How to take your measurements

Taking your measurement for women and menI’ve had a couple questions lately about how to take your measurements. These have mainly been coming from people looking to buy a custom merino wool jersey, but whether you’re shopping for ready to wear clothes, sewing your own or commissioning a custom garment, it’s helpful to know just what’s meant by arm length, bust and hips.

I mean, sure, we all know what those words mean—but what exactly do I mean when I ask you to send me some cold, hard numbers?

Well, let me tell you.

How to take your measurements

When I make clothes for myself, I have the luxury of trying it on and checking the fit as I go. When I make clothes for someone I’ve never met (like the gentleman in the UK who just ordered two jerseys), I’m constantly checking the garment-in-progress against the person’s measurements, taking into account garment ease, etc.

The numbers are all I’ve got, and if they’re accurate, they’re all I need.

To take your measurements, you’ll need:

  • A flexible measuring tape
  • A friend
  • This handy dandy chart (one for ladies, one for gents [PDF downloads])

Tips:

  • Wear snug-fitting undergarments, like a tank top and leggings. Ladies, wear the bra you intend to wear with the finished garment.
  • Stand straight and relaxed.
  • Keep the tape measure taut, but not so it cuts into you.
  • Don’t try to suck in your gut. You want your finished clothes to be comfortable.
  • It’s absolutely best if you have a friend to help you, but it’s not impossible to do on your own.

For the Ladies

Bust: With your arms at your sides, and wearing the bra you intend to wear with the finished garment, measure the fullest part of your bust. Keep the tape parallel with the floor.

Waist: The easiest way to find your waist is to tie a string snuggly around your middle, then bend and twist until it settles at your natural waist. This most likely isn’t the point that your trousers sit at, by the way.

Hips: With your heels together, measure the fullest part of your hips.

Arm: Place your hand on your hip with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Measure from the center back of your neck across your shoulder, to the elbow, and down to the wrist. I’ll add a couple of inches to this measurement when I make your jersey, so that your wrists stay covered when you’re riding.

Shoulder Width: Measure flat across your back, from the end of one shoulder to the other.

This isn’t a commonly asked-after measurement, but I like to know it because for ladies our bust measurements don’t always correspond to the measurement of our actual frames. That is to say, most ready to wear clothes are designed for B-cup gals. If you’re a size C or larger and buy a top based on your bust measurement, more often than not it’ll fit too large in the shoulders. And that sucks.

Torso length: Measure from the nape of your neck (that first knobby vertebrae you feel) to your lower back, at a point that’s level with where you took your hip measurement. When I create your jersey, I always add a couple extra inches to this measurement to make sure you have plenty of coverage when you’re hunched over those handlebars.

For the Gents

One of the major issues that a lot of guys have with ready to wear clothes is arm length and torso length. Say you’re a tall, muscular sort of guy. If you buy a shirt simply based on your torso measurements, the sleeves will often be too short because the manufacturer targeted that girth to a short, stout guy rather than tall, muscular you.

So grab that tape measure, and let’s get you something that fits you perfectly.

Chest: With your arms relaxed at your sides, measure around your chest level with your armpits. Keep the tape parallel to the floor.

Waist: The easiest way to find your waist is to tie a string snuggly around your middle, then bend and twist until it settles at your natural waist. Measure at that point.

Hips: With your heels together, measure the fullest part of your hips.

Arm: Place your hand on your hip with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Measure from the center back of your neck across your shoulder, to the elbow, and down to the wrist. I’ll add a couple of inches to this measurement when I make your jersey, so that your wrists stay covered when you’re riding.

Shoulder Width: Measure flat across your back, from the end of one shoulder to the other.

Torso length: Measure from the nape of your neck (that first knobby vertabre you feel) to your lower back, at a point that’s level with where you took your hip measurement. When I create your jersey, I always add a couple extra inches to this measurement to make sure you have plenty of coverage when you’re hunched over those handlebars.

And that’s it! Go out armed with your new knowledge and seek out clothes that fit well and look great on you.

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