Top Measuring Tips for Making a Dance Dress

February 11th, 2015


There are many reasons why you might end up making a dress for yourself, a friend or a family member. Maybe you’re frustrated with what’s on the high street and you have your perfect dress in your head – this is one of the most fulfilling projects you’ll ever take on. It will no doubt cost you a fraction of the price of what you’d pay on the high street too. Another common reason why mums end up making made-to-measure dresses is for their children. Daughters have many hobbies, and if they join a dance school then they are bound to be competing in competitions where they need a show stopping costume.


Dance competitions and performances can prove expensive for parents who have to buy all the outfits, competition fees, pay for extra tuition and rehearsals and then pay for travel and tickets to the event. Making your own costume is one way to cut the cost, and you can have lots of fun in the process. Perhaps a prom or special event is coming up and your daughter wants a custom gown that nobody else will ever wear. Maybe the dress is a gift for your sister or mum’s special birthday. Whatever the reason, make sure you get the measurements right or all that hard work will have been for nothing!

If you’re trying your hand at making a new style of dress, or even attempting to sew your very first bespoke dress, then these tips are for you.

Be prepared

Before you even start measuring, make sure you have everything you’ll need for the project ahead. It needs to be planned thoroughly so you know how many different fabrics you’ll need and what is going where on the dress. Remember if you’re making a dance costume, you can find plenty of snazzy dance fabrics online at an affordable price. Some fabrics already have a sparkly element or fancy design, which may save you embellishing the dress later.

It’s important you have the design of the dress finalised as this could affect which measurements you need. Then make sure you have the tape measure, a safe place to record the numbers and the scissors for cutting the fabric. Try and avoid taking the measurements a long time before you start work on the dress, it is better if it is fresh in your mind so you can begin straight away.

Tight or loose?

When measuring someone’s body there are vital mistakes which most people make: holding the tape measure too tight or too loose at the area they are measuring. The tape measure should be held snug, but not too tight. You should be able to squeeze a finger between the tape and the body on each side. Of course, measuring techniques can vary depending on the style of dress. If you are making a boob tube dress, you may want to measure the bust tighter than usual to make sure it will fit well with no space. But if you are measuring a waist for a flowing dress, there is no need to be so snug with the measuring tape.

Decide on the underwear

This may sound obvious, but there is no point in measuring a person’s body with clothes on. When being measured for the dress, the wearer should remove their shoes and only wear the undergarments they will be wearing with the dress. This ensure the correct measurements are taken and the dress should fit perfectly.

Those are our top measuring tips for dressmakers – do you have any other insider tips?

Happy dressmaking!

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