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Learn to Measure Your Body for Sewing: Taking Accurate Body Measurements Guide (2023)

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how to measure sewingOnly 30% of women consider their size tag accurate! Yet knowing your real measurements is the key to sewing success. That’s why we’re skipping the guesswork today and showing you how to obtain your true numbers.

Arm yourself with a measuring tape, full-length mirror, and this guide. We’ll walk you through measuring your bust, waist, hips, and more to unlock the custom fit you crave. No flimsy, ill-fitting creations when you harness the power of precision. Say farewell to settling and unleash your potential for perfection.

With the right measurements, you can create the clothes of your fantasies. Expert techniques will have you feeling like the master of your measurements in no time. Let’s get started on the road to clothing liberation with the one simple step that makes all the difference – accurately measuring yourself for sewing.

Key Takeaways

  • Wear form-fitting clothes and stand relaxed.
  • Measure bust, waist, hips, shoulders, and neck.
  • Update measurements at least yearly.
  • Choose size based on the fullest area, such as bust or hips.

Preparing to Measure Yourself

Preparing to Measure Yourself
Before taking measurements, wear form-fitting clothes and stand relaxed. Let your body settle into its natural posture, neither too rigid nor slouching. Take a few deep breaths to release any tension in your muscles. Now you’re ready to accurately measure your unique proportions.

Have a friend help for best results. Stay focused during measuring to get precise numbers. Record each measurement right away so you don’t forget. Be sure to note bust, waist, hips, shoulder, and neck sizes.

These key points will enable you to select the optimal pattern size and make needed adjustments. With correct garment dimensions, you’ll create flattering, comfortable clothes showcasing your silhouette.

Consistent measuring is the secret to achieving the perfect fit every time.

What Equipment Do You Need?

What Equipment Do You Need
Don’t sweat the small stuff – grab the trusty measuring tape from your sewing kit and a comfy outfit, then breathe deep and stand tall before checkin’ yourself out.

  • Measuring tape
  • Mirror
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Optional string

Slip into form-fitting clothes you feel fierce in. Stand with your weight evenly on both feet and relax your body. Exhale fully before wrapping the tape snugly (but not too tight!) around your waist, hips, bust, shoulder, and neck.

Trace your flawless proportions as you mark each measurement on paper. Feel the freedom of knowing your true size and shape. Celebrate your unique beauty by creating clothing that honors your body. Shape-shifting starts here.

How to Measure Your Bust

How to Measure Your Bust
Before taking your bust measurement, put on a well-fitting bra. To measure your high bust, wrap the tape around your back and above the fullest part of your bust. For your full bust, wrap the tape around the widest part of your bust with the tape level and snug.

High Bust

You’ll want to feel your heart pound as you wrap the tape around your ribcage right under your bust. Start by wrapping the tape measure snugly around your back and bring it across the fullest part of your bust.

Make sure the tape is level with the floor and allow your arms to relax at your sides. Record the measurement right where the tape meets at the front. This high bust measurement is useful for adjusting patterns and garment fit above the bust.

Full Bust

Wrap the measuring tape around your body over your bra at the fullest part of your bust, pull it snugly, but not too tight, then note the measurement.

  • Exhale and relax your shoulders before measuring for accuracy.
  • Wear a quality, well-fitted bra when measuring your bust.
  • Measure the bust twice to ensure you have the right number.

When taking your full bust measurement for sewing patterns, relax your body and check that the tape is straight all around for the most precise fit.

How to Measure Your Waist

How to Measure Your Waist
You’ll need to measure both your standing and sitting waists to get the full picture. For your standing waist, relax your torso and wrap a measuring tape around your natural waistline, just above your belly button.

Sit down and measure again around the narrowest part of your waist to get your sitting measurement. Having both of these waist measurements will ensure the best fit as you make clothing to flatter your shape.

Standing Waist

Let your form reveal its inner beauty as the tape embraces your waist’s gentle curves. Stand comfortably, relaxed, and proud. Exhale normally and wrap the tape snugly around your natural waist – just above your hip bones, typically the narrowest part of your torso.

Note the measurement accurately. Your waist whispers its truth, waiting to be unleashed through creative expression.

Sitting Waist

You’d plop down on the ottoman, exhale to relax your midsection, then snug that tape around your belly right above those hipbones – truly the calm before the sewing storm, like a deep breath before plunging into the fabric store fray.

Sitting waist is the narrowest part of your torso when parked on a chair. Drape the tape around your middle, just above your hipbones and with the top edge aligned with the crease where your torso meets your lap.

Don’t suck in – breathe normally. Mark where the tape overlaps for your true seated waist size.

How to Measure Your Hips

How to Measure Your Hips
Before starting your next sewing project, it’s crucial to take accurate body measurements, especially around your hips.

For the hip measurement, stand with your feet together and wrap a measuring tape around the widest part of your hips and bottom.

This standing measurement will be used for garments like pants and skirts.

You’ll also want to take a hip measurement while sitting down, which is important for fitted dresses and bodices. Place the measuring tape across the widest part of your hips while seated and make sure you don’t hold your breath.

Record both standing and sitting hip measurements since the numbers are often quite different.

