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How to measure yourself

Watch our FREE video workshop on taking accurate measurements to learn more:

Standing measurements

The best way to take accurate measurements is to start in your underwear or in close fitting clothes. The most important measurements are your bust, waist and hip. You might also find your upper bust measurement helpful as well as back neck to waist.

Hold the tape measure comfortably snug, but not tight (try a breath in and out to make sure). Then measure!


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Height is a tricky one to do alone. You might find it helpful to mark a point on the inside of a door frame and then measure to that point afterward stepping away. A little piece of marking tape or a small pencil mark that rubs away is all you’d need.

Bust is the circumference around your ribcage at the fullest part of your bust. Again, remember to breath.

Upper Bust also known as High Bust is the measurement under your armpits, above your bust point. This isn’t a measurement listed on your pattern but a helpful fitting technique. Depending on the amount of difference between your high bust and your full bust you may benefit from a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) or a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA).

Waist is the point where you’re able to twist and bend from. Some people refer to it as the narrowest point of your torso, but that’s not the case for most figures! The easiest way to find your waist is to place the tape measure, or a piece of string if more comfortable, around where you think your waist is and then start to bend and move, the tape measure will want to sit in the perfect position so let it move up or down if it’s pulling that way. When you’ve found your waist you can measure it, or measure the piece of string you used!

Neck to waist is a handy one for working out if the bodice waist point on your pattern will fall at the right place. Especially if you’ve just located it in the previous step! Measure from the nape of your neck to your waist point. If you’re struggling to reach, try our handy tip with the door frame again to mark your body points and then measure when you step away.

Hip measurements aren’t always taken where your hips are physically found on your body. Here you’re just trying to record the part of your lower half that is the fullest. This could be around your hip or your rear.

Seated measurements

If you’re seated for long periods of time or are a wheelchair user, you should take your measurements in a seated position. This is because our body mass shifts position when we sit and measurements can increase. You wouldn’t want to make something form fitting and discover it’s tight and uncomfortable as soon as you sit down in it!

Additional measurements

Bicep – measure around the fullest part of your upper arm and use this to check close fitting sleeves won’t be too tight!

Neck measurement– measure around your neck gently and remembering to breath in and out. Now you can use this to check shirt collars.

Crotch length and front/back rise – When you’re making trousers it’s so helpful to measure around the full crotch sometimes called crutch in sewing circles. Take a piece of string and measure from front waist, to back waist and making sure your string isn’t riding up! If making “low rise” trousers, measure to the point you’d like them to sit. Rise is the length between the crotch seam and the waist point on a pair of trousers so you’ll want to know how long this is in the front and back. Using your string again, measure each half individually.

Thigh measurement – Another helpful measurement when you’re making trousers. This will ensure close fitting trouser legs won’t be too tight.

Shoulder point to shoulder point – last but not least, you may have a suspicion that you are wide or narrow shouldered from having straps that regularly sit in the wrong place or tops that fit everywhere except the shoulders. Measuring across from the hinge of your shoulder (you should feel a bone move when you raise your arm) you can then compare this measurement to your pattern and use a wide or narrow shoulder adjustment to solve any differences.

Now you’re ready to pick your pattern size!

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