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Most Used Pattern Grading Techniques

September 21, 2018 3 min read

Pattern grading refers to the creation of alternatives sizes for the same article of clothing. Instead of just resizing or altering fabric to fit a different body size, pattern grading goes one step further. Through pattern grading, you can maintain the essence of the garment without altering the shape, fit, dimensions, design, or the balance of the article of clothing. This is a very important breakthrough in the process of creating clothing lines and in the textile industry.

From the point of view of the industry, it is what makes commercial printing and apparel lines possible. With the use of pattern grading, it is possible to take one design and create alternate dimensions as the size of the dress changes. This allows designers and sewers of apparel to create one middle size, usually size twelve, and then grade up or down as necessary. This allows for clothing lines to be inclusive of a variety in body shapes and sizes.

Pattern grading usually revolves around three basic techniques. These include the cut and spread technique, pattern shifting technique, and the computer grading technique. Each one of these methods are perfect in their intended use. Each of them has their own benefits in terms of cash saved, time saved, and efficiency. A perfect fit can be created whether the objective is to grade up, which is to increase the size, or grade down, which is to decrease the size of your garment. In order to see which grading techniques are most used, you must look at what kind of work you are looking for and in how long. Let us take a look at the top three methods of grading in order to assess their popularity in frequent usage.

The Cut and Spread Technique

This is found among the easier methods. We have the cut and spread technique. This technique is essentially the basis of the other two. The cut and spread grading technique happen to also be relatively the easiest amongst the three methods that have been listed here. If you are using the cut and spread grading method to grade your dress pattern, you start by cutting the dress fabric and then conforming it to new measurements. Thereafter, you spread the fabric according to the measurement you want to use to grade your pattern if you want to grade up your dress. Otherwise, you overlap the fabric in the case of grading down. The only items used in this process are pencil, tape, ruler, and scissors.

The Pattern Shifting Technique

The second method, which gets more advanced as we climb, is known as pattern shifting. The pattern shifting technique relies upon expansion of the overall measurement of the dress pattern. This method can be used to grade up or down, or to shift a pattern left or right. In order to create these new measurements, a special ruler can be used. The original shape of the dress can be redrawn using this special ruler in order to create the same pattern as used by the cut and spread technique.

Computer Software Grading

Before you start grading with the use of any method from the ones mentioned above, it is important to take down the measurements of the dress and the body size you are adapting your dress to. With this essential information in your mind, you can plan the grading process to see whether you will be required to carry out grading up or grading down. This will also help you establish the measurement of the changes you need to make.
It involves the use of computer software which can scan patterns and resize according to new measurements to help you grade your dress pattern. Although dress pattern grading software is usually industry level, cheaper alternatives are developing to allow home tailors make use of software to grade garments.

Another key piece of information that you should remember is that there is a difference between grading your pattern and resizing the dress pattern. It is a very fine line. The difference between skin pattern grading and dress pattern resizing is that dress pattern grading focuses upon increasing or decreasing the size of the dress pattern based on the overall difference that exists between the current measurements of the dress and the body measurement. On the other hand, dress pattern alteration or resizing is used to adapt a dress to one person’s body type, figure, and shape.

Since we are speaking from the dress pattern grading 101 guides, it is important to see what patterns you can do best with no prior experience. Start with the basics first, these include the dress front and back, the length, and the waist and hips. Once you are confident with dress pattern grading in this departments, you can move on to more complex designs.


Alejandro Esparza
Alejandro Esparza

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