How to Measure for Girls' Dresses

Written by rochelle leggett
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How to Measure for Girls' Dresses
Dresses come in a variety of lengths. (Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Making a dress for a girl is a project that is both useful and interesting. However, deciding on an appropriate size for a child can be somewhat challenging, as children are constantly growing and may have an odd size or shape or be between sizes. The process of measuring a child for clothing so that you can more easily decide on the right size is not difficult and is very similar to how adults are measured.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Write on a piece of paper in list format: chest, waist, hip, skirt length, sleeve length, arm circumference, shoulder width, back length and dress length. These are the basic measurements needed for most dresses. Creating a chart before measuring will make the process go faster, because you can write in numbers next to the corresponding measurement as you measure. Children and adults alike often find the measuring process tedious, so speed is important.

  2. 2

    Dress the girl in tight-fitting clothing, or measure while she is wearing only undergarments. Bulky clothing will make the measurements inaccurate. In addition, the girl should not wear shoes while she is being measured.

  3. 3

    Measure the girl around the largest part of the chest while her arms are down. Slip the tape measure under her arms and over her shoulder blades and hold it parallel to the floor to measure. The tape should fit snugly without pulling or digging into the skin. Read the number on the tape measure. This is the chest measurement. Write it down on your list.

  4. 4

    Measure the girl at her natural waist, typically around the belly button. Write this measurement down. The natural waist is usually the narrowest part of the waist, but a child may have a larger tummy without a narrow waist, which you will want to measure to ensure that the dress fits comfortably. The girl should stand relaxed while you measure her waist so that this measurement is correct. Do not let her "suck in" her tummy.

  5. 5

    Measure the girl around the widest part of her bottom (this may actually be around the hips instead). She must be able to get into the dress comfortably, so it's important that this measurement is wide enough. This is the hips measurement. Note the number on the measuring tape and mark it on your paper.

  6. 6

    Measure the girl from the top of her shoulder, where a seam would sit on a piece of clothing, to the part of her arm where the sleeve should fall. This will vary depending upon the dress style. Some dresses have no sleeves, in which case this measurement is unnecessary. This is the "sleeve length" measurement. Record it on your sheet of paper.

  7. 7

    Measure the circumference of the girl's arm. For a short-sleeved dress, measuring only the upper arm is sufficient. Measure the upper arm and wrist circumferences for a long-sleeved dress. If the dress has no sleeves, this measurement is unnecessary. This is the "arm circumference" measurement. Write it down on your sheet of paper.

  8. 8

    Measure the widest part of the girl's shoulders. This is the "shoulder width" measurement. Record it on your sheet of paper.

  9. 9

    Measure from the base of the neck, down the girl's back and to where you took the waist measurement. She should be relaxed but upright during this measurement. This is the "back length" measurement. Mark it in the appropriate spot on your list.

  10. 10

    Measure from the base of the girl's neck to where you want the end of the dress to fall, providing the overall length of the dress. This is the "dress length" measurement. Note the number on the tape measure and write it on your list.

Tips and warnings

  • Add some length to your measurements to ensure that the girl will not outgrow the dress quickly. This is especially useful for the dress length measurement, as it is easy to let out a hem for a child who has grown taller.
  • If you can't decide which size to choose for a girl's dress, choose a larger size that can be altered easily.
  • Most patterns do not require all of these measurements, but they will make it easier for you to ensure that the dress will fit correctly as you begin sewing by enabling you to check lengths on your work.

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