In retrospect, I wish I’d named this series, Why you really don’t want to use home sewing patterns for production. There’s a reason manufacturers don’t use them and this pattern is a good fairly typical example of why we don’t. Manufacturers are cheap. If they could get away with paying 1/10th the price for a pattern, believe me, they’d be all over it. But I digress.
Continuing from the first entry and the second, now I’ll show you some things you couldn’t possibly have seen, specifically, the grading of the pattern into plus sizes. I’m sure that even if you know nothing about grading, you’ll be as baffled as I am. Because there was so much to pick from in comparing the grading of pieces from size to size, I’ve limited the discussion to the center front panel. You know, that piece that joins the yoke from beneath? The reason also being, respondents said the sweep of the blouse in larger sizes was too small. Below is a screen cap of the size “7” (a plus size, representing sizes 16-18) on the left and on the right is size “4” (roughly equivalent to a size 10-12).
The first thing you may notice is that the size 4 pattern piece is much curvier than the size 7. I prefer to pass on arguing all day long but the fact remains, smaller sizes are curvier than larger ones -which really confuses me as to why plus sizes are called “curvy” but I’ll let that go (on second thought, I didn’t). At the pattern level, the smaller sizes are curvier. Now, as to whether the larger size on the left is an accurate grade up from the size 4 is a whole other animal because I’m not saying it was. By the way, each of these patterns were digitized and are in absolute proportion to each other.
Let’s compare the upper edge that sews to the yoke. The circle shows the point from which they’re lined up. The blue piece is the size 7.
The most glaring problem above is that there’s no take out for the “dart” formation at the top edge for the size 7 as there is for the size 4. Oops! Bye bye dart. Does the pattern designer thinks the larger ladies are less endowed than the thinner ones?
There’s a second glaring problem…the width of the pieces at the yoke edge are the same or nearly so; the size 4 is actually larger by a hair. How could this be? The size 7 is three sizes larger so there should minimally –minimally– be a grow of 1/8th inch per size. But nope, it’s not there. Front boobie measure is the same for size 4 and size 7.
Now let’s compare the sweep, the hem circumference of the two pieces below. Here, the size 4 is the blue piece.
Now this is really shocking. The size 4 is actually larger than the size 7! How much larger is the smaller size? My CAD program says 1.229″ larger (below).
Again, the size 7 should be a total of at least 3/8″ larger than the size 4. Have you had enough by now? And this was just comparing the grades of two pieces. Perhaps you can see why I didn’t feel the need to digitize the whole thing in two sizes just to make a point.
One last thing. One frequent complaint made by the ladies is that the back neck didn’t grade up in the larger sizes. Unfortunately, I was not able to corroborate this. I think they may have gotten that impression based on the presentation and layout of the nest (home patterns are nested together by size in case you’ve forgotten). I digitized the back necks in sizes 4 and seven and this is what I came up with, using the nesting point at the center back neck (below).
The difference in the two measures is over 3/8 but less than 1/2 so I wouldn’t consider this to be too great a problem. Again, we can argue the amount of grow to be greater than that but minimally, at least they aren’t the same size. A bigger problem I found was the depth of the back neck (below). This was nearly 1 5/8th inch in the smaller size. Not apropos for a style like this.
If you need a reminder of why this back neck drop can be a problem, see pgs. 164-165 of The Entrepreneur’s Guide.