Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Sewing, Theory | Comments Off on Taking your measurements

This is going to be a pretty long post which explains why it’s only one of two this week. To prepare you for making your own clothing (something I swear we’re going to get to by the end of this month), you have to have a proper set of measurements on hand. Call up the person who helped you make your body double and get ready to take each other’s measurements.

No, you can’t do this without help, sorry.

First off, download and print this workbook. It has miniature versions of all the sketches included in this post as well as big squares in which to jot down measurements. Soon, I’ll have something for you to plug all these measurements into so that you can print them all off easily for reference. For today, humour me.

For those of you who don’t need all the sketched in the workbook, you can print this measurement card for a more condensed version.

I’ve divided the 30 measurements you’ll need to make your own patterns (and that’s what we’ll be doing) into 8 sub groups that are easily taken at one shot. Therefore, your measuring partner can take turns to measure a group on each other and trade off.

Also, to those who want to make clothes for men and/or kids, please stay tuned. As soon as I can get sketches and worksheets for each of those demographics, I will absolutely make posts for them.

Basic measurement guidelines

There are horizontal and vertical measurements being made throughout this activity. I’ve tried to group them together so that you’re not switching from one to the other. All measurements should be taken with a flexible measuring tape.

All horizontal measurements should be made so that the tape is parallel to the floor. When in doubt, make the tape parallel to the waist string (next step). When wrapping the measuring tape around the body, make sure that it’s just loose enough to fit one of your fingers between the body and the tape, but not so loose that the tape can’t stay parallel.

All vertical measurements should rise and fall over your body’s topography. I like big words. That means that if you have a bit of a belly, make sure that your tape goes all the way over it. You want clothes that fit, and pretending like you’re shaped any differently than you are will not accomplish that.

Wear good undergarments and close-fitting clothing. To get the best possible measurements, get out your best bra. If you don’t usually wear a padded bra, don’t during measurements. If you do, do. Wear good supporting panties too. Don’t wear Spanx unless you plan to wear them under all the clothing you make. Wear workout clothes or something else that fits you pretty closely so that the tape isn’t measuring the extra fabric that your baggy old sweater has. Likewise, don’t wear clothing that binds you up  it will make your measurements uncomfortably small.

Finding your waist

For the rest of this post, I will not be referring to the waist where your pants sit. That’s actually your high hip. Your “fashion waist” is actually the smallest part of your body – about where most dresses’ skirts begin. Since so many of the measurements we’re going to take depend on knowing where your waist is, you’re going to mark it. Get a piece of yarn or ribbon and tie loosely it somewhere just under your bra. Now bend to each side a couple of times and the ribbon will settle into your natural fashion waist.

waist ribbonThe remainder of this post will have the waist marked in red, when it is visible.

Group 1 – The Bust

The bust is the largest point of the chest area. For reference, this is usually about 2.5 cm (5 inches) below the armholes of most shirts. When measuring the bust, always look at who you’re measuring from the side to see where the peak of they breasts are. Then have them raise their arms so you can wrap the tape around them. Have them lower their arms before taking measurements.

1 A – Full Bust

BustMeasure around the fullest part of the bust.

1 B – Front Bust

BustMeasure the front bust from side seam to side seam at the same level as the Bust measurement.

1 C – Back Bust

Full BackMeasure the back bust from side seam to side seam at the same level as the Bust measurement.

1 D – Across Back

Across BackMeasure from armhole to armhole about 5 inches (12 cm) down from the neck

1 E – Across Front

Across frontMeasure from armhole to armhole at the same level as the Across Back measurement.

1 F – Bust Width
Bust Width

This week in design school – This many lines will make anything look pudgy.

Measure between the high points of the bust.

Group 2 – The Waist

The best part of the waist point is that you already have it marked with the ribbon.

2 A – Full Waist

WaistMeasure snugly at the same level as the waist ribbon.

2 B – Front Waist

WaistMeasure the front waist (or belly) from side seam to side seam along the waist line.

2 C – Back Waist

Back WaistMeasure the back waist from side seam to side seam along the waist line.

Group 3 – Hips

The hips is the widest part of the body below the waist. You should judge this by looking at the person you’re measuring in profile. Each person’s hips sit a little different.

3 A – Full Hips

HipsMeasure around the fullest of your hips. This is generally 7 inches (18 cm) below the waist. It can also be around the thighs, if you are plus-sized.

3 B – Front Hips

Front HipsMeasure the front hip from side seam to side seam at the same level as the Hips.

3 C – Back Hips

Back HipsMeasure the back hip from side seam to side seam at the same level as the Hips.

4 – Neck

NeckA fairly loose measurement around the base of the neck

Group 5 – Vertical Measurements

The vertical measurements will help you design patterns correctly.  For all back measurements, have your model bend their head forward and feel for the top vertebra that sticks out at the base of the neck. That’s the point we call the “nape.”

5 A – Centre Back

Centre BackMeasure from the centre of the back of the neck (the nape) to the waistline.

5 B – Nape to Bust

Neck to BustMeasure from the nape to the same level as the Bust Line. If you have problems finding the Bust Line from the back, it’s usually at the top of the bra strap.

5 C – Nape to Hips

Neck to Hips

Measure from the  nape to the same level as the Hip.

5 D – Back Shoulder

Shoulder Back HeightMeasure from the highest point of the shoulder at the neck to the waistline.

5 E – Centre Front

Centre FrontMeasuring from the base of the front of the neck to the waist. This will run across your breastbone. Depending on your breast size and your bra, that means that your tape might run straight down or over the fabric in the middle of your breasts. Let it flow the way it does naturally.

5 F – Front Shoulder

Front ShoulderMeasure from the shoulder at the neck across the bust to the waist

Group 6 – The Arm

6 A – Shoulder

ShoulderMeasure from the neck to the edge of your shoulder. For reference, this should be from the edge of most collars to the sleeve seam on a well-fitting shirt.

6 B – Overarm

overarmMeasure from the edge of your shoulder around a bent elbow to the wrist. Sorry that the picture doesn’t have a bent elbow, but I really suck at drawing bent arms (don’t worry, you’ll see).

6 C – Shoulder to Elbow

Sh-ElbowMeasure from the edge of your shoulder to the elbow.

6 D – Underarm

underarmMeasure from the bottom of the armhole to the wrist.

6 E – Elbow

See, yeah, not good at bent elbows.

Measure around the bent elbow, loosely.

6 F – Bicep

BicepMeasure around the fullest part of the upper arm.

7 – Side Seam

Side SeamMeasure from the bottom of the armhole to your waistline.

Group 8 – The Legs

8 A – Crotch Depth

CrotchIn a seated position, measure from your waist to where your buttocks meet the chair.

8 B – Outside Leg/Outseam

OutseamMeasure from the waist, over your hip, to the floor.

8 C – Inseam

InseamMeasure from where your legs meet to the floor.

8 D – Thigh

ThighMeasure around the thickest part of the thigh.

There you go! Now, keep those measurements on hand!


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