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Better body measurements

pin up measurements

{image above via vain and vapid}

The other day, I was having coffee with a woman who has been making custom clothing for quite a long time. She told me how difficult it was for her to get women to take their own honest measurements. “Women hate taking their measurements!” she declared, and told me about bridesmaid dresses she’d constructed for women who lived far away, only to find out there’d been a 4 inch discrepancy between their real and declared waist size!

I’ve even heard small, thin women say that they do not want to know their own measurements. Doesn’t that seem a little… odd?

Let’s face it, you need to know your body to get a good fit, and that starts with accurate measurements. I’ll admit, I’ve had some problems with this in the past when measuring myself. If you have a little fat in the area you’re measuring, or even muscle, it’s hard to know how tight to pull the tape measure. Combine this with a little wishful thinking (I mean, who wants to read 29″ on the tape measure if you can pull it a little tighter and believe it’s 28″?), and you have a recipe for inaccuracies.

That’s why I like this new tape measure I just purchased, called the MyoTape. You pull out the tape measure, lock it into place, press a button, and it automatically adjusts it to the same tension every time. I bought mine for fitness training (I’m on a quest to build up some muscles), but it would be just as awesome for the home sewer.

They’re only about 5 bucks on Amazon, and I really like how easy it is to use. All in all, a neat little doohickey.

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



February 3, 2010 #

That is brilliant, and at that price, they could get every home sewer to pick one up if they marketed it that way! Have you tried doing all your fitting measurements with it yet? I’m wondering if there are any it is hard to use on.

The Cupcake Goddess

February 3, 2010 #

Fantastic idea! Although I have to say, since I haven’t been clothing shopping in some time, my measurements don’t seem to matter as much as they once did. And its a comfort to know that everyone is so different and that sizing really doesn’t matter much anymore. To me it really is more about fabulous fit than how large or small my waist is. I totally agree that you need to know your body and that you should love what you see in the mirror! Thanks for the tip!

Pretty Little Dress

March 29, 2010 #

Cupcake Goddess, what you said is very sound and true!

(To me it really is more about fabulous fit than how large or small my waist is. I totally agree that you need to know your body and that you should love what you see in the mirror!)

Totally agree with you!

But since we’re on the matter of body measurement, I wonder why I find that I can fit a skirt of 34cm (13.5 -14″) waist (laid flat, or 68cm/27″circumference), but when my dress maker measure my waist, it’s always larger than 68cm? Upon this realisation, I measured the waists of my tailor-made dresses last night, and realise that many of them were over-measured.

So it confuses me. Next time I ask my dress maker to measure my body, shall I ask her to measure very tightly, or just give a skirt I fit comfortably and ask her to follow that measurement? Thanks for the thoughts!


February 3, 2010 #

This seems neat! I totally want one. The thing that people don’t really get, and I think this is sad, is that when the clothes fit properly you look like a million bucks no matter what size you are. And if you look that good no one will believe your size anyway! Not that you have to tell them :)


February 3, 2010 #

Sarah: Oh yeah, I should have mentioned, it’s made for circumference measurements (waist, chest, biceps, etc), so it doesn’t really work for length measurements. So you’d still need a regular tape measure for that aspect.

Sunni: Definitely agree! That is a great thing about sewing vs. buying ready to wear clothing.

Amy: Yes! And everyone has wonderful features they can play up or down with clothing. It just helps to be aware of them and not worry about what kind of fit happens to be in style at the moment.


February 3, 2010 #

Wow, that’s great! I find some measurements clumsy to do on myself anyway, and this sounds like it would make it easier.

Brook Owens

February 3, 2010 #

that tape measurer is perfect!!! I was in such denial of my hip size… not until i started making my own clothes did I realize…. DAAAAMMMNNNN!


February 4, 2010 #

Hmm… What an interesting tape measure! I know I always have issues with the tightness of the traditional sewing tape measure when measuring myself. I also sometimes struggle knowing exactly where to place the tape measure to get the best (most useful) measurement. After reading through the section in Cal Patch’s “Design It Yourself Clothes” on taking measurements, it finally all made sense. ;) Now I just need to update mine!

♥ Casey
blog |


February 5, 2010 #

even when i modeled, it was just the way you measured your stomach for example, tight! but waists and i guess bodies do adjust under certain pieces of clothing. so waist was measured tight, hips at smallest point, bust measured loose. too funny.

i do have to coach some clients through their measurements for my custom work. i like the communication though. people often mention how they feel about their size. i just wish everyone could feel good but of course we all know about body issues and the challenge they can be.


February 6, 2010 #

I got mine today and it is awesome — I checked a bunch of measurements and they were dead-on the averages I get from trying a normal tape measure a few times. Also — apparently kids love it, I had a lot of trouble getting it back from the 5-year-old!! Thanks so much for posting about this!

Shelly Figueroa

February 7, 2010 #

This is great! I teach sewing for the local school district and kids have the hardest time taking accurate measurements and you’d be surprised how many mothers have no idea how to measure their child (well maybe not that surprised). This will be a great addition to my “suggestions” for parents. Thanks Sarai.


February 8, 2010 #

When I sew for other people, I use centimeters. For North Americans, it takes the ego out of the measurements.


February 12, 2010 #

I have trouble with my measurements. I think I tend to say smaller than is true. I know that if i dont pull the tape measure tight on the waist it is not that tiny….

That said when I purchase clothes, clothes sized for waist size, including vintage stuff that people have measured (so we aren’t talking companies doing “vanity sizing,” which is another can of worms), I always need a smaller waist size than what I measure myself at. I find the entire situation utterly confusing.

Hence, I don’t know my measurements. Except I am pretty sure I have no hips any more. You can measure me next month for shits and giggles if you want! :)


February 12, 2010 #

I experience that sometimes too. I suppose it’s because the clothes have some give, and your body has some give. So fitted things can measure even smaller than your true measurements.

I have to admit that I sometimes wish I could lose just 1 inch around the middle only because there seems to be so much more vintage clothing in that size!


February 12, 2010 #

I really don’t know what sizes I wear anymore in anything. it is awful!! I just have to try things on. At least it prevents me from spending too much money online. ;) I keep seeing such pretty vintage dresses!