How to get sizing and grading standards

People ask me all the time for sizing or measurement charts relating to their product lines. There are 2 basic ways to get sizing information. One is to buy it (the subject of this post) or to design it yourself, usually via reverse engineering of your competitor’s products (a later post).

Buying sizing information can also be done in two different ways. Many companies use the sizing charts that come in the pattern grading book they’ve chosen as their house reference and accordingly, I’ll list your best options. You can also buy sizing information as a product onto itself. The standard reference house for technical specifications of all industries (in the US) is known as ASTM, the American Society for Testing and Materials.

As far as grading books are concerned, I’d recommend Handford’s Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s Men’s and Children’s Apparel as this is the book that seems to be used most in the US. It’s a good basic standard that I recommend most. The best selling book is Grading Techniques for Fashion Design -because it is published by Fairchild- but it isn’t nearly as user-friendly. I also like all of the English books by Cooklin such as Pattern Grading for Men’s Clothes and Master Patterns and Grading for Women’s Outsizes but I see those books are quite rare now. Oh my, maybe Linda at International Fashion Publications in Los Angeles (213-622-5663) has them.

If you don’t get your standards out of a grading book, you can get them from ASTM International. The ASTM committee charged with the minutia of this industry is D-13 Textiles. The subcommittee Body Measurement for Apparel Sizing is D-13.55. Now, you can buy in several ways. You can buy the huge 2 volume set 70.01 & 70.02 in either hard copy or cdrom, or just one of the volumes (prices range from $185-$320). Lastly, you can order whatever technical specs you need most. For example, D5585-95 Standard Table of Body Measurements for Adult Female Misses Figure Type, Sizes 2-20 costs $28 for the 4 page set. Below I’ve gone to the bother of listing all of the ASTM sizing standards that are available:

D4910-02 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Infants, Sizes 0 to 24
D5219-02 Standard Terminology Relating to Body Dimensions for Apparel Sizing (reference points aren’t numbered!)
D5585-95(2001) Standard Table of Body Measurements for Adult Female Misses Figure Type, Sizes 2-20
D5586-01 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Women Aged 55 and Older (All Figure Types)
D5826-00 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Children, Sizes 2 to 6x/7
D6192-98(2004) Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Girls, Sizes 7 to 16
D6240-98 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Men Sizes Thirty-Four to Sixty (34 to 60) Regular
D6458-99 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Boys, Sizes 8 to 14 Slim and 8 to 20 Regular
D6829-02 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Juniors, Sizes 0 to 19
D6860-03 Proposed Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Boys, Sizes 6 to 24 Husky
D6960-04 Standard Table of Body Measurements Relating to Women’s Plus Size Figure Type, Sizes 14W-32W
D7022-04 Standard Terminology Relating to Apparel

To buy any of these standards, go to ASTM and paste the document you want into the search bar. Also, with some documents you may have the option of selecting either 2004 or 2005. If you want standards to use now, get the 2004 version. The 2005 version won’t be published until the end of this year in November so you’d be paying for information you can’t even get yet.

I suppose I should mention that I’m a voting member of several ASTM D-13 subcommittees but believe me, I don’t make any money selling these specs and just because I’m a member doesn’t mean I’m an apologist for them either. For example, D7022-04 Standard Terminology Relating to Apparel is a waste of money. Only 59 terms are defined and of those, 29 are related to feathers and down! I kid you not. Obviously one of the voting subcommittee members represented the down industry. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t be involved if it were not a worthy organization.

Espionage for better sizing
Espionage for better sizing pt.2
How to shop for clothes for sizing research
How to get sizing and grading standards

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  1. kathleen says:

    That’s not ignorant at all; never thought of that before in fact. ASTM only does numbered sizes (obviously). SML we usually get out of grading books. The book I like the most -it’s the easiest to use and the most accurate is Handford’s Pattern Grading.

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  4. Cathy says:

    I’m frustrated that there are no measurements for plus size girls. The D6192-98(2004) Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Girls, Sizes 7 to 16 includes slim and regular but not plus. I notice there is a D6860-03 Proposed Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Boys, Sizes 6 to 24 Husky but not an equivalent for girls. Does anyone have any body measurement references for plus size girls?


  5. Kate says:

    Hey Kathleen. Great site!

    Very helpful for someone who’s just starting out to get an idea of what’s what.

    I wanted to ask about Handford’s book:
    would it help me with grading in metric?

    Unfortunately the only review/description I could find was yours, on Amazon!

    And if it’s not metric friendly, which one would you recommend as an alternative? Thanks for everything!

