Measuring for Blocks

There is a Youtube Video on Measuring for the Bodice Block, which can be found on the Video Menu.   (You will need to scroll through the videos to find it).

This page contains the information on measuring for the following blocks:

  • Bodice Front
  • Bodice Back
  • Sleeve
  • Skirt
  • Pants

measurement croquis

Getting your measurements correct is probably the most difficult and important aspect of making your own personalised blocks. It should go without saying that correct measurements are necessary to end up with a block that fits well. 

If you have no-one to help you take your measurements, or the person helping you does not take them correctly, it will make your block-making process more difficult.  If you have a  problem, it may be worth paying a dressmaker to take the measurements for you.

The fitting process (making and toile and checking your block) is essential, and if you have no-one to help you with this it may take some time and some back-and-forth with the block and toiles, but it is possible, and it will be worth it.

These Measurement Pages contain the information for taking the measurements needed for creating your personalised blocks.  There is a downloadable Personal Measurements table to help you with this.

Bodice Block (Bodice Sloper)

The Bodice Blocks include the Bodice Front, Bodice Back and Sleeve.

Measurements for Drafting the Bodice Front Block (Bodice Front Sloper)

There are 12 measurements needed to draft the Bodice Front.  These measurements is shown in the image below.

  1. Waist: Around the smallest part of torso.
  2. Full Length Front: From the shoulder seam line at the neckline to the waist.
  3. Upper Bust: Around the underarm area, about 2.5cm below armpit at the sides.
  4. Across Shoulder Front: From the pit of the throat to shoulder tip.
  5. Centre Front Length: From the pit of the throat to the waist.
  6. Shoulder Slope Front: From centre front waist to shoulder tip.
  7. Shoulder Length: From the neckline shoulder point to the shoulder tip.
  8. Bust Depth: From shoulder tip to bust apex (nipple), along the Shoulder Slope line.
  9. Bust Span: From Centre Front to bust apex (nipple).   (You can measure from bust apex to bust apex then divide by two).
  10. Across Chest:  From Centre Front to armhole. (You can measure from armhole to armhole, then divide by two).
  11. Front Armhole Depth: From Shoulder Point to Upper Bust. (Tie a piece of elastic around your Upper Bust, and measure from the shoulder point to the elastic.)
  12. Side Length: From 2.5cm under armpit to waist.

measurements bodice front

Measurements for Drafting the Bodice Back Block (Bodice Back Sloper)

There are 11 measurements needed to draft the Bodice Block Back.  They are shown on the image below.

  1. Waist: Around the smallest part of torso.
  2. Full Length Back: From Neck Shoulder Point to Waist.
  3. Upper Bust (Arc): Around the underarm area, about 2.5cm below armpit at the sides.
  4. Centre Back Length: From the prominent vertebra at the back of the neck to waist.
  5. Across Shoulder Back: From Centre Back to Shoulder Tip.  (Measure from shoulder tip to shoulder tip, then divide by 2).
  6. Shoulder Slope Back: From Centre Back Waist to Shoulder Tip.
  7. Back Neck: From the prominent vertebra at the back of the neck to Neck Shoulder Point.
  8. Shoulder Length: From Neck Shoulder Point to Shoulder Tip. 
  9. Across Back: From Centre Back to Armhole line.
  10. Side Length: From 2.5cm under armpit to waist.
  11. Dart Placement: Where it suits your body. There are general guides given.

measurements bodice back

Click on any image to see a larger version. Click near the bottom of the image.

Measurements for Drafting the Sleeve Block (Sleeve Sloper)

There are 6 measurements needed to draft the Sleeve Block.  The sleeve is created to fit your Bodice Block, so you have to (obviously) create the Bodice Front and Bodice Back before you can create the sleeve.

  1. Bicep: Around the largest part of the upper arm.
  2. Full Length Sleeve: From the shoulder tip to the wrist, with the elbow bent.
  3. Cap to Elbow: From the shoulder tip to the elbow.
  4. Elbow circumference: Around the elbow, with the elbow bent.
  5. Armhole Front: Using a flexible ruler, measure the armhole length of your Bodice Block Front.
  6. Armhole Back: Using a flexible ruler, measure the armhole length of your Bodice Block Back.

