If you read last week’s post on grading a pattern up and understood the concepts behind it, then let me tell you: grading a pattern down in size is really, really easy! Once you have grading up under your belt, down is literally just the opposite procedure! Begin by tracing the pattern pieces as before, being sure to include that horizontal line for matching purposes.
You’ll follow the same dividing line principles as I outlined in the previous post. But instead of cutting apart and spreading the pieces, you’ll be overlapping them to reduce the width of the piece (thus, grading down). How do we do this?
Once you have marked those dividing lines on your pattern pieces, draw lines parallel to indicate how much the sections need to overlap. The math we did last week still works for grading down, and so we’ll stick with our example grade (4″ overall) for continuity. The red lines on the diagram above indicate the dividing lines, and the blue shows were the sections will overlap.
Now the next step just depends on your own preference: you can either fold the pattern piece or cut and overlap the pieces. I tend to do the latter, especially on larger pieces. Once you’ve either folded or cut and overlapped your pieces, you’re done grading down!
To overlap, begin folding along one line (in this case, the red one), creasing that edge. Fold it back up and over, creasing the second line (blue) so it is under the original fold. This subtracts the total amount (3/8″ for our example) from the pattern. Continue with the remaining lines.
For the slash and overlap method, begin by cutting along one of the lines (red). Overlap that cut edge over the other, to meet the second line (blue) to take up the grading amount (3/8″ for the example). Make sure the horizontal match line is even and secure in place with a bit of tape.
Again, you will need to true the edges and smooth out the cut edges as well as any darts that were disrupted during grading.
Wasn’t that easy? The “rules” for grading in general apply to both grading up and down, so once you’ve understood the one you can easily do the other. I’ve included a couple more dividing diagrams below for other pattern styles.
Collars can stump one a bit at first when learning grading. But they have to be graded in a similar way to sleeves. Calculate the amount you increased the front and back neckline by (or just the front/back for a two-piece collar–or one that is seamed at the shoulders)–in our example case this would be a total of 1″. When grading half a collar piece, divide this number by 2. (So 1/2″ for our example.) Divide that number by 3 again (I would divide it 1/8″-1/4″-1/8″), and draw three dividing lines on your half collar pattern. Slash and spread/overlap and add/subtract that amount for each slash accordingly.
Don’t let oddly-shaped collars through you off either! Here’s how I would divide a sailor collar:
Extended facings can prove a bit daunting when starting out pattern grading, but here is how I’d draw my lines below. Always keep in mind that center front (or back, depending on your pattern) line!
I hope this series is proving helpful! I’ve been so delighted by the feedback I”ve gotten thus far–thank you all so much! Next week I’ll be going over reducing pattern length, uneven grading and some miscellaneous considerations when grading.