Pattern Grading


Simplicity 3354

Okay, some of you may have seen a weird version of this post, which I published accidentally. Sorry for the retcon …

Anyway, Kate (who earlier had a question about Hawaiian dresses, which you all answered in record time), writes:

I recently acquired some AWESOME Vogue Special Designs dress patterns, but they are several sizes too small and about 10 inches too tiny for me in the bust/waist.

I am learning to redraft my own patterns, but in the meantime I would be happy to pay somebody for their expertise in resizing my small patterns into my size and tracing them onto pattern paper for use in my sewing room. Do you know of any companies or individuals who offer this type of service?

While I am in the mood to pay others to help with my sewing, are you aware of any companies that offer the service of cutting and marking patterns, then mailing the patters, fabric, and cut pieces back to the owner to complete the sewing?

I am so eager to sew that I am looking for shortcuts to speed up production time. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.

I know nothing about grading but I found this nice post from Kathleen about grading machines. (I'm always in favor of more gadgets …)

And this, from the Threads site, too.

And the pattern above? Is just an example of the kind of thing I'd grade if I could …

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0 thoughts on “Pattern Grading

  1. I’m not aware of any such service, but I’ll bet the Bakelite buttons in my collection that there were many companies that did kind of thing in the past. I think I even have a vintage fabric card circa. 1930s for door-to-door salesmen would leave behind for prospective customers.

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  2. Thanks for the posting. I just traced a 1950s pattern which I am going to have to grade up a size. So this is right on time for me.

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  3. What’s with the pocket flaps on the bust in that pattern? I doubt those are functional pockets, so they were added for purely esthetic reasons? Probably anyone over the age of 10 would not want those pocket flaps on there.

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  4. Thanks for posting the Threads grading method. I had been using the sensibility instructions but they don’t give accurate vertical grade amounts. I was using the other instructions to grade a pattern up 10″. When I looked at the “finished” product, I realized that the underarm and CF measurements couldn’t possibly be the same for both me and someone who was 10″ smaller around than I am! I found the Threads instructions and use those now.I love how the stripes in the pattern go in lots of different directions 🙂 I wish I was creative enough to make that happen.

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  5. this post READ MY MIND. i can’t tell you how freaky that is. that is why your blog is my daily salvation.last night i finished my first sewing project on my new machine (that’s how i discovered your blog by the way…your post on “buying a machine” and all the intelligent comments were incredibly helpful). cutting out the pieces was the least enjoyable part (it was a throw cushion consisting of two squares and a rectangle!) the grading article is also timely as i just made use of the momspattern discount and ordered my dream-wardrobe-in-waiting with no regard to size 🙂

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  6. Yes, thanks for the THREADS version as stated above by chantelle. I did not like the S&S one either; I usually use my drafted sloper and begin there, and yell, cry and scream the rest of the way. God Bless.

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  7. If Kate (or anyone) manages to find a company that will cut out the patterns and mark them, let me know! Although, I’d probably continue to do it myself, since I’ve gotten used to altering patterns for me. Still, it would be nice to have the option of getting someone else cut everything out.Years ago, my landlady did all the pattern layout and cutting for me, and I really appreciated it. I wonder if I can find her and convince her to do that again?

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  8. This is off-topic, but….I figured out how to fix the beloved-yet-infamous Walk-Away dress. Anyone want to hear about it?-Sandra

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  9. Ladies, start by making a muslin (aka a Sloper) of your torso. Have a good friend help and mark with permanent markers things like high & low underarms. Then you can put the paper pattern on your “torso” and expand using the Threads method. Use this for costumes all the time

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  10. I don’t know this with absolute certainty, but I’m willing to bet that if you posted a request on Etsy’s ‘alchemy’ tab, you could find someone who loves grading patterns and would be willing to do so for a fee.

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  11. Well, we all know the problems inherent in the pattern of the Walk Away dress. It pulls to the back, AND the front creeps up your legs. So… first, reduce the mass at the back by making it a HALF circle. THEN, and this is important, the front creeps up because it’s a sheath pulled flat against your body. And you’re trying to anchor the whole damn thing at the waist, but there’s no waist seam. So make one. Cut it at the waist, and replace the straight skirt that clings and creeps with a quarter-circle skirt (with the top edge going, oh, half way around your waist). My new Walk Away dress is not entirely finished, but it’s cute and twirly and adorable, and a vast improvment on my first one! It sits at the waist, doesn’t creep up, and doesn’t pull anywhere! Bonus-you use less material!-Sandra

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  12. Wow…is that featured dress a faux corset = faurset? I think a contemporary Princess Aurora might wear that, traipsing through the woods and singing 🙂

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  13. Thank you so much ; once again Erin you have taught me more things I have never would of put into constructive thought. I wondered about this , but I had no clue what it was called. Thanks to the ladies who posted tips.My favorite blog for sure

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  14. i know a lady who knows how to draft patterns. i’ll ask her about grading and then aim her at this post. that pattern is so fantastic! SO! FANTASTIC!

