How to Read a Measuring Tape for Clothing

Written by heather inks
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How to Read a Measuring Tape for Clothing
Periodically check your tape measure against a yard stick to ensure accuracy. (tape measure image by MichMac from

The measuring tape is a sewing tool. Tape measures for sewing and altering clothing come in fabric and vinyl. Heavy use of the measuring tape, storage in warm conditions, or allowing the tape measure to be played with by children or pets can lead to stretched out and inaccurate measures. Fortunately, measuring tapes are inexpensive. Equip your sewing basket with extra measuring tapes so you are never left empty handed.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Yard stick
  • Ruler

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  1. 1

    Check your measuring tape against a yardstick or a ruler to ensure accuracy of the measurements down the entire tape.

  2. 2

    Measure the body part required (head, neck, neck to back, bust, chest, arm length, waist, hips, inseam, foot) by wrapping the tape measure around it. The measuring tape should lie flat and comfortably taut. Don't stretch or allow it to hang loose.

  3. 3

    Overlap the measuring tape end over the remaining tape. The number that lines up with the tape measure line representing zero will be the exact measurement.

  4. 4

    Write your measurements to reduce the chance of error.

  5. 5

    Take a second set of measurements with the same measuring tape to verify accuracy. Measure twice to prevent errors.

Tips and warnings

  • Some tape measures start the measurement flush with the end while others do not; pay attention to this important detail while measuring for clothing.
  • Don't measure a body or model over thick clothing. It is not neccessary for a model to be naked to take accurate measurements, but thin clothing and normal undergarments are preferred.

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