Have you ever wondered how to change the size of a sewing pattern? Grading a pattern can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s see two easy methods to help you grade up or down that pattern!
Method #1: Slash and spread method
Imagine that you have found the perfect vintage pattern for that little ’50s dress you’ve been dreaming of, but it only comes in bust size 30 — and you’re a 34. Come on, you’re not going to let this occasion be ruined by 2 sizes of difference!
The slash and spread method is the easiest method for resizing a pattern. You just need a ruler, tape, a pen and scissors.
First, make horizontal and vertical lines on your pattern piece, placed where you want the pattern to increase or decrease (more or less the same placement as on the drawing). Cut along those lines and spread the pieces to create the new pattern piece.
But how much do you add?
Let’s take our example: The pattern is a 30″ bust size and you have a 34″ bust…
- There’s a difference of 4″, so you’ll need to split that increase between the front and back (2″ for each) and then break down again as the pattern pieces are placed on the fold (so 1″ to each piece).
- If you make two vertical cuts, then add ½” between the pieces.
- As for the horizontal lines, you need to add about 3/8″ (this is the common rule).
- Then it’s time to redraw and blend the new lines of the pattern, and you’re done!
And what should you do if you want to go down a size? Easy: Slash your pattern piece in the same way and instead of spreading the pieces, overlap them following the same calculations, like on this drawing:
Method #2: The shift method
Now, if you want to increase or decrease a multi-size pattern instead of just one size, the shifting method is quite handy. If you are working with a traditional pattern that comes in multiple sizes (the Big 4, Burda magazine, etc.), but your size is just outside the measurements chart, you can shift the pattern piece in or out quite easily.
On this example, the three sizes offered in the pattern are outlined in black. Let’s say these are sizes 6, 8 and 10. Draw straight lines at each corner, connecting the three pattern sizes, and beyond them. Draw the new pattern piece, shifting the pattern to meet the red line at the corners toward the inside for size 4 (in blue here) or toward the exterior for size 12 (in green).
You want to be careful when you’re grading a pattern!
- First, you shouldn’t try to go more than 2 sizes up or down. That would disrupt the balance of the pattern.
- Also, try to stay into the same range — grading up a petite pattern when you’re not petite isn’t going to work out.
- And lastly, muslins are your best friends! Make sure you make a muslin of the altered pattern before cutting your fabric.
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