Measuring Yourself: Bust, Waist, Hip

Do you want your sweaters to knit perfectly? Learn to measure yourself correctly! Start here with this photo tutorial to help you accurately take your bust, waist, and hip measurements, and then be sure to check out our exclusive free measuring eBook with worksheets, more measurement tips, and free knitting patterns.

The photos below demonstrate where the tape measure should be placed. When you measure yourself, don’t measure over your clothing! We chose to keep our model clothed, because, well, this is a family website, but measuring over your clothing will add extra bulk. It’s best to measure over your basic underthings (bra, panties, slip, or camisole).

Full Bust

measuring body measuring body for knit patterns

What it IS: Your Full Bust Measurement, which the circumference of your chest at its fullest/curviest/most voluptuous point.

What it is NOT: This is NOT your bra band size! It is also not your underbust measurement, nor your high bust measurement.

How to find it: You should be wearing the undergarments you would wear with a knitted top of the type you’re intending to make, but ditch the layers, sweaters, and bulky outer clothing for this performance. Bra only is best; bra with camisole is fine. Wrap a flexible tape measure around your bust. Make sure the tape lays flat, and goes only over your chest and shoulder blades, not over your arms or your cat or anything else. Wrap the tape around the biggest part of your bust, which on most gals is somewhere at or slightly above nipple level. Breathe normally—do not hold your breath!

For more about taking accurate measurements and how to decide what size to knit, we recommend Knitting Plus by Lisa Shroyer.


Measure waist  Measure waist

Surprisingly, not everyone knows where their “real” waist is! The trouble seems to be that most definitions say the waist is your narrowest part . . . and that just isn’t true for non-hourglass gals. Feel along your sides for the top of your hipbones, and then wiggle your fingers around the area until you find the natural indentation just above the bones—that’s what is supposed to be your waist.

If your measurements don’t match the pattern schematic, you might need to alter your pattern a bit. Learn how in our Knitting Alterations seminar.


measure hips  measure hips

Buddha Belly
(for Rubenesque and Goddess gals)

measure buddha belly for knitting patterns  measure buddha belly for knitting patterns

If you’ve got one, you know what I’m talking about. Measure around the most generous part of your belly, because any sweater you make is going to have to stretch over that. Again, this can be tough to locate if you are not an hourglass. Feel along your sides for your leg joint, and then LOOK DOWN to see if this is the widest part of you. Wiggle the tape around until it looks as though you’ve got it around your widest bit.

A wonderful sweater pattern for curvy gals is the Sidelines Top. This flattering pullover accentuates your shape and allows for customization.

High Tummy
(also for Rubenesque and Goddess Gals)

high tummy

If you have a little padding of plush under your bust and above your waist, measure that at its most generous curve.

There are several more knitting measurements you’ll need to take in order to have a complete set.

One of our favorite books, The Knitter’s Companion, can guide you in taking the rest of your measurements accurately.

And check out our free, fabulous online calculator, the Knitting Daily Waist Shaping Calculator. Simply enter your measurements and the calculator will do the shaping math for you. If it’s your first time using the calculator, here’s how it works!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Fitting & Measuring
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!