[Module 3] How to take good measurements | 4. Prepare Client for Measurement

Updated: Jul 17

So assuming you are filling out all of the Measurements Sheets once they are completed they can all be added to a client folder to help organise all of the information. Obviously all of this could be done electronically or with pen and paper.

The Client should strip down to everyday underwear that includes a bra if they need breast support. If they feel more comfortable they could wear a snug fitting vest and yoga pants on top, as taking measurements can be an intimate process.

If a bra is worn, jot down the bra style and size on the Master Client Sheet. This is usually more accurate than trying to assess cup size using measurements I find. Any inaccuracies will show up in the fitting, but you will be able to make adjustments accordingly.

As a side note it is worth considering the bra. If the client has breasts that will need designing around and they do not wear a supportive bra or indeed any bra at all, then this will impact the design without a doubt. Outer garments are on the whole not designed to support breasts and if support is needed then underwear choices must be considered. Even if you are designing an evening gown, regardless of inner structure in the gown its purpose is not to support breasts, that is the job of the bra. Sometimes you need to set this expectation up front because for some the choice of bra at this point is a very important decision. The shapes you measure now will impact the design of the final garments so it is essential that the correct every day bra is worn for taking measurements. I simply cannot stress that enough. It is a good idea at this point to remind the customer to wear this underwear at all fittings unless a particular garment being made calls for different underwear for example evening wear which would be dealt with at the point of fitting the Flexible Pattern for that design. There is nothing worse than a client changing underwear mid flow because it is more work for you to keep altering things and will no doubt cause you lots of frustration, believe it or not underwear can change the body shape very drastically.

Another thing you will need to do is jot down their weight. This is a sensitive issue. No one wants to tell anyone what they weigh. Weight should be checked at every fitting if you want to be as perfect with fit as you can be because as weight goes up and down so do the measurements, in fact for some just 7lbs can be a dress size. It can help with client expectation because it may not be anything that you have done that has ended up with a less than perfect fit. But transversely weight loss or weight gain may not be immediately apparent in the inches. I know as I used to have my own wellness clinic in the UK, clients would be disturbed by the fact that they had lost weight but their body had not given up the inches, the inch loss can take a week or so to show up. I have a 2lb of fat sample that I used to show clients that complained that they had only lost 2lb of fat, it soon made them realise their accomplishment when I plonked that in their arms. I believe tracking weight loss and weight gain is important, it can explain a multitude of fitting issues and can also give you a decision on governance of a particular clients garments if they have a lifestyle of ups and downs for example you will probably decide not to create a Working Template that is too fitted. All of this information allows you to discuss a way forward with the client.

Marking key reference positions on the body


In order to take measurements you are going to need to mark the client’s body in some way to anchor your reference points. You need to anchor these points so that they do not drop off for the duration of the measuring, otherwise you may be inaccurate with measurements which is another good reason for your client to stand still. Stickers are a good way to do this and if you can get hold of some small coloured sticky dots then these will do the trick, if not cut up some labels into small squares less than 1/8” wide if you can, and use those. I am yet to find a recyclable version of this that can be hygienic as I don’t like to waste the dots, I am open to any suggestions.

Ensure the Client is standing in bare feet, with feet positioned hip width apart with arms down and shoulders relaxed, looking straight forward. They will need to stay this way throughout the process and remind them that this could take a little while so they can relax while you measure them.

Place elastic on the natural waist where the torso goes in. If there is no natural dip in the waist on the body then measure around ¼” above the belly button. This is not the position where the customer may like to wear a skirt so it may be worth pointing this out, this is simply to capture the body shape. The position of seams and waistbands etc. may be determined later during the design process. If the client has a skirt/trouser or waistband preference it is worth noting at this point on the Master Client Sheet. So attach the elastic snug with a safety pin at the side and get the client to lean over slightly and bend at the waist both sides to allow the elastic to find its place.

Take a moment to study the reference for the Measurements Visual Guide to review the position for the dots and place the dots on the body with the clients help if you need it to help situate positions like belly button. The dots have been numbered to give you an indication of the order in which to stick them onto the body.

  • Neck – There are six dots for the neck; One at Centre Front, this is just above the collar bone at the bottom of the throat area where the little dent is. High Shoulder Point – one on each side, where the neck meets the shoulder seam Neck Width/High Shoulder Intersection – one on each side, if you drew an invisible line through the Centre Front Neck dot horizontally and then drew an invisible line vertically and perpendicular to the floor through the High Shoulder Point then where they intersect would be the Neck Width dot One at Back of neck, get the client to bend their head forward and look for the spine bone that sticks out)

  • Shoulder - On each shoulder there will be three dots; The one you have already positioned at the High Shoulder Point on the Neck, One in the middle of the Shoulder, One at the Shoulder End, which is at the end of the collar bone, either feel for the bone or position the dot straight up from the armhole crease where the seam would end. All three of these dots should be in a line following the line of the imaginary seam Stand back and look at the dots, and assess if they line up. Stand at the front of the client and check are the dots visible and does it look where the seam should go. Stand to the back and look, are the dots visible and are they where you believe the seam should go on the body. Adjust forward or backwards if required.

  • Get your client to close their eyes and point out where they think the side seam on their garments should go. This gives you a starting point as to where the central position is on the side. Get your client to hold the plumb line directly in the armpit at the position that they indicated. The position of the side seam is an aesthetic choice so stand back and assess the position. Look all the way down the line and determine if it is too far forward on the leg or if it is too far back and adjust accordingly. This line is where you will be adding your dots for the Waist, Hip Bone and Lower Hip and Lowered Waist and Empire line on both sides. If your client arms starts to ache then place the dots for the guides below at the appropriate depth then shift them back into line afterwards.

  • Waist – Placed on the seam line at the Waist on the elastic on each side.

  • Hip Bone – Placed on the seam line at the Hip Bone on each side. Ask the client to point out where the top of the hip bone is and place a dot on each side or position the dot between 4” to 6” down from the waist using your judgement depending on the body size. Make a note of the measurement down from the waist on the measurement chart.

  • Lower Hip – Placed on the seam line at the Lower Hip on each side. This is the widest part of the body around the hip and bottom area or measure down around 8” – 10” below the Waist (adapt according to the body proportions again, longer torso equals more depth). Again note the measurement depth on the measurement chart.

  • Lowered Waist – Placed on the seamline at the Lowered Waist position on each side. The position is 2” below the waist or use the client’s preference or designer’s viewpoint depending on aesthetics and the body proportions.

  • Empire – Placed on the seam line at the Empire level on each side. The level is 3” above waist elastic on both sides or the clients or designers preference depending on aesthetics and the body proportions.

  • Largest Bust – Placed on the seam line at a high under arm position on both sides, in line with the nipple horizontally or the largest part of the bust/chest. Although you are going to need to know where nipples are it is not really professional to stick a dot on them, rather get the client to point out the position for you as and when required, unless they are a very obliging client and are enjoying the process! (That was a joke by the way!).

  • Belly Button - On the belly button if the client is wearing clothing. Although we are not measuring to this dot for anything it will help with orientation when trying to find the approximate centre of the body.

Now stand back and look at the side dots on one side do they all line up in a straight line and do they line up visually with the seam line on the shoulder if you like this idea. I do this because I think it balances the whole thing out visually. Take a moment to align up as best you can then repeat on the other side aiming to get the invisible seam line in the same position for the other side.


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