This handy guide from the October 1904 issue of the Delineator magazine can tell you everything you ever needed to know about measuring for clothing patterns.
The only problem is, these measurements were provided based on Edwardian bodies, and in the case of Edwardian women at least, those bodies usually wore a corset. I had to remind myself of that fact after the shock wore off of seeing the tiny waist measurements provided here for women’s sizes small, medium, and large!
However, I found this chart fascinating and thorough for its explanation of basic measuring techniques. “In taking Measures, always draw the Tape closely – but not too tight,” it instructs the reader. This chart provides guidance on the “Proportionate bust, waist and hip measures” for women, “Proportionate ages and measures of misses, girls, and children”, “Head measure or hat size”, and “Ages and Measures for Boys”. In an era where most clothing was handmade, often at home, and where fashion magazines were full of illustrations for dresses you had to buy patterns for, it was more of a necessity for a woman to be familiar with taking measurements.
Finally, above all else, I love the charming little illustrations that are scattered throughout this page!