January 03, 2008

Grading Pants Notes pt. 1

The following are my notes on grading infant-toddler pants. Having a copy of the Jack Handford grading manual will be helpful in understanding what these notes mean. Hopefully you have at least read the introduction and the instructions for grading a bodice. If you don't have a copy of the book, save these notes anyway - they may come in handy.

These are the first of my notes on grading pants using the Jack Handford book. Part one of these notes is an explanation about directions and movements of the pattern pieces. Later I will talk specifically about grading pants, shorts, and what I think is a mistake in the children's chapter. Handford's book is a textbook and like most design text books he starts with grading women's styles. The book progresses from woman's bodices, pants, and skirts, to men's styles, and finally to children. When design/pattern making/grading book authors finally get to the children's info, the information becomes abbreviated and incomplete (if they include it at all). Handford's book is different because he does include infant and toddler information and it is more complete than any other grading manual out there. Still, he falls into the same trap. He assumes the student has worked through all of the previous chapters before arriving at the children's chapter. He assumes you have a strong grading background and understand his method completely. But what about those who have no interest in grading woman's clothing and skip ahead to the chapters with the most relevant information? This is what I did.

Now I do have a strong grading background - computer grading. Hand and computer grading are similar and Handford's method is how it is done in the industry. The direction of the grading is done in a similar fashion. The grade rules are similar. The grade steps are the same. But physically moving a hard, paper pattern around versus selecting points and entering relative coordinates is different. Despite that, I have a general sense of how a pattern should grow or shrink between sizes - and that helped me finally understand Handford's method better.

To start out, you will need to compare the grade instructions for women's pants to children. If you turn to page 79 (grading of women's back pant), you will notice arrows with words around each pattern piece. The arrows look like this drawing. If you flip over to the toddler pant grade (page 225), you will see arrows, but no words. It is at this point that Handford assumes you will know what direction is In, Out, Up, or Down. Now study the drawings of the women's pant and the children's pant. Do you see any other differences? There is one major difference that threw me off - I'll explain later...

The next thing to understand are directions. All patterns will move IN, OUT, UP, or DOWN. Handford shows how this works on page 6 in relation to a bodice. The children's chapter doesn't have these extra helps. So I drew arrows like on the right and below to help remind me of grading direction. I added the words to body center or to body side to remind me of how to move the pattern IN or OUT. As you can see, IN or OUT can change depending on whether you are grading a left or right piece (applies to front or back too). Directions may change again when grading darts. Be sure to study styles with darts to see the changes. Infant-Toddler styles do not have darts, so movements will occur like these drawings. Movements UP move toward the body head and DOWN toward the feet. UP and DOWN movements are always the same.

I hope I haven't thoroughly confused anyone yet. I felt like this brief explanation of the notation and movements was necessary before getting into more detail.

If you have questions, please leave them in comments.


  1. Anonymous7:12 PM

    Hi Esther,

    I've never had the priveledge of doing computer grading myself so I can only imagine how much easier it must be compared to hand grading! I did have my patterns computer graded once several years ago and they turned out awful, so I'm still a little squeamish about it. The markers had overlapping patterns and the woman's response was "the cutter will know how to handle that." Well, short of magically inserting extra fabric to cover both pattern pieces, there was nothing our cutter could do, of course. We had a multitude of other issues and she wouldn't rectify any of them. I eventually had to regrade some of the patterns and redo the markers by hand...talk about learning on the fly! My first foray into grading and marker making took place in the wee hours on a tight deadline. I've learned a lot since then, but hand grading is still such a chore. I'm working my way through re-grading my patterns as well, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Handford's methods.

    Happy New Year!

  2. I stumbled upon your blog. I live in ID and have started working on some children items, currently just running a very small etsy shop. I found your blog very informative.

  3. Yikes, that sounds like a mess! There is a learning curve with Handford's method, but so far his grading charts are great. What is hard is learning how to grade from a different point of view.