How Fabric is Measured?

For any garment or accessory that you make, you need to know how to measure fabric. If you’re unsure how to do this, here is a basic overview of how it’s done.

Fabric Measurements:

Four main measurements are essential for you and your garments and accessories to be successful. They include waist circumference, bust; length; and hip-width.

Waist Circumference

The waist circumference is the measurement of the smallest part of the waist, including the belly button. This measurement is also known as “natural waist” or “waist circumference.” The larger this measurement, the more likely your garment will fit well.


The bust measures how many inches around you are at your chest area above your bust line (your breasts). The larger this measurement, the more likely your garment will fit well. A common rule of thumb for determining bust size is that it can be as small as 4″ and as large as 13″ (or the number you want to go by).


The length is how many inches from the top of your shoulder to the bottom of your waist. The longer this measurement, the more likely your garment will fit well.

Hip Width

The hip width is how many inches around your buttocks are. The larger this measurement, the more likely your garment will fit well.

Hidden measurements:

You probably think that these four measurements are it; however, there is one more measurement that will give you the best fit possible in your garment, and that’s the height of your bust line.

If you haven’t paid much attention to this, go ahead and measure your bust line (the area above your bust) and add it to your other measurements.


Once you know your measurements, the only thing left is to get them onto a pattern. The two most common ways people can make designs are flat patterns and body maps. However, there is a new technique that is gaining popularity, and that is 3-D mapping.

Flat Patterns:

Flat patterns are the easiest way to get your measurements onto a pattern. These patterns are made with paper, which you can trace onto any material like fabric, leather, or vinyl.

It is the most common form of transferring measurements onto a pattern because of its ease and accuracy; however, you may not use it for all fabrics.

Body Maps:

Body maps are a little more complicated than flat patterns. They come in the form of tracing paper placed over your garment and traced onto it.

This method takes longer than flat patterning, but it’s more accurate. It does, however, require that one has body map software or an expensive computer program that allows them to transfer this information onto the computer so they can create their pattern pieces.


There are two methods in which to measure your garment: the “hand method” and the “yard method.”

The hand method is when you use a tape measure and place it around your body where you want the garment to sit, such as waist, bust, and hips. Each inch of the tape is equivalent to a specific size and is called a “hand.”

The yard method has you measure your body with a fabric ruler, and each quarter-inch of the fabric ruler is equivalent to a specific size and is also called a “hand.”

Three-D mapping

New technology has allowed for a 3-D measurement of the body and its sizes by using a specialized scanner to get detailed measurements of the body. Although this might not be the most commonly used method, it’s still handy and can give you a good fit for your garment.

Achieving Fit

You have to have a fitting to get the perfect fit when making garments. There are three types of fittings: pre-sewing fitting, during construction fitting, and post-sewing fitting.

Pre-sewing fitting:

The pre-sewing fitting is the most important thing to get right. You get to see how your garment will fit on you once it is sewn together and made into a garment in this fitting.

At the beginning of the pre-sewing fitting, you get to record all of your measurements onto a flat pattern or tape measure.

During construction fitting:

During construction fitting, you will have the chance to make any changes that need to be made before the garment is sewn together.

You will check for the pattern’s accuracy and check the garment itself for accuracy. This is where you will want to adjust anything that needs to be changed if there are any errors.

Post-sewing fitting:

The post-sewing fitting is most important where you will check for the accuracy of the garment.

At this stage, most of the alterations made in the pre-sewing fitting are removed. Your whole garment is now corrected with measured findings compared to what was written on your pattern.

Avoiding Fit Failures:

There are two significant mistakes that you must not make when measuring your garment for a good fit.

The first of these mistakes is making alterations such as cutting out too much of the pattern or adding to the pattern material. If you do this, you will end up with a garment that is too big or too small.

The other mistake that many people make is not taking into account anybody’s molding and adjusting the pattern accordingly.

Generally, if your garment is too tight and not indicated in many places on the pattern, you will need to adjust your measurements.


how big is a yard of fabric?

The standard yard of fabric is 36 inches.

how big is a yard of fabric in feet?

The standard yard of fabric is 3 feet.

What is a meter of fabric?

A meter of fabric is precisely 100 centimeters.