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There are several reasons why it is important to learn to measure a pattern:

1) If you have a doll pattern but don't know the measurements of the doll the pattern
was created for, you can determine this through measuring the pattern;

2) If you want to enlarge a pattern that appears in a costuming book to create a pattern
for your doll, you can determine the percentage of enlargement by comparing
the book's pattern measurements to your doll's measurements;

3) If you are working to create a pattern from a human pattern instruction sheet (the
pattern piece pictures--shown in future lessons) you will need to know what size the
tiny pattern pieces are in order to determine the correct enlargement percentage;

4) Once you enlarge or shrink a pattern you will want to know if it is the correct
size to fit your doll before cutting out and making the mock-up. The only way to
determine this is to measure the "final" pattern to determine the fit.
Remember the old saying, "measure twice, cut once!"

Additionally, there are some pattern alterations that should be made to the pattern before
cutting - these alterations (such as a full-bust alteration) simply can't be done in the mock-up
stage. Or, if the mock-up is too small (which shouldn't happen if you determine ahead of
time by measuring the pattern), it is difficult to determine exactly how much to add - or
perhaps where - to obtain a proper fit. Minor alterations can be done on the mock-up garment.

When measuring the pattern, you will do so in the same places that you measured the body
(e.g., bust, bust point-to-bust point, hip, etc.). This is why the reference
point measurements are necessary - you will also mark them on the pattern pieces.
Do not include seam allowances or darts in your total pattern measurement.

Begin by determining where the bust point is on the pattern - this will also indicate where
the bustline is. Draw a line thru the center of the side bust dart and thru the center of the
vertical dart - the bust point is located where the lines intersect (see picture below).
If the pattern doesn't have the seam lines marked you may want to place your own
markings along the seam line (see blue lines). When you measure the
different parts of the pattern, you will only be measuring from seamline-to-seamline
as the seam allowances should not be included in your measurements.

Now draw a horizontal line across the bodice front through the bust point (as shown) -
this is where the bustline is located on the pattern. Match up the bodice back along
the side seam and mark where the bustline will fall across the back (you may have
to fold out the side dart on the bodice front to get this lined up correctly).

To measure the bustline place your tape measure along the bustline mark on the front
bodice piece and measure from center front to the side seamline. Place a pin or a
small piece of tape at that position on the tape measure.

Place tape or pin marker at center back of bodice back
and measure across bustline from center back to side seam.

Remember - you have now only measured 1/2 of the total bustline measurement of the pattern
(1/2 of the front and 1/2 of the back). You must double the measurement to get the total.
An easy way to do this is simply fold the tape measure at your last
mark and the end of the tape measure will line up at place indicatiing the total.

This total shows what the pattern measures - which will equal the bust measurement plus ease.

When measuring across areas with darts (e.g. waist on bodice, skirt or pants) you must
jump over the darts - do not include the darts in the measurement.

A - Measure from center front to front leg of dart.

B - Measure from other leg of dart to side seam.

C - Measure from center back to first leg of dart.

D - Measure from other leg of dart to side seam.

Fold tape measure at final mark to get total waist measurement of pattern.

Continue to take any other pertinent measurements that you
will need for fitting - back waist length, shoulder, etc.

Take measurement from top of sleeve cap to hem line. This will give you the total
pattern sleeve length. You may also want to take bicep and sleeve bottom measurements.


The waist and hipline measurements of a skirt pattern are most important - especially
for a slim skirt. For other skirt styles you many only need to worry about the waist
measurement. First determine where the hipline is on the pattern - look for the fullest
part of the curve and draw a horizontal line across the skirt front and back pieces.
Proceed to measure across the skirt front and back as you did on the bodice bustline -
remembering to double the measurement to get the skirt pattern's hipline total.

