How To Take Measurements

What follows are instructions on how to take measurements for the patternmaking system which I use. These measurements are taken close to the body and used for drafting of the basic fitting shell. Once the accuracy of these measurements is confirmed through fitting a muslin toile, they become the basis for all subsequent pattern drafts.

This system does not use slopers. Style ease is added to the body measurements and then the pattern is drafted according to a series of steps using the measurements.

My goal is to eventually release instructions for a Basic Unfitted Bodice Front and Back, a Pencil Skirt with Kickpleat, a Basic Unfitted Sleeve and a Basic Chemise Dress. These patterns can provide starting points for your own customized designs. Knowledge of drafing, sewing and alterations will be needed. Since I will use these patterns as a basis for my own future projects you will be able to see the progress as each project unfolds.

The Unfitted Bodice can be adapted to create blouses with a retro look which is achieved by the type of neckline treatment, collar or sleeve used. It is also the source of the Chemise Dress pattern. The addition of a blouson top or tiered ruffles on a dropped waistband give the Chemise a 1920s feeling.

With some waist shaping and the addition of vertical darts in the front and the back a Chemise can become the basis of a Shift Dress. The Shift has a more relaxed fit than the Sheath. It can be used in late 1950s-early 1960s influenced styles.

I plan to release instructions beginning in late 2014. Everything depends on how the scheduling of work goes in my two day jobs.

I used this method of taking measurements to obtain the Misses Size 4 measurements for my Wolf dressmakers form.

Photo no. 1.

Chest Circumference (Photo no. 1/A)
Place the tape around the back, under the arm and above the bust.

Bust Circumference (Photo no. 1/B)Around the fullest part of the bust.

Rib Cage Circumference (Photo no. 1/C)
Slightly blow the bust. Can be 2-3 inches under the bust.

Waist Circumference (Photo 1/D)
Around the waist.

Abdomen Circumference (Photo 1/E)
Around the fullest part of the abdomen, usually 4” below the waist.

Waist to Abdomen (Photo 1/F)
From the waist to the circumference of the abdomen, usually 4”.

Hip Circumference (Photo 1/G)
Around the fullest part of the hip.

Waist to Hip (Photo 1/H)
Measure the distance from waist to hip.

Photo no. 2.

Neckline (Photo 2/A-B, B-C)

From the first vertebra following the shape of the neck to the shoulder and then to the center front in the center of the hollow between the collar bones.

From this measurement subtract 1”. Divide the results by 2. The amount will be used as the neckline measurements when drafting the pattern.

Photo no. 3.

Shoulder Width (Photo 3/A-D) Neck to Bust Length (Photo no. 3/A-B)and Front Bodice Length (Photo no. 3/A-B-C)
The Shoulder Width measurement is staken from the side of the neck to the tip of the shoulder.

Neck to Bust Lenth is taken on the side of the neck from a point where the shoulder begins to the bust point (apex).

The Front Bodice Point continues from the same point as used for Neck to Bust Length continuing with the tape over the bust adjusting it to the figure down to the waist.

Photo no. 4.

Cross Chest Width (Photo no. 4/A-B) and Bust Separation (Photo no. 4/C-D)

The Cross Chest Width is measured from the point where the arm begins to the same point on the other side of the front.

Bust separation is the distance between the two breast points.

Photo no. 5.

Front Shoulder to Waist (Photo 5/D-E)
Back Shoulder to Waist (Photo 5/D-F)
Under Arm Length (Photo 5/G-H)
Front Bodice Length (Photo 5/A-B-C)

Front Shoulder to Waist is taken from the front edge of the shoulder with the tape measure pulled tightly down to the waistline.

Back Shoulder to Waist is taken beginning at the same point on the shoulder as mentioned above pulling the tape measure down tightly in the back to the waistline.

Underarm Length is taken on the side from under the arm down to the waist. Usually 1” is subtracted from the length so there is room in the armhole for movement. The correct measure is determined after a muslin is fitted.

Front Bodice Length as seen on side.

Photo no. 6.

Back Bodice Length (Photo 6/E-F) and Cross Back Width (Photo no. 6/G-H)

The Back Bodice Length is taken from the first vertebra down along the back to the waistline.

Cross Back Width is measured in the back from the point where the arm begins to the same point on the other arm.

Photo no. 7.

Please note that all measurements shown in Photo no. 7 must be taken with the arm bent and the hand placed on the hip. The dress makers arm shown here is not in that position because it is not poseable.

Arm Length to Elbow (Photo no. 7/C-D)
Arm Length (Photo no. 7/C-D-E)
Upper Arm Width (Photo no. 7/A)
Elbow Width (Photo no. 7/B)
Wrist Width (Photo no. 7/F)

Photo no. 8.

Front Skirt Length (Photo no. 8/A-B)
Front Skirt Length measurement is taken in front of the body from waistline down to the floor.

Photo no. 9.

Side Skirt Length (Photo no. 9/C-D)

The Side Skirt Length is taken on the side of the body measuring from the waistline, over the hip and down to the floor.

Photo no. 10,

Back Skirt Length (Photo no. 10/E-F)

The Back Skirt Length is taken on the back of the body from center of waistline down to the floor.

Height from the Floor

To arrive at the skirt length for a particular style, measure up from the floor to the point where the hemline of the garment will be. Subtract this amount from the Front Skirt Length to arrive at the skirt length for the style.


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