pattern grading is the procedure of transforming original sample size or pattern size measurements into larger sizes by making use of either a size specification spreadsheet or manual grading increments. This is done digitally or manually using computerized pattern design software. The transformation into larger sizes is achieved by successive passes of the enlargement tool along the pattern edges or surface details. Grading is a process that gives us the ability to create smaller sizes, than what we have designed. It is used in every industry and in all manufacturing process for its intrinsic advantage.
There are many factors that come into play while determining the sizes of the applied sample sizes. The physical sample size of the item being manufactured, the required sizes by standards set by different industries or the desired outcomes desired from the finished product are some of the factors that determine the sizes. Grading is a critical and an inevitable step in the entire designing process. It ensures that the patterns are appropriately scaled to final specifications. It also gives us the ability to create smaller sized portions, which when utilized in our day-to-day work process makes life easier.
The most widely used application of pattern grading is found in the textile industry. Here garments are designed according to client specifications and are sewn according to the measurement specifications provided by the client. If these garments are not sized appropriately then they will not fit properly which may cause several issues to arise in the production process. An example of this could be the non-fitting or irregular fit of a particular piece of clothing, which is embarrassing to wear for the sewing professionals and the customer as well.
Another common scenario that calls for pattern grading is that of the hemline on shirts and blouses. It is always better to have the hemline slightly higher than the wearer’s current waist size as it helps to reduce the chances of creasing in the hemline area. When the wearer moves around he moves around his weight as well which presses on the different parts of the body and at times cause the neck to the crease as well. A slightly higher hemline on the blouse helps in minimizing this problem.
There are many other factors too that contribute to the need for graded patterns. These include the varying sizes of shirts and the various sizes of pants. Shirts and pants are manufactured according to the standard size that is assumed to be of average size by people. It is very difficult to find pants that are sized as per the standard size. Such cases often require special attention from a seamstress as alteration may not be possible without altering the garment completely.
Some of us use special fit and size ranges in our designs, while others use normal size range. Either way, the seams of our sewing patterns should follow the standard size range. The fabric should be sewn with care as well. Sewing machines are not capable of handling extremely heavy fabrics. Even if you get the right type of fabric, it is difficult to make a pattern to fit correctly.