There are a few small differences when you start working with the pattern piece pictures to get
accurate measurements of the pieces so that the percentage of enlargement can be determined.
However, once again you need to learn to take the measurements of the pieces before you can even
use this method to create a pattern. There is no consistency in the sizing of the pictures from pattern to pattern - so measuring the pictures/pieces is the only way! The following shows 4 different patterns and
the pictures from the instruction sheets - you can see that the sizing of the pictures does not correlate to
the type of pattern (ladies, kids, doll) nor to any particular size. If you look closely you can observe that
the doll pieces are almost the same size as any of the other pattern pieces. And the same with the
children's sizes - the instruction sheet pieces are approximately the same size for the children's as the
adult dress pattern. Thus, there is no one single percentage of enlargement that can be used for the
pattern instruction pieces - each doll and each pattern will require individual consideration.

There are a few challenges when measuring the pattern instruction sheet pictures:

1) They are tiny! I usually begin by enlarging the pictures slightly (around 124-150%)
so that they aren't quite so small - and it makes them a little bit easier to measure.

2) There are no dart (or other) markings to guide you as to where the bust point, etc. are located.
See information below on how to determine the approximate
location of the reference points for the bustline, waist and hipline.

3) The black lines on the pictures will be the seam line. Once the pattern pieces
are enlarged enough to fit the doll, the seam allowances will be added.

Begin by slightly enlarging the pattern piece pictures (For the example below, I am using the dress
pattern instruction pictures that I will enlarge in later lessons to create a pattern for both an MSD and
SD size doll). You can do this using a copy machine or by scanning the pictures into your computer
and using a photo editing program to enlarge them. If you think you might want to use the pictures to
create patterns for several different size dolls, it is more efficient to scan in the original pictures
and save a copy. That way you can always refer back to these and enlarge accordingly.

After enlarging the pictures a bit, cut out the basic pieces
and proceed to figure out where the main reference points are.
NOTE: These reference lines are all aproximate - they are needed so that the pattern piece
measurements can be taken and noted. However, they won't end up in the correct places to properly
fit the doll once the pattern pieces are enlarged (the circumference measurements of bust, waist
and hip are used for the enlargement percentages - not any of the length measurements).
The length measurements will be checked and appropriate alterations can be done once the
pieces are enlarged to fit around the doll. The bust point measurements (shoulder to bust point
and bust-point-to-bust-point) will be placed onto the front pattern piece after enlargement so that the
bust darts can be added in their correct position (more specifics will be outlined in later lessons).

1) An approximate bustline can be determined by looking for the slight extension along the front side
seam that indicates where a bust dart would be. I have drawn in a red dashed line showing an
approximate dart line - at the tip of the dart line I have drawn a red dashed horizontal to indicate where
the bustline would fall. A corresponding red dashed line is drawn onto the back piece.

2) The approximate waistline would fall where the greatest indentation is
along the side seamline. The blue dashed line shows the waistline.

3) The fullest part of the hip (hipline) would fall where the strongest part of the
outward curve is - shown with a green dashed line.

4) I have penciled in vertical darts on the front and back pieces. These really aren't necessary
at this stage - but I put them in for visual reference. On this particular pattern, the bust and hip
measurements are the most important - the darts can be pinned in at the mock-up stage.

5) Take the bustline, waistline and hipline measurements the same way as shown in the example
above - except remember that on these pieces you will be measuring from the outline of
the pieces. Seam allowances will be added to the pieces after they are enlarged to fit the doll.

Once you have taken the measurements of a pattern or the instruction sheet pictures, you can
determine the amount of enlargement (or shrinkage) for
the first step to create a pattern to fit your doll.
Remember: to determine the final measurements of the pattern, you need
to take the doll's measurement plus ease to get the total.
For example - doll's bust measurement + ease desired = the total bust measurement of the pattern.


Divide the larger number (e.g.10) by the smaller number (e.g. 7).
You will get a number on the calculator that looks like 1.428.
Move the decimal point two places to the right and you get 142.8%
(which I would round up to 143%) as the enlargement percentage.
10 ÷ 7 = 1.428 (move decimal point to get 142.8%)

Divide the smaller number (e.g. 7) by the larger number (e.g.10).
You will get a number on the calculator that looks like 0.70.
The percentage of shrinkage would be 70%.
7 ÷ 10 = 0.70 (percentage is 70%)

May 12, 2014
Copyright 2000 - Dale Rae Designs