  6. Cheryl K says:

    Question for Kathleen or anyone that knows:
    RE: ASTM for D5586-01 ‘Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Women Aged 55’ (Now costs $41)
    How many more body measurements than Bust-waist-hip does it include? (I am interested in location of bust (shoulder to nipple (sorry – I’m sure there is a discreet word for it) crotch curve etc., etc.
    Need to know if I should spend my limited funds. Thanks, from Cheryl K

  7. Cheryl K says:

    RE: ASTM D5586-01 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Women Aged 55′

    OK – I bought the download of the standard; 20 pages. For anyone who may be interested, there are 48 or more measurement points that are organized into 8 tables. It definitely gives me something to compare to.
    Cheryl K

  8. Sarah says:


    I am trying to find Italian sizing standards. Is there such a thing? I am looking to grade a pattern for the first time, and I prefer European, specifically Italian, silhouettes. I would really appreciate any help on this.

  9. Mei says:

    Hi Kathleen!

    I hope you still check your blog and find this question.
    Since you are a voting member at ASTM textile subcommittees, I think I might have just the right question for you. My friend is currently doing a mini-research on the history of standardized body measurements in the United States. She wants to find out exactly when was the first ASTM body measurement standards was published? 1950s, before the World Wars, or even earlier than that? Where could she find informations like so? Thanks a lot in advance!!

  10. Kathleen says:

    There is a proposal on the D-13 ASTM committee ballot to withdraw the D-5586 (2001) standard for body measurements for women aged 55+ with no replacement. If passed, this study will not be included in Vol.2 D-13 as of November 2009. Since libraries that have the ASTM standards discard annual copies, you should get the standard now if you think there’s the slightest chance you need it. It is possible D-5586 may then enter public domain but I do not know this for certain (caveat lector).

  11. Sabine says:

    ok, so I went to that site where you can download table, and the one you suggested is taken off and will be revisited before being made available again. So far so good.

    Then i clicked the link to Handforts book, which brought up
    Did you see the price? $999.98 plus shipping!

    Anyways, i googled, and it is cheaper here:

    What about his other books, are they good and useful too? I am thinking of the pattern making one.

  12. Jill Homiak says:

    Since we’re on the topic of sizing, I’m going to ask a related question here. I posed the question to two wardrobe stylists:

    Do a lot of your clients find it hard to get shirts that fit their bust appropriately & jackets or dresses that don’t extenuate a large bust line? One responded with, Yes; this is an ongoing issue for many women, even those that are not as large busted.

    So I got to thinking, was that because the pattern/grading were off? Or was it only because that label wanted to have its clothes sized for smaller chested woman? Or both potentially?

    Would love your ideas! :)

  13. Kathleen says:

    You’re right Jill, it is potentially both.

    There is no way to know if the grade or pattern is off without the pattern being closely scrutinized. That is a wholly separate issue tho from the matter of who the garment is designed to fit. Just as each designer determines the fit characteristics of their customer, there will certainly be a segment who does not fit that profile but who are attracted to the styling. It’s up to each designer to figure out whether there are more of the people who want it but can’t wear it or the reverse. Generally tho, one is better off dealing with the devil they do know than the one they don’t. It’s better to listen to people who are giving you money vs people who say they would. It is only when sales begin dropping off in your niche that you take a hard look at modifying fit to follow your customer.

  14. Jade Nomad says:

    Hi Kathleen. I’m looking at the ASTM aged 55 and older in the book Concepts of Pattern Grading, and the bust sizes seem really small to me. For example, the size 12 bust is 34, with waist 28 and hip 38. Whereas the regular ASTM size 10 says bust 36, waist 28, hips 38.5. Are these bust sizes right?

  15. Kathleen says:

    Hi Jade, apologies for my tardy response. I’d been away and it took awhile for me to catch up.

    I have the 2001 edition of the book you mention (for anyone who wants to follow along, see pg. 239). I hope I don’t appear argumentative but the waist measure in my edition is 29.81, hip is very close to 38 (37.79).

    The 5585 stats you cite are spot on as a comparative to the 5586 so … as reluctantly as I must say this, you have to consider the source material of the 5586 principal investigator. Goldsberry is not an authority in the minutia of sizing and grading but a professor of apparel merchandising. What seems most likely is that she used the Shelton study (developed in the late 30’s and early 40’s) to arrive at her size set designations as many professors have done for a very long time. It would be helpful to know that a lot of latitude is granted to principal investigators since they went to all the work of funding and collecting the data sets.

    As far as the sizes being right, there are a lot of problems with the 5586, I don’t think I’ve published an analysis of this in public. Me and a lot of other people think the data set should have been normalized to make it easier to implement. Regardless, you determine sizing appropriate for your customer demography, there is no such thing as standard sizing and of course, size is nothing but a number. It doesn’t mean anything beyond a sorting mechanism. I’ve written a lot about sizing on this site, maybe you’ll have time to look into it at some point.