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  15. @ Sandra: you are a genius for figuring this out and saving me the trouble for my next walk-away. Now, where did you put your pockets?

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  16. Thanks for that information.I’m learning to draft patterns, but learning to grade will be invaluable for getting things like collars and cuffs right.

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  17. Great and timely post because I usually find patterns I love that are too tiny or (more often than not) too big and not by just a little, too. Yay for ADAD!Now is it just me, or do the ladies on this pattern look really, really snooty? I mean, yeah you look all that and the dress is fantabulous but really! The down the nose thing?

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  18. Allison: Thanks! Now, pockets….yeah, pockets…I’ll have to get back to you on those! Lorrwill: Yes, totally snooty; they’re SO full of themselves!-Sandra

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  19. Hey Erin,You look great in Threads! I remember reading that you were having your own fabric made. Correct? Can you tell me who you’ve been working with? At least point me in the right direction? Thanks!Jane Ellen

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  20. (this post is too long, but I hope it helps someone to create the pattern size they want.)Grading up: You will get your best results when re-sizing a pattern if you start with a perfect fit sloper pattern(as mentioned by “anonymous”). A sloper is how the pros start-and it is the best way to avoid disasters with proportion. Suggestion: If you make your sloper in large woven gingham cotton, your grainlines will be clear and your pattern balanced more easily. You can iron-on stiff interfacing to the back of that gingham fabric after all alterations have been made, and have a perfect fitting pattern to follow.To change a pattern using the cut&slash method (as shown in the Threads article): lay the cut paper pattern you want to enlarge on top of the altered sloper pattern, making the slashed spaces even so your grainline is still straight. You may decide to line up your patterns across the bustline or waistline, then enlarge from there. Just be sure the Center front is aligned, shoulders and underarm meet, and the waistline is centered. What you will probably be left with is a layout of the style lines, super-imposed on top of your sloper’s basic block.Place tracing paper over this and mark the ‘new’ pattern on it. Another way to copy the pattern is to start with a cork board, lay on pattern or butcher paper, then the sloper, and finally the paper pattern that is being graded. Use a pattern wheel with those scary pin wheels and roll around the pattern to transfer the pattern to paper (or go around the pattern with a pin, stabbing the edges with a line of pin ‘dots’). When the patterns are removed, the under paper will have a copy of the pattern in puncture lines.Now, go try out your new pattern!

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  21. Thanks, Sandra! I’ve saved your comment for future reference. I have the pattern for the Walk Away dress, but haven’t made it yet.Do you mind if I forward your tips to a sewing list?D

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  22. Jane Ellen, banzailibrarian, donna–Anyone??Please let me know which issue of Threads Erin has an article in, as I can’t find it in my July (Canadian) issue.Thanks!Flagon Donaldson of the conspiracy

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  23. kathleen, it’s the August/September issue. Erin has an article on fabric shopping in Tokyo. And Erin, not only do you look great, you look uncannily like my daughter — same hair and glasses! But she’s not a dress person…

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  24. Jane Ellen — it was spoonflower.com — check them out!I haven’t seen the issue of THREADS yet — thanks for the kind words, everybody!

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  25. Holy moly, you are all SO HELPFUL!I love Love LOVE vintage dresses, but alas have a figure much larger and more, shall we say, endowed than most women from days of yore. Any and all tips for sizing up and adjusting patterns are treasures worth more than gold in my book.Haha, I realize when I reread my question to Dress A Day that it sounds kind of bad to want to outsource all of the tedious parts of sewing… but I guess that IS what I want. Is it wrong of me to want to avoid all of the hard parts of sewing?!?!?! 🙂 I enjoy choosing the patterns, the fabric, and the act sewing into a final product. I just don’t really want to grade the patterns, make adjustments, and do the cutting and marking. It takes soooooo long, and goes against my urge for immediate gratification. In fact, while I am at it, I would be happy to outsource hemming circle skirts as well. 🙂 I think I need to alter my attitude and realize that sewing will be good for building patience!Again, thank you all for your comments and help!

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  26. Kate check out Diary of a Sewing Fanatic: http://sewingfantaticdiary.blogspot.com/Carolyn is a new vintage pattern addict and a plus sized lady. Plus her posts about how she does stuff have encouraged me to try all kinds of sewing things that I thought might be too hard…in case you want to try that working on patience thing…(But there are probably folks out there who would take your outsourced sewing work.)

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  27. Came across this site and thought i would share some info on grading.I work as a grader for a manufacturer in Los Angeles (20 yrs exp) going rate for grading in LA is about 10 dollars a size if patterns are traced onto paper i can possibly find a way to get them to you. if I have enough interest. Thanks

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