Sizing information: who needs it?

This entry started out being entitled “Creating grade rules from sizing charts pt.1” but I got sidetracked writing other stuff I should have mentioned first and also, bogged with other theoretical stuff that ended up sounding long winded. So I decided to split these into two entries because it was much too long. Backtracking a bit, I probably should have reiterated who gets what; this being an aside in the continuation of grading children’s clothes part one and two.

First, I should cover different sizing information and grading scenarios. There are three levels of detail with respect to sizing and grade rules:

  1. A retail partner (store or consumer) wants sizing information.
  2. Your pattern maker or contractor wants grading information -and you don’t know much about grading.
  3. You need to grade patterns you’ve made.


Retail sizing information
Grade rules are considered to be highly proprietary (!). Since retail is the point of greatest dispersal and the area in which you can least control information dissemination, the details you provide should be very limited. The most you should provide is the range of weight, height, chest and hip measures of any given size. It always amazes me when a DE expects me to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they broadcast this information to the public. Does it go without saying that you should never describe actual measures of garment attributes?

As ever, there are exceptions. If you’re doing private label, either the store will request detailed grade information or they will provide it to you. In such cases, you needn’t worry they’ll broadcast your size specs. Retailers like Penney’s won’t buy from you without this information.

Your pattern maker or contractor wants grading information -and you don’t know much about grading.
DEs are often surprised that pattern makers want sizing information, assuming this is part of what we should be doing for them. Clients constantly ask for what is usual, “average” or customary. Unless you’re in a tightly defined niche, there’s no such thing. The biggest problem is that every client has a different idea of “average”. If you’re thin and hang out with skinny people, your “average” is going to be much smaller than the “average” of a size 16 who’s the skinniest in her crowd of plus-sized friends. If you’re not sure, your service provider will interview you to determine your frame of reference. Having us figure this out for you means research so it’s best to do it yourself and save some money. Being familiar with competing brands is helpful. See Espionage for better sizing (also part two) for help with information gathering.

A pattern maker isn’t going to expect (what we would consider to be) detailed sizing specs or grade rules, such what we’ll derive from the example of the kid’s sizing chart as we go through it. If you can only say you want your given sizes to be like a given brand’s (provide samples), that’s fine too. Lastly, if all you can do is explain your wants in terms of what I said you should provide to retail and consumers above, that’s better than nothing. Lastly, if you’ve hired a professional, you needn’t worry they’ll broadcast your specs either. Any detailed sizing information should only appear on internal documents, and only on a need to know basis.

You need to grade patterns you’ve made.
Before I begin, I have to do the obligatory thing and discourage anyone from grading their own patterns for a few reasons. If none of these apply to your situation, great. I mention this, not to dissuade you but because you may end up duplicating efforts and wasting money.

Reasons not to grade your own patterns

  • You don’t know much about pattern making. If you’ve been surviving by hook and crook so far, any errors in the process are magnified in grading.
  • You’re planning on using a professional sewing contractor. A contractor will want a marker which is generated by a CAD system. If your styles have to be digitized for the marker, you may as well have them graded by CAD. All of this is covered in much more detail in The Entrepreneur’s Guide.

Reasons to grade your own patterns

  • You plan to cut and sew in house
  • Your contractor specializes in short runs and is willing to use or make hand markers
  • You have a good grasp of pattern making and grading and just want to be sure you’re covering all your bases before you start grading.

From here on out, this entry is written to assist with the above. Otherwise, you might want to hire some help.

This is where I’ve split off this entry from what it was intended to be. The next section will include some theoretical and most likely, boring and pompous sounding stuff. At least that’s how it read to me. Not that one should expect a grading article to be punchy but surely I can do better than that. ~sigh~ I have to work on it some more. In the meantime, if you wanted homework, you could add up all those length grades and figure out which would apply to bottoms and tops -and in what quantities. The height increases of the kid’s data set from size to size are quite dramatic. Since I’m used to looking at adult size nests, the kid’s wear grades look funny to me.

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