One of the most important things in sewing for yourself is to get accurate measurements! It is also much harder than it sounds. I had my sister take a few quick pictures of me measuring so I could explain and give a few tips.
I took my pictures in a tight tank. I recommend taking your measurements in a thin/tight shirt or even just in the bra you are going to normally wear. (This is especially important if you are going to be making a more formal garment and plan on wearing a different bra for it- think strapless, push up, etc).
I HIGHLY recommend measuring in front of a mirror! This helps you really see where you are measuring and if you are holding it evenly around your body. It can mean a big difference!
On all measurements breath normally! Most people want to take a big breathe in and then take them— no need! Patterns are drafted with ease to breathe and move normally 🙂 So breathe in and out, then measure. You want to hold the tape snug to your body, but not squeezing.
Here are some common measurements needed for a pattern:
Bust— Full bust is around the fullest/biggest part of your bust. You want the tape as even horizontally as possible.
Over Bust– This is taken around upper back, under arms and over your bust.
Under Bust– This is taken directly under your bust around back. Try to keep your tape as even horizontally as possible.
High Hip– This is taken around your hip bones (this is where I like to wear my pants 😉 and most youth patterns are drafted to hit)
Hip– This is a deceiving name. It is measured around your fullest/biggest part, which is usually your booty. Most definitely my booty is my biggest part 😉 Try to keep your tape as even horizontally as possible (a mirror really helps on this one!)
Waist– This is your natural waistline. Contrary to most belief, it is NOT your belly button or where you wear your pants (even though you might like high waisted pants). It is taken at the smallest part of your mid section. if you don’t have a very defined natural waist there is a very easy way to find it.
Take any kind of stretch trim, fold over elastic, thin elastic, even a strip of knit will work, and tie it snuggly around your mid section. Now MOVE around, bend walk around, sit down, it will naturally settle on your smallest part.
This is your natural waist 🙂
Side Waist Length– Taken from your armpit vertically down to your natural waist. This measurement is vital in any pattern that should hit as your natural waist like the Sweetheart Dress or Boundless Knit Dress. Making sure this measurement is accurate will give you the most flattering fit. If the seam doesn’t hit you at that smallest point then you’re not using it to your advantage 😉
You can see here mine is about 8.75″. For reference the avg is 8″. I’m 5’10” :).
*Updated* I had a few more questions about the side waist length. So I’ve added a couple more pictures— THIS is how much I LOVE my group, I’m willing to put up pictures in my sports bra 4 months after I had a baby!!!! They are cropped very well 😉
Start with your arms DOWN. You want your tape to start where your crease naturally lies— not all the up to your arm. Think where you’d like your shirt to be (if it’s all the way up as tight as possible then it is uncomfortable and you can’t move your arms around).
This was such a hard picture to get! But here are the best we could get to explain… yes, I taped the tape to myself lol!!!
Thigh- Taken around thigh close to crotch, keeping the measuring tape flat horizontally around.
Total Crotch Length- Taken from back center natural waist, under booty, through legs, and up to center front natural waist. You will want the tape pulled taut. The easiest way I think is to tape the center back and then pull through front and read at the front. These are measured with tight, high waisted yoga pants here:
Inseam- Taken from crotch to where you’d like hem of pants. Notice the close up of my ankle here. The difference between ankle height (for skinny leg options like Peg Legs and SOS pants) and a floor length is 3″ on me! That’s a big difference!
Arm length-from armpit to hem of shirt. Most P4P patterns are meant to hit at the base of thumb, so past the wrist. It’s just a personal preference of mine– so if you prefer the traditional wrist length here is where you’d want to measure against the finished measurement in the pattern.
Finished lengths- I will use “inside shoulder to hem” on some shirts and “armpit to hem” on others depending on which is easiest to measure on that particular pattern. Here are both:
Take your time measuring yourself to ensure great fit! It will make a big difference in how happy you are with the outcome!
I have a question. When measuring the side waist length, should you start from your actual armpit, or from the bottom of the armscye? And if it is the armscye, how do you determine where that will be before you’ve sewn the garment?
From your armpit 🙂
I tried to purchase some patterns yesterday but for some reason I could not check out. HELP
If you need any help you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Brenda Beutler says
Only measurement I would add is the rise. Measured from the natural waist from front between the legs to the back. With the tape measure held in front and back sit down. The tape will move. Check the length then you will need for the rise. 1/2 the number for the front and 1/2 for the back. I am shaped like a teen age boy, 36″ inseam and no bum or chest absolutely no hips. For pants to stay on they must come up to my natural waist. Most patterns I have to modify as at 51 I’d rather not have my hind end hanging out.
This would be the crotch length measurement.
What about high hip measurement?
High Hip is the fourth measurement down from the top 🙂