Giving instructions to a pattern grader pt.3

Note: I’m out of town (out of the country) so checking in will be sporadic. I’ll be back Saturday. If you want your comment to publish right away, omit your url (even my comments are held if I include a url). Who knows when I can get to approving your comment?

Ah, finally we come to the tail end of this riveting series (part one, part two). I know these entries haven’t garnered much response but I do know that someday these will come in handy and then you’ll be happy it’s here. At least that’s what I tell myself. I neglected to mention another entry in this genre, Sending patterns off for correction that may be similarly useful at some point.

Hopefully this entry will be more enjoyable and useful that the two previous ones; this is the entry I wanted to write at the outset -it’s the funnest one and I get to use a really cool toy- but I had to do the ground work for it first. In many respects, even those of you who don’t grade, can actually jump ahead and use the suggestions and guidelines in this entry (preferred); the other entries covering theory so you’d understand the necessity of some of what I’ll explain here.

The really cool toy I’m using for this entry is a software program called StyleFile which was produced by Patternworks Inc. I do think it’s the greatest thing since indoor plumbing. Any technical package software (PLM or PDM) will do this, I just like this one because it was designed by pattern makers to be used by designers for managing their production. That it costs 80% less than competing products is icing on the cake.

A guide to providing grading information: advanced level
You’ll need to send four things.

  1. The pattern
  2. A good technical sketch
  3. A spreadsheet listing the grades per POM code.
  4. The sewing specifications

If you don’t have a good technical sketch, supply a garment sample. Regarding the spreadsheet, you don’t have to have specialized software like StyleFile or Web PDM although it certainly helps. Below is a screen shot of my technical sketch with POM codes listed off to the side.

You can download the pdf to print for comparison. The reason it lists “0” in the “10” column (the sample size) is because I haven’t filled in those slots in the database. Otherwise that field would be populated with data. Should the question arise, those measures should be taken from the pattern, not the sample. To test the accuracy of the sample against the pattern, one would do something called a “garment test” (in StyleFile). You always use the first generation item (a pattern as opposed to sample) at this level, meaning the pattern engineering level.

Next, you need to provide the specific grades per each POM code. A screen shot of the grading report is shown below.

Again, for your convenience, I’ve included the pdf of this report.

The interesting thing about this grading chart (the software really) is that it provides a plus or minus tolerance. While this is typically used as the tolerance standard by which one would accept or reject product samples, it’s also useful for grading. The reason being, as careful as one is, one can generate an error in the rules and the tolerance provides guidance to the grader as to one’s preferences in the event choices are forced -without having to run back and forth to the client every five minutes during the grading process. This way, the grading can proceed and the client can later revise their actual POM preferences before any products are made. Tolerances should remain the same. If I’d entered the actual measures of the pattern for these specific codes, I could use another report that would spit out what the pattern dimensions (and garment) should be for each size.

Also, it probably isn’t obvious but it will (or should be) apparent to the grader, that there’s a pecking order of preference. Such pattern emerges that it is obvious that the overall length of the garment should grow 5/8ths inch. This matters in the event there’s a conflict with the stipulated grade movement of the armhole length (AFL). As any grader who looks at this chart knows, 1/4″ in AFL is not necessarily equivalent to 1/4″ in vertical measure but it is obvious that the armhole section of the garment should grow that in length in that area -which means the AFL may actually need to grow a total of 3/8″ because 1/8th at the scye and side seam is now a horizontal movement adjusting for the overall girth grow of a total 1″. A grader could pick that out with these specs, like I said, a pattern emerges.

You need to include sewing specifications so the pattern grader can spot check their work in the event there is a discrepancy. Grading will not correct pattern errors, it will magnify them. That’s why a lot of pattern services won’t grade a pattern unless they made it and also, why they won’t sew a proto or sample of a pattern they didn’t make either. Pattern graders don’t want to be blamed for the magnification of errors that preceded them. At any rate, unless you specifically contract for it, the grader will not check the pattern to ensure that all seams match. It depends but don’t assume a service doesn’t offer this service if you don’t see it listed or mentioned. Personally, I like to check patterns. I got some a few weeks ago, the lines of which were really pretty. Clean, smooth long lines (obviously a good cutter, no choppiness), pretty crotch curves. It’s a pleasure working with patterns who’s maker obviously has integrity.

Giving instructions to a pattern grader
Giving instructions to a pattern grader pt.2

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  1. ioanna says:

    Another super useful series. Thanks Kathleen :)

    And to the last poster I say Huh? What are you talking about and what does that have to do with grading? Are you commenting on a different post?

  2. Dana says:

    Thanks for yet another great series!

    Stylefile looks like it’s going to be an interesting product. There certainly is a need for something less pricey and less complicated than PDM.

    For anyone who’s looking for a do-it-yourself version of this kind of worksheet, you can set up your own spreadsheets on Excel to accomplish parts of this. Not as feature rich of course and you have to set up all your own formulas, but it’s not a bad way to take a baby step into this type of software or to figure out what you need before spending money. A lot of apparel companies rely on it for development paperwork.

  3. Exactly as you said–I’ve read these with little understanding except that I need to remember they are here for when I need them.

    I haven’t yet needed patterns made nor grading done, but it’s in the future. I want to find someone who can take my garment, my size chart, and do it all for me.

    Thanks for another important series.


  4. m.y says:

    Hi Kathleen! Your site is incredible. I happened upon it while looking around for some help on my freelance work. Your information is invaluable! Thank you :)

  5. Leslie Schaill says:

    Hi Kathleen; your blog is a wonderful luxury. I’ve been approached by a neophyte design entrepreneur to do some grading and pointing her to a number of your posts will streamline my work greatly in initial communications.
    Incidentally, looking at this post I am intrigued that the back neck of the vest is not graded. Knowing that you are a back neck aficionado; I am interested in hearing your explanation.

    • kathleen says:

      Good eye.
      The explanation is I overlooked it. I was out of the country and creating this sample as an exercise for the purposes of illustration. I don’t even know if this pattern is CAD graded in real life, I don’t remember. It is an older style I created when I was still all manual. It is manually graded tho (another exercise for instruction for visitors here).

      Without looking for the vest to verify, my usual practice on items like this is to go up 1/8″ and out 1/8″ (sometimes 1/16th) at the inside neck corner. Does that help?

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