middle of your butt - approximately 7-9” from the true waist. Make sure the tape is straight in the back.
5. Height, without shoes: Stand with your buttocks against the wall, and make a pencil mark at the top of your head. Try to keep the pencil level. Your height will help you determine what pattern figure type you might want to start with.
6. Back waist length: Put on a necklace! Measure from the back of the necklace to the string around your waist. The back waist length is important to help you pick the body type of your pattern: (Misses, junior, women’s).
Now that you know how to take body measurements, use them to select your body type from this chart: