Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Grading: How do I re-size vintage pat…

Kim_Grant | Posted in Fitting on

Hi, I’m looking for instruction on how to make different sizes from my vintage patterns (20’s, 30’s, 40’s). Obviously I can’t run out to the fabric store and pick up copes in larger sizes. 🙂

I am reading articles on slopers and understand the basic concepts. But I haven’t yet found any information that is specific to what I want to do–most focus is on altering a pattern based on a sloper, but not about actually grading up or down one to two sizes.

Conceptually, I’m thinking there should be a rough formula for adding inches to a bodice and it’s coressponding pieces (collars, waistbands, etc), but what I really want is a how-to series of steps with which I can start practicing.

For example, I made a sheath dress (with back center seam) and added 1/2 inch to the back, which added an inch in total. Then I added 1 inch to the collar so that the front, back, and collar peiecs would fit together without neededing to ease the back neckline into the collar. But how does this apply to changing the entire size of a garment?

Any leads, directions, or advice appreciated!




  1. Tessa_Elston | | #1

    Kim, Hope this helps and you can follow it okay.

    I worked in industry for many years and these are basic instructions for grading a front/back bodice with waist dart, skirt and long sleeve, such as a sloper pattern, that we followed. This is the formula you are looking for. On panelled pieces and fashion details proportion the measurements accordingly, but don't exceed the basic grade allowance.

    For imperial measurements, copy and paste the post into Notepad, then Search and Replace 3mm for 1/8" ; 6mm for 1/4" ; 12.5mm for 1/2" ; 5cm for 2". Instant conversion!
    Moving directions are as follows. UP is to your left, DOWN is to your right, IN is towards you, OUT is away from you. Mark about 10mm around corners when tracing.

    Draw a horizontal line on your paper, draw a vertical line perpendicular to the horizontal line starting slightly below it and going away from you. These are your two balance lines. On the horizontal line mark the following distances parallel: OUT 3mm, 6mm, 12.5mm . On the vertical line mark the following distances parallel: both UP and DOWN 3mm. Place the CF of the bodice on the horizontal line with the underarm point at the vertical line. Neck and shoulder are on your left, waistline on your right. Mark where the vertical line (underarm balance line) intersects your CF.

    Using the balance lines and pattern as guides, grade up one size as follows.
    Move UP 3mm. Mark CF neckline a short way in.
    Move OUT 3mm. Mark neckline and neck point blending into previous line. (Neck has grown 3mm)
    Move OUT a further 3mm. (6mm total) Mark shoulder point and armhole to about the notch point.
    Pivot shoulder line and join neck point to shoulder point. (Shoulder seam has grown 3mm, shoulder width 6mm).
    Return to CF and u/arm balance lines. Move OUT 12.5mm. Mark u/arm point and part of side seam. Pivot from u/arm point until armhole blends with graded armhole line. Draw remainder of armhole line. (Bust has grown 12.5mm, - 5cm total increase)
    Return to balance lines. Move DOWN 3mm. Mark waistline up to waist dart. (CF length has grown total of 6mm)
    Move OUT 3mm. Mark waist dart.
    Move OUT to 12.5mm mark. Mark remainder of waist. Pivot side seam to match with u/arm point. (Side seam has grown 3mm)

    LONG SLEEVE: Mark perpendicular balance lines. Horizontal line goes through shoulder point notch on crown to wrist and vertical line through u/arm points. Mark grading lines 3mm and 6mm either side of horizontal line and 3mm either side of vertical line. Mark balance lines on sleeve pattern, crown on left, wrist on right.

    Move UP 3mm. Mark crown 3cm either side of center line. Move OUT 3mm and mark armhole up to notch. Return to balance lines.
    Move OUT 6mm ***. Mark u/arm point and part of sleeve seam. Pivot at u/arm point until armhole blends with graded armhole line. Trace armhole.
    Return to balance lines. Move DOWN 3mm and OUT 3mm. Mark wrist and corner of sleeve seam. Pivot sleeve seam to blend to u/arm point. Repeat for other side of sleeve. NOTE: You will HAVE TO MEASURE and adjust the sleeve armhole to match with the bodice armhole. Depending on the shape of the sleeve head these grading measurements always need fine tuning. ***Adjust at this u/arm point measurement accordingly
    For short sleeves the u/arm length does not grade and the cuff grades the same as the u/arm point. Long sleeve cuffs grade 6mm per size.

    SKIRT: Mark CF line and part of front waist. From CF balance line move OUT 3mm. Mark dart /pleats. Move out to 12.5mm. Mark remainder of waist, side seam and half of hem. Return to CF line and complete hem. (Waist, hip and hem width grows total of 5cm per size.)
    Skirt lengths don't grade for ladies. Grade waistband 5cm per size. Move notches accordingly.

    Books: Metric Pattern cutting by Winifred Aldrich (Published by Blackwell Scientific) is a good patternmaking book and has brief grading info at the back (4-6 pgs).
    Pattern Grading for women's clothes by Gerry Cooklin (Published by Blackwell Scientific) should also be a good reference. I haven't read this one myself but know it is specified as a textbook at colleges in Canada.

    Best of luck, Tessa.

    1. Kim_Grant | | #2

      *This is wonderful! I'm going to make my first attempt this weekend, and I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm diving in at the deep deep end with a rather complicated dress, but that's how I really learn. My very first sewing project (other than a pillowcase) was a 1940's vogue pattern with a fitted bodice, slashed under the bust and then gathered for a shirred effect. The the center seam is gathered to the waistline, and top stay-stitched into place. ultimately the sewing wasn't difficult at all. It was meticulous and time consuming.... learning to read instructions that were written for someone already familiar with the methods was the real challenge!-Kim

      1. Jean_ | | #3

        *My DD is a docent at a museum that includes leading groups through a house being restored to its 1900 origins. She would like to make a dress that is in keeping with the period. Do any of you know where we can get patterns for costumes from this era? 1890-1910?

        1. Kim_Grant | | #4

          *Two of my favorite resources are eBay and the vintage pattern lending library.here are the urls:http://listings.ebay.com/aw/listings/list/category4161/index.htmlonly registered users can bid. Use the search feature at the top right corner of the page to look for 1900s or 1900's or Victorian or 1890 or 1991, 1892, 2893, etc.http://www.vpll.org/only memebers may borrow patterns. Non-members may borrow copies of patterns. Very reasonable membership fee scales.Also, Amazon Dry Goods has a great selection of historical patterns. Do a web search for amazon dry goods. You have to phone them for a catalog.-Kim-Kim

          1. Kim_Grant | | #5

            *oops, that should be, NON-members my BUY pattern copies!

          2. Kim_Grant | | #6

            *oops, that should be NON-members may BUY copies!

          3. Martha_Collins | | #7

            *I would like to know if anyone knows of someone whom I could pay to draw a sloper based on my measurements? I think I can use a sloper after reading the articles, but would like help with the sloper itself. Any suggestions would be appreciated.Martha Collins

          4. Kim_Grant | | #8

            *Martha, what city do you live in? I can recommend Alexandra Gammertsfelder (whom I have only met via email.) Her website is http://www.geocities.com/evadress/ . I also know some people personally in San Francisco and Oakland who could be of assistance. Tell Alexandra I sent you!-Kim Grant

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All