Sewing For Dummies
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When you want to sew clothing, you start with a pattern. Determining your pattern size can be a humbling experience because it requires you to measure your body, but it’s an essential step in making sure the finished garment fits properly. Here are some tips on taking accurate measurements so your project ends up the right size:

  • Get someone else to take your measurements. It is impossible to take them yourself and get an accurate read, so find someone you trust, swear them to secrecy, and start measuring.

  • Dress in your underwear or a leotard, and tie a narrow ribbon or a piece of elastic around your waist, but not too tight. Move around a little bit until the elastic or ribbon finds your natural waistline. Note that this may not be where you wear the waistband of your favorite pair of slacks or jeans.

  • Measure by placing the measuring tape around the torso as parallel to the floor as possible.

  • Have your helper take the following six measurements:

    • Height: ____________

    • High bust circumference at the crook of the underarms approximately 2 inches above the full bust: ____________

    • Full bust circumference at the widest part of the bust: ____________

    • Natural waist circumference (the narrowest part) at the ribbon or elastic: ____________

    • Hip circumference at the widest part and approximately 7 inches below the natural waistline: ____________

    • Back waist length measured from the bone at the base of the neck to the natural waistline: ____________


About This Article

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About the book author:

Jan Saunders Maresh is a nationally known sewing journalist and educator as well as a bestselling author of 15 books, including Home Staging For Dummies. She has worked as the Director of Consumer Education for White Sewing Machine Company and JoAnn Fabrics and is also an interior re-designer, color specialist, and Certified Staging Professional. Look for her Web-TV show at

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