Body Scanning, For the People

measuring from Dress Design, Hillhouse

My measurements change, and frequently. It all depends on chocolate or circuit training. Or the time of the year. I am more athletic in the summer. I’m dormant in the winter. A few years ago I drafted some close-fit slopers, which I’ve occasionally used as a “body map” to correct dart and length placements on patterns, but it was time to do some re-measuring. I really want to try some pattern drafts from a few of my new-er books and every drafting style always has its own specific measurement needs.

And obviously there are some measurements that you can’t do yourself–and some which are very particular to posture. I definitely straighten up for myself. And take little smidgens off here and there. I subconsciously cheat!

So I hopped over to a friend’s house for some help in taking my current measurements. Some of the results surprised me and I wondered if she may have been holding the tape too loose. I wanted backup data. How else could I get measurements? Ooh, perhaps a body scanning? After a bit of googling about fit technology I discovered a startup company from Berlin called UPcload, who designed software that scans your body through a laptop webcam. Web 2.5 plus German technology = now that’s what I’m talkin about!

Like the few 3D scanning technologies that have trickled down to retail, this is aimed at shoppers who want to find better-fitting store clothing and it supports itself through retail partnerships. But I was curious what it could do for me in terms of pattern-drafting measurements.

ETA: And IT’S FREE. (Oopsy, forgot to add that.)

So here’s how it works. After a simple sign-up process the software connects to your webcam and a flash movie begins taking you step by step through a set-up process in front of your laptop. First it has you change into tight-fitting dark clothing, with a helpful guide on what constitutes tight–and pull up your hair if you have long hair. To get an accurate body profile you move the laptop and yourself until you fit into a frame. Then you hold a CD or DVD in front of your stomach as a point of reference.

Then another movie starts taking you through the measuring process. I forgot to take screenshots of the process as I was doing it, but these are the poses…

Upcload poses

It’s all demonstrated by this cute 20-something couple who seem very happy about the whole thing; their apartment is much cleaner and less colorful than my house (no white walls here!).

The whole thing took about 10 minutes with some swishy disco “scan” noises and voila! body measurements.

upcload profile

So you might be wondering, how accurate are they? I was shocked! Most of my width measurements were spot on within .5 cm of what my friend had measured. The lengths were different but those were the ones I suspected my friend had taken too loosely, so I went with UPcload’s. Of course UPcload’s measurements are minimal and I needed several others specific to the draft I am working on, but at least I got the basics!

Anyone ever done a body scanning (outside of the airport, of course!)? I’d love to hear about it. Or have you ever had a tailor or other professional measure you?

Additional notes: If drafting custom-fitting patterns is your thing, I highly recommend European Cut by Elizabeth Allemong. There are some great drafting explanations in that book, but worth the price alone is the extensive chapter on how to measure–where to hold the tape, how tight to hold it, when to use aids, etc. Few patternmaking books go into that much detail. There’s always The Art of Measuring, reprinted by Center for Pattern Design. But then that’s vintage drafting and specific to tailoring, but I’m definitely curious about it!

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