Understanding Garment Points of Measure (POMs)

Whether you are doing a quality control check on your production or need to help a customer find the size that is right for them, having a solid understanding of the points of measurement on a spec sheet and the how-to of measuring a garment are essential.

Common acronyms and abbreviations used in POM descriptions:

  • CF – center front
  • CB – center back
  • HPS – high point shoulder (the top of the shoulder where it meets the neckline)
  • SH – shoulder
  • SM – seam
  • SS – side seam
  • NK – neck

Measuring a garment is slightly different than measuring a body. Garments will (most of the time) measure larger than a body would at each point so as to give the wearer enough ease to move. When writing spec sheets which garments are measured against, it is common to write down only half of circumference measurements. This is so it is easy to compare the spec measurement to a finished garment lying flat on a table. For example, if the total body circumference of a shirt is 38”, the spec will often list a 19” body width since this is what the shirt would measure across the body when lying flat. Depending on the style of your garment and its complexity, the front and back of circumference measures may be spec’d separately.

POMS that can be written in halves:

  • Body width
  • Waist width
  • Hip width
  • Sweep
  • Bicep width
  • Sleeve opening width
  • Thigh width
  • Leg opening width

Spec sheet POMs will also specify how the measurement is taken. Straight from point to point, along a contour, and distance along an X and Y axis between points are common ways to measure. Make sure you are measuring your garment using the same method as the spec sheet to have an accurate comparison. Always make sure the garment is flat and relaxed, and the measuring tape is neither taut nor slack.

POMs often measured straight:

  • Armhole (from underarm to shoulder point)
  • Sweep
  • Neckline width
  • Cuff, collar, neck band, or border heights
  • Sleeve length
  • Pockets, closures

POMs often measured along the contour:

  • Armhole
  • Sweep
  • Seam lines
  • Outseam
  • Inseam
  • Front/Back rise
  • Style lines

POMs often measured along the Y axis:

  • Front/Back neck drop
  • High point shoulder to hem
  • Center front/center back length

The point to which to you measure certain POMs can also vary. For example, on a knit tee shirt, the collar or neck band is measured separately. Instead of measuring the total neckline opening width, the spec may say “neck width to seam” – meaning you measure the width from the seam where the neck band meets the shoulder to the same point on the opposite side of the neck. The same method applies for things like sleeve cuffs. The spec may list “sleeve length to cuff” and then “cuff height” separately rather than “total sleeve length”. This method gives you greater control over the measurements of each piece and their proportions rather than just the garment as a whole.

For some garments or POMs, it is necessary to specify and measure a relaxed and extended measurement. This is needed on fitted stretch garments and elastic edges. The relaxed measurement is taken with the garment laying relaxed on a table. The extended measurement is the amount that same POM can be stretched to allow the wearer to put it on or adjust it.

Places extended POMs are used:

  • Elastic waists
  • Fitted crew or turtle necks
  • Rib or elastic cuffs
  • Leg openings with elastic on swimwear and lingerie
  • Underbands with stretch

Understanding how garment points of measure work and how they are written on a spec sheet will help you better evaluate the samples you receive from your factory and the garments you send out to your customers.

For further reading and details on points of measure and where to find them on your garment, The Spec Manual by Michel Wesen Bryant and Diane DeMers is a great reference.

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