If you want to use the freehand method, it is important to learn how to take detailed and accurate measurements of yourself. This is the only way you can guarantee that your finished garment will fit you. (A further point to bear in mind is that you may not always have someone handy to take the measurements for you, especially if, like me, you are a bit last-minute.com, always making your clothes on the day you actually need them!) At my workshops I encourage participants to learn how to take their own measurements, but this means making a conscious effort not to distort the body as you do so. If you find it too difficult, then ask someone to help you – and there are some measurements that will definitely require an extra pair of helping hands. I have broken my measuring system in to three groups.
These are the measurements that run horizontally across the body. These are the ones that get divided into 2 or 4 in all of the projects.
These measurements run vertically along the body. They are used as reference points, along which you will mark the corresponding divided horizontal measurement.
These are extra measurements that are covered within the projects.
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1 Back: from the top corner of one shoulder, straight across to the top corner of the other shoulder
2 Across Back: straight across 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the armpit crease in the back
3 Across Front: straight across 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the armpit crease in the front
4 Bust: around the body at the fullest part of the bust
5 Overbust: around the body at the top of the bust
6 Underbust: around the body at the base of the bust
7 Waist: this refers to the natural waist; a good way to find this is to bend your body to the side – the deepest part of the bend is your natural waist
8 Hip: around the biggest section above the thigh
9 Shoulder to Across Back: from shoulder to 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the back armpit curve
10 Shoulder to Across Front: from the shoulder to 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the front armpit curve
11 Shoulder to Overbust: shoulder to the point beginning of the bust
12 Shoulder to Bust: shoulder to the highest point of the bust
13 Shoulder to Underbust: shoulder to the base of the bust, following the contour of the bust
14 Shoulder to Waist: shoulder to the natural waist, following the contour of the bust, underbust and down to the waist
15 Shoulder to Hip: shoulder to hip, following all the contours of the body
16 Shoulder to Knee: shoulder to knee, following all the contours of the body
17 Shoulder to Floor: shoulder to the base of the feet
18 Underarm Length: base of armpit to desired sleeve length
19 Apex: across nipple to nipple
20 Round Sleeve (RS): around the fullest part at the top of the arm. If you are NOT using stretchy fabric, do not wrap the tape tight because you will need room to manoeuvre
21 Round Elbow (RE): as above, but around the elbow
22 Sleeve Length (SL): from the top of the shoulder corner to the desired length of the sleeve
23 Elbow Length (EL): from the top of the shoulder corner to the elbow
24 Back Length: from the nape to the deepest part of the back hollow
25 Hollow to Dip: from hollow at base of the neck to desired lowest point of sweetheart neckline
Many people wear control underwear under their garments, especially if it’s a special occasion. If you will be doing so, it is best to wear it when taking your measurements, because this will affect your proportions and will compromise the fit if not taken into account.
When taking measurements from the shoulder down, imagine that you are looking down on yourself from a bird’s eye view, and place the head of the tape measure in the very centre of your shoulder.
Always take your measurements standing up, with your posture straight.