  16. alicia says:


    Thank you for providing so much great information! I have a question, forgive me if this has been covered already and I missed it….Basically I am trying to make my basic slopers using Armstrong’s book (4th addition). I bought 5586, but it doesn’t have all of the measurements needed to make a sloper (i.e. waist to shoulder at neck, center front to side front, shoulder tip to center front neck, shoulder tip to bust point, to name a few). Just wondering how people using the standards from 5586 get these measurements.

    Thank you soooo much!

  17. Kathleen says:

    I don’t know anyone using specific measures from the 5586 to make fitting shells. Doesn’t mean no one is, only that I don’t know them. I suppose you would have to extrapolate as you went along (which you’d have to do anyway being that the results are problematic anyway). Even if these measures were provided, you’d still have to fit it to your requirements. Just do the best you can.

  18. alicia says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Thank you for answering my question. I suppose I could get an AlvaForm since they are made with the 5586 measurements. Basically I need my basic slopers to make my patterns. I know String Codes sells slopers, but I read your post about the problems with them. Do you happen to know of any other companies that sell basic slopers?

    Thanks again!

  19. Simone says:

    All the titles by Winifred Aldrich have several size charts and are the best I have used! Find them on Amazon, they are worth every penny!

  20. Kathleen says:

    I like the Aldrich books quite a bit and have all of them. I agree with Simone that Aldrich could be a good source. The 5th edition of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear has a summary of the BS/EU sizing initiative (13042 et al).

    That said, it is important to separate the value of pattern instruction in a book from sizing guidelines (which are only included so the student can execute the drafts). Crazy as it sounds, a patternmaking book should not be considered a reputable source for sizing—and this applies to all pattern books, not just Aldrich’s. Reason is, sizes are constantly changing while the instruction of how to make a pattern, does not. Case in point, if we gauged the value of a pattern book according to the quality of the size measurements within it, some truly lovely vintage books would be judged inferior.

    But returning to Simone’s point: If you’re on a budget (data sets aren’t cheap) and if basic measures are all you need, the latest editions of the Aldrich books could solve a lot of what ails you.

  21. Sheltimah says:

    Hi Kathleen, is there another grading book that you can recommend? The one by Hanford is wayyyyyy out of my budget. I saw that Concepts of Pattern Grading 2nd Edition: Techniques for Manual and Computer Grading by Moore, Mullett, and Young has pretty good reviews on Amazon. I am not quite a beginner but I don’t think I am good enough to consider myself an intermediate with pattern grading.

  22. Libby Romano says:

    Is there an ASTM table you recommend for maternity-wear – specifically, dresses? I’m getting the following two options, (MIL-DTL-29477A and 78A) but neither seem to be specific to maternity-wear OR dresses.

  23. Linda Johnston says:

    Has anyone purchased the standard grading rules from fashion index? It seems like it maybe a good reference and is $95.00. I am looking for children’s grading charts.

  24. Megan says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    I am a trying to find data sets and sizing chart based on above average taller proprtions for both women and men, but I am having a hard time doing so. I am trying to create basic slopers, and hopefully accurate patterns to send to a manufacturer so that my product will have consistency. I was wondering if there are any resources you could recommend. I have thought about coming up with my own proportion charts but I’m no scientist.

    • Grade rules are not easy to obtain as they are copyrighted for good reason. They contain the measurements used by companies to ensure that their clothing fits their customers. Good fit sells clothing. Manufacturers are not eager to share that information.

      Here are some instructions that may help with developing a grade rule for your company:

      I assume you have a fit model who represents the body type you are designing for. Begin developing your grade rule for your company by first taking all of her measurements. Then draft a sloper that fits her. Test it repeatedly with a muslin fitting until the fit is perfect. That way you will start out with a sample size that is designed for a taller figure. (A sloper is a basic pattern from which pattern styles are developed – A sloper includes a bodice front and back, a sleeve, and a front and back skirt.)

      Draft all your style patterns from that developed sloper. Helen Armstrong’s pattern book is an excellent reference for how to develop pattern styles from slopers.

      Because your sample size is designed for the taller figure, when you grade the patterns, that feature – the taller length of the sample size – will automatically grade as well. All of the graded patterns, no matter what their size, will fit taller figures.

      Consider using the Standard Sizing grade-rule measurements used by the mail order and home sewing companies, as well as many other clothing manufacturing companies. The Standard Size grade rule was developed by the Department of Agriculture after the Second World War. Check Penney’s sizing chart, as well as other mail order companies sizing charts for the measurements. Compare the difference in sizing to determine how much to grade each size. Grade your patterns so your grading incorporates the width and length changes in those charts.

