Basic pattern development - Methods of Measuring

Relationship of Sizes and Measurement

After learning how to measure a body and dress form the next question which comes to the mind is what is the size of an individual or dress form based on the measurements and secondly what size of the garment should be made that would fit the person properly.

A general sizing system for clothing production for a region or country is based ideally on the body measurements taken on a cross section of the population.

In earlier times everyone went to a tailor to get clothes made to one's own measurements. It is in modern time due to changing economy, society and the constantly
growing global demand for 'ready to wear apparel or RTW has made sizes and sizing systems very important.

Sizing systems are generally developed by the Government or standardization organization that needs to work out the standard sizes for the country. A large cross section of the population is measured to establish the standardized sizing system for the country. For example it is British standards with BS3666, which has established the sizing system for the British clothing Industry. All the shops selling garments or manufacturers for clothes for the UK market adhere to the BS3666. The size is suffixed with S or T denotes whether for a short or tall person. The buyer in UK can easily buy clothes of their size if one is sure of which size would fit, as generally all the garments in that particular size would fit the person.

Women have different sizes and shapes and the sizing are so varied that the extent of two women with equal hip girth can have a difference of as much as 12" in their bust measurement. On the other hand, two women of equal bust girth can be completely shaped differently. Most of the sizing systems are based on bust measurements for women.

A good sizing system incorporates the variation in figure shapes to be able to meet the requirement of the population of the country.

Apart from the bust and hip girth variation another factor that influences sizes is height. Most small manufacturers tend to ignore the difference in height and produce garments for above average height women so that most of the shorter women can reduce the length as desired.

The country that has maximum size variation available in the market is United States. The number of the sizes in a sizing system depends on the body structure of the population. In country like India and US the body types of people in various parts (in India ) and different ethnic groups (in US) is so varied that the number of sized in sizing system need to be much more than three usual ones - small (S), Medium (M) and Large (L).  Some countries work with extra small (XS) and extra-large (XL) and sometimes even XXL but in a country like

United States the women wear sizes start at 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26 etc. Apart from these sizes being available in the market there is 'Misses' and 'Petit' which cater to the medium and shorter women and 'tall and big' taking care of taller and bigger sizes.

In India as of now there is no single standard measurement chart available.   Several agencies have been trying to work out the sizing and measurements. Individual companies or businesses work out their own set of measurement charts based on their customers or on the demand of the stores in which they sell their wares. This sometimes leads to confusion in the minds of the customers as to what size do they buy.


Ease or tolerance in a pattern means acceptable margin but there is a difference of 'ease or pattern' and 'ease of comfort' each garment is made for a purpose, an outerwear needs more allowance as it is to be worn over other garments where as a foundation or inner garment like a bra needs to be fitted like a second skin over the body ease added in a pattern for both these garments would vary substantially.

Size one that belongs to depends on the bust and hip measurement someone with abnormally large hip or bust in comparison to the other would need to pick up a size that accommodates larger measurement and would have to alter the garment in the other part for example a women with 36" bust and 48" hip would need to by either a size which fits 48" hip or may be go in for a silhouette which accommodates the girth of the hip like A-line, flared or tend.