Front Bodice Measurement Key

Measurements for Pattern Making

 

Understanding is Everything

When I first began drafting, I remember that I really struggled with taking the measurements. I didn’t understand how they were used and that led to a lot of confusion. Once I started drafting more and more patterns, the measurements made a lot more sense.

I’m going to save you from the confusion and struggles by explaining exactly how the measurement applies to the pattern. Once you see the correlation, you’ll have a much better understanding when you get started taking measurements.

Take a look at this draft of a bodice (click it to view a larger image). Each line on the pattern references a measurement that you are going to be taking. There are many other lines used in the draft, but these all correspond directly to the person being measured.

Back Bodice Measurement Key
Back Bodice Measurement Key
Front Bodice Measurement Key
Front Bodice Measurement Key

These illustrations should help you better understand why the measurements are so important and exactly how they are used to construct the pattern. The male and child measurements are very similar, so this reference will help with those as well.

Preparations for Measuring

  • Make sure your model is wearing minimal clothing that is very snug, but not tight enough to distort the body.
  • Make sure your model is wearing the undergarments they will be wearing with the garments you are making. For example, if they normally wear a bra under their clothing, they should have one on.
  • Make sure your model is comfortable and that the temperature is appropriate for what they are wearing.
  • Always measure both sides of the body. Use the larger of the two measurements. If the two measurements are very different, record them both. You can create separate patterns for each side and blend them together.
  • Remember that your measuring tape has width. Always measure using the same side from point to point.
  • If you are using elastic as a reference, make sure you measure to the same edge of the elastic for each measurement. Don’t switch edges, it will add or subtract the width of the elastic from your measurement.
  • You should know that most people don’t want to know what their measurements are. Don’t talk about the measurements, find something pleasant and cheerful to talk about instead. If they make negative comments about their body, tell them that we all have our differences and they should be celebrated. That’s what makes YOU.

Setting Elastic Lines

It is much easier if you use pieces of elastic as markers for the circumference measurements, like the waist, hips, bust, etc. Don’t measure the elastic, it has too much stretch. Just put it in place for a visual reference and use your tape to wrap around the body keeping it next to the elastic the whole way.

Use a very narrow type of elastic, such as 1/4″ (6.6mm). Use a safety pin or clip to secure it around the body. Don’t pull it very tight, you don’t want to distort the measurement. Make sure the elastic is parallel to the floor for all measurements EXCEPT the waist. This means that the height of the elastic to the floor is the same in the front and the back.

The waistline is an exception. After you place the waist elastic, have the person do some side bends so the elastic sits at the natural waistline. The waist will not be parallel to the floor and that’s fine. It’s the only circumference measurement that can be tipped and not the same height to the floor at center front and center back.

The Neck

You want to create a nice neckline using a piece of heavy string, cord or small chain. Tie or clip it around the neck so that it lays in the back at the big bone at the top of the spine and the front in the hollow area. This will be very similar to where a nice t-shirt neckline will be.

Using Measurement Points

Marking the key measurement points before you begin will make things much easier. You want to mark precise measurement points directly on the person. Once these points are established, you simply move the tape around measuring from one to the other.

The measurement points to mark are:

Center Front Neck Point – The center of the neck string in front. Mark the body, just in case the string moves during measuring.

Center Back Neck Point – The center of the neck string in back at the big bone at the top of the spine. Mark the body, just in case the string moves during measuring.

Shoulder Tip Points – The very end of the shoulder. If you press down, you’ll feel a knobby bone there.

Side Neck Points – If you imagine a straight line from the Shoulder Tip Point to the neck string, the end of the line is the Side Neck Point. Again, mark the body here, not the string.

Armpit Points – This seems to be the point that people have the most problems with. The point is located horizontally at the side seam, so it splits the front and back. It should be in line with the waist side point. You only have two armpit points, one on each side of the body.

