Things we should not skip in sewing (in my opinion) Part 2: Measure Your Patterns

Continuing on for this series. I wrote a short blog post with Part 1: Check Your Fabric. Now let’s talk about the next part of this series… MEASURE YOUR PATTERNS.


Some things I’ve heard people say is…”it’s too time consuming” or “too much work”. You won’t think that if your garment ends up too small or have so many fit issues you feel overwhelmed. Think of it this way, you made a garment that took you 3-4 hours to cut and sew. Then to find out you can’t wear it or you don’t want to wear it.  You just spent all that time on something that you may possibly not wear again.  It could all have been caught within 20 min after cutting out your pattern.

Some may argue that they checked the finish garment measurements so they feel confident about proceeding. Not all patterns give you detailed finish garment measurements at every fit point. Like bust, waist, hips, length, bicep, etc. They just give you a few. Everything else is a mystery. Not only that but I have  personally experienced some finish garment measurements listed to be inaccurate. Mistakes happen.

Once in school (for pattern making) our instructor gave us an assignment. The assignment was to pick a pattern for ourselves, measure the pattern and fix all fit issues we can find. No muslin and no tissue fitting allowed. WHAT?! This was within the first few weeks of a beginner pattern making class. We were to bring them into class the following week and as a group go over it with our adjustments. I could see what the instructor was doing. Keeping us aware of body measurements and where they would be on the pattern.

So let’s just dive in and get started. I’m going to talk about the things you need to remember when measuring your patterns.

  1. Measure yourself and write it down.

Measuring yourself correctly is important and I would highly reccomend looking into books or reliable sources to see what’s the proper way to measure yourself. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference 1/4″ can make if you are off on your measurements. I’ll link to a resource I like and find helpful here.

This is a list of measurements I have on hand always hanging up in my sewing room. I suggest you should have a list of your measurements near by that are easily accessible.

  1. Back Shoulder Width
  2. Shoulder Length
  3. Bust Circumference (have front and back in separate measurements as well)
  4. Waist circumference (have front and back in separate measurements as well)
  5. Shoulder Neck point to apex
  6. Shoulder neck point to apex to waist
  7. Back Waist Length
  8. Hip Circumference (have front and back in separate measurements as well)
  9. Bicep circumference
  10. Crotch Curve
  11. Waist to knee
  12. Waist to Ankle (length) and inseam.


2. Draw out your seam allowance on your patterns. 


This part is probably the least exciting thing to do but its important. You can see the pattern itself. You are able to know exactly where to measure on the pattern and no need to do any extra math by subtracting seam allowance.

Here is an example I did on a blog post for Love Notions showing how I drew out the seam allowances. (Blog Post here.)


3. Get familiar with the intended ease of the pattern.


I have noticed more indie pattern companies are starting to incorporate this description into their pattern instructions. Usually found under fit guide or at the beginning of the instructions. Some will describe the fit of the garment as …

Example: This dress is fitted at the bust, semi-fitted at the waist and loose at the hips. 

They may even go as far as telling you exactly the amount of ease intended with the pattern.

Example: The bust will have 2″ of ease, waist 3″, and hips 4″.

(Here is an example of explanation of ease in the Fulton Blazer pattern by Alina Sewing & Design Co. See picture.)

alinap3 copy

If you have a pattern that does not explain the intended ease then do some more investigating. To find out the intended ease what you can do is to subtract the size chart measurements from the finish garment measurements. The difference will give you ease.


The size chart says that a size 14 measurements are… Bust 36″, Waist 28″, and hips 38″. The finish garment measurement list the bust at 39″. When subtract the size chart bust and the finish garment measurement, the difference is 3″. That’s the intended ease at the bust. 

Now take your bust measurement add the 3″ of ease (that’s the intended ease) and the sum is what you are aiming for.

Side Note:

When I started to learn how to make patterns I realized how much I was using the standard wearing ease knowledge I obtained from school into my sewing. When you learn to make pattern you learn what’s called wearing ease. This ease is necessary in a pattern to be able to wear a garment and move. The minimum amount of ease needed.  I’m going to list the following amount of wearing ease reccommend  in each fit point so you can remember them for next time. (I am only listing women because that is what I am familiar with.)

Women’s Woven Wearing Ease (also considered as FITTED):

Bust: 3-4″

Waist: 1″-2″

Hips: 2″-3″

Bicep: 2″

Crotch Depth: 1″-2″

Example: If my bicep is 12″ in circumference and the minimum wearing ease is 2″ , then that means I need a minimum of 14″ in circumference at the bicep for the sleeve to fit. I then  measure the sleeve pattern at the bicep level and see what the measurement is. If the pattern bicep measures out 13″ … it won’t fit. Well, it will go on but you will see it’s too tight to feel comfortable. You will also see a lot of drag lines.


4. Start measuring the pattern pieces 

Start measuring the pattern pieces and comparing it to your measurements. Keeping in mind of ease as well.  You will want to start at the back shoulders since this is considered the foundation of the garment. Back shoulders and work your way down the body. Go down the list of measurements I recommended you to write down. Also with all the circumference measurements, keep in mind of the ease you just figured out.


Now I can probably guess what your next question is … “What do I do if it doesn’t match?” That my friend,  goes into the territory of pattern adjustments and muslins. I will have to leave that up to you if you want to adjust them. I have gotten to the point where I feel confident to make most of the adjustments based on just measuring.  Even before I make a muslin. I sometimes will leave some of the suspected fit issues for the muslin because I’m either unsure or think that one adjustment might effect another. It is all up to you from this point on.


Thank you for reading this blog post!


(All information listed in this blog post is recommendation only. Whatever I was taught or trained by is influenced in this blog post.)

Find me on Instagram here.

9 thoughts on “Things we should not skip in sewing (in my opinion) Part 2: Measure Your Patterns

  1. I have never measured a pattern, but will now because I am always having issues. I think figuring out where to measure on the pattern is difficult. I can probably find someone to help me measure myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never thought or heard of doing this! I’m prepared to always measure my pattern pieces from now on. Thank You!!


  3. This is so helpful thank you! I just finished a short sleeved shirt and it was too tight around my arms, based on this there isn’t enough ease. I’ll try adjust the pattern and make another ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Michele, thank you so much for taking time to explain fit – in this post and also the Pona Jacket post. I am now retired (70), live in sultry Cairns (Australia), trying to establish “my style” after years in a corporate environment, and very new to dressmaking. My favourite dress style is the Tessuti Eva Dress, but I’ve had such problems with fit – FBA, etc. Hopefully, it will fit better after your helpful post. Regards, Sandra


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