Prerequisites and Techniques for Body Measurements



Clothing comes in various sizes which if comfortable can be easily worn, but it is the fit of the garment that makes the garment more appealing to the eye. For a properly fitted garment, it is the initial body measurement that plays a vital role. Thus, it is crucial for someone be it a student, a dressmaker, designer to have a thorough knowledge of the correct procedure for taking body measurements. 

The measuring of a human figure starts with the knowledge of anthropometric measurement. The term anthropometric is derived from a Greek word Anthropos meaning human figure and metric meaning measurement. Thus, it is the systematic collection of measurement of the human body and garment construction need that measurement of an individual or a dress form’s different parts to construct a garment of proper fit. 

Following are some points describing the importance of a proper measurement:
  1. It is very important for taking measuring and thus creating a standard scale.
  2. Anthropometric data are used in the Readymade Garment Industry.
  3. Detailed measurements are very useful for standard drafting and making paper patterns.
  4. Measurements are also important for proper fit as no two people’s figures are alike.
  5. The final look, silhouette, and fit of the garment principally depend upon the measurement taken.
  6. Measurement is needed for calculating the exact quantity of fabric required, to avoid fabric wastage. Before taking measurement there are certain guidelines that should be followed to avoid any abnormality, mistake, or miscalculation related to fitting in the measurement. The guidelines are as follows:
Before measurement, one should find out the client’s requirement regarding the fit, style, shape, pocket, collars, etc before taking the measurement. An initial talk with the client and showing patterns and fashion pictures and stitched garments can help out a lot.
  1. It is very important to observe the figure of the client carefully to look upon and record any kind of abnormality or deviation from the normal figure and it should be calculated while taking measurement and pattern making.
  2. While taking the measurement the client should be advised to stand erect in the natural pose and if possible, in front of the mirror.
  3. Measurements should be taken with a proper tape without keeping it too tight or too loose against the body.
  4. Measurement should be taken in proper order and in a certain sequence and should be recorded simultaneously.
  5. All girth measurements should be taken with the right ease as an allowance for movements or change in figure.
  6. Repeat of the measurement for conformation.
  7. Before starting with the measurement location of the structural lines of the garment should be taken care of. It can be done by tying a cord at the waistline, scye line, and neck.
  8. Measurement should be taken over well-fitted undergarments or over outer garments only if it is fairly fitted.
  9. Care should be taken at the start and finish of the measurement to avoid extra measurement.
  10. While taking length measurement tape should be kept absolutely flat, smooth and straight i.e. parallel to the spine or centre front.
  11. While taking width measurements to be sure that tape does not sag and tape should be parallel to the floor.
  12. Arc measurement should be taken from centre line to side seam.
One should avoid taking too many measurements or relying on elaborate methods of measuring which can create more mistakes.

Taking body measurement:

Bodice measurement: the various bodice measurement are as follows
  1. Bust: Measurement has to be taken about the fullest part of the chest/bust by raising the measuring tape to a level slightly below the shoulder blades at the back.
  2. Waist: Measurement has to be taken tightly around the waist with the tape straight.
  3. Neck: Measurement has to be taken around the neck, by keeping the tape slightly above the collar front and along the base of the neck at the back
  4. Shoulder: Measurement has to be taken from the neck joint to the arm joint along the middle of the shoulder (A to B in Figure). 
  5. Front waist length: Measurement has to be taken down from the high point shoulder (HPS) to waist line through the fullest part of the bust (A to C Figure).
  6. Shoulder to bust: Measurement has to be taken down from the HPS to the tip of the bust (A to D in figure).
  7. Separation of bust point: Measurement has to be taken between the two bust/chest points (D to E Figure).
  8. Across back measurement: Measurement has to be taken across the back between armholes about 3" below the base of the neck (P to Q in Figure).
  9. Back unit length: Size has to be measured from the base of the neck at the centre back position to the waistline (R to S in the Figure).
  10. Armscye depth: Measurement has to be taken from the base of the neck at the centre of the back to a point directly below it and in level with the bottom of the arm where it joins the body (R to T in Figure).

Sleeve measurements

  1. Upper arm circumference: Measurement has to be taken around the fullest part of the arm.
  2. Lower arm: For the lower arm, measurement has to be taken around the arm at the desired level corresponding to the lower edge of the sleeve.
  3. Elbow circumference: Measurement has to be taken around the arm at the elbow.
  4. Wrist: Measurement has to be taken around the wrist.
  5. Sleeve length: For short sleeves, the length has to be measured from point B to F. For elbow length sleeve, measurement has to be taken from the top of the arm to the elbow point (B to G in figure). For full length, the elbow has to bend slightly and measurement has to be taken down from the top of the arm to the back of the wrist passing the tape over the elbow point (B to H in the figure).

Skirt measurements

  1. Waist: Measurement has to be taken tightly around the waist with the tape in a horizontal manner and parallel to the floor.
  2. Hip: Measurement has to be taken around the fullest part of the hip horizontally (7-9" from waist approximately).
  3. Waist to hip: Measurement has to be taken from the waist at the centre of the back to the fullest part of the hip (S to U in the figure). 
  4. Skirt length: Measurement has to be taken at the centre of the back from the waist to the length of the skirt as required (To V in Figure).

Measuring points
Fig: Body measurement

Also, there are calculations that are based on anthropometrics where only the chest circumference can be used to calculate other measurements of the body. Following is the table of determining other dimensions from chest circumference.

Body measurement

After taking the measurements there is only one thing left to do before drafting into a pattern. That is the addition of an ease allowance that is added for comfortable movement, ease of action, and comfort in wearing. Normally these are the following ease allowance added to various parts of the body
  • Bust – 3-5" (3" for a tight-fitting garment and 5" for loose-fitting).
  • Waist – ½".
  • Hips –3-5".
  • Upper arm –3-4"
  • Armhole depth –1".
This completes the process of taking proper measurements of a human figure or client. This will be followed by drafting and cutting the pattern, tracing onto the fabric, and finally sewing to complete the garment.

Also read: Measurement grading rules for Top and Bottom garments

Reference: Apparel Manufacturing technology, T. Karthik, P.Ganesan, D. Gopalakrishnan

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