The phrase bikini pattern grading may summon imaginations of complex measurements and elaborate tape rule, but the truth is that once this concept of bikini pattern grading is grasped and understood, the whole process of bikini pattern grading becomes easier. You, the independent home sewer, client base dressmaker, or designer can do this job as good as the top famous designers out there Calvin Klein, Vogue, Michael Kors, Donna Karan etc.
Why grade bikini pattern? The reason for grading bikini pattern is to uniformly increase or decrease the size of the bikini, while maintaining shape, fit, balance and scale of style of details of the bikini. Increasing the size of the bikini is a grade up and reducing the size of the bikini is a grade down, so occasionally, bikini pattern grading could be used interchangeably with grade up and down bikini. Whether you want to make a favorite bikini pattern graded up or down, or you want to create your personal small line of bikini clothing, pattern grading is an important tool and it would come in handy in creating the ideal fit and shape for all bikini sizes. Once you grasp the basic concept of pattern grading, you would be able to take bikini pattern grading to the next level.
By and large, the art or science of bikini pattern grading was developed as a result of the coming on of commercial pattern and mass production of bikini pattern. To properly fit a bikini pattern to a range of sizes, each piece of the bikini pattern needs to be graded, or methodically increased or decreased i.e. graded up or graded down. Currently, what most pattern companies and designers do is take up a middle sized bikini pattern (generally a size 12) and grade it up for larger sizes and grade it down for smaller sizes. A typical size 12 bikini pattern can be graded up to a size 16, using the cut and spread method and in the same way graded down to a size 6, using the cut and overlap method along the specific cut line or sewing line.
In addition, there are three chief techniques that can be used in bikini pattern grading: cut and spread, pattern shifting and computer grading. No one of this technique is in principle superior and all three techniques are equally capable of producing a perfect grade.
- Cut and spread technique: the cut and spread technique is without difficulty the easiest method of bikini pattern grading. The cut and spread technique forms the basis of the other two bikini pattern grading mentioned earlier. The methods cuts the bikini and spreads the pieces by a specific size to grade up, or overlap the pieces to grade down. No exclusive tutoring or equipment is required – just scissors, pencil, and a tape rule.
- Pattern shifting: pattern shifting is the method of increasing the general measurement of the bikini pattern by moving it to a desired measurement, up and down and left and right, using a specially designed ruler (a ruler that breaks 1 inch down to 1/64), and redrawing the bikini outline to produce the same result as the cut and spread method.
- Computer grading: the computer grading is the most modern improvement for pattern grading and it is the fastest method but it uses technological advancement. However, this techniques leans towards larger manufacturer who can afford to invest in them. In spite of this, advanced home computer software is becoming increasingly affordable.
Once you have been able to determine the bust, waist and hip measurement of the bikini pattern and your body, you can now address the frequently asked question associated with bikini pattern grading: “How much do I grade up if the bikini pattern is too small? Or, how much do I grade down if the bikini pattern is too big?” To answer this question, you have to first of all establish the overall grade, which is to ascertain the total amount that would be needed to grade up or grade down the bikini pattern. To do this, simply determine the difference between the bikini pattern measurement and the body measurement. Generally, there are two types of bikini pattern grade, an even grade and an uneven grade.
- Even grade: in the even grade, the bust, waist, and hips changes by the same amount of measurement. For example if the bikini pattern measures 31-23-33 and the body measures 33-25-35, then the difference between the measurement is 2 inches this means that bikini pattern grade is an even 2 inches.
- Uneven grade: in the uneven grade, the difference between the bikini pattern measurement and the body measurement are unequal. In the real sense, an uneven grade is not really grading, it is more of a pattern alteration, because all you do in an even grade is to adjust areas of the measurement that do not fit well to fit perfectly on your body.
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Alejandro Esparza: Co-Founder @ smartpatternmaking.com /Professional Pattern Maker/ Technical Designer/ Startup Advisor and acknowledged in the garment industry as authority in pattern making and pattern design process. He has the ability to work with small entrepreneurial companies’ private label customers and large organizations. Alejandro is a graduate of Los Angeles Trade Technical College Fashion Design Program. He has over 25 years of apparel garment industry experience and is part of Expert Ezine Articles Authors community since December 25, 2008 and has published multiple articles about the garment industry. Copyright © by Alejandro Esparza. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be copy or used without written Permission from Alejandro Esparza the Author.