Grading machines and rulers

People have been asking about manual pattern grading rulers and pattern grading machines. One such tool is known as a “hinged grading ruler” (below)

The hinged grading rulers were wholesaled by the inventor (copyright 1977) Ms E.E.Davis from Monrovia CA. I even used to sell these. Unfortunately, I think Ms Davis is no longer with us, she was quite elderly when I last spoke to her about 5 years ago. I do not know what’s become of her company. If any of you wish to attempt to track her down, the last contact information I have for her is Couture Productions, 927 “A” S.Canyon Blvd, Monrovia CA 91016-3582. Now, because I am so nice to you, I’ve scanned the user instructions for the rulers, see pg.1 (1MB) and pg.2 (another MB). Please consider leaving a donation. Thanks.

Rather than the hinged grading ruler, I’ve taken to using a plastic grid I bought at an arts and crafts store for occasional use. I think these are pretty common. On the sheet shown below, there is no product ID number (boo-hiss) so I can only tell you the grid is broken into 8ths and it was made by Wrights, West Warren MA 01092.

As far as manual grading machines are concerned, there are two kinds. One is known as a Sunny Young and the other is the Dario Grad-O-Meter. I can’t find a Sunny Young. Ahearn’s says they’ll look it up (they used to sell them) to see if they can get some for special orders. According to Melita (from Australia, with whom I’ve been corresponding) Sunny Youngs are similar to a Swiss made machine known as a Variator. The Variator is no longer manufactured. Melita sent me a photo (below) and the flyer (174kb,pdf)

The Variator looks a lot like a Sunny Young. The salesman I spoke to at Ahearn’s says these are the better machine. I don’t know, I’ll have to take his word for it because I’ve never worked with a Sunny Young. I can tell you what I don’t like about grading machines in general and that is that they increment values via gears and teeth. I don’t like that. Too much slop. I wish they’d make a machine that used rack and pinion but the chances of that happening are zero.

The other machine is known as a Dario Grad-O-Meter (also available in metric). While not in every corner sewing shop, you can still find these. SouthStar Supply has them as well as other suppliers. I don’t have a list of suppliers. Below is a photo of a Dario Grad-O-Meter courtesy of SouthStar Supply. I have one of these machines but didn’t want to drag it out to take a picture of it myself.

This summarizes the current status of all known grading rulers and machines that I know of. With this post, you have everything I have so I couldn’t tell you anymore than this.

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40 Comments on "Grading machines and rulers"

1 year 6 months ago

I am looking for one of these manual Grading machines.Does anybody know where I can buy one.

3 years 1 month ago

Ely’s comments has really inspired me. I do patterns , grading
etc by hand with same ruler, pencil and eraser. I’ve been doing
this professionally for 23yrs now.

3 years 5 months ago

I am a manual patternmaker and have used the Dario for 22 years. I could not do my work without it. It is absolutely accurate if the operator using it is. You must weight your base paper well and be sure you have taped your pattern securely to the arms. Grading is not difficult but requires a lot of focus and precision as well as an understanding of how the body grows and the market you are grading for. I can’t see the need for one if you are not working in the industry as a grading ruler should meet the needs of a home sewer. For that matter, most industrial grading is now done digitally but I still prefer my grading machine.

3 years 10 months ago

my one is even older then the one pictured above but it still works like a dream it is some 35 to 40 years old it is a magnificent piece of history very easy to use love how it makes grading quick and acurate beats computers any day hands down never lose info just love it
variator is stil manufacured in a smaler verion it is more user frendly and it costs $595 for one in inches and $625 in centimeters
also replacement arms are available as well as a carry case
it is very useful little divice easy to use
the swiss ones are the elite ones which are no longer manufacured but you may find one on the net ebay had one go for $150 a while ago
i think they are priceles

3 years 11 months ago

oh, I’m not sure what happen to the link for the FIDM ruler in my earlier post. Here it is though
Might be useful for people to compare, based on Kathleen’s info above.