So, you're about to start a costume. And you want to buy yourself a new pattern. Or make yourself a pattern. Or maybe you get a costume made. And your costume designer wants your measurements.
Anyway . You've got the list of measurements you need ... but you're not sure how to go about it.
Well, we're going to check this out together.
Taking your measurements isn't super complicated, but there are still a few details you need to follow to get it done right.
Find yourself a helper
Don't try to take your measurements on your own. It's going to be all wrong. Because you are going to move. And because you won't be able to see if your tape measure is in the right place.
It's simple, ask someone to take your measurements while you stand still. This, everything is straight. If you have a crafting partner, it's cool, you'll be able to take their measurements after they take yours. Teamwork!
Don't worry… You don't have to be in your underwear to take your measurements (you might not be that close to your crafting partner…). Make sure you have comfortable clothes that are snug, but not too tight. If you have a t-shirt that fits you really well, with the armhole seams that reach the end of the shoulder (and not falling on the arm), that's great (it will serve you further).
If you ever think of wearing a girdle under your costume. Or that you want to boost your chest. Or that you are planning to transform your body temporarily for the cosplay you are about to make... well, don't forget to wear whatever what you will wear underneath your costume. Because it can considerably change the measurements (and therefore the cut of the costume).
Use the right tools
If you're saying to yourself "Whaaat? Does it take fancy stuff to take my measurements?", the answer is absolutely not. You just need a sewing measuring tape. Simple stuff. It can be found pretty much anywhere. And it costs almost nothing. So go on! Treat yourself and go buy one if you don't already have one.
I'm just telling you this because I've seen people try to measure their waistlines with all kinds of impossible stuff. Like a ruler. Or a construction measuring tape. Yes, those that won't really bend…
Remember, even if your not that curvy... you're made of curves. So, grab something that will follow those curves, ok? I'm all for the system D in my life, but it can't end well if you don't have, at the very least, a measuring tape... And something to write down your measurements. ;)
That's why you have a helper. You stand up straight and look ahead, while they take your measurements. You look in front of you. In. Front. Of. You. You don't watch what they do. It won't help them measure if you check them… In fact, it might be the opposite. Because even if you just want to look down, your whole body will move and that can influence the measurement. If it helps, stand in front of a mirror. That way, you satisfy your curiosity ... without moving.
Relax. Don't be too stiff. Breathe. Softens a little ... And, please, don't pull you belly in, girl! You want a tailor-made suit, accept your measurements. If you tuck your stomach in or stand super stiff, the measurements won't be the same. And chances are your costume may be less comfortable.
Check your reference points
I know, some measurements may not be that clear for people who don't make clothes every day. Where do I star measuring? How do I procede?
The most important thing is the waist. The real waistline. Not the one from your pants. ... Unless you're wearing full on '80 high waisted pants.
To find your size, lean to the side. Where it kinda folds, this is your size. Guys, it's usually at the belly button. For girls, it's usually just a little higher.
You're going to need your waist measurement. But you're also going to need to remember its height. If you don't want to spend your time re-checking where it is exactly, you can tie an elastic or a ribbon around your waist. That way, you're going to have a good reference point for height measurements.
for circumference measurements
Most of the circumferences are not too complicated to take. It is especially important to always make sure that the measuring tape is straight and parallel to the floor.
In the case of the hip circumference, since you have to take the measurement at the strongest point of the hips, you may have a hard time making the tape old straight. You can help your measurement partner by holding the tape at the right height on your butt (yes, yes, you can move, you have my authorization).
Same thing for the chest, especially for girls who have bigger breast. Be careful not to press to much on your breasts though, you don't want to change the measurement…
for height and length measurements
For length and height measurements, it is important to know where to start and where to end. In general, these measures are taken from the side. Unless otherwise noted. A good tip: check where your body bends...
If you're wondering, "For the knee height, where do I stop? Above the knee? below? In the center?" Bend your leg. The answer is right on the "fold".
When you'll get to the measurements that refer to the waist (front height, back height, hip height, etc.) that your ribbon around the waist will come in handy. You don't want the measurement from your neck to your waist to overlap the measurement from your waist to your hips, because you will end up with measurements that are too long. You follow me?
As for the measurements that are taken around the shoulders, this is where you need to have a t-shirt that is fairly tight, but not too tight. If the armhole seam of your shirt falls right on the tip of your shoulder, it'll make your life easier. Because shoulder width is the measurement that starts at the base of your neck and goes all the way to the end of your shoulder (not on the top, not over the shoulder on to your arm ... on the tip of the shoulder).
And then, the arm length, starts exactly where you stoped for the shoulder and ends at the wrist (remember, where it bend).
And then, for the front and back build measurements, it's pretty much measured from seam to seam. On the front. And on the back.
My cheat sheet
I made a diagram for myself with all the measurements I take when I start a project. It makes my life easier when I worl with a client. I know I won,t forget anything. And it allows my clients who take their measurements themselves to understand what I want.
If you want a super complete sheet for your measurement, it's available for free on my shop.
Last small important thing
Just because you took your measurements super well, it doesn't mean that everything is going to be perfect.
If you are using a store bought pattern, be aware that it is standardized. You'll probably need to make some adjustments here and there... unless you are so lucky and have a full standard body (but who does?).
If you're making your own pattern, from scratch, you're probably still going to want to check out ease, drop, and lots of other details. That's why it's highly recommended to make a test mock up before you start.
And if you get your costume done by a pro, there will probably be 1 or 2 fittings (or more) to make sure everything looks good.
I sometimes make costumes completely from a distance. Although I have a lot of experience. Even though I have plenty of techniques for testing the costume without trying it on my client ... chances are the fit won't be perfect. This is a chance to take if you do everything remotely. Even by a pro.
Taking your measurements is not a mold of your body. There is a possible margin of error
By the way. If you have your costume made ...
… and your costume designer wants measurements that are not on my list. Or give you directions that don't match mine... Do what they tell you. Do not insist on it. They know what they're doing. It's entirely possible that they're using different methods than mine to work. And that's okay.
What is important is that they work well with what they asks of you.
Talk to you soon.
Until then… Keep on crafting!