After this mess, I decided I should re-familiarize myself with sizing. Today I’m going to focus on how to properly take body measurements. It should not surprise you that measurements are very important when sewing clothing to ensure the item will fit properly.
What do you need to measure? The answer to this question depends on what you’re making. Obviously the size of your bust is not important if you’re making a skirt. I’m going to only talk about three of the most common measurements: bust, waist, and hips.
Tips for taking body measurements:
- Ask a friend to help you if you need your own measurements
- Hold the tape measure at each body point so it’s comfortably snug
What does comfortably snug mean? There should not be room between the tape measure and your body, and the tape measure should not dig into your skin.
- Make sure that the measuring tape is level the entire way around the body
- Body measurements can be broken up into front and back measurements: front measurement + back measurement = total measurement
What is a front and back measurement? Exactly what it sounds like. The front measurement is the front half of the measurement, and the back measurement is the back half of the measurement.
- You do not always need to break measurements up – in many cases a total measurement is sufficient
Okay, here we go.
Bust: Measure at the fullest part of your bust.
Waist: Measure your natural waist… not where you likely wear your pants. A simple way of finding your waist is to do a side bend and find the natural crease. It will be directly above your belly button and below your ribcage.
Hips: You want to measure the widest part of your hips. This can be deceiving, as when looking in the mirror the part that looks the widest may not actually be the widest. An easy way to find the widest part is to look in the mirror sideways. Measure the part where your butt sticks out the most. Waist to hip is exactly as it sounds. Measure the distance from your natural waist (as described above) to the fullest part of your hip.
In the sewing class I took at Conestoga College we were given a table to practice taking proper measurements with, and to record our own body measurements on. I’ve included my own version of this same table here. I’m not exactly sure what all of the columns are for. I’m hoping over time I will figure this out and can share it with you. In our class, we only used the first column – body measurement.
As you will see, there are more than bust, waist, and hips included in the table. If you’re uncertain how to take the other measurements, I recommend either popping into a fabric store and asking someone for help (I’ve always had great success asking employees for help), or do a google search.
The last thing I want to point out about the body measurement table is the fitting ease required column. Briefly, fitting ease can be broken into two categories: wearing ease and design ease. Wearing ease is the amount of room needed in a garment so that you can move in it (sit down, lift your arms, etc.). Design ease is the amount of room given in a design to create a particular silhouette. I will talk more about ease another day.
If any experienced sewers have tips for taking body measurements, please share!