Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SSDA 3: Taking waist measurement

Back to our drafting, readers! Or, more correctly to our measurements. In the previous post we discussed hip circumference, the ease and the relation between your hip measurement and the fit. Have you made the hip measurement band, by the way? If you did, you probably noticed that your new hip circumference is larger than your true measurement. This is normal, and it is a good practice measuring it several times, noting down the values.


As next, we are going to measure the waist (we will use letter W, to note down our waist measurement). Grab an elastic band and tie it around your waist. Don't wear anything loosely fitted or thick. Don't take the measurement right away. Move a little, bend, sit down... This will allow your elastic to move to the most natural position. It may not be parallel to the floor, but it is positioned where your skirt tends to hang from after you worn it for several minutes. However, pay attention that the band doesn't shift a lot. In most cases, it can be only slightly off a parallel line to the floor. If in doubt, repeat the exercise couple of times.

At this point we are only practicing and taking measurements individually. The final measuring session should include all measurements at once. The waist is our reference line, and all measurements, except for the hip circumference, are taken from the waist, so consistent position of the elastic band is key to accurate measurements.

We are ready to take the measurement. Place your measuring band along the waist and note the value. Add 2cm ease, and note the final value.

W= measurement + 2cm

2cm are needed to allow you to sit down and to move in your skirt. As an experiment, try taking your waist measurement while seated. Normally, body volume in your waist area will expand slightly, and those 2cm will allow for the comfort and help prevent unsightly bulges when seated.

This was a short post. I will upload another post by tomorrow, this time covering the length. It is an important measurement that affects skirt balance and creates unexpected fit challenges if taken incorrectly. Stay tuned!

Published Skirt Draft Along (SSDA) posts:

SSDA 4: Length measurement and the Fit
SSDA 2: Hip circumference and the Fit
SSDA 1: Introduction: Pattern Drafting and the Fit

Coming up:

SSDA 4: Skirt balance and Length Measurements
SSDA 5: Darts: Recognizing Dart Intake
SSDA 6: Measuring and Calculating Darts
SSDA 7: Final Measuring Session
SSDA 8: Drafting the Skirt
SSDA 9: Making a Toile and Analyzing the Fit


  1. How do you keep the whole skirt from dropping down when standing with the 2cm ease? My hips are considerably larger than my waist but it starts low. I find that even .5" ease causes the skirt to sit low by over an inch and the darts, hipline,etc. no longer fit.

  2. Hi Petite Pear :) I can only guess an answer, because I haven't seen you, or a skirt you made. Generally, 2cm doesn't cause a skirt to drop, but you can try reducing the ease to 1 cm. Although, I would still go with 2cm for the first muslin.

    Another possibility, however, is that the waist can stretch out while handling. I will explain how to prevent this problem in a separate post, after we finished with measuring. But as a rule, I cut muslin very roughly, stitch along seam lines (not only to mark, but to stay) and only then cut with desired seam allowance. With fashion fabrics, I am even more careful, depending on a weave and fibre. It is important to temporarily, or permanently, stay the waist and check the circumference before finishing, just in case it stretched out.

    Would you like to try to go on with measurements, after all the posts on measurements are up and then post yours, including your photograph, or an outline of your body. It would be easier for me to judge.

  3. I'm going to try your method for drafting a skirt block as soon as I can but I have one question to ask before I get started.

    I am definitely plus size so my waistline isn't in the "normal" position. If I tie a length of hat elastic around my waist and go about my business for a few minutes it tends to settle mostly level at back and sides but the front comes up much, much higher- almost under my bust- much like a pregnant figure. The difference at the front is about 7-8cm higher than the sides/back.

    So my question is: Do I draft the skirt with the waistline that much higher at the front (using the hips as my parallel line), or do I try and force the waistline to be closer to the height of the sides/back and therefore larger in circumference?

    I never wear shirts tucked in and most, heck- all of my skirts tend to migrate upwards anyway. Even when they're loose enough to drop when I walk and stand, they still inch back up when I sit.



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