Best way for taking {BODY MEASUREMENTS} for sewing your clothes

how to take measurements

Measuring is the last thing I like about sewing.It is fun only if you think about the final fitting garment you get – otherwise it can get tedious especially when taking sewing measurements of wiggly kids like mine. Why is it that most tedious things ends in stunning results – remember your grades in school.

First things first – Do you know how to read a tape measure – check it out if you donot.

how to read a tape measure

How to measure your body

Some general guidelines for taking body measurements  

  • The person being measured should stand straight, on both feet, feet  some 15 cms apart.
  • It is better to wear fitted clothes when measuring. Absolutely no baggy clothes. This can skew the measurements.
  • It will be perfect if you can wear lingerie you intend to wear with the final garment, while taking the measurement. This is especially important for perfectly fitted clothes like a tight gown, fitted blouse/corset. A push up bra will make all the difference in your final look. 
  • If you plan to wear heels and you are making a long gown, do not forget to wear the heels or a similar one when taking measurement
  • Choose a good and accurate tape measure. Keep it level (parallel to the ground) all the time you are taking horizontal measures
  • Adhere to the old saying – Measure twice and cut once
  • If you can get another person to take the measurements, it is the best
  • The person taking the measurement should be on the right side of the person
  • Donot assume that just because you sucked your breath in, the garment will turn out to be perfect. It will not. You should not lie to doctors and the tape measure

 

Donot forget to check out the Free Sewing Patterns for some easy to sew clothes patterns after you have read this post.If you are a beginner you may also want to have a look at the 100+ sewing techniques explained in detail

 

There is an ideal body measurement for men and women. Your body measurement will have differences from this ideal body measurements, ofcourse. But it is nice to know. Read on

Ideal body measurements for men

ChestWaistHipAcross backShoulderNeckArmhole depth
34283515.55148
363037165 1/414.58 1/2
38323916.55 1/2159
403441175 1/215.59 1/2
42364317.55 1/21610
44384518616.510 1/2
46424718.561711
48444919617.511 1/2

Ideal body measurements for women

Bust roundWaist roundShoulder tip to shoulder tipArmhole depth ( without ease)Hip round
242211628
2624126 1/430
2824136 3/432
302513 1/26 3/434
322613 1/2736
3428147 1/438
3630157 1/440
383215 1/27 1/442
4034167 1/244
4236167 1/246
.

Ease – Earlier I used to take measurement according to how much loose or tight I want the dress to be. Since then I have learned that this is absolutely the wrong way. Since then I have learned about ease too.

You should be taking the measurement correctly, then adding ease to the pattern according to how much ease you want. Very loose, slightly loose, fitted, tight – options are  many. If you are measuring someone else, as soon as you have taken the measurement of a person, inquire about what ease they need for this particular garment. Write it down. A minimum of 2 inches is needed for comfort, as I have added in the bodice pattern here . This is my opinion and very much dependent on personal preference

Ease chart – you can add your ease according to this.

Fit of the garmentExtra to be added to bust , waist and hip measurements
Tight fittingAdd extra -5 to -10 %
Close fittingAdd extra 0- 5%
Comfortable fitting easeAdd extra 7-10%
Loose fittingAdd extra 12-15%

Deciding on ease also would depend on lots of elements like their age, cultural background etc. 

There are 4 different ways of taking body measurements in a professional set up

  1. Chest measuring
  2. Direct measuring
  3. Compound measuring
  4. Shoulder measuring

 

Basic measuring / Chest measuring

Under this system, you will be taking the basic measurements. For a blouse you will be taking the full length, shoulder, bust round, waist round and the sleeve length. For making the pants You will be taking just the waist round hip round full length and the bottom flare. For a jacket you will take bust round, waist round, hip round, sleeve length, waist length, full length, neck and back width. 

Direct measurement method

This is a more elaborate system. Under this system for a jacket you will take more detailed measurements like armscye depth, across the chest, over shoulder etc

Shoulder measurement method

This method takes 4 extra measurements – Upper shoulder, middle shoulder, lower shoulder and nape of neck to waist.

