# Pop Quiz: grading necklines pt.2

Following up from the first entry and the side jaunt (what does a 1″ grade mean?), I’m not sure we have a clear explanation for the apparent contradiction. Specifically the contradiction is:
If we only grade the neckline a total of .5″ for a 1″ grade, how come we don’t grade the neckline an inch for a 2″ grade? [Informal (unscientific) polling shows we usually grade the neck 3/4″ for a 2″ grade, 1/2″ for a 1″ grade.]

Some suggested ideas were as follows (mostly paraphrased, please correct me if I misquote, mis-attribute or misinterpret what you said):

Theresa said 3/4″ is used for a wider demographic because one is using SML instead of 6-16 etc. You know, there is some validity here. I take this to mean this is a way of refining the grade, to tweak it with a semblance of fit to one’s customer rather than an across the board, gross increase. This seems just as likely as any other theory.

Katyrenee said it amounted to “just because”, that we do it this way because it works (for whatever reason) instead of blindly following a rule. I like this too, another good theory.

Brina said the neck increase should be relative, not absolute -using the example of grading from a M to an XL. At first I wasn’t sure what she meant as the amount of grade applied to an area is relative (explained in the second post) but I think I get it now.

It brought to mind an ongoing argument I’ve been having with Cooklin’s grading book -yes, I argue with inanimate objects since Cooklin is now deceased and couldn’t be compelled to leave the piano (and wine and women) long enough to discuss it with me and for which I do not blame him, my being generally quarrelsome. Pg 25 of my copy has scrabbled sketches with a lot of notation to include exclamation! points! such as “F&G do not equal D!” , “D-(F+G)=8%!”and “D=25%, F+G=17%, E=12.5%!” This of course is totally aside from the fact that I am in complete agreement with him that the front should get 62.5% of the grade and the back 37.5% of it but I don’t know anybody who grades like that (anymore). Which is because your front is bigger than your back (yes it is, yes.it.is). Which is in sum, kind of sort of what Brina was saying drawn out to its logical conclusion. I think. Either that or I am too liberal in my attempts to inject a little fun into a normally dry discussion.

Alison said we talked about it in the blog’s earlier years but lacking a site archivist (she being the only one we have, and unpaid at that) we won’t know. For now.

Andrea wanted to know if there is a grading book that explained grading theory. On the face of it, yes. Satisfactorily? No. Recently? Also no. Vintage books that discuss human anthropometry are what you need. Problem is, nobody likes those because they don’t think they are relevant. People expect sizing charts in grading books these days which I think is silly but whatever. The best thing to use is a vintage book that discusses “scale” (I’ve mentioned this many times) but until you can acquire one, here’s a blog entry that serves as an orientation.

Kjersti had what seems to be the best explanation yet but then again, I’d say that since it follows the most traditional grading practice, labeled Table B in the second post. I think her comment deserves more thought so I copy and paste it here in its entirety and leave you to ponder it some more:

I understand your explanation of 1″ and 2″ grades to mean that the first has more sizes than the second? If I misunderstood this, then this explanation doesn’t help I’m afraid. But if it does, this is my reasoning.
When grading from the base size in the 2″ grade you are grading what is equivalent to two sizes in the 1″ grade. And, since you are using a logarithmic scale for grading necklines (meaning that the amount you add/subtract gets smaller as you move away from the base size), the first size is 1/2″, the second would be 1/4″. Combine these and you get 3/4″. So, grading one size in 2″ is the same as two sizes in 1″.

Ann cited a page from her grading book (I couldn’t find it, we probably have different editions); said author disputes the totality of the grades in discussion suggesting a one inch grade should be 1/4″. I wanted to check it because it seemed inordinately small, perhaps this was the half grade (as we only grade half the figure). Ann also left reading suggestions from academia. I actually have copies of these, one day I’ll get through them.

Barb agrees with Sarah (dosfashionistas); the agreement is telling as both parties have had to tweak grade specs for the length of their careers to meet targeted demography. In other words, practice trumps theory.

Carol agrees with Brina (ibid my second post). Bo Breda wasn’t the first to mention breaking the grade down by drop rather than width but does so most clearly and makes the point that knits are different. Each knit is different. Which is of course because knits are evil.

