Chapt 15 - Body Measurements
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Table of Contents ] Chapt 1 - Fabric ] Chapt 2 - Tools and Equipment ] Chapt 3 - The Sewing Machine ] Chapt 4 - Patterns ] Chapt 5 - Pressing ] Chapt 6 - Marking The Fabric ] Chapt 7 - Preparing to Begin ] Chapt 8 - Seams ] Chapt 9 - Seam Finishes ] Chapt 10 - Stabilization ] Chapt 11 - Control of Fullness ] Chapt 12 - Finishing Edges ] Chapt 13 - Hand Sewing ] Chapt 14 - Closures ] [ Chapt 15 - Body Measurements ] Chapt 16 - Ease In Clothing ] Chapt 17 - Pattern Alterations ] Chapt 18 - Finished Dimensions ] Chapt 19 - Common Terms ] Chapt 20 - Common Costume Fabrics ] Index of Sewing Exercises ]

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  1. Good fit begins with accurate measurements. Commercial clothing and patterns are produced in standard sizes (i.e. 8-20 for women and 36-46 for men) that utilize an industry wide set of standard measurements. Costume construction utilizes a set of measurements to alter a commercial basic pattern or generate a custom fit pattern for each actor. In either case the the process of measuring the body is the same.
  2. Measurements should be taken over the underwear or a leotard only. A swimsuit is a good substitute if a leotard is not available.
  3. Do not attempt to take measurements on yourself. This will result in very inaccurate measurements.
  4. Hold the tape taut, not tight, against the body and parallel to the floor.
  5. Be brutally honest when taking measurements. It is pointless to invest the time and money in a garment that will not fit.
  6. Stand at rest, feet flat on the floor. Do not take measurements in front of a mirror as the person being measured tends to pose.
  7. Tie a string around the waist at the navel or thinnest part of the body. This will serve as a base line for all vertical measurements.
  8. If your having trouble finding the shoulder bone, raise the arm, a dimple will appear at the shoulder point.
  9. The base of the neck is the prominent bone on the lower portion of the neck. This can be located by bending the head forward.
  10. To locate the front neck base shrug the shoulders, a hollow forms at the neck base.
  11. Update the measurements at least once a year. Even if the body weight remains the same, measurements can change. Body weight will shift due to age, changes in lifestyle, or emotional and medical conditions.
  12. If using a commercial pattern, compare the body measurements to the industry standards. These are found in the back of commercial pattern books or on the back of any pattern envelope.
bullet WOMEN - purchase a pattern that corresponds to your bust measurement for blouses, jackets and dresses; for skirts and pants use your waist or hip measurement.
bullet MEN - purchase a pattern based on chest measurement for shirts, jackets, robes; use waist measurements for pants patterns.


  1. BUST/CHEST - around fullest part
  2. HIGH BUST (Women only) - directly under arms, above bustline
  3. NECK (Men only) - at the Adam's apple. Add 1/2" to body measurement. This is now a ready-to-wear neckband measurement.
  4. WAIST - over the string. String should be placed at navel or thinnest part of body. Should feel comfortable, not tight. Level should be where clothing would ride on women only.
  5. HIPS - should be taken at the fullest part of the body. This is approximately 9" on women and 8" on men.
    BACK WAIST LENGTH - from the prominent bone at the neck / base to string.
  6. FRONT WAIST LENGTH - from shoulder at neck base to string. Over \ the fullest part of the \ bustline for women. See \ next page for diagram.
  7. SHOULDER TO BUST (Women only) from shoulder at neck base to bust point. See next page.
  8. SHOULDER LENGTH - from neck base to shoulder bone.
  9. BACK BREAKPOINT - across back below neck base, at 5" for women and 6"for men. See diagram previous page.
  10. ARM LENGTH - from shoulder bone to wrist bone, over slightly bent elbow.
  11. SHOULDER TO ELBOW (Women) - from end of shoulder bone to middle of slightly bent elbow.
  12. BICEP - at fullest part between shoulder and elbow with muscles flexed.
  13. CROTCH DEPTH - from side waist to chair (Sit on a flat chair with a straight back and use a ruler).
  14. CROTCH LENGTH - from center back waist at string between legs to center front waist at string.
  15. THIGH - around fullest part.
  16. BACK SKIRT LENGTH (Women Only) - From center back waist at string to desired shirt length.
  17. OUTSEAM - from side waistline at string to top of arch on foot or desired pant length. This measurement is taken along the outside of the leg.

Tape placement #1-5

Tape placement #6-17

horizontal rule

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