Make Sure You Measure Up

Have you ever spent time making something fabulous, only to discover it doesn’t fit? 

I have! It’s SO frustrating. (Check here for just one example!)

When this happens, 9 times out of 10 it’s because accurate measurements were not taken. Measuring your intended model is the first, and arguably most important step towards getting a great fit. In this blog post I will help you take accurate measurements and set yourself up for success. 

Why Should I Use Measurements

You may think you don’t even need to measure. ‘I’m a size 12, I’m always a size 12, all my clothes are size 12…’

Let me give you a little history lesson! 
Standardised sizing for clothing began in the first half of the 20th century when clothing manufacture moved from the home to factories. Before then, clothing was largely custom made to individual measurements. In the second half of the 20th century we entered the ‘diet era’. People wanted to be smaller. Clothing manufacturers quickly caught onto this and discovered ‘vanity sizing’ sold more product. This means that they would make clothes larger without changing the size labels. Vanity sizing has continued ever since and even though I’m a size 14, if I tried to fit into my size 14 jeans from the 90s they likely wouldn’t get past my knees! 

Whilst clothing manufacturers have indulged in ‘vanity sizing’, the ‘big’ pattern manufacturers have not, so if you tend to buy a size 14 in the shops, you may need an 18 or 20 in traditional paper patterns. Add modern, independent designers (such as me!) into the mix and the confusion just continues as we use modern standardised measurement charts. 

Next, consider the fact that different countries use different numbers (an Australian/UK size 14 is similar to an American 10) and the confusion continues. Finally, think about different shops – have you ever been to a new shop and discovered that you have to go up or down a size because their sizing is different? I addressed this in one of my very earliest ever blog posts and it’s such an important point that I include a link to it in every set of instructions. Different shops and manufacturers are free to use their own sizing and don’t have to match each other, so how can you possibly rely on one particular number when choosing a size to make? 

Mind blown! 🤯

Tips For Taking Accurate Measurements

  1. Use a good quality tape measure and check it regularly. Fabric tape measures can stretch over time so get into the habit of checking it against a solid ruler before taking new measurements. 
  2. Use a mirror, or even better a friend, when measuring yourself. It’s vital that your tape measure is completely horizontal when taking chest/waist/hip measurements. If your tape measure isn’t straight, or if it sags, then your measurement will not be accurate. This is harder when measuring yourself which is why the best option is to get someone else to do it for you! 
  3. Be firm but don’t squash! Your tape measure should sit flush against the body without falling down or sagging. However, make sure not to pull it so tight you are squashing the body. If your tape measure is pulled too tight, your garment will feel too tight. 
  4. Make sure you measure in the correct place – there are diagrams in all W&W instructions to show where to place your tape measure. Common places to get wrong are the waist and hip. The waist is not where the waistband of your pants/trousers likely sits. Current trends have waistbands sitting well below the natural waist. To find your waist, stand up straight then bend to one side (like a teapot!). The place you crease as you bend is your natural waist. The hip measurement should not be taken over the hip bones but rather over the fullest part of your hip/bottom. 

Once you have taken your measurements, match them to the appropriate measurement chart and pick your size! It’s very common to have measurements over more than one size and it such cases you may choose to blend between sizes but that’s another blog post for another day.

One last thing to consider is that the names of the measurement charts and patterns are just that – names. If you are a fully grown adult but your measurements match a teen chart – use the teen pattern. If you are female but your measurements match the male/straight fit measurement chart – use a straight fit pattern. The titles don’t define you or what you are making. ❤️