Creating your first piece of clothing or having your first tailored garment can be such a fantastic experience. Few pieces of purchased clothing truly fit as well as one that is bespoke, custom-made to conform to your beautifully unique body. Additionally, there's something extraordinary in having the ability to gift a hand-made piece of clothing to someone you love.
However, before you make a garment, you need to know what size and shape it will fit perfectly, which means learning how to take measurements for clothing. As a beginner to sewing and clothing making, the entire process can seem overwhelming and daunting. But like all things, some practice, good advice, and a good foundation can help you take it one step at a time.
Knowing how to take measurements for clothing is also extremely useful when navigating clothes shopping in general. It is almost necessary, given how every clothing manufacturer appears to have its own sizing rules and numbers. So knowing your measurements precisely can help you ensure you find the precise fit for you.
What You Need To Take Measurements With
Unfortunately, the old familiar measuring tape made of metal won't work here, as our bodies don't go in straight lines. Proper measuring tools are essential for the perfect fit and shape of garments and even for sewing home furnishings. If you're a beginner, you'll need to learn to measure things like seam allowances, hems, and other markings. The list of items you should try to have on hand for measurements as a beginner are:
- Tailors' measuring tape. (A measuring tape that is soft and flexible.)
- A clear ruler
- A quilting ruler, roughly 14 inches in size.
As you grow and become more confident in your sewing, you can begin to add other measurement tools, such as:
- Sewing gauge
- French curve
- Flexible curved ruler
- Tailor's L square
- Curved runner
General Rules of Thumb for Body Measurements
Although many newcomers to sewing may think it's tough to take body measurements, it can be surprisingly easy once you know exactly where to place the tape measure. The rest naturally follows. Below are some very simple-to-follow instructions to remember before measuring your body.
- Always use your flexible measuring tape for maximum accuracy
- Make sure you don't pull the measuring tape too tightly or let it hang too loosely
- Measure on bare skin, not over clothes.
Measuring For Women's Clothing
Whether measuring yourself for a piece of women's clothing, or someone else, here are the most critical measurements to have:
- Hip circumference
- Inseam length for pants
How to measure bust: using your tailor's measuring tape, place one end at the fullest part of the bust. Then, wrap the tape around going under armpits and shoulder blades, bringing it back to the front. Keep the tape snug but not too tight. Note, ensure you or the one you are measuring aren't wearing a padded bra so that you can provide the most accurate measurements.
How to measure waist: Wrap your tape measure across your natural waistline, which is typically located 2 inches or 5 centimeters below your belly button. To check, have yourself or the person you measure bend to one side—the create that forms marks where your natural waistline is. Make sure that the stomach is relaxed to ensure the most accurate results.
How to measure hips: Make sure you or the person you measure stands straight with feet together. Measure across the fullest part of the hips and buttocks, roughly 8 inches or 20 centimeters below the waist. If measuring yourself, use a mirror to check that the tape is as level as possible. Should you need to, you may also take thigh measurements by locating the fullest part of the thigh and wrapping the tape measure from side seam to side seam.
How to measure inseam: This type of measurement is only needed for pants, such as jeans, trousers, slacks, shorts, leggings, and so on. The inseam is the distance from the top inside of the thigh to the bottom of the ankle. If measuring yourself, you could grab your favorite pair of pants that fit you well and measure the distance from the crotch to the hem. If you use a favorite pair of pants, make sure that they are on a flat surface and smooth any bumps or wrinkles for the most precise measurements.
Waist measurements for a dress may be a bit more confusing than measurements for pants. To get the best measurements of a waist, measure the narrowest part of a waist instead. If you struggle to find the narrowest point, wrap the tape measure around the waist and move it up and down until you pinpoint the right area. Once you find the smallest waist measurement, double this number to get the total size of a waist.
Measuring for Men's Clothing
The essential measurements for men's clothing are as follows:
- Potential shoulder width
- Arm length
- Waist hip circumference
How to measure men's chest size: Wrap the measuring tape beneath the armpits and around the widest part of the chest and shoulder blades. If you measure yourself, if you can, get someone to help you so that you can relax and let both of your arms drop—this helps keep the chest in a natural state for precise measuring.
Measure the neck: place the tape at the base where the neck connects to the shoulders. This should be roughly just below Adam's apple. Put one finger between the tape and the skin to ensure the collar measurement doesn't turn out too snug.
Measuring the waist: Locate the natural waistline by bending toward one side and finding the crease. Place the measuring tape around your waist, making sure it's neither too loose nor too tight and that it is wrapped evenly. For a standard fit, place a finger between the body and tape when measuring.
How to measure men's hips and inseam: Luckily, measuring men's hips and inseams follows the same steps for women. For the hip, wrap the widest part of the hips and buttocks. For the inseam, run the tape from groin to lower ankle.
Measuring shoulders: To get the most accurate measurement, it is best not to try and measure your shoulders by yourself. Measure from the back, not the front. Place one end of the tape measure at the point where the horizontal and vertical parts of the arms meet. Then run the tape across the back, mimicking the natural curve of shoulders.
Sleeve length measuring: Again, when trying to measure yourself, you may want to ask a friend to help. Start by taking measurements from the back, placing one end of the tape at the back of the neck, and running it down the shoulder all the way to the meaty part of the palm. This ensures freedom of movement when arms are bent.
We hope that our in-depth body measurement tips and tricks will help you create your next garment or save you the headache of purchasing the wrong size in the future!