I’m having some difficulty organizing my thoughts for a new series on pattern grading and I need your help. Organizing the topic is complex because of the varying needs of designers. Some of the information is necessary for those who want to do in-house grading, some is appropriate for those outsourcing the pattern grading to a service and still other information is quite advanced and suitable for companies with larger lines that need parameters to manage grading effectively and toward the development of grade rule libraries. Considering the issue of notation, I’m realizing that CAD has had a pervasive influence in the ways we plan, manage and organize apparel grading practices and for the most part, I think it’s a positive influence. For example, some of the pattern shorthand I use is actually based on system standards from Gerber. I’m not familiar with other systems but feel those universal notations should be considered too.
I’m tentatively describing the series as Grading Management and think it should fall along the same lines as style management. You know, the topics of managing style development with style numbers, spec sheets, sketches and what not. Remember the style management series I did on cutter’s musts, how blocks work, PN numbers and so on? I’m thinking of something like that. In preparation, I looked up grading management in my books and found zero, zip, zilch. Wow. Where did I learn this stuff then? While looking through the books, I necessarily had to look at the Price/Zamkoff Grading Techniques for Fashion Design book -it was painful- I really hate this book! Usability-wise, the Handford grading book has spoiled me.
Here is a list of topics I’m tentatively considering:
- Definitions: a grade, a grade rule, grade rule table (or set), grade rule library.
- How to pull grade rules from a measurement set such as ASTM to develop a grade for a particular item.
- Why not all grade rules are created equal (nor should they be)
- Why one set of grade rules cannot (or should not) be used on every item you produce.
- Depending on line complexity, why you’ll need more than one set of grade rules.
- The most common specifications to give a grading service.
- How are grade rules determined?
- Why sizing specs aren’t grade rules per se but you can break sizing specs into grade rules.
- A discussion of Allometry (human proportionate measures).
- A rant on why I dislike many template grade rule tables (a lack of applied allometry).
- How to reverse engineer a grading standard from existing products.
- How to use one grade rule set as a “block” to develop new grade rule sets.
On a related note, there’s a discussion of grading in the forum. In the interests of kicking off this series, I need your feedback. Please let me know what you need most and how you think the information could be presented best.