Arune Guja

How to Measure Your Kids for Sewing

Do you want to make a beautiful clothing piece for your little one? Maybe you need to do some tailoring for a beautiful kids' garment you already have? Or just wondering how to measure your child to pick the perfect clothing size? The first thing you have to do is to measure your child's body accurately. Let’s learn everything about kids' measurements for sewing.

How to measure your child for sewing

Measuring your child requires very few tools and slightly specific knowledge of how to do it. Read this article and soon enough you will know how to take correct body measurements that will allow you to choose the best size or make well-fitted garments for your little one.

Tools needed to measure your child

Taking body measurements is always the first thing before sewing or drafting a sewing pattern. For this task, you need very few tools.

Measuring tape

The measuring tape is a soft flexible type of ruler that is usually made from plastic and sometimes fabric or leather. Unlike a regular hard ruler when measuring the body it allows you to measure the circumference of the body parts. This is very useful when creating the garment because you have to have accurate measurements for a three-dimensional object.


Yes, good old pencil. Try not to use markers and pens around your sewing project. They can leave marks around your workspace as well as fabrics. And since no one wants to scrub the stains from your newly made garment…

Sheet of paper

For writing down all the sewing measurements you will also need a sheet of paper or a body measurement template. List out all the measurements you need on a sheet of paper or download our body measurement template here. 

How to take a child’s measurements for sewing

Use measure tape to take all the measures and write them down. Make sure not to tilt or stretch the tape. Tilting can lead to incorrect lengths and stretching can affect the size you will choose. Afterall couple of centimeters can determine a completely different size and you will end up with a garment that is too tight or too small.


Height measurement

Height measurement in sewing is measured like in any other occasion. Total height is the length from the top of the head to the bottom of the heel. Measuring total height is important because some pattern companies and clothing brands do not write down sizes according to a child's age and only use height. After all, not all of us grow at the same pace.


Chest measurement

Chest circumference is measured by wrapping the tape around the fullest part of the child's chest. Chest measurement is considered among the most important ones. It is useful for determining sizes for many types of garments like tops, dresses, bodysuits, and rompers.


Waist measurement

For grown-ups, the natural waist measurement is taken when wrapping the tape around the thinnest part of the waist. However, children usually have more rounded bellies without the thin part. It only starts to show when they start to get closer to their teenage years. Therefore to measure the child’s waist, wrap the tape around ¼’’ or 0,25 cm above the belly button. 


Back measurement

Back measurement is taken by going from the prominent bone to the line of natural waist. To take this measurement accurately wrap a second measuring tape or a thread around the child's natural waist. This way you will be able to see the exact waistline and measure the back length accurately. This measurement is very important when making dresses and tunics as well as some types of rompers and overalls.


Hip measurement

To measure hip circumference, wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of the hips. Hip measurement is important when making or determining the size of pants, shorts, bummies, overalls and skirts.

Side leg

Side leg measurement

Side leg measurement goes vertically from the natural waist to the bottom end of calf bone or in other words the ankle joint bump. This measurement is useful for determining the size of long pants, skirts and jumpsuits.


Inseam measurement

Inseam measurement goes vertically along the inner side of the leg from the crotch to the end of the shinbone or in other words ankle joint bump. In other cases it is measured from the crotch to the ground. Otter Patterns however use the first method because it is simply more useful when creating the garment or choosing the size. This is because pants rarely go all the way to the ground. This body measurement is required mainly for making and determining the size of the pants.


Mid-thigh measurement is taken by wrapping the tape around the middle of the thigh. It is not the most common measurement because it is only needed when drafting the pants patterns and not deciding on the pattern size or garment piece.


Calf measurement is taken by wrapping the tape around the fullest or widest part of the calf. This measurement is needed when creating garments that are tight fitted below the knees.


Arm length measurement

Arm length is measured going down from the shoulder joint through the elbow till the wrist bone. Most of the garments that have sleeves will require this measurement to be taken.


Neck measurement

To measure the neck, wrap the sewing tape measure around the base of the neck. This measurement is needed when working with neckline design as well as some head accessories.


Head measurement

To measure head wrap the measuring tape following the line around the mid-forehead and in the back approximate line at bottom of the crown. This measurement is mainly useful for headpieces.

General body measurement sizing chart for babies, toddlers, and kids

General body sizing chart is used to create kids clothing pieces by industry or brand standards. This is a useful asset because it defines most common body measurements of a child in a certain age. You can use it to make your own clothing pieces or compare with your kids body measurement to define what size brand considers your child is. Don’t forget that all of us develop at different pace and if your child doesn’t match the standard you should pick either smaller or bigger size.

Want to download these sizing guides? Click here to get the files together with some other digital assets that will help you take kids measurements for sewing.

Difference between body measurements and finished garment measurements

There is a big difference between a body measurements chart and garment measurements chart. Body measurement chart is used to draft patterns of define kids size according to the industry or brand’s metrics. However garment sizing charts are relevant to a single garment style by which consumers must pick an accurate size. Keep in mind to check what is the fit of the garment. Is it loose, baggy fit or tight fit? When using a garment size chart you sometimes want to pick a size that is bigger or smaller depending on a garment type. For example, you want the chest circumference of the t-shirt to be a few cm wider to be comfy, but the leotard is made of stretchy knit fabric and you would want the chest circumference to be a few cm smaller for it not to be saggy. 

Compare your child's measurement with the general size chart

When you have a general body sizing chart you can compare the measurements of your child to better understand what size your child is considered to be. It is a useful asset when you want to find the best fitted option of a sewing pattern of a garment piece. Click here to go to our general sizing guide.

Compare your child's measurements with the garment size chart

When you measure your child and try to pick the best size of a sewing pattern or a garment make sure to check what is the fit of the garment. For tight fit choose measurements of a garment that are smaller than the body measurements. For regular fit, choose measurements that match the best or are just a couple cm bigger. For loose fit choose the garment measurements that are bigger than the body. Also pay attention to the fabric type clothes are made from. Sometimes add little extra width if the garment is made from woven fabric because it is less stretchy and requires extra space for movement.

Why are body and garment measurements important?

Paying attention to the measurement chart allows you to choose the best option for your child. Always check the general sizing chart and compare it to the garment sizing chart. Picking the size for your child only by his or hers age can lead to poorly fitted garments. That is because different brands and different creators sometimes use different standards. Sizing also differs from country to country. General body measurement chart for sewing also helps you to create beautiful kid’s garments in different sizes without measuring an actual child. It is a great option for a business or if you just want to make a bigger size selection for your own child for the future when he or she grows bigger. 

Want to have a kids sizing chart with standard measurements that many pattern makers including Otter Patterns use? Click here to download general kid’s body sizing charts for sewing together with useful templates for taking the measurements and sketching the garment designs. 
Jun 19, 2022