Beginners’ Sewing Series Part 2 | Measurements & FREE Measurement Printable

Brand new to sewing? Start here. The Sew Busty Beginners’ Sewing Series will be your step-by-step guide to learning garment sewing. Each installment will build upon the last, getting progressively more advanced in skills and techniques. Catch up with the whole series here.

Once you’ve gathered the tools you’ll need to start your sewing journey, the next step is to figure out your basic measurements. These will be your guide as you choose patterns, and as you follow the Lago Tank sew along!

(Need pattern inspiration? Check out our Busty Pattern Database and our Pinterest boards!)

Basic measurements

The most basic measurements needed for most clothing patterns are:

  • high bust
  • full bust
  • waist
  • hips

Some patterns may require additional measurements. For example, a bra pattern might call for your horizontal hemisphere or your bottom cup depth. A trousers pattern might call for your inseam. But for 75% of patterns, your high bust, full bust, waist, and hips will get you on your way.

Taking the measurements

So how do you take these measurements?! Let me show you!

Here’s a free printable measurements worksheet to keep track as you take these measurements.

High Bust

This, combined with your full bust measurement (below), will determine your sewing cup size. More on sewing cup sizes here.

For the high bust measurement, hold the measuring tape at the bust, above the breasts. This measurement should be done without a bra on for best results.

As you can see from the profile view, the tape will not be parallel with the floor, but will instead angle down as it goes toward your back.

For this measurement, don’t hold the tape too tightly, but it should be firm. Try to relax as you take this measurement.

Full Bust

For the full bust, measure with your best fitting bra on. Measure by positioning the measuring tape parallel to the floor around the fullest part of the breast/chest.

On most people, the fullest part of the bust is the nipple, but this isn’t always the case. The measuring tape should go around the part of the bust that protrudes the most, like the peak of a mountain.

Again, hold the tape firmly but not too tightly. You should be able to slip just the tip of a finger under the measuring tape.


The natural waist is where, when you bend to the side, your body folds. I like to bend side to side and mark where my body folds with my hand, then wrap the measuring tape around at that point, parallel to the floor.

The natural waist is not always the smallest part of one’s body. Some people have a smaller underbust than waist, for example. However, for most patterns, it’s important to measure this point at your natural waist rather than your smallest part.


Ohhhh the “hip” measurement. Let’s be real, shall we?

The hip measurement should really be called the BOOTY MEASUREMENT.

So many people see hip and think “oh, okay, here’s my hip bone.” Sorry, buster. You’re being too logical. Whatever sewing deity of olde who decided what to call the measurements decided to call the butt the hip.

Okay, now that we’re clear, you should take your hip measurement around the fullest part of your butt. Generally, this is about 8.5″ below your waist, though on short people (hello!), it’s usually around 8″ below the waist.

Okay, now what?

Be sure to write down these measurements!

If you have a pattern in mind already, check the pattern envelope or sizing information to make sure you don’t need more measurements, such as bicep or inseam.

Still looking for a pattern? Check out our Busty Pattern Database!

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