Taking accurate measurements is the first step to create clothes that fit. Without good measurements, you’ll waste all your time and materials making something that doesn’t fit you and nobody wants that!
Let’s jump in and see what it takes to get good measurements!
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What You Need To Take Measurements:
1. Tape Measure:
You’ll need a flexible tape measure. They’re usually found at all fabric stores.
2. Tight Fitting Clothes
You don’t want to add extra length to your measurements, so be sure to wear form-fitting clothes when you take your measurements.
Think yoga pants and a tight-fitting t-shirt.
3. The Right Bra (For Women)
Think about what bra you will wear with the garment you’re making. Different bras change the overall shape of your chest so it’s important to take measurements based on the exact bra you’ll be wearing with the garment you’re making.
If you’re making a daily wear shirt, take measurements while wearing one of your comfy day to day bras.
If you’re making a special occasion dress, take measurements while wearing the exact bra you’ll use for that event.
4. A Buddy!
While you can take measurements yourself, it will be much easier to get the right measurements if you ask a friend for help.
How To Take Proper Body Measurements For Clothing:
There are two main things to keep in mind when taking measurements.
1 – Parallel to the Ground
Many measurements are taken around the body. And all of those measurements need to be taken with the tape measure being parallel to the ground.
Think of it like having a hoola hoop around your body that’s an even distance from the floor all the way around.
2 – Not Too Loose, Not Too Tight
The second trick to good measurements is getting the tape measure to sit just right.
If you’re too loose, the tape measure will fall down and won’t stay parallel, so it’s pretty easy to tell when that’s happening.
If your tape measure is staying parallel to the ground, you’ll want to check if you’re squeezing too tight with your tape measure. Check this by looking at where the tape measure is pressed again the body.
Is it creating an indent? If yes, you’re too tight. Loosen a little bit.
If you loosen your tape measure and it falls down, then you’re too loose again.
Keep adjusting until you’ve got everything just right.
This takes some getting used to, so don’t get frustrated. It still takes me a few minutes to get my tape measure in the right place and I’ve been taking measurements for years.
Also, taking measurements is not something you need to do for every project. I usually take my measurements twice a year, just to see if my body is changing shapes.
That means once you have a good set of measurements, you can use them over and over again.
What are the Standard Body Measurements for Sewing?
So, now that we have the right tools and we know how to take good measurements, what exactly are we going to measure?
We’re going to cover the most common measurements in this blog article. These measurements will get ensure your clothing fits well – think about it like 80-100% perfect fit.
The reason it’s a range is that all bodies are a little different. And all patterns are created using different models. So while these measurements might create 100% perfect fit in one pattern brand, that might not be the case for another pattern brand.
For 100% perfect fit all the time, there are more advanced measurements you can take. I will cover those in a future blog post, but for now, these measurements are a great place to start.
FREE Printable Body Measurements Chart
(for Sewing Clothes)
Before we start taking measurements, click the images below to download and print your FREE Body Measurements Charts. As we take your measurements, write the numbers down on the chart.
Once we’re done taking measurements, put your chart with all of your sewing supplies so you can easily find it when starting your next project.
The standard Body Measurements for Sewing are:
- High Bust (Women Only)
- Full Bust (Women) / Chest (Men)
- High Hip
- Full Hip
- Arm Length
High Bust (Women Only)
This measurement is only measured on women.
This is the only measurement that won’t be exactly parallel to the ground.
Place the tape measure around your back, directly under your armpits, and over the top of your chest.
Full Bust Measurement (Women) / Chest Measurement (Men)
This measurement is taken around the widest part of your chest for both men and women
Move the tape measure up and down until you find the widest point.
I’ve read about a million ways to measure the waist. All of them gave me very similar results so I’ll share my fave few with you and you can pick whichever is easiest.
- Halfway between the bottom of your rib cage and your hip bone.
- A finger width above your belly button
- Tie a piece of elastic around your belly, raise your arms up over your head, then back down to your sides. Wherever the elastic sits is where you should measure.
High Hip Measurement
To find the right placement for this measurement, I find it easiest to stand or sit with my thigh at a right angle to my body. (See Martin in the left photo)
Place hand flat on top of the thigh, fingers facing toward the knee, then wrap your thumb behind your back.
Imagine being mad at someone and putting your hands on your hips. It’s the same hand position. (For me anyway, lol)
Keep your hands in that position, then stand up straight with both feet on the ground.
Wherever your hands are sitting is where you want to take this measurement.
Full Hip Measurement
This measurement is taken around the largest part of your booty.
Take A Deep Breath
Getting this intimate with your body can be difficult. Society tries to say what numbers and sizes are “good” or “bad” but the truth is none of that matters.
What matters is that your body is part of you. All of it! And that’s really freaking cool because your body allows you to do incredible things. It’s your constant partner in crime.
So don’t let your numbers mean anything. They are neither good or bad, they simply are what they are.
You’re perfect exactly as you are. 🙂
Thigh, Knee, Calf Measurements
Remember to keep your tape measure parallel and not too tight while you take these measurements.
Thigh: Measure around the widest part of your thigh.
Knee: Measure around the middle of your knee.
Calf Measurement: Measure around the widest part of your calf.
For this measurement, we’re measuring the distance on the inside of your leg.
Place the end of the tape measure at the highest point between your legs.
Then measure down to the center of the bumped out ankle joint (circled in white in the photo).
Arm Length Measurement
The first thing we need to do is find the shoulder point.
Place your fingertips on your shoulder bone. Follow your shoulder bone out towards your arm. When you reach the end of the bone, swing your arm forward and backward.
You should feel the non-moving shoulder bone on one side of your finger and your moving arm joint on the other. This is your shoulder point.
Place your tape measure on the shoulder point.
Position your arm at a right angle as shown in the photo
Measure from shoulder point, down to the elbow (wrap under the elbow), then up to the center of the big round wrist bone that sticks out of the outer edge of your wrist. (Where Martin’s fingers are)
You did it! You’ve taken your first set of measurements!
Now those measurements won’t do anything on their own. The next step is to pick a sewing pattern you want to make and find your size!
I’ll have a blog post covering exactly that coming soon. But if you can’t wait, if you’re ready to get started sewing NOW – then check out my new course:
Learn To Read A Sewing Pattern
This 6-week class is perfect for absolute beginners to anyone just starting to make their own clothes. In the first week I’ll walk you through all the basics:
- Getting To Know Your Sewing Machine
- Finding Your Dream Machine
- Threading & Troubleshooting
Then we’ll start working weekly projects to boost your skills. All leading up to making your very own #MeMade shirt!
Ready to confidently start creating your own clothes?