Measurements to be taken for making shirts, tops

Bust round, waist round, Full length of the blouse, Sleeve length, Upper arm measure, Shoulder, Neck, waist length, Back width

Measurements to be taken for making dresses

Bust round, waist round, Full length of the blouse, Sleeve length, Upper arm measure, Shoulder, Neck, waist length, Back width, Full length of the skirt portion

Measurements to be taken for making Trousers, pants

Full length( side length) Leg length (Inseam length) Waist round, Seat round ( Hip round) Bottom measure

 

The professionals always take the measurements in a particular order. When I go to a tailoring shop they write down the measurements without writing down the ‘what’ of it – seems like they know it by heart, as they take the sewing measurements always in a particular order

It is in this order for the vertical measurements, I assume 

1 Body length

2. Waist length

3 Shoulder to shoulder length

4 Armlength

then the horizontal measurements

1 Bust round

2 Waist round

3 Hip round

4 Neck depth

5 Arm round.

Main body measurementshow to take body measurements

Neck round – Measure around the base of the neck ( slightly loose; donot take this too tight)

Shoulder to shoulder – This is measured from shoulder bone on one side to the other side shoulder bone.

Bust round

Wrap the measuring tape around your back and across the fullest part of your breasts. Do not pull the tape too tight or hold it loose. It should sit smugly, without it slipping off

Waist round ( waist measure)

Wrap the measuring tape around the smallest part of your torso at the waist. This is mostly just above the belly button ( about an inch above).

Waist length – Measure from shoulder to waist which is the narrowest part of the torso.

Hip round – Measure around the hips ( where it is the broadest)

Check out the post How to measure your hips? 6 types of hip shapes for more details on this. 

Hip length – Measure from shoulder to hip.

Sleeve round- Measure around the arms where the sleeve should end.

Length of the garment-Measured from the shoulder ( close to the neck, where it is highest) to where you want the garment hemline. Tape should go over the fullest part of the bust. If it is a pant or skirt, measure from where you want it to be tied at the waist, to the hemline you want. 

Sleeve length – This is according to your preference . Where your sleeve should end. If the sleeve length is past the elbow you should bend the arm slightly when taking the measurement.

Neck Depth – From the base of the neck measure how much depth you want for the Front neckline and Back neckline. A comfortable neck depth for back is from 1 inch to 3 inch but you can go as deep as you want but for front neck line do not go too deep ( for reasons you know). A 6.5 inch is what I usually use; again individual preference and also depending on the pattern. 

Neck width – This is usually taken as 1/12 th of the bust round – so if you have a bust round of 36 inch you should take a neck width of 3 inch. This is a very close width and you can add a 1/2 inch for a relaxed neck. 

Armhole depth (Armscye) – This refers to the measure from the back nape of neck to the bust line.This is taken according to the bust round or as per the measurement you have made on the body. Refer the ideal table measurement above.

Trouser length – From waist to 1 1/4 cms above the ground/floor ( for full length pants)

Trouser Bottom round – This refers to the measurement of the flair of the leg for pants – Usually taken upwards of 12 inches.

Inseam – Measured on the inside leg from the crotch to the where you want the hemline (  to 1 1/4 cms above the ground/floor ( for full-length pants))

how to take body measurementsBody Rise: You can measure this two ways 1. Hold the tape at the center of the front waist. Take the tape to the back of the waist between your legs 2. Another way is to sit comfortably in a chair and measure from the waist to the place where your bottom rests on the chair.I prefer the second way.

 

For some pants Measurement from waist to knee and knee round should be taken ( Chudidhar)

Waistband round – Decide on where you will be wearing your skirt or waistband. Wrap the tape loosely around the spot. You should be absolutely comfortable with this measure

Bust length – Measure from shoulder to Bust point.( For fitted blouses – sari blouses)

Bust to Bust – This measured from one bust point to the other bust point.Usually for a  person with bust round of 36 inch or more this is taken as 4 inch and less than 36 inch take this as 3.5 inches.

Slit cut – Decide on where you want the slit of your tunic or top to be on the side seams.

Some other sewing measurements like placement of pockets, buttons, trims, flare etc should also be noted down

 

I have learned that it is well worth the trouble taking all these measurements; Clothes that fit properly are their own reward – don’t you think so?

If you find any measurement I have skipped, do not forget to mention in the comments

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Comments 6

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  1. Exactly what I needed to improve my measurements skills. Thank you so much. God bless you for the great job well done.

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