Get the Right Numbers

Apple, pear or tomato? Sounds like something you'd find in the kitchen, not descriptions of body types! And does it really matter what type you are? All you want to do is crochet a garment that fits. Let's learn how to take proper body measurements that will enable you choose and create garments to fit your body.

Pull out a tape measure, a pen, and notebook. Stand in front of a mirror wearing just undergarments (clothing will skew the measurements). Don't be afraid of the mirror; mirrors are sworn to secrecy. We are going to take five measurements.

1. Bust. Wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your bust. Hold it just firmly enough that it doesn't slide, without pulling it tight. Different bra types can alter this measurement slightly, so keep in mind the underclothing you would wear with the garment you want to make.

2. Waist. Take the measurement at the narrowest part of the waist, about at bellybutton level. Be careful not to suck in your tummy; you'll pay for that tiny tummy tuck when your garment is too snug at the waist.

3. Hips. Place the measuring tape at the fullest part of the hips.

4. Torso. Measure from your collarbone to your waist, then from your waist to your crotch. (Just so you know, if your waist-to-crotch measurement is longer than your waist-to-collarbone measurement, you are short-waisted. The distance from your waist to your armhole or bust will affect the length you should make your tops and the placement of darts — more about this later.)

5. Legs. Ask a friend to help you measure from your waist to the top of your knee. Now you can create skirts and dresses that stop at the most flattering point on your leg whether that's just below the knee or a few inches below.

And then some: Take some more measurements on your own. You know your body best and where standard garments don't quite fit. Maybe clothing fits a little loosely at your waist or tightly at your bust. (Shirts pull tightly on me just below the bust since I inherited my grandmother's large rib cage, along with her smile.) Measure the width of your shoulders or the circumference of your upper arm. The more information you have the better you will be able to customize your garments.

Write down all of your measurements and have them handy in two weeks when we discuss how to read pattern schematics and compare them with our own measurements.


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