What is grading? Is it some sort of system where we rank our designs in order of best to worst? Are we ranking what would sell the best? This hem is A+ work! For those of us who are new to the industry, there are a lot of terms that get thrown around that we just don’t fully understand. It’s ok! We all start somewhere. So, back to grading. What is it?
Grading is increasing and/or decreasing pattern sizes proportionate to specific instructions. We take the original garment pattern from it’s sample size to the full range of sizes you would like to offer. It seems easy enough, however, there are many steps that go into grading. There are two different ways to grade a pattern; manually or by computer. Let’s take a look.
Considering how relatively new the computer is, manual grading has been used the majority of the apparel industry’s history. At least since mass production arrived. Patternmakers that grade manually typically use a grading machine. Some use a hinged grading ruler. Both systems are highly accurate. When only a few pieces are needed, patternmakers are able to use a simple 2″ x 18″ ruler to mark increments. This means that costs for equipment is relatively low, and easier to utilize. The downside is, it’s harder to replicate the pattern if multiple copies are needed.
This is the age of the computer. More and more patternmakers are switching over to this digital platform as it is both fast and highly accurate. It’s also the method that we prefer! Once the software is learned, this high accuracy service allows for easier pattern edits and faster grading. Another advantage to working with a digital platform is the ease at which you can transfer the patterns. Patternmakers are able to send the patterns using whichever file type the factory requests. This cuts downtime as you no longer have to wait for the patterns to be shipped or redrawn.