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Pattern Grading 101

Pattern Grading 101

Pattern grading is one of those terms that pops up a lot when you learn more about fitting garments, or think about publishing your own garment patterns. When I tell people I teach pattern grading at first, they get a confused, far off look in their eye that says, “What in the world is she talking about?” Pattern grading touches everyone’s life and yet it’s invisible to most. The concept probably never crossed your mind until you decided to pursue a career in fashion design or publish a garment pattern.

What is pattern grading?

When developing a new design, first a sample is made in one size. Pattern grading is when you take the sample size and re-work it so that it will fit many different sizes.

Why is pattern grading important?

Without pattern grading, you would end up with a pattern written in a single size. If you were not lucky enough to be the sample size, it would be up to you to figure out all the math and re-work the design so you could wear it. The idea behind offering graded sizes is that all makers can start their project with something that is at least close to fitting their body, and they won’t have to do as many alterations.

Is pattern grading different for knit and crochet?

The process of grading a garment is the same for knit, crochet, and sewing too. The fundamental difference between these three crafts is the fabrics. With any design, it’s important to consider the properties of the fabric you’re using. Your fabric choice is one of the biggest influences on your grading decisions.

Is pattern grading different for plus sizes?

The process of grading for plus sizes and straight sizes is exactly the same. The biggest change is the size chart you use. Plus size bodies have different proportions, so if you would like to grade a sample made for a straight size, you will need to make another sample for plus sizes.

Want to learn more about pattern grading?

I'm hosting a three part workshop May 6-8, 2022!

I’ll introduce you to the process, breakdown some common misconceptions, and hopefully chip away at an anxiety or two if you’ve been thinking about trying to grade a garment for the first time. It's called Pattern Grading Warm Up and you can register here.