Pattern Grading: A Beginner's Guide

Pattern grading is one of the essential skills you need to master to excel in pattern making. At the core, pattern grading involves resizing a base pattern, also known as a master pattern, into different sizes while maintaining proportion, fit, and design. Essentially, you create a master pattern and grade it up (increase) or down (decrease) without altering the original design.

Pattern grading saves you the trouble of recreating a pattern over and over to create a style of different proportions, which can be a laborious process.

In this post, we will dive into the concept of pattern grading, the importance of using grade patterns, the different grading rules, and the different grading methods you can try.

Understanding Pattern Grading in Fashion Design

pattern grading for beginners

Pattern grading adjusts the size of a clothing pattern to different body sizes without altering the original style and proportion. It can be done manually with tools like rulers and grading machines or digitally using sophisticated software. Pattern grading can also be used in mass production by applying it to commercial patterns.

Key concepts include grade rules, which dictate how much the pattern increases or decreases between sizes.

Importance of Pattern Grading in the Fashion Industry

Why is pattern grading important to you as a pattern maker?

  1. Consistency in Fit Across Sizes: Pattern grading ensures that every size variant of a garment provides a consistent fit, which is essential for brand credibility and customer loyalty. Consumers expect the same style and comfort in a size XS as they do in a size XL, and effective grading makes this possible.

  2. Cost Efficiency: By allowing designers to create multiple sizes from a single basic pattern, grading reduces the time and cost associated with developing individual patterns for each size. This efficiency is crucial in keeping production costs down and maintaining a competitive edge in the fast-paced fashion market.

  3. Enhanced Design Scalability: Grading allows fashion designers and companies to reach a broader audience by making their designs accessible to people of different sizes and body types. This inclusivity can significantly expand market reach and increase sales potential.

  4. Quality Control: Proper pattern grading helps in maintaining the quality and integrity of the design through all sizes. It ensures that the enlargements or reductions in the pattern do not distort the original design aesthetics or functionality.

  5. Innovation and Flexibility: With advancements in digital pattern grading, designers have more flexibility to experiment with complex designs and intricate details. Modern software not only speeds up the process but also increases precision, allowing for innovation and faster response to market trends.

What Are Pattern Grading Rules?

Pattern grading rules are the specific measurements and increments used to enlarge or reduce a pattern to create different sizes from the original. These rules determine how much the pattern will change between sizes and are crucial for achieving proper fit and comfort.

Methods for Pattern Grading

There are different methods for resizing sewing patterns without a loss in form. The three basic methods used to grade a pattern are as follows:

Cut and Spread Method

This is by far the easiest method for grading a pattern. As the name suggests, it involves creating a pattern and cutting it along the fold lines. The cut pieces are then spread or receded by a certain amount to create a consistent pattern. To grade up, the gap between the pieces is increased uniformly. To grade down, the distance is receded, causing the pieces to overlap.

Pattern Shifting

In pattern shipping, the pattern pieces are moved around at a constant distance and traced out on paper. To make it smaller, the pattern is moved inwards by a small distance from a fixed point, up by the same amount and then traced. The process is reversed to make the pattern bigger.

Computer Grading

This method involves making use of computer software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, to grade patterns. It’s faster and more efficient.

How to Grade a Pattern

Watch the video below to learn how you can efficiently grade a pattern like a pro.

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