The measurements you need are shown in the image below.

measurements sleeve and armhole

Skirt Block (or Skirt Sloper)

There are really only 4 measurements needed to create the Skirt Block, but if you prefer to divide the waist and hips measurements into the Front/Back Arcs, then you need 8 measurements.

Measurements for Drafting the Skirt Block (Skirt Sloper)

The measurements are shown on the images below.

  1. Waist: Around the smallest part of the torso.
  2. Front Waist Arc: From the Side seam to Centre Front.
  3. Skirt Length: From Waist down below knee (personal preference).
  4. Hip: Around the widest part of the body below the waist.
  5. Front Hip Arc: From the side seam to centre front of the hip circle.
  6. Hipline Depth: From waist to the widest part of the body.
  7. Back Waist Arc:  From side seam to side seam at waist level.
  8. Back Hip Arc: From side seam to side seam at hip level.

measurements skirt

Pants Block (or Pants Sloper)

Note that the written instructions that are listed in this menu and the measurements below that relate to those written instructions work well only for Standard Figures.

I have devised a new method for drafting pants, but currently only have videos (not written instructions) for drafting pants using that system.   If you have a non-standard figure (i.e. you find it difficult to find ready-to-wear pants that fit well), use my video instructions, which include the measurement information.

(Note that from the 8 August 2020 the videos are no longer available.  They will be uploaded again in September or October 2020)

Measurements for Drafting the Pants Block (Pants Sloper)

There are 9 measurements needed to draft the Pants Block for the Standard Figure; They are shown on the images below.

  1. Waist: Around the smallest part of the torso.
  2. Waist to Ankle: From Waist to the ankle bone.
  3. Hip Depth: From the waist to the hip.
  4. Front Hip Arc: From side seam to side seam at hip level.
  5. Front Waist Arc: From side seam to side seam at waist level.
  6. Back Hip Arc: From side seam to side seam at the hip level.
  7. Back Waist Arc: From side seam to side seam at the waist level.
  8. Crotch Depth: From the waist to upper thigh/crotch intersection.
  9. Crotch Length: From front waist, under the crotch, to back waist.

measurements pants

The use of 3D Measuring Stations (e.g. mPort in Australia)

With the arrival of 3D measuring "Pods" like mPort in Australia, I thought it would now be easy to get your exact measurements, but mPod in Australia only supply the basic measurements (e.g. bust, waist and hips) to the people who use the pods. (I am unsure if this is the same in the USA).

mPods in Australia supply the use of the machines for free to the general public; in order to get people to use the machine their marketing is to sell it along the lines of Keeping Track of Your Weight and BMI.  They supply only the basic body measurements to these people, such as Bust, Waist & Hips.  They do take much more detailed measurements of the people who use the machine, and sell this on to the Fashion Industry.  This anthropometic data is valuable and essential to fashion houses and fashion lines.

While I can understand that they don't give out the information wholesale, I do not understand why they cannot supply individuals with their detailed measurements.

Related Article

Fit, Sizing & Measurements - The Fashion Industry & Garment Manufacturing

  1. Comments (7)

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

How do you decide where your shoulder seam, side seam, and armhole should be? I have a hard time being consistent with this in measuring and think it might be affecting accuracy. THANKS!

Harmony
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Harmony

I have been meaning/wanting to make a video for taking measurements, but unfortunately I haven't been able to. Lots of factors have gotten in the way including COVID (taking measurements and social distancing don't play well...

Hi Harmony

I have been meaning/wanting to make a video for taking measurements, but unfortunately I haven't been able to. Lots of factors have gotten in the way including COVID (taking measurements and social distancing don't play well together!). I am working on it, but it won't be for a month or so yet at the minimum.

In the meantime I will try to write up some tips with photos for you in the next few days.

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Maria
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Muchly appreciate your sloper how-to guides! Just have a quick question:

I am rather... gifted in the bust department. When taking any measurements that cross over the breast, such as the full length front and the shoulder slope front, should I...

