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How to Measure The Pattern


Pattern measurements, or flat pattern measurements, refer to the process of measuring out the flat pattern pieces to determine the finished garment measurements. You can determine the dimensions of any part of the garment simply by measuring off the flat pattern.

Measuring a flat pattern

Measuring a flat pattern


Finished garment measurements are usually provided somewhere in each sewing pattern. They may be on the outside of the envelope, printed on the pattern tissue or located somewhere in the instructions. If you can’t find them, or if there is something else you wish to check against your own measurements, measure the pattern pieces. Sometimes you may want to know the finished dimensions of a part of the pattern that isn’t listed, for example, the shoulder width or across the thighs. Measuring the pattern pieces will give you that answer!

Measuring the pattern can also save time. For some patterns, you may be able to measure the pattern pieces and compare that to your body measurements (page link), thereby skipping the making of a test garment (page link). If you’re making a very flared skirt, the only measurement you need to worry about is the waist. You’ll be able to measure the waistband, compare that measurement to your own waistline and know if it will fit.

Tips + Notes

  • For sleeve length, measure from shoulder to elbow and elbow to hem. If the elbow is not marked, measure from the shoulder to the hem.
  • For trouser length, measure from the waist to crotch, crotch to knee and knee to hem. If knee is not indicated, measure from crotch to hem.
  • For skirt length, measure from waist to hip and hip to hem. If hipline is not indicated, measure from waist to hem.


Determine how much seam allowance is provided in the pattern; a standard seam allowance is 5⁄8″ (1.5cm). Choose the size you plan to measure. Gather all of the pieces that make up the complete front, back and sleeve or skirt front and back. Skip any pieces that don’t affect the shape of the garment, for example, the pockets.

How to measure the pattern (1)

Arrange the pieces so the seam lines are next to each other as they would be sewn. Match side seams to side seams. If there are vertical or horizontal seams to complete the garment, place these next to each other as well.

How to measure the pattern (2)

Measure the bust of the pattern piece from seam line to seam line, 1″ (2.5cm) below the armhole. Skip darts and seams; skip overlaps and openings. You’re measuring the space on the pattern pieces that doesn’t get sewn into seams, darts or openings. If it helps, measure each section and note it on a scrap paper, then add them up at the end to arrive at the total bust measurement.

How to measure the pattern (3)

Repeat this step for the waist, hip and other horizontal measurements.

How to measure the pattern (4)

When measuring the length of pattern pieces, measure from back neck to waistline, then waistline to hem. The hem allowance amount is usually printed on the lower edge of the pattern piece, but it may be noted in the instruction sheet as well.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine