Hardest thing about Pattern Drafting

Having over 10 years of experience in Fashion Design and consequently in Pattern Drafting, someone recently asked me: What is the hardest thing about Pattern Drafting.

I’d say Pattern Grading.  Pattern Grading means taking a standard model size pattern and grading it up to larger sizes and down to smaller sizes.

Grading - Bodice

It may seam simple, but there are numerous things to take into consideration, for example the larger the pattern the higher the front bodice needs to be to accommodate for the extra bust depth. Speaking of bust, the bust apex drops for heavier bust and it also spreads further apart for the larger sizes. These are just three points out of many.

Sizing one up one down on a 2 panel (Front + Back) is a little simpler than for example sizing up 4, 5 or more sizes for a Princess cut ( Center Front panel, Front Side panel, Center Back panel and Back Side panel) as the pattern becomes much more different than the original, not to mention it has to be graded in all the right places.

When you grade, you grade all sizes on the same sheet.  So it can look quite like, as I call it, an architectural drawing, with many vertical and horizontal lines and curves.  There are a lot of calculations involved.

Still, it is very technical and is more suitable for the thinkers and problem solvers, not so much for the creative people.

Hope this helps shed some light as to what is Pattern Grading and what it entails.


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