Muchly appreciate your sloper how-to guides! Just have a quick question:

I am rather... gifted in the bust department. When taking any measurements that cross over the breast, such as the full length front and the shoulder slope front, should I follow the curve of my breast, or should I keep the tape taut between the measurement points?

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Hana
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hello Hana,

The (Close-Fitting) Bodice Block is not meant to fit like a corset. (The 'close-fitting' relates to the amount of wearing ease, it has the minimum wearing ease required for comfort and movement)

Don't try to keep the tape measure...

Hello Hana,

The (Close-Fitting) Bodice Block is not meant to fit like a corset. (The 'close-fitting' relates to the amount of wearing ease, it has the minimum wearing ease required for comfort and movement)

Don't try to keep the tape measure flat against the body all the way. Just put the tape measure on one point (e.g. the High Neck Point), then extend it to the next point (e.g. Waist).

See the image attached.

Depending on your body, there may be a lot of space between the tape measure/fabric and the body in the chest area and/or the under bust area. Again, this block is not meant to fit like a corset. You would do any further fitting when drafting patterns, and with the waist dart.

I would also recommend you read the section on contouring if you haven't already:

https://www.dresspatternmaking.com/principles/contouring/the-need-for-contouring-example

Maria

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Maria
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thank you for all of these videos and helpful information. I'm wondering if you have advice on whether I should make a custom block and then compare it to patterns that I buy? I am very tall (6'1") and generally a size 10 on top and 12 on bottom...

Thank you for all of these videos and helpful information. I'm wondering if you have advice on whether I should make a custom block and then compare it to patterns that I buy? I am very tall (6'1") and generally a size 10 on top and 12 on bottom based on the the simple bust/waist/hip measurements for most patterns. But I am finding just adding length to patterns still isn't giving the right fit. Most of the time things are too big in a lot of areas but then too tight in armpit or hip. I'm just not sure if there is a consistent and good way to take my more detailed block measurements and then adjust patterns (beyond just lengthening) and wondering if block making would help? Hopefully this makes sense. I am new to sewing!

Thank you!

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Emily
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi! Thank you for all this information, it's really helpful! I really appreciate such a comprehensive source or free information.

I've been looking at your list of measurements for bodice blocks and came here trying to understand Upper bust...

Hi! Thank you for all this information, it's really helpful! I really appreciate such a comprehensive source or free information.

I've been looking at your list of measurements for bodice blocks and came here trying to understand Upper bust (arc). What area is this measuring? On the diagram its marked only on the back diagram (labelled (3)) and looks like half on the overall upper bust measurement. However this doesn't seem to add up to me as they are roughly 8" for size 8 which would make the overall measurement roughly 16", which is too small. Is it actually from CB to 2.5cm below armpit (along upper bust line measurement)?

Also I think after looking at the charts I might have noticed an error, although in the case I might have misunderstood I'm sorry. You describe it at 'Same F&B' but when I look at the Size 8 chart its 8 7/8" for Front and 7 3/8" for the back. Is this a typo? The front bust arc is considerably bigger than a size 10 for example, and the F&B are not the same.

Thanks in advance, I really appreciate any time you are able to give to respond.

Many thanks,
Ruth

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Ruth
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Ruth

Firstly - the Upper Bust:
Yes, that description and the image of the Upper Bust isn't very good. I really do want to make a video on taking measurements, but I won't have time to do it for a while.

I am including a link to a page that...

Hi Ruth

Firstly - the Upper Bust:
Yes, that description and the image of the Upper Bust isn't very good. I really do want to make a video on taking measurements, but I won't have time to do it for a while.

I am including a link to a page that explains the Upper Bust. If you scroll down to the very bottom of the page to the very last comment (past some images that might help) by Contessa, please see my two answers. There are some images attached to my answers to Contessa. Hope they help

https://www.dresspatternmaking.com/blog/why-upper-bust

Regarding the measurements of my blocks, yes it seems I have made a mistake.
The Upper Bust for is 29.5 inches, so quarter of that is 7 3/8 - meaning I made a mistake in the Back MM (should also be 7 3/8). Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I will change that.

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Maria
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