How to Take Body Measurements for Sewing Patterns

Knowing how to take body measurements for your clothing is beneficial in many ways. It helps with buying the right size product and helps when using sewing patterns.

Your body measurements must match those of the pattern as it is very frustrating to make something that does not fit afterwards, because it is the wrong size. Always compare your measurements with those on the pattern, then nothing can go wrong.

Taking Body Measurements for Females

Before taking your measurements, strip down to your underwear. Place a narrow belt or cord round your waist, so that it sits exactly on your waistline without being pulled in or hanging loose.


Many measurements are made starting from this line. For measuring, use a flexible tape measure 150–200 cm long. For measuring the circumference of waist or hips you will get precise results if you use a special waist measuring tape that can be held in place by pressing a button and shows the measurement in a frame. If possible, get a second person to do the measuring.

That will ensure that your measurements are not determined by your own ‘cheating’, which in the end only serves to make you feel good but does nothing for the fit of a garment. In addition, there are many measurements that it is hard to take for yourself, such as arm length and outside leg length.

Standard Female Body Measurements

Position the tape measure as follows for the various measurements, and write your measurements down:

  1. Bust – Round the back and the fullest part of the breast.
  2. Waist – Round the waistband (see tip) on the waistline. Do NOT pull in your stomach.
  3. Hips – Over the widest part of your lower hips.
  4. Bust height – From the top of the shoulder to the tip of the breast.
  5. Front waist length – From the highest point of the shoulder, over the tip of the breast to the waist.
  6. Back waist length – From the most prominent bone at the base of the neck to the waist (waistline).
  7. Shoulder width – From the base of the neck to the top of the armhole.
  8. Sleeve length – Sometimes from the top of the armhole to the wrist, with the elbow slightly bent. You will also find it based on the underarm to the wrist, so be sure to follow the instructions.
  9. Upper arm width – Round the widest part of the upper arm.
  10. Neck width – Round the base of the neck.
  11. Outside leg – From the waistband to the ankle.
  12. Inside leg – Down the inside of the leg from the crotch to the ankle.
  13. Upper thigh Round the widest part of the thigh.
  14. Crotch depth – From the waistline to the seat surface when sitting upright.
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After Measuring

Now determine your clothing size using the measurement chart for the pattern. Whether you have a printed pattern or a pattern magazine, you must compare your own measurements with the chart.

Do not be surprised at the result. It very rarely happens that all your measurements exactly match the ideal measurements for a garment size. With patterns for dresses, jackets and blouses you should generally go by the bust size, and for skirts and trousers go by the hip measurement.

However, as almost all patterns are designed in several sizes, when you transfer the cutting lines to your own paper pattern you can quite easily combine different sizes with one another. Change from one size to the next by cutting along a line that merges smoothly into the original outlines at each end. For example, if you have a size 12 waist and size 14 hips, it is easy to connect the lines of the two sizes between the hips and the waist.

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