Measurements for Fitting Pants

Guide C-209

Revised by Insook Ahn

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University

Author: Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, New Mexico State University. (Print Friendly PDF)

Photograph of a person using tape measure to measure another person’s waist.

(Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

Measurement Suggestions

1. Waist–Measure the smallest part of the waist. Leave a tape or ribbon tied snugly around the waist while taking other measurements.

2. Hips–Measure the fullest part of the hips. Also record the distance from the waist down to the tape, located at the fullest area.

3. Abdomen–Measure about 3–4 inches below the waistline over the fullest part of the abdomen.

4. Thigh–Just below crotch, around leg.

5. Knee–Measure around knee with knee slightly flexed.

6. Calf–Measure widest part below knee.

7. Instep–Measure around heel over the instep. This measurement is necessary for narrow tapered pants. Be sure to allow enough room for the foot to slip through.

Illustration of a lower body showing location of different measurements.

8. Side length to knee–Measure from the waist to the knee.

9. Side length–Measure from the waist to desired length.

10. Crotch

a. Depth–Sit on a flat chair, bench, floor, or table. Measure from waist to top of flat surface.

Illustration of a lower body seated and standing showing location of crotch measurements.

b. Length–Determine measurement from front waist to center of body and from center of body to back waist.

Illustration of a lower body seated and standing showing location of crotch measurements.

Personal Measurements




Suggested Ease

Total Needed


Plus or Minus


As tight as you wear waistbands

Up to 1 inch


3–4 inches below waist over fullest part of abdomen

Up to 2 inches


Fullest part

At least 2–4 inches

Inches down from waistline


Fullest part of upper leg

1–2 inches

Inches down from waistline


Fullest part

At least 1 inch

Inches down from waistline

Crotch length

Standing–from waistline in front–under crotch–to waistline in back. Indicate front to center and center to back measurements.


1/2–1 inch


1/2–1 inch

Crotch depth

Seated–follow contour of body from waistline to hip, hold tape straight from hip to chair.


1/2 inch if under
36 inches hip; 1 inch if over 38 inches hip; 3/5 inch if in between


Slack length

Waist to ankle at side seam



For Further Reading

C-205: Selecting a Pattern Size for Perfect Fit

C-220: Checking Your Pattern for Proper Fit

C-221: Zippers Made Easy

Original author: Susan Holder, Extension Clothing Specialist, and edited by Darlene Dickson, 4–H Youth Specialist. Subsequently revised by Constance Kratzer, Family Resource Management Specialist.

Photo of Insook Ahn.

Insook Ahn 
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at NMSU. Her area of expertise is in creative fashion design, sustainable design, functional design, and CAD. She has taught for twenty years at three different universities, and has published research showcasing creative design works.

To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at

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New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Revised June 2021 Las Cruces, NM