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Drafting, Altering or Grading Patterns

stitchagain | Posted in General Discussion on


about a vintage coat pattern I bought which was two sizes too big

I have tried to grade a vintage coat pattern recently.  Actually I paid a more schooled seamstress to do it and wasn’t satisfied with the results- princess seams not quite fitting and collar not fitting the neck edge.  It led me to read a lot about ease, grading, and alterations, but the project stalled there.

My question is how do you know when grading is the issue, or whether you alter?  I am assuming you can’t just take the pattern to the xerox machine and reduce it a small amount.

From the muslin I have attempted the upper sleeve seemed a bit tight for every day use, so I have have to decide whether to stay true to the historical style or redesign for what I need.

It is a cute 1949ish swing coat with hidden pocket princess seams -no front buttons(or closure) and cuffs on the bottom of the sleeves.  The vintage Threads issue renewed interest in this project, but I am not sure how to approach it.






  1. DONNAKAYE | | #1

    Wow, what a loaded question!  Without giving you a course in pattern grading, pull out a pattern of a similar style coat that's currently available in multi sizes and study it carefully to see how the pattern is graded.  That's the best advice I can give you....d.

  2. HeartFire2 | | #2

    Grading a pattern will increase or decrease the pattern size proportionately from where it was. If this was a pattern produced in the 1940's, the body measurements are very different from what they are today. This has NOTHING to do with fit. Getting the pattern to fit you will involve knowing your measurements (front waist length, bust, hips etc) as well as your shoulder slope, bust height etc.And, NO, you cannot just take a pattern to a xerox machine. some parts of the pattern will increase 1/4 inch some will not, some may be more.Grading a pattern also depends on the "grade rule" this can vary from company to company, and is very different for different sizes. Larger sizes will increase by larger increments (ex. a womens size 24 could be 4 inches larger around the waist measurement than a size 22, but a misses size 12 will only be one inch larger in the waist measure than a size 10.hope this helps and doesn't just frustrate you more.Best thing to do is make a muslin of the original pattern and fit from there.

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