Vertically, it would be located about a half-inch to an inch under the armpit. The best way to describe this is to put on a t-shirt. Look under your arm and note where all the seams come together in a cross. You don’t want it too high, because that would pull the sleeve up into your armpit. You don’t want it too low, or it would look strange and make the armhole drop too low. Below is an illustration from one of my drafting books that shows the point more clearly.

Armpit Point Illustration
Armpit Point Illustration

Mid-Armhole Points – This is halfway between the Shoulder Tip Point and the Armpit Point.

Bust Apex Points – The most prominent point of the bust. Don’t worry about these for male and child measurements.

Blade Apex Points – This is the point on the back where the bottom of the shoulder blades protrudes the most. On women, you can just use the same height that was used on the bust, if you want.

Side Elastic Points – Your elastic extends all the way around the body and you’ll want to take front and back measurements separately. Use a pin or marker to mark each side of the waist, hip and bust/chest. These marks should be perfectly vertical down the side and should split the body in half. The side seam of pants or shorts should tell you approximately where that line should be.

Refer to these diagrams to get a better understanding of the marks and where to place them (click it to view a larger image).

Measurement Points
Measurement Points

Taking the Measurements

Now that you have everything marked, you simply place the measuring tape end at one point and read the measurement at the other. Click to open the PDF below and print out the sheet. Then all you do is fill in the blanks as you go along. The sheet has handy reminders of where each measurement is taken.

Fearless Pattern Drafting Personal Measurement List

Measurement for Pattern Making

I’ve included an illustration and specific instructions for every measurement. You may want to go through this long before you bring someone in to measure them. That will help you become acquainted with the process. By the time your model arrives, you’ll have it all figured out!

Full Length Front
Full Length Front

Full Length Front – Side Neck Point to Waistline, this is a vertical measurement that goes over the bust area. It is taken fairly loose, so that the bust doesn’t compress.

Center Length Front
Center Length Front

Center Length Front – Center Front Neck Point to Center Waist Point, this is a vertical measurement that goes over the bust. Don’t allow the tape to fall between the breasts! You must create a bridge for the tape to drape over. Use a ruler or other flat narrow object to connect the bust apex points, then lay the tape over the bridge.

Mid-Armhole Width Front
Mid-Armhole Width Front

Mid-Armhole Width Front – Mid-Armhole Point to Mid-Armhole Point across chest, this is a horizontal measurement.

Shoulder Across Front
Shoulder Across Front

Shoulder Across Front – Shoulder Tip Point to Shoulder Tip Point, this is a horizontal measurement.

Bust Width Front
Bust Width Front

Bust Width Front – Distance from Side to Side at the Bust Apex line (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Shoulder Slope Front
Shoulder Slope Front

Shoulder Slope Front – Shoulder Tip Point to Center Waist Point, this measurement is diagonal over bust.

Shoulder Length
Shoulder Length

Shoulder Length – Shoulder Tip Point to Side Neck Point

Shoulder to Mid-Armhole Front
Shoulder to Mid-Armhole Front

Shoulder to Mid-Armhole Front – Shoulder Tip Point to Mid-Armhole Point

Mid-Armhole Height Front
Mid-Armhole Height Front

Mid-Armhole Height Front – Mid-Armhole Point to Side Waist Point

Side Length
Side Length

Side Length – Armpit Point to Side Waist Point

Waist Width Front
Waist Width Front

Waist Width Front -Distance from Side to Side at the Waistline in front (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Bust Height Front
Bust Height Front

Bust Height Front – Bust Apex line to Waistline, this is a vertical measurement.

Bust Apex Width Front
Bust Apex Width Front

Bust Apex Width Front – Bust Apex to Bust Apex, this is a horizontal measurement.

Neck Front
Neck Front

Neck Front – Side Neck Point to Side Neck Point thru Center Front Neck Point, this is best done following a string or chain that has been placed at the neck.

Full Length Back
Full Length Back

Full Length Back – Side Neck Point to Waistline, this is a vertical measurement over the shoulder blades.

Center Length Back
Center Length Back

Center Length Back – Center Back Neck Point to Center Waist Point, this is a vertical measurement.

