February 09, 2011

Some grading questions

Tabitha of the Refugee Crafter sent me these questions. I thought her questions were enough for a separate blog entry.

Thank you so much for all the patternmaking information you've provided on this blog! You've helped me make the jump from altering other's patterns to creating my own patterns this last year. (I purchased Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear thanks to your recommendation and love it.)

I'd love to now make the move to selling my own patterns but need a little direction in regards to grading which I am hoping you can provide. (I really am quite new to all this so please forgive the naivety of my questions!)

1. If I have created a ruffled shirt pattern in a size 12 months (just for example) can I grade each of its specific pattern pieces up or do I have to go back to the basic block, grade it up, and then alter it (again) to create another larger sized pattern? (Common sense tells me I should just be able to grade my pattern up, but I was confused by a line in the Aldrich book's grading section and thought I'd ask you for clarification. I hope my question makes sense.)

You would grade the pattern pieces for your style.

2. You often refer to grading on a CAD program. What is this program and is it widely available and reasonably priced? Does it have a steep learning curve? (I'm well versed in the vector-based Adobe Illustrator and the rest of the Creative Suite, would that help in learning this?)

There are several CAD programs out there specifically designed for apparel pattern making and grading. Unfortunately, they are not reasonably priced. Software packages start at about $10,000. The grading module is often times extra. If you are computer savvy and have used CAD programs in the past, then making the leap to an apparel specific CAD program is no big deal. For most though, it is a steep learning curve.

I have been following several independent pattern makers that make and sell patterns to the home sewing market. They are using Adobe Illustrator, so I guess it is possible to use that software to draft and grade your patterns. I don't endorse the practice because I don't know that Adobe Illustrator can create drafts that are accurate or precise. I suppose it is possible, but I've tried it in the past and it was an exercise in frustration. It would be a time consuming task regardless because many pattern making procedures are not automated. I would imagine grading would require the use of layers. Adobe Illustrator is not a technical drawing program.

The ideal procedure would be draft your patterns in CAD, grade them, and then export them to Adobe Illustrator to pretty them up. If you draft and/or grade by hand, you will have to digitize your patterns first. And remember that a CAD program will not teach you to grade. It's a tool not unlike a pencil and piece of paper.

3. You also mention Jack Handford's grading book. Is this book only useful if you are doing grading by hand or would it also be useful if used in conjunction with a CAD program? If a CAD program is out of the question is this my best bet?

I grade by hand and with CAD. I use the Jack Handford grading book for both methods. The only difference is that I do not move the pattern around as I would when grading by hand. Instead, I select points and define the change using an x, y coordinate system. The grading charts are useful in either case, but it will take some effort to apply them in a CAD environment. The Jack Handford book would be good to study and learn from because his system is how it is done in the industry. It would be good to learn the hand method first and will certainly be less expensive then buying a CAD program. The Jack Handford grading book is currently out of print and the price is high.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your help! This is just the direction I needed!