Renee swore that in Australia (where’s she’s from) they do everything upside down living in the southern hemisphere as they do. She also gloated that it is summer there so nanny-nanny boo-boo etc. Are you still reading this far down? Seriously, Renee mentions the matter of grading convex curves although she didn’t use those words. See an illustration of the concept here (the hand drawn sketches).

Sarah -another aussie- loves measurement stuff like this so that tells you all you need to know about her. Seriously, scroll down for hers, she says their sizing differs and that they call a 1″ grade a “half size”. Pretty wild, huh? I don’t know how common it is anymore but half size here used to mean plus size.

Marie-Christine doesn’t know anything about grading but thinks you should never grade more than 1/4″ for any reason or else. And she means or ELSE. Step lively, she’s from France and they’re fond of that guillotine thingy there. Which indirectly explains why there are not many French engineers.

Last but not least is Tula who mentions it is critical to understand the whys of formulas to fill the gap between theory and application. Some possible solutions for these gaps can be found above where I mentioned scale but in the meantime she should watch Marie-Christine carefully (Tula is an engineer).

All told, my head hurts and I hope you found this discussion not wholly a waste of time………..

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1. I read to the bottom. I’m engaged in the humor, but I can’t wrap my head around the varieties of grading options. So to the depth of content I shan’t comment, but with the humor in dry topics, commence!

2. Marie-Christine says:

Ha! Marie-Christine IS a French engineer. So there. Would rather be Australian for the next few months though :-)..

3. Kathleen says:

Ha ha, serves me right.

4. Sarah says:

haha, most amusing! I am enjoying the banter nearly as much as the Beautiful australian summer!

I do have a grading question though, or maybe a sizing question, Kathleen on the original post you posted the two different grade rules tables, Maybe I’m lazy here but in your second table, the purists… the smallest size is a grade of 1/2 inch, my question is, is it worth doing such a small grade when that 1/2 inch will get divided up around the figure i.e. divided into 4, and to make this question relative to the Topic of grading the Neck, according to My grade rules of a 2″ grade, the neck is graded a total of 1/2″ or 12mm so for a 1/2 inch grade that would make the neck decrease/increase a total of 1/8″ does the customer notice such a small change? Apologies to all the sizing purists who are reading this comment.

I’d love to know how many of you, actually offer a 1/2″ grade between the small sizes? Maybe a custom garment but I think to offer this for RTW the customer wouldn’t notice?

Sorry to keep the discussion going, ( I did mention I love measurements and comparing techniques!) but in my consultation of many pattern making books and several “standard” size charts, what I found to be a consistent ratio across countries and methods, was that the Neck was graded a 1/4 of the body width, i.e. 4cm grade, the Neck was graded 1cm, etc… 5cm Grade and the Neck graded 12mm, or 1.2cm. So I would love to know the “theory behind the proportions or is it simply a matter of practicality and maths that divide easily? and also not to say that these pattern making books are correct…

Any thoughts?

5. Brina says:

Well, yes, when I mentioned relative, I think you are on the right track.

FWIW, I do draft with the front having more fabric than the back–although I could not tell you the percentage. OTHO, there are a few people, like one of my sisters, who are, if not larger about equal front and back, so nothing works with everyone–even if it works with most people’s physiology.

I wish when I learned math and other number and physical science in school we talked about problems like this rather than about car wheels turning and how fast the airplane will fly if X and Y are constants and Z is the variable etc… It would have made so much more sense to me. Now I get it but it’s only been through application. Otherwise, as many people/student say, “Who cares?”

6. Brina says:

IMHO, yes Sarah the 1/8″ does make a difference. Of course it depends on the fabric, but you have to think about the amount as a percentage of the whole–the whole neckline measurement–not in the abstract–as in 1/8″ is a small amount. Again it is relative to the rest of the part of the garment you are grading.

7. Kathleen says:

I’d love to know how many of you, actually offer a 1/2″ grade between the small sizes? Maybe a custom garment but I think to offer this for RTW the customer wouldn’t notice?

I think Brina’s answer needs no further elaboration except to mention that grading this manually is difficult to the extent you wonder if the effort is commensurate to its value. With CAD, it’s a cakewalk. It’s no more difficult to grade it an inch than a half inch. For the most part (depends on your software, how good you are at fractions and whether they’re evenly divisible).

