Get Threads magazine!

Subscribe Renew Give a Gift

Quick Reference for Cut-and-Spread Pattern Grading

Photo: Linda Boston

by Terry Horlamus
from Threads #101, pp. 66-70

To grade a pattern so it will fit different sizes, refer to the drawings and instructions below and the two charts that follow. For a general explanation of pattern grading, see my article Making Sense of Pattern Grading.

Making the cut
There are five basic pattern pieces: bodice front, bodice back, skirt or pants front, skirt or pants back, and sleeve. Each pattern piece has several vertical and horizontal cut lines, which correspond to measurements on the grading chart.

Cut-and-spread method
These drawings show where to cut a pattern so that it can be graded for both circumference (vertical cuts) and length (horizontal cuts). A few simple calculations determine how much to spread/overlap at each cut line.

These standard cut lines are placed in approximate locations where the body "grows" or "shrinks." Vertical cut lines are always parallel to CF or CB (or sleeve's grainline), and horizontal cut lines are perpendicular to CF or CB (or sleeve's grainline). A cut line may pass across a dart but shouldn't intersect a dart lengthwise (this changes size of dart, thereby altering garment's overall shape).

Making the grade
1. Establish overall grade (difference between pattern’s measurements and body measurements).

2. Divide overall grade by 4 to get allocated grade. This distributes overall grade among four parts of body or pattern (left and right front, and left and right back).

3. Divide allocated grade among the cut lines on the pattern piece (see drawings at left) by following cut line’s formula in grading chart on the facing page. Calculate it yourself, or use the precalculated amounts for commonly used grades.

4. Slash along cut lines and spread/overlap by the required amount along each cut line.

5. Blend gaps if pattern was spread; split difference if overlapped. Trace graded piece onto clean paper, and transfer grainline and notches.

Overall grade: 8 in.
Allocated grade: one-quarter of 8 in. = 2 in.
Formula for line 1 (one-quarter of allocated-grade): one-quarter of 2 in. = 1/2-in. spread

Garment size chart
This chart represents a consensus of pattern company and apparel manufacturer sizing. If you aren’t fitting a specific person, you can use it as a guide for grading up or down.

 4  6  8  10  12  14  16  18  20
 Bust  32  33  34  35-1/2  37  38-1/2  40-1/2  42-1/2  44-1/2
 Waist  24  25  26  27-1/2  29  30-1/2  32-1/2   34-1/2  36-1/2
 Hip  34  35  36  37-1/2  39  40-1/2  42-1/2  44-1/2  46-1/2

Pattern grading chart
On this chart you’ll find the location of each cut line shown in the drawings, along with the amount to spread/overlap at each for a 1-in., 1 1/2-in., or 2-in. overall grade. In the formula column you’ll see the portion of the allocated grade (AG) distributed to each cut line.

 Cut line  Formula  Location Overall grade
(in inches)
      1 1-1/2 2
 line 1/line 6  1/4 of AG  midpoint of neckline
to waist
 1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 2/line 7  1/4 of AG  shoulder seam to waist  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 3/line 8  1/2 of AG  lower armhole to waist  1/8  3/16  1/4
 line 4/line 9  1/4 of AG  CF/CB to armhole  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 5/line 10  1/4 of AG  CF/CB to side seam  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 11/line 16  1/4 of AG  waist to hem before dart  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 12/line 17  1/4 of AG  waist to hem before dart  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 13/line 18  1/2 of AG  waist to hem after dart  1/8  3/16  1/4
 line 14/line 19  1/2 of AG  CF/CB to side seam a
t hipline
 1/8  3/16  1/4
 line 15/line 20  1/2 of AG  CF/CB to side seam
at mid-thigh
 1/8  3/16  1/4
 line 21  1/4 of AG  between seam and
front notch to hem
 1/16   3/32  1/8
 line 22  1/2 of AG  center line from top
of cap to hem
 1/8  3/16  1/4
 line 23  1/4 of AG  between seam and
back notch to hem
 1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 24  1/4 of AG  midway between biceps
and top
 1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 25  1/4 of AG  midway between biceps
and elbow
 1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 26  1/4 of AG  midway between elbow
and hem
 1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 27/line 33  1/4 of AG  same as line 11  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 28/line 34  1/4 of AG  same as line 12  1/16  3/32  1/8
 line 29/line 35  1/2 of AG  same as line 13   1/8  3/16   1/4
 line 30/line 36  1/2 of AG  same as line 14   1/8  3/16   1/4
 line 31/line 37  1/2 of AG  same as line 15   1/8  3/16   1/4
 line 32  1/2 of AG  midpoint of front
crotch extension
 1/3  1/2  2/3
 line 38  1/2 of AG  midpoint of back
crotch extension 
  1/8  3/16   1/4

Drawings: Linda Boston


Comments (9)

MollieJ MollieJ writes: Indeed, cheap and great way of reinventing your clothes.
Posted: 12:55 pm on July 15th

Berenyce Berenyce writes: Hello Thanks very much to your for this help. SOmehow i wonder how i must act for the horizontal line of the sleeve. Do i take the same allocated grade than for the body ? THank your for answering.
Posted: 10:22 am on June 19th

sweetpaprika sweetpaprika writes: I would like to know how to sew seams on stretch fabrics without a serger.

Posted: 8:16 pm on September 16th

Tasallison Tasallison writes: Hi,

I only have a small amount of some beautiful wool to make a very simple jacket with no closures) and I need to use a pattern that is 2" smaller than my measurements...i think i understand how to grade up the bodice pieces, but how does that change the sleeve as there's not a lot of ease on the cap. How do i alter the sleeves to fit??

Many thanks!!

Posted: 8:36 am on May 17th

Emilie86 Emilie86 writes: Thank you for these very usefull explanations! I would like to know if you would agree that I translate this post in french on my blog (redirecting to you with a credits link of course)? Thank you in advance...
Posted: 1:31 pm on April 14th

Ranik7 Ranik7 writes: Many people don’t have time to go to the movie theatres or have money to spend on them.
They prefer watching movies online for free. In this article we will discuss few ways how you
can watch a movie online for free.

watch movies online

Posted: 2:37 pm on March 1st

MrPG MrPG writes: Why is this entire net-site so printer-hostile?
Posted: 3:51 am on February 15th

alexandrac21 alexandrac21 writes: This is a great reference. I have a question regarding the Bodice front/back AG- why is line 1/line 6 1/4 of AG?
Posted: 3:31 am on February 4th

Spugh09 Spugh09 writes: What a great refresh!!!
Posted: 3:32 pm on February 24th

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.