If your background is like mine, your mother taught you to take a hip measurement – but only one. In pattern making, women’s hips are generally measured in two places. There’s a High Hip measurement, which represents the top of the hip curve, and the Full Hip measurement, which is the actual widest part of the hip line. Given the amazing variety of of feminine shapes, it makes sense to take the extra measurement. The high hip measurement is used for fitting both skirts and pants that are meant to skim the body between the waist and hip, and for longer line corsets.
I recall the flat patterning text from my fashion design program specifying that the high hip measurement was taken 7″ down from the natural waist. I don’t think that works on all women of all sizes, and if you’re making patterns for a doll, it’s right out. You’re looking for the upper swell of the hip over the pelvic bone and, quite frankly, the curve of your rump (if your rump happens to curve). Depending on which side of the proverbial fruit bowl your body shape falls, this may not be the widest part of your hip. (That’s the Full Hip, or Low Hip, measurement, and we’ll talk about it in another post…)
Like all of the round-the-body measurements we’ve talked about so far, it’s really important to make sure that the measuring tape stays level around your body while taking the high hip measurement. Again, you’re going to stand in a normal posture, with your weight distributed evenly over both feet. (I know my model isn’t. I’m actually rather astonished that I got her to stand at all without her actual stand!) There’s an important exception: if your hips are uneven because your pelvis sits at a slant due to scoliosis or a similar condition, take your hip measurements relative to the slant of your pelvis. We’ll talk about Waist to Hip measurements in another post, which will allow you to adjust your patterns to model your physiology.
There are times when you will need to know how much of your High Hip measurement is to the front of your body, and how much is the back of your body. This is an area where there’s a big difference in women: some carry a little pooch in front but have flatter bums, some have bubble butts and flat tums, but very few are evenly divided between front and back at the high hip area. Starting with the tape at one sideline of the body (directly below the center of the armpit), wrap the tape around the back, past the second sideline, and continue around front until the tap laps itself. The measure at the second sideline of the body is the Back High Hip. Subtract the Back High Hip from the full measure of the high hip. The result is the Front High Hip.