How To... how to measure yourself

Published on September 10th, 2015 | by Angie


How to measure yourself for sizing

We all know that one of the main benefits of knitting your own clothes is having them fit you exactly – so here’s how to measure yourself to make sure you knit the perfect size. 

Figuring out how to measure yourself can be difficult. It’s a challenge we all face at one time or another, whether we are measuring ourselves to start a new project, or to figure out how much yarn you need when it’s 2am and you’re ordering yarn online because you can’t sleep.

Obviously, it’s best to be measured by a professional seamstress or tailor, but that’s rarely a convenient option. Sometimes it helps to have a friend or family member help you, but not all friends or family members are, well, helpful. It’s the unfortunate truth that you will have to figure out how to measure yourself on your own.

Let’s get started.


Measuring the chest can be difficult. Start off by holding on end of the tape measure (the end that starts at 1) at a point around the largest part of your chest. use your other hand to draw the tape around yourself, making sure that you don’t twist the measuring tape around the back.

How to measure yourself: chest measurement

You’ll want to check in a mirror to make sure that the tape isn’t twisted, and that it’s not slanted at all. If you wear a bra, following that will help make sure the tape is in the correct position.

how to measure yourself: chest measurement from behind


Don’t fall into the fashion trap! Your waist measurement should always be your natural waist, unless the pattern specifies something else. Even if you wear your jeans lower on your hips, your waist measurement should be just under your ribcage but above your belly button. Your natural waist is where you crease if you bend to the side.

How to measure yourself: waist measurement


This one is pretty simple – just measure around the widest part of your hips. Again, check in the mirror to be sure that you aren’t twisted or askew!

how to measure yourself: hip measurement from behind

Arm length

This takes some effort if you’re on your own. You can either tuck one end of the measuring tape into your shirt, or old it down with your chin. Your elbow should be at a 90 degree angle, with your hand on your waist. The tape needs to drape down your arm, over your elbow to get an accurate measurement.

how to measure yourself: arm measurement over the elbow

Pro tip: write down your measurements as you go. You probably won’t remember one by the time you get through the rest! Stay tuned for a post on how to figure out sizing for babies and toddlers on LoveKnitting, coming up in a couple of weeks.

What are your personal tips for how to measure yourself? Tell us in the comments!

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About the Author

Jack of all trades, Master of Netflix and video games. A musician by passion, a gamer by choice, and a crafter by chance: I write about knitting and crochet and design fun patterns!

Last updated: September 7th, 2015.

12 Responses to How to measure yourself for sizing

  1. Kalli says:

    Measure in the morning just after you get up and measure at night just before you go to bed – your measurements change during the day depending on things like the weather, how much/when you ate, whether you’ve been to the toilet, and your feet swell after you’ve been on them all day. If you know how much your measurements vary you can take that into account. For a lot of people it’s not very significant, and some people just don’t want to know, but if you’re constantly making comfy tops that are too tight, that might be why.
    I design for people with arthritis, so my designs always are easy-on and stretchy to account for swelling and low dexterity.

  2. Sarah says:

    I thought “hips” meant measuring around the widest part of your bum?

  3. Anne says:

    i also thought hip measurements were around the widest part of your bum?

  4. Yvonne says:

    My mom was a seamstress and she taught me that the hip measurement is around the fullest part of your hips and buttocks. Usually located 7 to 9 inches below your natural waist.

  5. Penny Haswell says:

    I found the words of this Blog helpful, but I’m afraid I think the pictures are more of how not to do it rather than good examples. The tape should always be close but not ‘biting in’ as these pictures suggest and, regrettably, as others have also found, the siting of the tape is not where I was taught to place it. It’s also worth noting perhaps, that one should be aware of what is being measured over – if the garment is to be close fitting then don’t measure over a sweater.

  6. Judy says:

    If a person has to be told (Start off by holding on end of the tape measure (the end that starts at 1) shouldn”t be knitting anyway.

  7. Cathleen says:

    A professional seamstress told me you measure your hips 7 inches below your belly button. Works well for me.

    • Angie says:

      Hi Cathleen! That does sound like sage advice, but I bet it depends on how long someone’s torso is. 7 inches below my bellybutton is heading into thigh territory for me – I’m very short waisted! If that works for you, then definitely continue using that method. Happy knitting!

  8. Barbara says:

    The arm measurement doesn’t specify where to begin and end. A little vague. Liked the others tho.

  9. Ami says:

    Begin at the top of your arm over the turn, There is a bone….start there and bend your arm and go until you want your Sleeve to end…..does that make sense?

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