Measuring yourself correctly is key to choosing the right size for sewing patterns. Sewing pattern sizing is very different from ready to wear sizing so don’t be alarmed if your sizes aren’t the same! It’s much easier to do this if you have someone to help but if you don’t you can use a floor length mirror to help make sure you are holding the tape evenly and in the correct place.
To get accurate measurements, wear the undergarments you plan to wear with the finished pattern. Your strapless bra, push-up, and regular t-shirt bra may all give you different bust measurements!
Stand and breathe normally during measuring–no need to suck your stomach in! Keep the tape snug, but not tight. These will help to get the most accurate measurements for a flattering fit!
The most common measurements beginners will see are: upper bust, bust, high hip, hip, waist, side waist length, thigh, inseam, and arm length. I also included calf measurements because they are important for a great beginner’s project: leggings! Grab your flexible measuring tape and lets get started!
Upper Bust: Measure around back, right under your arms and over your bust.
Bust: Slip the tape around your back and bring to the front over the biggest part of your bust, keeping the tape as straight as possible from the back and over the bust.
Waist: Measure the smallest part of your waist, not the belly button! To find your natural waist, use some thin elastic or a thin scrap of knit fabric and tie it around your waist. Move around a bit and it will settle in the smallest part–your natural waist.
High Hip: Measure around your hip bones.
Hip: Measure around the biggest part of your hips, usually around the bottom!
Side Waist Length: With your arm down, measure from your armpit crease to your natural waist.
Thigh: Measure your upper thigh, near the crotch.
Inseam: Measure from crotch to your ankle or where ever you prefer the hem of your pants to fall.
Arm Length: Measure from your armpit to where you like the sleeve hem to fall. Some prefer wrist and some prefer the base of the thumb.
Calf: Measure around the widest part of your calf. This measurement is useful when making leggings or fitted pants. I have large calves so I have to grade the pattern to a larger size here or else I can’t even get them on!
Free Measurement Charts
It’s always helpful to keep a list of your measurements around. Here are some free printable measurement charts: