Sunday, 21 May 2017

How to prepare your patterns

Here's a checklist to help you prepare your pattern once it's all assembled. Follow it step-by-step to apply each correction in the right order.

Check the body measurement chart. When you choose a size, find the measurement that is closest to yours. Sometimes your measurement is not exactly the same as the chart. In this case, choosing the size will depend on the garment fit. On a loose fitted garment, you can easily go with the largest size.  On the other hand, to keep a jersey dress, top or skirt closely fitted, you should choose the smallest size. With any other fitted garment, try the larger size so you can remove the excess as you are sewing, namely by sewing larger seam allowances in the side seams. If you are not comfortable with this technique, it is possible to grade the pattern in between sizes (see entry no.3).

2-Add a size
The grading nest can be manipulated to add sizes if your body measurements are out of the chart. The same technique can be used to create half-sizes.

Have a ruler and a pencil to hand!
To do so, you will need to connect several sizes together on each corner and notch with a straight line. If the evolution between sizes is not uniform, connect only the second largest size with the largest, or the the second smallest size with the smallest one. On a uniform grading, connect all the sizes together.
Then, measure the line between the two following sizes (second largest and largest / second smallest and smallest). To add the sizes, you will need to extend the line in the direction you wish to go. Outward to add a larger size or inward to add a smaller size. Report the measurement by marking along the extended line and repeat this step for all corners and notches on the pattern. To add several sizes, multiply the measurements accordingly. 

To finalize, connect all the markings by following the pattern outlines. 
To grade between two sizes, connect the two sizes involved at each corner and notch.

Measure each line and divide them in two equal parts.

Redraw the new pattern outlines by connecting the centre of each lines. Draw the new outlines so as they are consistent with the others.

4-Size combination
When you look into the size chart, it happens that not all the measurements are within one size (or column). To adjust your pattern accordingly, use the graded nest to blend two sizes in different spots, like illustrated below. Use the two previous techniques to grade certain areas outside of the grading nest or in between sizes. The hips, waist and bust level are usually indicated on the pattern.

Our patterns are adjusted for an average height of 1m63-1m74 (5ft3-5ft7). Each pattern company has their own standard so make sure that you check that out. If you are in between these measurements, it's all good, skip to the next step.

Otherwise, you'll need to slash the pattern pieces in certain area to maintain the right proportions. This adjustment will not change the style of the garment! The illustration below shows the standard measurements used to add or remove compared with each body section. You can substitute for the measurements you want, keeping in mind the proportions because, for instance, the area between bust and shoulders (sleeve heads and armholes) do not grow as much as the legs can!

Most patterns include adjustment lines. Refer to the pattern legend or symbol list to located them. Then, slash the pattern pieces along these lines. To shorten the pattern, overlap the pieces evenly and tape them together. To lengthen, spread the pieces evenly and fill the gap with a piece of paper taped below the pattern.

Before you tape, make sure that the gap or overlap are even!

Once everything is taped, reshape the affected lines, especially curves and diagonals, by blending them smoothly. You might need to fill some curves so have small paper scraps to hand to tape them on the pattern edges.

5-Adjustments & muslins
At this point, you can make more adjustments (full bust adjustment, full/flat seat adjustment...) to your pattern. Some people already know what to do because they make the same adjustments to every garment they make. If you just started sewing or you are just not sure if you need more adjustments, you can make a muslin. A muslin is a test fit sample made in a cheaper fabric. This fabric must be similar in thickness and elasticity compared to your actual fabric. It does not require any sort of seam finish or trims so you can stitch it very quickly and try it on to detect any fit issues. We have several pattern adjustment tutorial on the blog to help you with that!

Pro tip!
If you had to adjust a lot your pattern, you might want to retrace the pieces so that they look cleaner. If you do so, ensure you keep the original pattern pieces, even if they look very messy. This way, you will easily track back what you have done, plus you can also keep a fit log inside the pattern envelope with all the corrections you made along with precise measurements.

Browse the pattern making section for more adjustment tutorials.

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