Mid-Armhole Width Back
Mid-Armhole Width Back

Mid-Armhole Width Back – Mid-Armhole Point to Mid-Armhole Point Across Back, this is a horizontal measurement.

Shoulder Across Back
Shoulder Across Back

Shoulder Across Back – Shoulder Tip Point to Shoulder Tip Point, this is a horizontal measurement.

Bust Width Back
Bust Width Back

Bust Width Back – Distance from Side to Side at the Bust line (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Shoulder Slope Back
Shoulder Slope Back

Shoulder Slope Back – Shoulder Tip Point to Center Waist Point, this measurement is diagonal across shoulder blades.

Shoulder to Mid Armhole Back
Shoulder to Mid Armhole Back

Shoulder to Mid-Armhole Back – Shoulder Tip Point to Mid-Armhole Point

Mid Armhole Height Back
Mid Armhole Height Back

Mid-Armhole Height Back – Mid-Armhole Point to Side Waist Point

Waist Width Back
Waist Width Back

Waist Width Back – Distance from Side to Side at the Waistline in back (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Blade Height Back
Blade Height Back

Blade Height Back – Blade Apex line to Waistline, this is a vertical measurement.

Blade Apex Width Back
Blade Apex Width Back

Blade Apex Width Back – Shoulder Blade Apex to Shoulder Blade Apex, this is a horizontal measurement.

Neck Back
Neck Back

Neck Back – Side Neck Point to Side Neck Point thru Center Back Neck Point, this is best done following a string or chain that has been placed at the neck.

Hip Width Front
Hip Width Front

Hip Width Front -Distance from Side to Side at the fullest part of the Hips in front (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Hip Width Back
Hip Width Back

Hip Width Back  – Distance from Side to Side at the at the fullest part of the Hips in back (circumference). It is easiest to establish this location with a piece of elastic around the body.

Hip Depth
Hip Depth

Hip Depth – Side Waist Point to Side Hip point, this is a vertical measurement.

Thigh Width
Thigh Width

Thigh Width – Distance around widest part of Upper Thigh (circumference).

Thigh Height
Thigh Height

Thigh Height – Floor to Upper Thigh line, this is a vertical measurement.

Knee Width
Knee Width

Knee Width – Distance around the knee (circumference).

Knee Height
Knee Height

Knee Height – Floor to Knee,  this is a vertical measurement.

Side Leg Length
Side Leg Length

Side Leg Length – Side Waist Point to Floor, this is a vertical measurement.

Crotch Depth
Crotch Depth

Crotch Depth – Side Waist Point to Chair, this measurement is taken with the model seated and it is a vertical measurement.

Heel Foot
Heel Foot

Heel Foot  – Distance around a pointed toe foot at widest part, which is the heel (circumference).

Skirt Length Front
Skirt Length Front

Skirt Length Front  – Center Front Waist Point to Floor, this is a vertical measurement.

Skirt Length Back
Skirt Length Back

Skirt Length Back – Center Back Waist Point to Floor, this is a vertical measurement.

Overarm Length
Overarm Length

Overarm Length – Shoulder Tip Point over Elbow to Back of Wrist. Arm must be hanging naturally, at rest. The arm will have a slight bend to it.

Underarm Length
Underarm Length

Underarm Length  – Armpit Point to Inside of Wrist. Arm must be hanging naturally, at rest. The arm will have a slight bend to it.

Wrist Width
Wrist Width

Wrist Width – Distance around Wrist at widest area over joint (circumference).

Bicep Width
Bicep Width

Bicep Width – Distance around bicep at fullest part (circumference).

Elbow Width
Elbow Width

Elbow Width – Distance around elbow (circumference).

Elbow to Wrist
Elbow to Wrist

Elbow to Wrist – Distance from Elbow to back of wrist

Bodice Front Armhole – You will enter the length of the bodice/top front armhole after you have drafted the bodice/top and tested for fit.
Bodice Back Armhole You will enter the length of the bodice/top front armhole after you have drafted the bodice/top and tested for fit.

