Clothing and Textiles: Your Toolbox

Clothing and Textiles: Your Toolbox

While I am trying to be universal in these topics, I must admit that I think men have it easier when it comes to clothing. For the most part, their sizing is based on the actual size of the garment. As women, we must deal with vanity sizing – though I’ve heard of it creeping into men’s fashion as well. I’m sure everyone has had the pleasure of pulling a piece of clothing off the rack in a new store in your usual size and not having it fit. That doesn’t have to be the case!

Let’s talk about the tools you will need to start being more successful in selecting your clothing.

The very basics:measuring-tape

  • Cloth tape measure. You’ll find this in a craft store with the sewing supplies. Because it is made of cloth (sometimes coated in a light plastic), it is easier to wrap around body parts. You don’t want to try and do this with a metal construction tape measure. Trust me. They come in various colors and sizes – generally the 60-inch version should be sufficient.
  • Piece of paper. You’ll want to write your measurements down so you have them handy. The most important measurements to take are high bust (for women), bust/chest, waist, and hips. The printable image in the next section will give you an idea of where those measurements are. (Next week we’ll go into the specifics of measuring yourself.)
  • Size charts. Do you have a brand of clothing that you love and makes you feel great? Go to their website and find their size chart. Print out size charts for brands that you purchase and keep it with your measurements. Do you order from catalogs? You will usually find a size chart in the middle or at the end with ordering information. Size charts are the key to ordering things that you may not be able to try on or to allow you to pick out clothing more quickly when you’re in the store since you don’t have to grab 3 sizes to find the one that fits.
    Here is a sample size chart (from Ann Taylor Loft):Loft Size Chart
    You’ll find that there are different size charts for Petite (generally under 5’4″) and Tall (generally over 5’9″) sizes – if you fall into one of those categories, be sure you are looking at the correct size chart.

Extra credit:

  • Use that tech. If you have a smart phone, you can keep your measurements (and your kids’ and spouse’s sizes/measurements while you’re at it)  in your phone’s notes app or, if you are tracking changing measurements, in an app like
  • Printable. Print the graphic below and write in your measurements.

Body measurements


Next week we will talk about the specifics of measuring yourself, and which measurements to use when buying a specific item of clothing or choosing a pattern size for sewing.


Sewist, knitter, reader, dancer. Wife. Lover of things vintage and retro.


  1. […] Clothing and Textiles: Your Toolbox October 6, 2014 […]