How to Grade Between Sizes in PDF Sewing Patterns

This post is a featured lesson in our free ebook, Beginner's Guide to Sewing Knit Apparel. Download it for free here!

What is pattern grading? Pattern grading gives you the ability to adjust the size of a pattern while keeping its design intact. Grading gives you that perfect, tailored look. 
If you've looked at sewing patterns and thought, "Ha! not with my apple/hourglass/rectangle/pear-shaped body..." Then we're here to say YES YOU CAN! This is what makes sewing so awesome. You can sew your clothes to fit you and your wonderful shape perfectly.

How to Grade PDF

If your measurements hover pretty closely to each other than I find that taking an average size works just fine. But if they happen to be a couple sizes away from each other on a sizing chart, grading is nothing for you to shy away from.

So let me give you an example. In the case that you don’t have an hourglass shape, you may find that some of your measurements were all over the sizing chart. For example say my measurements are: 32 bust, 27 waist and 37 hip. Let’s go ahead and see where these would fall in an example sizing chart below:

Bust 32-33 34-35 36-37 38-40 41-42
Waist 24.5 25-26 27-28 29-30 31-34
Hip 35-36 37-38 39-40 41-43 44-45

As you can see, this would put me in XS for the bust, M for the waist and S for the hip. In this scenario, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just cutting out one size. Instead, I would opt to grade between the three sizes.

With the measurements in my example, if I were to grade a pattern for a shirt, it might look something like this:

XS Bust, M Waist, S Hip Grading Path

Grading Chart

Notice how I kept along the XS pattern size down the bust, moved out for the waist then pulled back in again for the hip. I would do this with both the front bodice and back bodice pieces. This would get me the best fitting garment for my measurements using this pattern.

You can do this for single measurements too. Say your bust and waist both measure a S but your hip measures a L. In that scenario your grading path would look something like this:

S Bust, S Waist, L Hip Grading Path

Grading chart

Or let’s say you have an XL bust measurement, M waist and XL hip. Your grading path would look something like this:

XL Bust, M Waist, XL Hip Grading Path

Grading Path

In all cases, you are simply grading your cut path between the different sizes. Taking the time to do this if your measurements are further from each other, will make you a lot happier with the fit of your clothing when they are all sewn up. Most people will find themselves within the range of one or two sizes, but if you are one of the beautifully, unique women who don’t, size grading is for you.

-- Edited and archived by Holly Hetzner

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