Taking Accurate Body Measurements for Dressmaking

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on December 15, 2021

One of the best reasons to sew your own clothes is to make garments which fit your body beautifully!

It’s so important to take accurate measurements when sewing your own clothes, and not rely on high street clothing sizes. Not only do these change from shop to shop, they can change from garment to garment!   Always check your sizing before cutting out your pattern, it will save you heart ache later.

To find the right size to cut out, first take your measurements.  Document your sizes in your Dressmakers Planner or download a handy printable here.   You will need a soft tape measure to take these measurements, and a full-length mirror to help make sure you’re measuring the right spot.

Top Tips

  • When measuring your body, wear tight fitted clothes or your underwear.
  • Hold the tape measure snug to your body, not to tight, not loose. You should be able to fit a finger underneath.
  • Work with a sewing buddy if you can, to take each other’s measurements. It’s much easier to measure someone else.

You will need to take these measurements:


measuring your bust size
Bust: Take this around the fullest part of your bust, over your apex (nipples) and just above the back of your bra strap so that the tape measure is level all the way around. 
High Bust: The High bust is over the top of the full breast and around the back of the bra line.






taking waist measurements

WAIST: When you bend sideways to one side, the crease created is where you natural waistline is.  It might be higher than you thought!

If you want a more visual clue of where to measure, tie a piece of elastic around your waist and have a little wiggle, where it comes to rest is your waistline

People often measure around their abdomen by mistake. This measurement will be bigger than your natural waist and will not help you cut out the right size.  However, if your abdomen is very round, this measurement can be useful to guide any fit adjustments you need to make.


measureing your hip

HIP: Measure around the fullest part of your bottom, which is lower on your body than your hip bone. It needs to be the widest point of your body.

It's also worth considering length!

Patterns will be designed for average heights, for example, our patterns are designed for women with a height of around 165cm/5ft 5ins. If you are more than two inches taller or shorter you may wish to adjust the pattern before you cut your fabric and lengthen or shorten the pattern pieces. You will find length adjustment lines on most patterns.

Bodice Length - To check the length of the top measure from the point your neck meets your shoulder then down over your bust to where you would like your hem to sit – taking into consideration the style of the garment.

Leg Length – Take your inside leg length measurement and compare with the pattern.  Don’t forget to include seam and hem allowance!


It’s worth taking some time when measuring yourself, to write the measurements down and put them somewhere easy to grab whenever you are preparing a pattern.  Our Dressmakers Planner is ideal for this!  You can also download a PDF copy of the measurement guide for free when you subscribe to our newsletter.