Accurate hip measurements allow you to select the best size pattern and achieve the perfect fit.

Standing Hips

Form-fitting clothes are key when measuring your hips at their widest point for the most accurate sewing measurement.

  • Wear minimal, close-fitting clothing like leggings and a tank top.
  • Stand with your weight evenly distributed and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your hips and bottoms.
  • Keep the tape level and take care not to pull it too tight.
  • Record the measurement to the nearest 1/4 inch.

With an accurate hip measurement, you can adjust sewing patterns for a perfect fit at your waist and hips.

Sitting Hips

Your hips spread when seated, so measure across the widest point of your lower body while sitting comfortably. Keep your legs together and have a friend use a soft tape measure to carefully measure around the fullest part of your hips and bottom.

Record this hip measurement to compare with your standing hip size. Your seated measurement will likely be larger. Use the larger of the two when adjusting pattern pieces to ensure the finished garment fits smoothly while seated.

Other Useful Measurements

Other Useful Measurements
Before starting your next sewing project, you’ll want to take a couple of other measurements beyond the basics. Carefully measure around the fullest part of your upper arm to get your bicep measurement.

Stand relaxed with your arm slightly bent. Wrap the tape measure around the largest part of your arm without pulling too tight.

You’ll also want to measure your thighs. Stand straight and wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your thigh, while wearing your usual undergarments. Sitting, crossing your legs, and general thigh shape can impact the fit of skirts and pants, so an accurate thigh measurement is key for a good fit.


Flex that arm muscle and wrap the tape snugly around the fullest part to get your bicep measurement. With your arm relaxed and hanging at your side, wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your upper arm.

Make sure the tape is level and snug, but not too tight. This is your bicep measurement, an important number for getting the right fit on sleeve caps. Knowing the measurement from shoulder to the fullest part of your bicep will also help adjust patterns.


Bend your leg to find the fullest part of your thigh for an accurate measurement, honey. Wrap the tape around the fullest part of your thigh, keeping it parallel to the floor. For crotch depth, measure from the waist down to the crotch seam, where the inner thighs meet.

Be sure to keep the tape snug but not tight. Compare the thigh and crotch measurements with those of the finished garment; adjust as needed.

Recording Your Measurements

Recording Your Measurements
After measuring, neatly write down your numbers to keep for pattern and garment reference.

  1. Bust
  2. Waist
  3. Hips

Date each entry. Update at least yearly or when your body changes shape. Precise numbers empower you to choose patterns and adjust garment fit. Do not rely on old measurements. Redo if unsure. With accurate data, you gain confidence sewing clothes contoured to your frame.

Using Your Measurements for Sewing

Using Your Measurements for Sewing
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You’ll wanna double-check your finished sweater length equals your back length measurement from nape to waist – on average, that’s 15 to 17 inches for women.

When sewing clothes to fit your unique figure, accurate body measurements are crucial. Your tape-measured bust, waist, and hip dimensions determine which pattern size to start with.

Shoulder width and arm length ensure proper sleeve fit. Record your exact inseam to hem pants perfectly. Before cutting any fabric, compare finished garment measurements to yours. Tweak the tissue paper pieces as needed so the sewn item flatters your shape.

Don’t forget to account for wearing ease based on the garment style and your preferences. Precision measurements empower you to celebrate your body with custom-tailored DIY fashions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I update my measurements?

You should re-measure before each new project to account for any weight or body fluctuations. New measurements prevent ill-fitting finished garments. Regular measuring ensures patterns complement your updated figure, so you feel empowered in your creations.

What if my measurements fall between two pattern sizes – which one do I choose?

Choose the larger size for more ease, then adjust the pattern by blending between sizes. Pin pattern pieces together in areas needing adjustment and redraw seam lines between sizes. Mark new cutting lines before cutting fabric. This customizes the pattern to your measurements.

My measurements are very different than commercial size charts. What should I do?

If your measurements don’t match size charts, don’t worry! Focus on the individual pattern measurements instead. Choose a size based on your full bust or hips, then make adjustments to other areas as needed.

Follow the pattern instructions to alter the pattern pieces before cutting the fabric.

How can I measure myself accurately if I don’t have help?

Stand in front of a full-length mirror with a snug top and leggings on. Have your measuring tape, pen, and paper nearby. Relax your body and measure your bust, waist, and hips. For sleeves, measure from the shoulder to the desired length.

Mark each measurement on paper as you go. Double-check the numbers, then use them to choose patterns and adjust fitting.

I lost/gained weight and my measurements changed. How do I adjust my pattern to fit my new size?

To adjust your pattern, first carefully re-measure yourself. Compare the new measurements to the original pattern sizing. Make adjustments by slashing and spreading pattern pieces where necessary. Pin the pattern tissue and test fit the muslin to double-check before cutting into the fashion fabric.


Measure twice, cut once. Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of measuring yourself for sewing, you’re ready to take your skills to the next level. With practice, measuring yourself will become second nature. Accurately measuring yourself is key for fit and flattering garments, so refer back to these guidelines and tips whenever you start a new sewing project.

Remember to measure often and adjust the patterns as needed. Proper measuring is the first step to sewing success.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.