Garment grading : Where to start?

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You don't have to be new to sewing to be totally confused when it comes to the subject of garment grading, it can leave anyone bewildered!

A few months ago, a conversation took place on facebook about grading. Katrina, who has had industry experience, offered up some great advice so I thought I would ask her if she could share some of her expertise with us. We thought a good place to start is understanding garment sizing when you are out shopping for that new outfit.  Understanding how and where a garment should fit properly is a great start to then being able to grade your own patterns.

"Have you ever heard people say ‘I brought/buy the next size up for the length’ or ‘it’s a little tight, better get the next size’.
For all those that buy the next size up for the length DON’T. Generally, you only get 1-2cm (for men and women’s tops) extra in the length and even then it all depends on the brand. I’ve worked in a number of companies and they varied from 0.5-1cm. What you get when you buy the next size up is an extra 5cm (this does not generally alter between brands) around the body instead.

On the other hand, if you’re grabbing the next size for the body width then that is other story. How much extra are you needing? If you're only needing an extra 1cm or so then the next size is going to be too big, and other areas are going to start to look wrong as well.

For bottoms, you will still get 5cm in the waist & hip but in most cases you don’t get much if anything in the length. Ladies wear generally don’t alter the length (however there are a small hand full that believe you get taller the bigger you are) and for men’s wear you will find 0.5cm in the length of shorts and 1cm in the length of pants.

Katrina's tips for buying great fitting clothes:
· Make sure the chest, waist and hips fit right first. As this is area that will change dramatically between sizes. If you can’t get these areas to fit right first then the rest of the garment won’t fit no matter what size you pull off the rack.

· For knit tops that are a firm fit, the best place to know if you’re getting the right size (or it’s a good cut for your body shape) is the armhole. If you find that the armhole annoys you under the arm or there is too much fabric around the seam of the armhole then the size maybe wrong for you or the shape isn’t meant for you know matter what size you try on.

· For pants, once you have the right size for your waist & hip, check the crutch. If there are a heap of fold or there looks like there is extra fabric at the base of the crotch then they aren’t for you. I find it hard to find pants that fit nicely, I’m not sure if it’s due to knowing what to look for or it’s my shape. But when I do find a pair that fit nice it doesn’t matter if the pants are on sale or not.

· For skirts and dresses, make sure the waist and hip fits right. If the hip is too small (even if the waist is right) the dress will ride as you walk/move.

Now if you’re wondering about children’s sizes it really does vary between sizes/age groups as children really have a lot of growth at different stages. You will still find a deference between companies (length being the biggest one) but I’m finding so far (my little boy has just gone 6mths), that it’s a bit hard to go wrong. The only thing that you will find a problem is if your child is big, small, short or long for their age (or in my case has a big head). As long as it fits around their waist or covers what needs to be covered then there isn’t much else to worry about. For those that have children with small waists and long legs my suggestion is to buy bottoms with adjustable waists."

A big thank you to Katrina for shedding some light on how the clothing industry grade their garments.



Great Post, thanks for sharing Jodie, I have a typical hour shape or pear shape figure, mind you with middle age spread happening its beginning to even its self out!! LOL, good advice to bear in mind. Thanks heaps x

esther (it means star) said...

Thanks for this post Jodie. Eye-opening about the changes to garments in the sizing stakes. Another tip: if you are small and have trouble with the 'small' and 'size 8' labels, dont forget to check out the kids department. They usually go up to a kids 16 (6-8 ladies) and are cheaper too!