Pattern Grading Woes

I’ve been pattern drafting.

Drafting up minidress patterns, drafting up the very beginnings of a damn fine fitted dress pattern (I’m not calling it a “wiggle dress.”  I hate that term.  Wiggle dress.  Jesus, it’s so simperingly sexist, I could puke.), and drafting up plus sized slopers.

And then I hit a snag.

Most of my bodice slopers (sizes S/M/L/XL/XXL) were drafted using this Burdastyle tutorial.  Now, I like this tute, but I kept running into the same problem when I got to the back sloper’s armhole (long story short, the armhole somehow kept extending beyond the shoulder width, which is physically impossible).  It might’ve just been a comprehension issue on my part, but it was a consistent enough issue that made me want to try a different method for future bodice slopers.

So I used the Pattern Drafting for Fashion Design method to create a size 22 sloper, and that’s where I hit a snag.

Here’s a picture of the differences between a size 16 & 18 front sloper from the Burdastyle tutorial:


And the back slopers:


Sensible.  The 18 is about 1/2″ wider than the 16 along the front sloper, and maybe 3/8″ wider on the back.  The shoulders are relatively the same width, which is an important step to remember.  When you’re drafting larger sizes, you have to bear in mind that most women don’t carry the same shoulder-to-hip ratio in larger sizes as they do in S/M/L, so you can’t just slash-and-spread in equal amounts all over the bodice.  You’ll end up with football shoulders otherwise.

Now let’s take a look at the 16 &18 compared to the size 22 I just drafted using the different technique:


And the back:


Um, what.

That’s a substantial difference, considering I only went up two sizes.  Look how long the bodice is!  That is one tall woman.  Also, the bust measurement came to 54″.  A size 22 bust measurement is usually somewhere between 47-51″, which is quite a remarkable variation when you think about it, but let’s save that topic for another post.

I should mention that I already made a bodice sloper for my size 8 dress form using the Pattern Drafting for Fashion Design method, and there were no issues with it.  There are going to be differences between slopers when you change from one method to another, but this problem with the size 22 is mostly my own fault.  I did a decent amount of research on grading larger sized slopers, and while I thought that I’d hammered out any unrealistic size changes (like the shoulders), I apparently need to do more adjusting on grading the length.

So my solution was to lay the 16 on top of the 18, and just eyeball the differences in order to grade a size 20.


That makes way more sense, doesn’t it?  They actually look like they’re from the same family of slopers.

Here’s a comparison between my new size 20 bodice slopers and my old size 22:


The blue arrow is to point out where the new neckline lies, and the pink is for the old neckline.

And the back:


That difference in shoulder length is insane.  And realize that I’d already made adjustments to the shoulder length during my research.

So I guess my next step will be to grade more sizes using this comparison method.  And maybe readjust my measurement chart.


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