The first step in buying a sewing pattern is to take the measurements of the person that you are making the garment for. Accurate measurements will ensure a proper fit and help you make any necessary alterations or adjustments. The usual numbers listed on the back of sewing patterns are bust, waist, hip, and back-neck to waist. Use a good tape measure and if you need to measure yourself, have someone else do it for you to ensure accuracy. Bring these numbers with you when you go shopping for sewing patterns.

Measure the bust. Place the tape measure around the fullest part. The tape should fit comfortably but not too loose or too tight. Make sure the tape goes straight around the bust and does not dip in back or front.

Find the waist size. Tie a string around the person’s waist. Have him or her bend to the side. The string will fall into the part that is the natural waistline. Measure this area.

To find out how big the person’s hips are, place the measuring tape about 9 inches below the waist measurement from step 2. This should be the fullest part of the hips.

To find out how long it is from the back of the person’s neck to the waist, find the bony part at the base of the neck, just below where the collar would be on a dress shirt. Measure from there down to the natural waistline that was determined in step 2.