A body tape measure
Sewing guides

Dressmaking Guide: How to read a body tape measure

Are you wondering how body tape measures are read? Below is your dressmaking guide to reading a body tape measure.

A dressmaker is a person who makes clothes. To make clothes, the dressmaker uses a body tape measure to measure someone’s body for body measurements. So when starting off as a dressmaker, you require the ability to read body measurements.

Myself as a dressmaker, in this content I will share with you how to read body measurements using both inch and centimeter tape measures. Feel free to jump to the item that interest you:

A tape measure

A tape measure, also known as a measuring tape, is a flexible tape used to measure length. Tape measures are made from different materials like cloth, plastic, fibre glass or metal strip. It is light weight which allows it to be easily carried in a pocket or toolkit, and its flexibility allows one to measure around curves or corners. It is one of the most effective measuring tools used today.

A body tape measure

A body tape measure
A body tape measure

A body tape measure is a kind of tape measure that is used for measuring the body. It is usually a soft and flexible strip or ribbon made mostly from plastic or fibre glass. It has linear-measuring markings of both Customary System of measurement and the Metric System of measurement. The Customary System of measurement, also known as the U.S Customary System, is based on the English System of measurement. Length and distance in the Customary System are measured in inches, feet, yards and miles. While the Metric System is a system of measurement that uses the meter liter and gram as base units of length ( distance), capacity ( volume), and weight ( mass) respectively. The inch and centimeter units are the measuring units commonly on the body tape measure and are used for body measurements.

What is an inch?

An inch is a unit of length in the Customary System of measurement. Length in inches is represented by ‘in’ or ‘” ‘ symbol. For example 8 inches can be written as ‘8 in’ or ‘8″ ‘. An inch is equal to 1/36 yard or 1/12 of a foot. An inch in Metric system is equal to 2.54 cm.

How to read a body tape measure in inches

On the tape measure marked with customary units you will find the most significant marks are commonly the inch marks. These are usually marked by long thin lines and represented by a large numeric value. There are two half inches, four quarter inches, eight eighth inches, and sixteen sixteenth inches in one inch.

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure
Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure
Fractions of an inch

Sum up the distribution of inches to evaluate the total length:

If you are going to calculate a specific length, firstly you need to highlight the spot where the measuring tape touches with the outline of the thing you are measuring. Afterward, calculate the closest inch before this specific point. Then, calculate the nearest half-inch before this point. Afterward, calculate the closest quarter inch before this point, and so on. Sum up all the inches and fractions of inches until you find the correct result.

Therefore, when you take someone’s measurement, for example waist measurement, you place the measuring tape around that person’s waist, and the waist length is determined by the starting point of the tape measure to where the tape touches its starting point.

For example, let’s say we measured past the 26-inches mark and the 1/4 -inch mark and stopped at the 1/2-inch mark. Our reading will be, 26 ( inches) + 1/2 ( inches) = 26 1/2 inches (26.5 inches)

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure

Another example, let’s say we took shoulder measurements which is from the joint of the shoulder and neck to the end of the shoulder, and we measured past 4-inches mark, past 1/2-inch mark, past 3/4 inches mark and stopped at 7/8 inches mark. Our reading will be, 4 ( inches) + 7/8 ( inches) = 4 7/8 inches (4.875 inches)

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure

What is a centimeter?

A centimeter is a unit of length in the Metric system. It is equal to one hundredth of a meter, it is also equal to 10 millimeters. In the Customary system it is equal to 0.3937 inch ( 4/10 inch). An example of a centimeter is exactly the width of an adult’s small fingernail. Length in centimeter is represented by a ‘cm’ symbol. For example 16 centimeters can be written as ’16 cm’.

How to read a body tape measure in centimeters

On the Metric measuring tape the most significant markings are the centimeters. Centimeters are generally presented by the large lines, and you will see a number next to each line. The line represents each centimeter. There are two half centimeters and ten tenth centimeters in one centimeter.

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure
Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure
Fractions of a centimeter

Add up the centimeter distributions to calculate the total length:

If you are going to calculate a specific length, first you need to find the closest centimeter before the distance you are going to measure, afterward, find the closest millimeter. For example, let’s say we measured the length of someone’s waist and it went past the 62-centimeter mark and the 1/2-centimeter mark and stopped at the 7/10-centimeter mark. Our reading will be, 62 ( centimeters) + 0.7 ( centimeters) = 62.7 centimeters

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure

Another example, let’s say we took shoulder measurements and we measured past the 12-centimeter mark and stopped at the 1/2-centimeter mark. Our reading will be, 12 ( centimeters) + 0.5 ( centimeters) = 12.5 centimeters

Dressmaking guide for beginners:: How to read a body tape measure

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