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How to grade between sewing pattern sizes for a great fit

Grading a sewing pattern between sizes involves adjusting the paper pattern pieces to ensure they fit your body correctly when sewn.

You might match the size 12 at the bust, but the size 16 at the hip! And you don’t need to make a tough decision between the two. Grading between sizes will customise the pattern for your individual measurements, resulting in a more comfortable and flattering garment. Altering your paper pattern will help to reduce the need for alterations after the garment is constructed which are much trickier.

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Here are the steps to grade your sewing pattern between sizes:

Step 1

Determine the size difference: First, you will need to determine the size difference between the original pattern size and the size you want to grade to. You can use a measurement chart to compare the bust, waist, and hip measurements of the two sizes.


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Step 2

Locate the key body positions: Look for the circle with a cross inside that identifies the bust, waist and hip position.

Step 3

Mark: Mark or highlight the cutting line for the size you want to use to at each body point.

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Step 4

Make adjustments: Use a ruler or a french curve to redraw the cutting lines. A curved ruler helps you replicate the shape of a curved waist or hip line.



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Here’s a quick way to make the back and front side seams match. Adjust the front, then lay it on top of the back right sides together so the notches and size lines match. Pin together and then transfer the new cutting line.

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Step 5

Don’t forget the extra pieces: Pieces like facings and pockets may also need adjustments so they line up with your altered pattern pieces.

Step 6

Test the fit: Before cutting your precious fabric, make a test garment by using muslin fabric. Make any final adjustments as needed.

Keep in mind that some patterns will be easier to grade than others, such as patterns with lots of pieces and it’s always best to start with a simple pattern before moving on to more complex ones.

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