Pattern Grading: How To Make a Pattern Smaller (or Larger)

This past weekend, I found myself pattern grading a loungewear pattern that was too large for my daughter. I had to grade the pattern pieces that I used down a couple of sizes to fit her and the process was relatively easy.

What is Pattern Grading?

Initially, the thought of grading patterns can feel overwhelming. It sounds very technical and scary! The truth is that pattern grading is a highly technical skill and a career path for many skilled enough to do so.

Pattern grading takes into account many factors of the body and desired fit of the garment. In a technical sense, one does not simply grade a pattern in even increments until they reach the desired size. The human body does not work like that.

Grading a pattern takes into account multiple points on each pattern piece and often uses specialized computer software. So, I want to be clear that this tutorial ain’t that! πŸ™‚ I want this tutorial to be digestible for the average hobby sewer.

While I’m not going to cover what the career path of a pattern grader looks like, I did want to give you this quick and dirty pattern grading tutorial that you can use on your personal projects that will give you a “good enough” result that you can then tweak to get your needed fit.

Reasons You May Want to Grade A Pattern

  1. Purchased a used sewing pattern without the correct size.No matter whether you need to learn how to scale a pattern up or down, the same principle I share in the video applies. This pattern grading tutorial is going to help you if you got your lovely hands on a vintage pattern that did not have the correct size in the envelope. Or if you’ve ever found yourself sifting through Joann’s pattern cabinets only to find a pattern you love that does not include your needed zie. No worries, grade ‘er!
  2. Your original cut pattern is no longer the correct size.I do not trace my patterns. I cut my patterns to the size that I need and throw the scraps away or keep them for adjustments. The problem with this method is that if you gain or lose weight, you no longer have the correct pattern size. And for that reason, I am very glad to know that I can use the skill of pattern grading to get what I need. Because pigs would fly before I trace a pattern!

How to Grade A Pattern Video Tutorial

I actually learned how to grade a pattern at a local event called Project Sew, hosted by That’s Sew Monica. I’ve been guilty of grabbing a pattern that wasn’t my size only because it was the last pattern. But, I never got around to sewing it up because I thought I’d have to make a bajillion fit adjustments.

Well, a lovely lady named Mia (@lesfleurstyle) showed all of us how to do it and I felt my sewing super powers activate! lol

So, I’ve put the technique to use on several projects and am sharing this tutorial on grading a sewing pattern with you here.




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