      I’m hoping to have Grading to Fit, a book I’ve been writing and classroom testing for the past 25 years, on the market by the end of this year. It presents how grade rules work, and how to use them to grade to fit and to set up grade rules for clothing manufacturing companies.

      • Avatar photo

        I disagree with Laurel on a few things; fwiw, I called her before posting my comment to make sure she understood that my dissent could be filed under “friendly disagreement between colleagues” and she was good with that.

        I don’t like the Armstrong book as well as she does. It is very popular. Popular doesn’t necessarily mean better. Or perhaps it is better to say that I like this book less than readily available alternatives. I wrote a post about how I review pattern making books ( and used the two leading texts in the trade for illustration purposes. I think Armstrong is fine for students but if you plan to get a job or make money as a pattern maker, you’ll have fewer things to unlearn with another choice (Connie Crawford’s book) -should you have that option.

        Laurel mentions “the Standard Size grade rule” but is unclear as to which this is. I’m guessing that she is referring to the Commercial Standard formerly under NIST auspices but has since been withdrawn. It is a very long story but the adult data isn’t persuasive and dates from the 1930’s. The data sets for kids are not applicable to your question but date from the early 80’s and also, are more current than the ASTM data -for now. Alvanon is probably working on that too so this paragraph is subject to change. There is some discussion and links to these data sets in this post which I updated today.

      • Kathleen,

        I always understood that Standard Sizing was developed by the Department of Agriculture after World War II. That sizing was needed, so to obtain it armed forces women were measured and their measurements used as the basis for the developed sizing system. Possibly  this was done for the Extension Service’s home economics sewing programs, as that service was developed by the Department of Agriculture.

        I’m not sure where I learned that, so cannot quote a source. I’ve also understood that the sizing system developed then is used by mail order companies and the four USA home sewing companies, Butterick Vogue, McCalls and Symplicity. There are slight variations in their sizing, but the variations are so slight that the corrections one needs to make in their patterns work for all four.

        I welcome your corrections, and am most interested in your comments.

        For 20 years I taught a course at what is now Jefferson University that I titled Fitting Home Sewing Patterns. Adult continuing professional education students developed personal slopers from the Butterick shell patterns, each student choosing her best size based on comparing her chest measurement with that given on the Butterick pattern chart. Bust fit was explained and  demonstrated. Students learned how to determine problems in the printed patterns and how to correct them.

        Each student then determined her grading coordinates by comparing her developed slopers with her Butterick shell patterns. The course was extremely successful. Students who had never experienced good fit were delighted with the results.

        The textbook I developed as I taught that course is the textbook I am now completing. I certainly want to make sure the book presents correct information about Standard Sizing – or whatever the current sizing system that the four home sewing companies and most mail order companies use is correct. The easiest way would to be to just leave any information about Standard Sizing, or whatever the grade rule is now called out. Easy enough to do as the book presents how to develop personal slopers from any grade rule, and then how to determine coordinates for the grade rule chosen, so as to be able to grade style patterns from the chosen grade rule to a custom fit.

      • Avatar photo

        By description, it sounds like you’re referring to the data set collected in the 1930’s, PS 42-70, the principal investigators being O’Brien & Shelton. Fwiw, this voluntary product standard has been withdrawn for many years as the data set was rolled into ASTM and is better known as D-5585 (mentioned in this post). It should be noted that the standard continues to evolve, just like people do.

        I cannot speak to the needs of individual home sewers, sloper-makers or what home sewing pattern companies do as I have no idea. The subject is not congruent with the interests of my visitors so I likely never will. As far as manufacturers using this data set… I cannot say that none of them do only that no one I know who has built a scalable business, has. In any event, I am certain that your book will be as detailed as your earlier work and I wish you continued success with it.

      • Laurelhoffmann says:

        Thanks, Kathleen,

        You have answered the question very well. I wish you much success with your projects.

        Regards, Laurel

    • Avatar photo

      As far as I know, there aren’t any data sets for taller people across the board altho there is a new standard for big and tall men. Also, the data set for women over 55 includes various height categories. The only resources I could recommend off hand is that you hire an experienced pattern maker as this is not so unusual. Books may not cover it but the market place does.

      The other thing worth noting is that you’ll likely need a pattern maker anyway, even if you make the first patterns (see: In school and books, they may gloss over the job duties but making patterns is maybe a quarter or at most, only half of our job duties. There’s grading, producing sew-bys, marker making, yield calculations, industrial engineering, tech packs and all that too. If you will be working with a sewing contractor (legally, you’re the manufacturer), they will require a lot of this pre-production work to be done first. Last but not least, a pattern maker is very often the person who can refer you to a contractor. For more on that, see

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