This is a post I had planned to do many, many months ago. But time (as usual) seemed to pass me by and this got left in the lurch.
I must say, I am always apprehensive to post pictures of myself (even if they are headless like these ones), so maybe that's why - subconsciously - this post is so late!
I shouldn't have left it this late though, as being able to take accurate measurements is so important when pattern drafting, especially when drafting custom block patterns.
All you'll need is a tape measure, and if you are lucky enough to have an assistant around, then they will prove them self useful too. If there is no one around to help, I find taking measurements in front of the mirror makes it much easier.
Wear tight fitting garments when taking measurements to make them as accurate as possible.
We will start by taking your waist and hip measurements. These are the measurements you will probably find you use the most (along with the bust).
First, take note of the difference between your waist and your low and high hip.
The waist is the bit in between your rib cage and your hips. It is often the most narrow point of your torso.
Your high hip is a horizontal measurement that cuts through at the top of your hip bone (normally where you would rest your hands if you were told to "put your hands on your hips"). It is is often where the waistband of trousers and skirts will lie (unless they are "high-waisted").
Your low hip is a little further down (as the title suggests) and encapsulates the fullest part of your lower half - including your pelvis, the top of your thighs and your derriere.
Your waist measurement is one measurement you will need all the time. To find it, simply wrap the tape measure around your waist, ensuring that the tape measure remains level all the way around (horizontal to the floor at both front and back).
Do not suck in your tummy like I accidentally did in this photo! You want to be as natural as possible, so that your clothes fit well. Make sure the tape isn't too loose, or isn't pulling you in either!
Just the same as your waist, keep the tape horizontal to the floor and wrap it around your hips to find your high hip measurement.
For the low hip measurement, find the fullest part of your buttocks (this is when a mirror helps) and take a horizontal measurement from there.
If you would also like to see how much ease you will need in this area in a skirt or pair of trousers, take this measurement while sitting down.
For your bust measurement, find the fullest point of your breasts and take a horizontal measurement from there.
Ensure the tape measure remains horizontal as it wraps around your back, for an accurate measurement.
Knowing the distance between bust points (I like to call this measurement "the nip to nip") can help when adding bust darts or drawing panels that you would like to cut through the bust (princess panels, for example).
Simply take the horizontal distance between your breasts.
To take your neck measurement, wrap the tape measure around the base of your neck, making sure it is not too tight.
To measure the length of your shoulder, first find the peak of your shoulder (this is the bony bit before your shoulder becomes your upper arm). Now measure between the base of your neck and the peak of your shoulder.
For the shoulder to bust measurement, hold the tape measure in the middle of your shoulder (approximately where your bra strap sits) and measure down to bust point.
For the shoulder to waist measurement, do the same as the shoulder to bust measurement, but continue down to the waist.
Moving onto your back (which is very difficult to do alone), start at the nape of your neck and measure vertically down to your waist. This measurement is the starting point for the bodice block.
Your back width is the horizontal measurement of your back, from the bottom of a standard armhole, across to the other armhole.
The armscye depth is the measurement I initially found the most tricky to get my head around. For one, I am quite certain I had never heard this term until I started this blog (I don't think it was mentioned once in the four years I studied), but since then, it seems to pop up all the time (always the way, right?) It also seems that there are many different ways people suggest to find it.
When I first drafted my bodice block, this is the technique I found online and used to measure my armscye depth. I placed three fingers under my arm and then measured down from my last finger to my waist. I don't really know what the direct correlation is between this measurement and the armscye depth, but apparently, due to the ratio of the body, these two measurements are the same.
The more obvious way of finding this distance is to measure down from the nape of the neck to the (imaginary) horizontal line that runs across your back, between the bottom of your armholes.
Now, on to the arm.
When drafting a sleeve block, you will need a range of arm measurements.
To find the length of your arm, measure down from the peak of your shoulder to your wrist.
You will also need the length of the underside of your arm. To find this, measure down from your armpit to your wrist.
You will also need to know the distance between your shoulder and elbow. Measure from the peak of your shoulder, down to your elbow, when your arm is slightly bent (my arm is probably a little too bent in the image!)
Then measure down from your elbow to your wrist.
To find your bicep circumference, wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your upper arm. Make sure the tape is not too tight, and that it remains straight the whole way around.
For your elbow circumference, take the measurement while your arm is straight, as well as when your arm is bent (this will help you determine how much ease you will need at this point of the sleeve, so that you can bend your arm in the garment).
Find your wrist circumference by measuring around your wrist, at the point where a standard long sleeve would end.
To find the distance between your waist and hip, measure down from your waist to your hip, along your side.
Simply take the vertical measurement between your waist and knee.
The hip to knee measurement is the vertical measurement between your hip and knee.
The waist to ankle measurement will be useful when making waisted trousers or a long skirt. Take the vertical measurement between your waist and your ankle.
The hip to ankle measurement will be useful when making trousers or a long skirt. Take the vertical measurement between your hip and your ankle.
To find your thigh circumference, wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your thigh, horizontal to the floor.
To find the circumference of your knee, take the measurement while your leg is straight, as well as when your knee is bent (this will help you - if you are making tight fitting trousers - determine how much ease you will need around the knee so that you can bend down).
Find the circumference of your ankle by wrapping the tape measure around your ankle, at the point where a pair of standard trousers would end.
Remember, trousers will need to be able to fit over your foot. You can check if they will fit by making a circle with the tape at the length you have found and seeing if your foot fits through. This is especially important to check if you are using fabric that does not stretch.