Basics of Pattern Grading for Apparel Items

Basics of garment pattern grading

If you are working in the fashion industry, you know the importance of garment patterns and grading of the patterns. Pattern grading is done to develop garment patterns from the base size to the other sizes of the same garment. In this article, while we will discuss the basics of pattern grading, we will cover the following topics
  1. What is pattern grading?
  2. Method of pattern gradings
  3. Video Tutorials for pattern grading
  4. Books on Pattern making and pattern grading subject
  5. Resources for further reading

1. What is pattern grading?

In simple words, pattern grading is the process of increasing or decreasing the pattern sizes from the master pattern (base size or sample size patterns) using a size specification sheet or grading increments. You know when a designer or a pattern master needs to make a pattern for a garment, they first develop the patterns for the base size - it can be Medium size of the garment (in case your predicted size ratio is Size-S to Size-XL). 

The measurement of different sizes of garments varies from one size to another in terms of length and width. Therefore, you need to cut different patterns of garment components to fit the body of different sizes. The grading process solves this problem. Remember, the increment/reduction of length for the graded pattern is different for various points of measure (POM). 

2. Patterns grading methods:

Pattern grading can be done manually or by using computerized pattern making software. When it comes to making graded patterns on the digital platform, first patterns are made for all garment components for one size. Then is grading of the pattern is by is done on the CAD system and using plotter graded patterns are printed for use. Using graded patterns you can cut samples for different sizes.

Manual pattern grading - Manual pattern grading is an old method but still, many designers and garment manufacturers use the manual method of garment pattern making. Manual pattern grading is done in the following methods
  1. Cut-and-Spread Method
  2. Pattern Shifting method 
Digital pattern grading - The grading of patterns on the digital platform is done using CAD systems

The basics of the pattern grading method can be learned from the video tutorials. Here I am sharing a video tutorial

3. Videos and Tutorials for pattern grading

I found a few websites and videos that would be helpful for learning pattern grading methods for newcomers. Once you learn the pattern grading method, you can do customization of your garment fits. If you buy the ready patterns (with graded patterns) you need to cut fabrics following those ready patterns only - in that case, your ready garment may not fit your customers (demographics) to whom you cater your designs. So, it is better to learn the grading method.

4. Books on Pattern making and Pattern Grading

1. Pattern Grading for Women's Clothes: The Technology of Sizing by Gerry Cooklin
2. Patternmaking for Fashion | Fifth Edition | By Pearson Paperback
3. Practical Pattern Making: A Step-by-Step Guide for Pattern Making

Image source: YouTube Video tutorial

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