Our new Sewing School series is a set of free virtual workshops to answer all your questions about how to get begin making your own clothes. In part 1, we’re looking at the most essential part dressmaking – taking your own measurements accurately so that the garments you make can fit you like a glove!
Before you begin any dressmaking project, always measure yourself before you choose which pattern size to make. The sizing can vary greatly from pattern to pattern and brand to brand, so don’t just assume you’re a particular size. It’s worth taking the time at this stage before you spend time lovingly crafting a new garment. Scroll down for our essential guide to how to take your own measurements, including how to measure waist, how to measure inseam (inside leg) and how to measure bust.
So let’s go! We’ll talk you through how to take all of your body measurements below, then compare them to our sample size chart to practise picking which size to sew. You’ll usually find a sewing pattern’s size chart printed on the pattern envelope or on the instruction sheet inside.
Top tips for how to take your body measurements
- Measure yourself in your underwear and preferably in the bra you’ll be wearing underneath your garment as this can alter the measurements slightly.
- For accuracy, use a fabric tape measure as it’ll curve around your body.
- You can measure on your own if you stand in front of a mirror, but for best results ask a friend to help so they can check the tape measure is sitting in the right places.
- Make sure the tape measure sits snuggly around you but isn’t too tight.
“Which common measurements do I need?”
Take the measurements below carefully and download our My Body Measurements table to record your findings.
- High bust/chest: Across the back, directly under the arms and above the bust.
- Bust: Around the fullest part of your bust, across the centre of your nipples.
- Bust point: Your nipple point when wearing the bra you will be wearing with the garment.
- Waist: Your natural waistline, where you bend to the side.
- Hips: Around the fullest and widest part of your thighs and bottom.
- Back waist: From the top of your spine at the base of your neck to your natural waistline.
- Height: Stand against a wall without shoes on and measure from the top of your head to the floor.
- Neck: The circumference of your neck at its fullest.
- Shoulder: From your neck to where the shoulder seam would be on a garment.
- Arm: From where the shoulder seam would be to your wrist.
- Inside leg/inseam: From your crotch to the floor.
- Outside leg: From your waist to the floor.
- Front rise: From your crotch to your waist or wherever you want your waistband to sit.
You’ve got this. The sooner you can confidently measure up, the sooner you can grab a sewing pattern and get started on your handmade wardrobe.