Getting accurate measurements of your body is the first step to creating beautiful, handmade garments that fit. Today, we’ll be showing you how to take your measurements for sewing your own clothes.
Like with ready-to-wear brands, sizing across sewing pattern companies varies quite a bit, and selecting your size might be intimidating or confusing at first. But we’re here to help! Today, we’ll be showing you how to take your measurements in order to identify your ideal starting size. This is something we recommending doing at the start of every project, since most of us fluctuate quite often (and sometimes quite dramatically), but thankfully it’s quick and easy.
One tip before we get started: for many of us, seeing our measurements can trigger certain feelings about our bodies. If you find it difficult emotionally to take and record your measurements, you’re not alone! One trick we like to recommend as way to avoid being confronted by those measurement numbers is to use the other side of the measuring tape. What we mean by this is that if you commonly measure in inches, use centimeters instead! If you commonly use centimeters, use inches instead! We’ve found that switching a different measuring system takes some of the emotion out of the numbers, since they don’t have quite the same meaning to us.
Okay, let’s start measuring!
Preparing to Take Your Measurements
When you get ready to take your measurements for sewing, you’ll want to have a measuring tape on hand, as well as a pen and paper to write down your measurements.
Additionally, you should wear tight-fitting clothes (or just your undergarments) so you can better see where you’re measuring and reduce any bulk from your clothing. Wear the undergarments that you’ll be wearing when you wear the garment you plan to make—this especially important with bras, because the type of bra you wear can change your bust measurement.
Finally, you’ll want to stand in front of a mirror. Ideally, a full length one, but if you don’t have one, use a mirror where you can see as far down as your hips. Checking your measuring tape in the mirror as you’re measuring yourself is important for accurate measurements.
It can be helpful to have a friend on hand to help you take your measurements, but it’s not necessary. In the photos below, you’ll see our model taking her measurements by herself.
How to Measure Your Bust
When selecting your size in Cashmerette patterns, we use two bust measurements: high bust and full bust. This makes it easier for you to pick your right cup size, since Cashmerette patterns come in three cup sizes (C/D, E/F, G/H). Learn more about our new high bust measurements here.
Take this measurement while NOT wearing a bra. Place the measuring tape over the top of your bust and underneath your armpits. The tape will be horizontal at your back and front, and diagonal at your side. Keep your arms down when recording your high bust measurement (the model is lifting her arm so you can see where the tape goes).
Take this measurement while wearing a bra, ideally the one you intend to wear along with the garment you’re making. Place the measuring tape around the fullest part of your bust. Keep your arms down when recording your full bust measurement.
How to Measure Your Waist
Knowing where to measure your waist can be tricky (we wrote a blog post all about it here). In Cashmerette patterns, you’ll want to use your natural waist, which is the smallest bit of your waist.
Be sure to take both you standing waist and your sitting waist. For stretchy garments, you can use your standing waist, but for fitted woven garments, you’ll want to use your sitting waist so that you have room to spread a bit (and breathe!) when you sit down.
Place the measuring tape at the narrowest part of your torso (your natural waist). Use this waist measurement for garments that have stretch, or have a lot of ease (are flowy).
While standing, place the measuring tape at the narrowest part of your waist (your natural waist), then sit down in a chair, allowing the tape to slide as your waist expands. Use this waist measurement for garments that do not stretch and are closely fitted.
How to Measure Your Hips
Like with the waist, there can be different places to measure your hip. In Cashmerette patterns, we use the fullest bit of your hip, where your hips and bum are the widest. Again, make sure to measure your hips both while standing and while sitting to get the best range of motion during your day.
Place the measuring tape around the widest part of your hips. Use this hip measurement for garments that stretch or have a lot of ease (are flowy).
While standing, place the measuring tape around the widest part of your hips, and then sit down in a chair, allowing the tape to slide as your body expands. Use this hip measurement for garments that do not stretch and are closely fitted.
Other Useful Measurements
Bust, waist, and hip measurements are the most commonly used in sewing patterns, but it can be helpful to take a few other measurements, too. This will allow you to know if the finished garment has enough ease for you in other parts of your body.
Place the measuring tape around your arm at armpit level, around the fullest part of your upper arm. Keep your arm down and relaxed while taking this measurement.
A number of Cashmerette patterns include full bicep sleeve pieces, but here is a tutorial on how to make this adjustment if your pattern doesn’t include a full bicep sleeve.
Place the measuring tape around the widest part of your thigh.
Once you’ve recorded your measurements, you can use them to determine your size (or set of sizes to grade between) using our size guide. And then you’re off on an incredible journey of sewing your own beautiful, well-fitting garments—we can’t wait to see what you make.
So that’s how to take your measurements for sewing! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions.