Why should you be Grading Altering Sewing Pattern Sizes?
It is very likely that you, as well as me, have different sizes in your waist, hips, and chest.
And all of those sizes can’t simply match a size “M” or “XL”. For example, I am “XL” bust size, “L” waist and XXL “hip size in most cases.
The problem starts when choosing which size of your sewing pattern to use.
If you have ever had this problem, read on because here you will learn how to modify your patterns to use the sizes that really correspond to your body thanks to this easy tutorial.
Every day I see more and better options in the PDF sewing patterns that we can find available online.
They have more variations and even more special sizes which are very attractive to all of us who enjoy creating our own clothes.
Something to understand about sizes.
Despite this, we must remember that commercial patterns tend to have standard sizes.
And how does this affect us? You might ask…
Well, the answer is simple and I have repeated it several times on this blog: There is no way that your body is equal to another.
It is a beautiful reality!
Our bodies are unique and everyone has a different shape. It will get weirder, with the passing of time, to find a person who has the same size measures in bust, waist, and hip.
God blessed us by giving us a little more chest maybe, maybe a little larger hips, even the most fortunate ones carry the evidence of their motherhood in their mommy’s tummies.
All of this is fine!
And even with all these differences, we can adapt our sewing creations to our bodies thanks to the grading and resizing methods.
If you are one of those girls with more than one size in one body, keep reading this tutorial and learn the correct way to make the patterns adapt to your figure.
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The 3 things you need to know before Grading Altering Sewing Pattern Sizes
1- Know your measurements
Each brand uses a specific chart of measurements for each pattern.
It is important to remember that not because in a clothing store you are always size M means that in all the garments or patterns you are size M.
Every time you start a new sewing project you’ll need to remeasure.
Take your measurements and look at the sizes of each pattern to know where you fall in each area. Being the most important: bust, waist, hips, and lengths (skirt, waist, pants, etc …)
2- Use the appropriate rulers for each zone.
Otherwise, try to follow the shape of the line you are copying.
The lines on the patterns are like this for a reason. Try not to modify their natural form too much or the pattern could end badly.
If you do not have any sewing rulers I do recommend these ones that are the ones I use and have endured for more than 7 years (the same ones!). No breaks, no folds, and no blurry numbers.
And is not only me who says that. Check out what this customer on Amazon said about these rulers:
Item is exactly as describe… I highly doubt there’s any drafting tools brand better than this one.. This is going to last you until you pass away . Extremely durable which is why I had no problem buying it again. This is the only drafting tools I recommend to fashion designers,If you want quality over quantity that is.
You can buy them on Amazon here.
To know which ruler use in which zone of the pattern, take a look at this guide. Save this guide on Pinterest to always have it on hand.
3-Use translucent paper (Tissue paper) to trace the patterns.
Using this type of paper is the best since putting it on the pattern you can continue to see all your lines and information to make a more reliable.
You can get this type of paper in Frame here for $11.70 is the favorite of seamstresses on Amazon with more than 524 reviews and it has 4.5 stars.
Grading Altering Sewing Pattern Sizes to make them fit better.
Print these “Grade between sizes” instructions with the free printable card at the bottom of this post.
Now you know the three most important fundamentals for grading your patterns and use the sizes that truly correspond to yours.
So let’s follow a step by step example of this technique:
For this tutorial, I’m using my T-shirt pattern for Women Thimble-T.
On this pattern, I am size XXL of chest and waist and size 4XL of hips.
You can see the two sizes in color teal and gold in this picture.
The first thing I did was trace the top part of the pattern with the size that corresponded to my chest.
I used the French Curve/ Form Curve to trace the XXL neckline and armhole. Then the Transparent ruler to copy the shoulder of the same size.
Check this also: How to sew a zipper 3 ways with a Secret Trick
Then I use my curve form ruler to copy the Hemline of the pattern corresponding to the 4XL size (which is my hip size).
And marked a dot where this line finishes.
On the next step, I usually go from the end of the armhole line and trace a straight line to the waist point of my correspondent waist size on the pattern.
Now, in this Sewing Pattern, the waist measurement falls into the same size as my chest measurement.
So I just copied the line of the side bodice until the waist point.
If you have a smaller or bigger size you need to draw the dot on the correspondent size line. At waist heigth.
Then again, I took my curve form ruler so I could join the dots waist-hemline of my pattern.
This could be is a tricky part.
As I said before, you need to keep the line shape of the pattern that you are “resizing” as similar as you can with the original line.
To do this I placed the Curve Ruler on one of the original lines of the hip. Then I moved it, being careful to not take it up or down, rather than a pendulum. Then I traced the new Hip line.
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Final Step: Compensate
To finish the new pattern when you are Grading or Altering Sewing Pattern Sizes you need to do this final step.
No one tells you about it or care so much for it but is very important for your garment.
Can you guess what it is?
Psst… Is that ugly corner in the waistline.
The final step is to soften the pattern lines.
You can see in this picture that when we joined the waist and hem dots a weird corner was formed.
This was because of the difference in sizes and is totally normal that happens on paper.
But… I don’t know about you but I don’t have a weird corner on my waist sides.
I am thinking you don’t have one either. So let’s fix this.
Take your French Curve/Form Curve again and place it over the waistline.
You want the curve of the ruler to touch the lines of the top and the hip part of the body sides.
Aim for a natural line and then trace the new line. (And remember to cut through this line when cutting your pattern).
Finally, copy the important pattern symbols and information and you are done.
I hope you find this tutorial useful to you.
If you want to see another kind of pattern being resized, please comment below so I can see a way to help you with it.
1. Outline the sizes you need.
Use a marker to outline all the sizes in which your body falls in. Example: M, XL, 2XL
2. Mark reference points.
Use a different color marker to mark reference points on the corners between the sizes you need to grade. Ex. If you are a Medium in the chest but a large in the waist, mark the Medium armhole pattern line and the large pattern waistline.
3. Redraw the pattern using Pattern Maker Rulers.
Use your french curve, your curve, or L ruler to draw the new lines of the graded sewing pattern. If you don't know which ruler to use in which zone of the pattern go to our site to check our ruler guide.
4. Compensate the new lines.
Soften the lines of the pattern using the curve rulers such as the french ruler on the waist.
Lines should look natural and without sharp points. For example, if the side of the waist has a weird corner, use the french ruler to trace a new line that connects the bodice side with the hip side.
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