How to take body measurements for sewing patterns: Step-by-step guide.

How to take body measurements for sewing patterns- SMALL

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When you buy sewing patterns there’s one of either two body measurements you need to look at. That is the

  • Bust measurement
  • Hip measurement

The idea is, that you are trying to make sure that the finished garment will fit around the fullest part of the body.

It happens that sometimes your size can fall in-between two sizes.

That’s where I have found that the Finished Garment measurements chart on the pattern envelope can aid in confirming which pattern size to select.

With that, let’s begin our journey selecting the correct sewing pattern size:

How do I choose a pattern size?

Go ahead and select the pattern of your desire- in regarding style, cut, design etc. Then take a good look at the pattern you’ve selected.

You have to recognize if the pattern selected, is for a blouse/top, pants/skirts or a dress.

Then take measurements.

How to take body measurements for sewing patterns

Where do you measure for sewing patterns?

Now, if the pattern you’ve selected is for anything that’s most fitting on the upper body like, blouses and tops then follow the bust measurement.

Likewise, if the pattern you’ve selected is most fitting on the lower body then follow the hip measurement. That’s for trousers and skirts.

If the pattern selected is of a dress then go by the bust measurement.

How to take measurements for tops and blouses

For this, you will need the bust measurement. To get this, measure around the full bust. Using a tape measure.


How to take measurements for pants and skirts

For this, you will need the hip measurements. To get this, measure around the fullest part of the hip.


Find what size you fall under, according to the pattern company’s sizing chart

Now, take the bust or hip measurement that you got from measuring yourself and run it against the sizing chart presented in front of you (whether in shops or online).

Find the size that the company has identified your size as. To do this:

  1. Find ‘BUST’ on the chart.
  2. Then, your bust size.
  3. Wherever located (up/down) find ‘SIZE’. This is what your size according to that pattern company is. For example Bust 38 is SIZE 16.

your size on the sewing patternPlease Note:

The sewing pattern size is not the same as the size you would typically buy when you shop in the high street for ready-made clothes.

So, you may find that according to a Sewing pattern you are a different size to normal: 

For example, you usually buy clothes in a Size 14 and with sewing patterns, you find that you’re a size 16.

This happens because the size grading from company to company is different.

Therefore, your job as a consumer is to make sure you always reference back to the company’s Sizing chart before purchasing.

I Hope that clears everything in regards to sizing:)


Making a selection via size combinations

I have found that sometimes when you go to order a sewing pattern, you get presented with a choice of size combination to select,

then in that case here’s what to do:

  1. Know what your Bust/hip measurement is (by measuring your bust/hip).
  2. Find the company’s Sizing Chart and find your size according to that company.
  3. Select the range that contains that size.

Here’s an example of this scenario (Let’s say the Bust measurement is 38″):

  1. I find this pattern- Vogue V9289  online, and in this case at Jaycotts. I can see that to order this pattern I will have to choose either the 6-8-10-12-14 or 14-16-18-20-22 combination. Ok…

vogue sewing pattern

2. Next, as we know the bust measurement is 38″. I would head over to the Vogue sizing chart and find the size. And it looks like according to vogue my size is 16.

vogue patterns sizing chart

3. So now I know that the 14-16-18-20-22 combination is the one for me, so I would order this one!

pattern size combination

What to do if your measurement falls in between sizes

You may find that your measurement falls in between two sizes. Just know. That’s normal it happens.

Then in that scenario, here’s what you can do:

  1. Go with the size bigger.
  2. Check against the Finished Garment Measurement

What is Finished Garment Measurement and how it will help you to confirm which size to select

The Finished Garment Measurement is exactly what it sounds like, it’s what the measurements of the completed garment will be once it has been sewed up.

The information of the Finished Garment Measurement is usually contained within the same chart as the other measurements (mentioned earlier) are contained.

Now, the purpose of looking at this (Finished Garment Measurement) is to be able to check that the finished garment will fit our bust/hip size by it being bigger.

And here’s an example of how to do this:

  1. Find ‘BUST’ on the chart.
  2. Then, follow the chart up or down to the ‘GARMENT MEASUREMENTS’
  3. Under ‘BUST’ will be the measurement. This number should be greater than your Bust/Hip measurement(note: the same will apply with Hip measurement)

garment measurement on size chart

So, it looks like with our example of Bust size 38″ the finished garment measurement of the bust on this pattern is will be 46″ (that’s 8″ difference). This confirms that if I cut Size 16 I will be safe:)

ADDITIONAL TIP #1 Sewing pattern sizing by hight 

Some patterns have divided sizing by height as well. Like for example Simplicity Patterns.

They have the Misses’ range for women that are 5’ 5” to 5’ 6” tall.

And Miss Petite for women under 5’ 4” tall.

Therefore it’s handy to know your height measurement as well.

ADDITIONAL TIP #2 Taking body measurements for sewing plus FREE Fillable body measurement sheet!

I think it’s equally important to have other body measurements available to hand because, as we all have unique body shapes and being that sewing patterns are made with standard body sizes confirmed on Wikipedia: For commercial production, patterns will be made to fit several standard body sizes.

Therefore, we may need to alter the pattern before cutting out the fabric.

My FREE Fillable Body Measurements sheet will help you get that:)

How to take body measurement Downloadable


There you have it the step-by-step guide on how to take body measurements for sewing patterns.

If this post was helpful to you then please leave a comment down below. And if it wasn’t then please also let me know, so that I can make improvements for others reading in the future.

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