Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My first time grading a pattern...

For Valentine's Day I decided to make the Manhattan Melodrama dress from the Wearing History reproduction pattern line:

 The pattern is a reproduction 1934 gown pattern (pictures coming soon!).  The pattern was only in a B30 size.  But I love the design so much so I decided to just jump right in and learn how to grade patterns up!  I needed to adjust all the major pattern pieces by about 5-6 inches.

In the pattern instructions they had the place on the pattern to make it smaller...so I just followed their placements and instead made it larger by cutting the pattern and spreading it the approximate amount of inches I needed.  Here is a picture of the bodice front:

I must say that this was a very good pattern to try and grade up.  The bodice is gathered and that is a bit forgiving in terms of different sizes.  The bodice back is very small and the cape (i.e. sleeve bit) is also easy to gauge as it is mostly around the top of the body but is very loose.  The fitted skirt wasn't bad either because I just cut it a bit large and pinned it to me and then took out the extra width in the side seams.

Though I must say I just sort of tackled each pattern piece separately and tried to think through where I would add the extra width and length without messing up the design features.

I did go and make things a bit more complicated because I wanted to make this dress into separates so that it could fit within the Sewing Through the Decades Challenge.  I loved the bodice so much I want to wear it with pants and other skirts that aren't so formal.  I love this style so much!

Have you ever graded patterns?  Did you follow a set of rules or just wing it?


  1. Well done on this. I have never tried this on a whole pattern myself. I always overthink these things and then they seem more complicated than they actually are! Can't wait to see the pics!

  2. Gorgeous blouse - can't wait to see!
    To grade:- starting from the CF/CB add 3mm in width to the neck, 3mm in width to the shoulder, and 6mm in width to the side seam (per 5cm size), as well as 6mm in length to the x-front per size.
    Hope that helps!

  3. hi - i just did my first pattern grading on the last dress i sewed. i only graded up one size, but i found these links most helpful:



    good luck!

  4. ha whoops the third link got stuck at the bottom there, sorry!

  5. I usually use your approach. Rules are great and all, but when you have a non-standard pattern it works better to think it through.

  6. That is such an elegant pattern, expectations are high for what you will make of it. I have never needed to grade a pattern, but I have a few in my stash that will need when I get the courage to do so.

  7. I have to grade up almost everything as I am almost 6-feet tall with very broad back and shoulders(19.5"). I've used the Sense & Sensibility article, and also really like the book, "Sewing For Plus Sizes", but sometimes you just have to wing it, especially with oddly shaped pattern pieces from the 30s.

  8. I love this pattern. I usually just wing it on the whole grading thing, ha!

  9. My patterns always seem to need grading...apparently, I am completely out of proportion! I also wanted to let you know that I have given you a blog award. I do love your blog!


  10. I always have to make patterns bigger particularly in the bust area but I'm not as organised as you, usually I wing it!

  11. Wow, you're so clever. The most I've tried to do with adjusting patterns is turning a dress into a maxi dress. Turned out OK in the end but was so frustrating I'm not sure whether I'd do it again!

  12. Wow! That's an open door to change any of the other patterns and not be subject to the patterns of your size simply. Great! I can not wait to see this model on you. It's really beautiful!

  13. I am a fat person, so I grade every pattern I sew. There are certain rules that are always best to follow. Never touch the center back or front seam, and try not to touch the neckline. Other than that, I just hack away at it.

  14. Yay for pattern grading!!! :) I saw some other comments mention the Threads and Sensibility articles on grading; those are both great resources to know where to slice-n-dice your patterns, so I highly recommend those. But watch out: once you've figured out how to grade a pattern, sizes are no longer an issue and your stash will GROW! hehe!

    ♥ Casey

  15. Debi, this is a stunning pattern and I've contemplated buying it many a time...maybe I will now and just dive into grading it too ;o) I literally can't wait to see pictures of how yours turned out and I love your hubby's bow tie...clever man!

  16. Debi, how lovely! I really like the ruffles/whatever at the bottom of the blouse - it makes the waistline so elegant! I can't wait to see what you do with this. :D


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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