Image by Patricia Serna

How to Take Body Measurements

Welcome to this quick guide on body measurements for sewing and clothing! As you might find throughout your journey, there will be a need for knowing certain body measurements. This process isn’t necessarily difficult, but depending on what you’re measuring, it can take time. Also, having a friend or relative nearby to assist with measuring can make things that much easier for you.

Items Required

  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Paper
  • Pen

Upper Body

We’ll start here as there are a lot of measurements. Some of them are more necessary than other sewing body measurements depending upon the outfit you’re making at the time. For each measurement you get, write it down on the pen and paper. This will help you keep track.

  • Neck: taken around the neck at the base
  • Shoulder width: measure from shoulder to shoulder straight across
  • Full Bust: measure from the fullest part of the chest all the way around
  • Under Bust: measure at the breastbone and around
  • High Bust: high point measurement taken from beneath the armpit, at its highest, and around
  • Upper arm: measure from the shoulder top to just past the elbow to accommodate for bending
  • Forearm: measure from the point of the elbow to the prominent bone of the wrist
  • Wrist: measure the tape from the most prominent bone in the wrist and wrap around in a circle such as in the circumference, like a bracelet

Abdominal Area

  • Waist: take the circumference of this measurement, which starts approximately one inch above the belly button. This spot is also the most narrow portion of the abdomen.

Lower Body

  • Hips: circumference of the fullest part of the body
  • Hip Depth: center waist point to the fullest portion of your hips

Full Length

  • Height: this is your height in inches or centimeters depending on your preference of unit measurement
  • Waist to floor: measure from the center of the waistline to the floor

Final Thoughts

Taking these sewing body measurements can be quite the daunting task especially if you go at it alone. If you have a family member or friend that you trust, this process will go a lot faster. This by no means goes over every measurement, but it does cover the basic ones, which are important to the crafting journey. Don’t forget to write these measurements down, and as one last thought, you want to make a habit of taking measurements every so often and as you go along in future projects as body sizes do change with time. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Eirian Silver

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7 thoughts on “How to Take Body Measurements

  1. I always wanted to take my measurements but since I am a little heavy  once I get to my bust area it would need two people.  So I never did take my measurements then when it comes to the hips forget it nope.  I do have the tape measure at home and I am going to try.  Why would I need to measure my arm length?

    What if your belly is a little big?  Good article.  Alicia

    1. Hi, thank you for the comment. You want to take arm length measurements because of attaching sleeves to any clothing you might make in the future. You don’t have to do it immediately of course. It’s one to have on hand though. If you really need to, you can use your own clothing as a measuring guide. If you don’t want to measure your hips, you can measure the waist from a pair of pants that fit well. If you feel that you have a larger belly, you can take your waist measurement there so that the fit is most comfortable for you. The waist measurement can be moved up or down depending on where you personally where your clothes. I hope this helps.

  2. A few of my friends love cosplaying and I just love taking their pictures for them. I think it is a fun hobby that you get to express yourself in a very artistic way. I never really get the chance to measure myself at all, can you believe it? Thanks to your post now I know how to. It sure is a lot of process, if I ever need to measure myself, I think I am just going to ask someone to help me out. 

    1. It can be quite the process. I’ve measured myself many times. Then I made my boyfriend help when I could get him to understand how and what to do. Measuring yourself is definitely much easier with a friend.

  3. Thanks, Eirian.  I really enjoyed reading your article.  I was a seamstress for years and never realized it was necessary to measure all the area of the body that you have listed here.   This is great information and I do see where these measurements could be beneficial.  One of my greatest desires was to get back to sewing after retiring.  I will definitely need to measure every area as suggested.   My question is, do you know of any wholesale online fabric shops?  Thanks for your response.

    1. I know Joann Fabric and Craft, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby off the top of my head have pretty large online inventories. They’re always having sales and whatnot too, so more often than not, you can get some higher priced fabrics much cheaper. Personally, Joann Fabric and Craft is my favorite place to shop online. They’ve got everything I need and then some. They even offer classes if you ever feel the need to take them. I hope this helps out. 

  4. During this pandemic, while staying at home I have been experimenting with quite a few different hobbies. But reading your post I have realized that I have been taking body measurements the wrong way. I am guilty of not measuring correctly the neck and upper arm. Thanks for pointing this out. Lesson learnt the easy way.

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