Sorry to keep the discussion going,

We’ll be sending someone over to beat you shortly…why would you ever apologize? Surely you’ve seen by now that some of us find these discussions invigorating, bracing really.

in my consultation of many pattern making books and several “standard” size charts, what I found to be a consistent ratio across countries and methods, was that the Neck was graded a 1/4 of the body width, i.e. 4cm grade, the Neck was graded 1cm, etc… 5cm Grade and the Neck graded 12mm, or 1.2cm. So I would love to know the “theory behind the proportions or is it simply a matter of practicality and maths that divide easily? and also not to say that these pattern making books are correct…

For this, I will beat you about the head and shoulders. Seriously, I left links to this in reference to the matter of anthropometry and drafting to scale and also, a mention in the side jaunt entry in which I explained that the neck -in a hgt/wgt proportionate male- is 40% of the chest dimension. Similarly, that the size of back neck is 1/6th chest. I indirectly touched on it in this entry when I mentioned pg. 25 of Cooklin but I failed to cite the title (pattern grading for women’s clothes). He doesn’t agree the neck grade should be evenly distributed by quarters as a rule but I don’t doubt your books said to do that. If you tell me which those are, I probably have them and can look it up. It bears mentioning that grading prescriptives are related to styling. If the provided examples were relaxed sportswear items, I could agree it might not be worth the extra bother of splitting the back/front neck grades by 3/8 and 5/8 respectively and it would be well enough to do it by fourths, half to the front and half to the back.

8. Angie says:

@Sarah…

I’m a patternmaker and have been grading commercial patterns by hand for years.

1/2″ grade? That’s crazy. MAYBE for infant wear, but even then, I think that would be pointless. Generally, the smaller the bodies, the smaller the grading, and the larger the bodies, the larger the grades. Personally, I regard a 1″ grade as an “alteration”. For adult sizes, only very high end brands that have very close fitting and can afford to do a gazillion sizes should ever consider it. As a customer, if you need to nail down your size that closely, you need to invest in having RTW or custom clothing tailored to fit.

I’m new to this site. Enjoying reading the discussions by others who geek out on patternmaking! It sure is a particular breed, huh?

9. JustGail says:

It’s posts and quizzes like this that make me glad that I only need to worry about getting patterns to fit me! I’ll need to study this and the links a bit more, then it should make more sense to my aching head. Although that could be the cold meds.

Is there anyone who *doesn’t* talk to, argue with,or encourage inanimate objects? Not at all uncommon for me, especially the computer and car!

10. Kathleen says:

1/2″ grade? That’s crazy. MAYBE for infant wear, but even then, I think that would be pointless. Personally, I regard a 1″ grade as an “alteration”.

I suppose it depends on your experience, product (its price points, fit & silhouette) and your market. Based on the products you’re selling, I’d be inclined to agree that such nuanced fitting wouldn’t be cost effective or even advantageous if you’re using a 3″ grade btwn xs and small…

Enjoying reading the discussions by others who geek out on patternmaking! It sure is a particular breed, huh?

That it is. We tend to be an opinionated lot so you should feel right at home :).

11. Angie says:

Ah, someone did some digging! To be clear, I would never, have never, suggested to a client they use a 3″ grade, especially on smaller sizes. My skirts are a particular breed. I designed them specifically to be able to handle this amount of grade and still fit just about everyone in between. It allows me to get a size 2 girl and a size 22 girl into the same design and only offer 5 sizes. It’s funny that the people who understand the most about grading are the most cautious about my sizing chart because they understand what it means and how unconventional it is. But I promise it works.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, I think it proves the point I make to so many clients that grading just isn’t an exact science. It’s left to each person’s discretion depending on design and customer. Fortunately, your options are totally open! Unfortunately, your options are totally open!

Yes, I feel at home…thanks.

12. Sarah says:

@ Angie, Yes that more what I was getting at, the cost of producing such a large, (but such small increments) size range and offering a 1/2″ grade compared to the cost etc… Kathleen, Head and shoulders have been beaten! hah, sorry I missed that info and the links before! Although it makes my head hurt, I am understanding it all much better. Thanks for all the info and the delightful discussion, still very much enjoying it all…

13. Brina says:

Angie,

You sizing chart seem fine to me–especially since you are using letter and not number sizes. However as someone who typically find that if the waist fits on a garment then the hips are too small, I would love to see hip measurements. Still if waist only measurement work for your customer/market then all must be okey.

I’m working on similar sizing for a smock-type garment that I would like to offer in about the same range of sizes, so I do understand what you’ve done.