March 2020
March 2020
10 Jun
Chinelo Bally’s Essential Measurement Advice For Garment Construction

GBSB series two contestant, and freehand cutting fashionista, Chinelo Bally is the queen of achieving that perfect fit. Measuring is one of the most key elements of the making process and here she explains why you need to take time to measure every part of your body properly – no shortcuts!

Taking measurements
“If you want to use the freehand method, it’s important to learn how to take details, and accurate measurements of yourself. This is the only way you can guarantee that your finished garment will fit you. (A further point to bear in mind is that you may not always have someone handy to take the measurements for you, especially if like me, you’re a little, making your clothes on the day you actually intend on wearing them!) At my workshops I encourage participants to learn how to take their own measurements, but this means making a conscious effort not to distort the body as you do. If you find it too difficult, ask someone to help you – and there are some measurements that will definitely require an extra pair of helping hands. I have broken my measuring system into three groups.”

These are the measurements that run horizontally across the body. These are the ones that get divided into two or four in all of the projects.

These measurements run vertically along the body. They are used as reference points, along which you will mark the corresponding divided horizontal measurement.


These are the extra measurements that are covered within the projects.

Horizontal measurements
1 Back: from the top corner of one shoulder, straight across to the top corner of the other shoulder.
2 Across Back: straight across 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the armpit crease in the back.
3 Across Front: straight across 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the armpit crease in the front.
4 Bust: around the body at the fullest part of the bust.
5 Overbust: around the body at the top of the bust.
6 Underbust: around the body at the base of the bust.
7 Waist: this refers to the natural waist; a good way to find this is to bend your body to the side – the deepest part of the bend is your natural waist.
8 Hip: around the biggest section above the thigh.

Vertical measurements
9 Shoulder to Across Back: from shoulder to 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the back armpit curve.
10 Shoulder to Across Front: from the shoulder to 2.5 cm (1 in.) above the front armpit curve.
11 Shoulder to Overbust: shoulder to the point beginning of the bust.
12 Shoulder to Bust: shoulder to the highest point of the bust.
13 Shoulder to Underbust: shoulder to the base of the bust, following the contour of the bust.
14 Shoulder to Waist: shoulder to the natural waist, following the contour of the bust, underbust and down to the waist.
15 Shoulder to Hip: shoulder to hip, following all the contours of the body.
16 Shoulder to Knee: shoulder to knee, following all the contours of the body.
17 Shoulder to Floor: shoulder to the base of the feet.
18 Underarm Length: base of armpit to desired sleeve length.

Other measurements
19 Apex: across nipple to nipple.
20 Round Sleeve (RS): around the fullest part at the top of the arm. If you are NOT using stretchy. fabric, do not wrap the tape tight because you will need room to manoeuvre.
21 Round Elbow (RE): as above, but around the elbow.
22 Sleeve Length (SL): from the top of the shoulder corner to the desired length of the sleeve.
23 Elbow Length (EL): from the top of the shoulder corner to the elbow.
24 Back Length: from the nape to the deepest part of the back hollow.
25 Hollow to Dip: from hollow at base of the neck to desired lowest point of sweetheart neckline.

Under control
Many people wear control underwear under their garments, especially if it’s a special occasion. If you will be doing so, it is best to wear it when taking your measurements, because this will affect your proportions and will compromise the fit if not taken into account.

Birds eye view
When taking measurements from the shoulder down, imagine that you are looking down on yourself from a bird’s eye view, and place the head of the tape measure in the very centre of your shoulder.

Look sharp
Always take your measurements standing up, with your posture straight.

Extracted from Freehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally, published by Pavilion. Photography by Claire Pepper.

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