Doll’s Scale – If this measurement set is for a doll that is not real world scale, enter the scale of the doll. For example, a Barbie doll is 1/6th scale, so you would enter a 6. Enter a one 1 if the model is full-sized in the real world.

Measurement Unit – You may take your measurement using any unit that you find most comfortable. Please note whether that unit was inches, centimeters or millimeters.

It’s not Hard – Give it a Try

I know this seems really hard, but it goes very fast. If you take the time to mark the points and put elastic at all the right spots, you’ll be done before you know it.

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Measurements for Pattern Making”

  1. Am I missing something? When I make the measurements, do I add more cm’s for ease? It seems that cutting the pattern to my measurements will leave no room for movement. Please advise.

    1. You are correct, you will need to add ease to the measurements. Slopers are drafted with virtually no ease. These are for fitting only and will show you if you’ve taken the measurements correctly. If you are drafting other patterns, you’ll need to add design ease and wearing ease while drafting.

  2. Hi

    I have been studying your website and all your stuff. It is very interesting. We are garment manufacturers using manual pattern making techniques. We are planning to switch to CAD and 3D modelling. You are recommending QCad. I want to know after making patterns on QCad, can we print the patterns on a plotter?

    Regards
    Ubaid

    1. To print full size ’tiled’ patterns, you will need QCAD Pro. It’s very inexpensive to purchase. QCAD is a real CAD program used by architects and engineers. It has full scaling capabilities, so you can print your patterns any size you wish. I have a 24″ HP DesignJet that I use to print full size. I don’t think you’ll have any problems using your plotter. Just remember that QCAD is not a pattern making program for garments, like Optitex or Fashion CAD. You will have to do your pattern grading manually and none of the terminology in the program is sewing oriented. True garment software is thousands of dollars, so if you don’t want to spend that money, QCAD is a nice option. I think it’s better than hand drafting and much, much quicker. Hope that helps.

  3. Because of your wonderful videos, I just purchased QCAD to see about creating my own patterns for MD. But, I have to ask the same question as Bruce did. Is there a way to measure custom avatars in MD to get these measurements to create our blocks?

    I am creating for a specific a specific avatar model being exported from a virtual world called Second Life, converting it to the necessary .obj file to create in MD. As far as I know, there are no measurements of the SL avatar, which makes it difficult. I suppose reverse engineering will work to some degree by acquiring some of the measurements from the mm “line length” of other patterns created in MD and plug those into QCAD?

    Thank you for your videos, your explanation of creating real world and virtual items, and most of all for your hard work and generous nature to share these with others. As a hobbyist, I do learn to create just for the fun of it. I appreciate your helping me to have fun!

    Morgaine

    1. I have a method that I use to measure avatars. I just wrote out the script for it and I’ll do a short video this week describing how its done. More and more people are asking about this, so I’m glad you sent me a message. I’m so pleased that you’re learning to draft. You’ll have so much fun with it. The possibilities are just endless. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I appreciate the kind words.

  4. Thanks for great the QCad add-on. However, creating the pattern gives a Error: Armpit Intersect when generating the front bodice. The back bodice seems to work but does not look right. Also, during custom avatar measurements, I’m not sure the “circumference” means all around the body part or just across the 2d image as there are instructions for both front and back which does not seem necessary if we are measuring circumference. Are the measurements taken just like one should a real person.

    Thanks.

    1. The circumference measurements are all the way around the body. The measurements are taken just like it was a real person.

      As for the error, there must be something wrong with the measurement set. If you continue to have problems, feel free to email me your measurement xml file. I’ll take a look at it. Send it to FPDSupport@FearlessMakers.com.

  5. Is it possible to get all these measurements for a particular avatar in MD to practice on?
    thanks for all your work on these scripts.

    1. There are two MD Avatar XML files included in the Fearless Pattern Drafting Add-On. One is for the female avatar and the other is for the male avatar. They are located in the FMScripts Directory, xmlFiles folder. Using these will draft the patterns for both avatars. That should provide lots of practice!

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