Grade House is proud to be part of the Great British sewing bee for the second year.
Pattern grading is the process of turning base size or sample size patterns into additional sizes using a size specification sheet or grading increments. This can be done manually or digitally using computerized pattern cutting software. The increments used are referred to as garment grading rules, and there are different
grading rules for each specific clothing market area and level.
Standard grading rules are sometimes given as ergonomic measurements of the body, either online or in pattern grading books but usually when producing your own clothing line you will want to design a bespoke grading system to target specific consumers. As there are no industry standard grading rules used in the UK it would be beneficial to research your consumer and competitors in order to formulate the most effective grading system for your target market.
Grading is a necessary step before approaching sample manufacturers or factories, as typically they will require card sets of your patterns as well as a minimum order of garments to be produced. We can provide graded card sets of base size patterns, which we can receive through email or digitize in from paper manual patterns. Having a variety of sizes for each of your garments also fills out your minimum garment order more cost effectively than having 100 size 8 garments for example.
Pattern cutters act as a link between the design and manufacturing stages, translating the 2D sketch into the 3D plan for the garment. This plan is called a pattern , and it is what is used to cut the cloth in the correct shapes in order to make up the garment.
It is the process of working from a fashion designer’s sketches and research to make the paper/card templates used for cutting the cloth. It is commonly confused with creating textile patterns for garments; however, a pattern cutter is concerned only with silhouette not print. When starting a fashion brand pattern cutting is an integral step, that can’t be skipped as you cannot approach manufacturers with just a sketch.
Patterns can be produced in three different ways:
– Manual pattern cutting – draped
Draped pattern cutting is done by placing pieces of material over a mannequin and pinning them till they fit, then transferring and adapting them on paper.
– Manual pattern cutting – flat
Flat pattern cutting is done by adapting a paper block or “sloper” pattern using measurements.
– Digital pattern cutting
Digital pattern making follows a similar process to flat pattern cutting but it is done by inputting a physical block into the system using a digitizer and then amending it using software such as Gerber / Lectra / Investronica.
In the case of new designers we can produce custom made blocks to work from as a foundation for all future patterns, so that the base size measurements are always consistent. For already established brands we can adapt blocks or patterns from existing collections to create new styles.
Many of our customers ask us; what are the industry standard grading rules for garment making or more specifically what are the mens pattern grading rules / ladies pattern grading rules? The simple answer is an industry standard grading system for the UK does not exist. Much in the same way as there is not one standard body type there is no standard size specification to fit all. Additionally a size 12 dress in one retailer will be completely different
dimensions in another retailer.
The key to establishing a successful grading system is to consider both of these aspects, first the size of your target demographic and secondly the sizing used in your market sector. The size for your target demographic should be determined by analyzing the age, gender and consumer profile of your potential customer. The target market sector should be determined by your price point, fabric choices, place of sale and your competitors as well as any sizing tactics used by these competitors.
Once these are researched we can help you develop your size specification, starting at your garments base size and working out the grading increments from there.
The most highly publicised event Grade House have worked towards was the Olympic Openeing Ceremony of London 2012.
We worked with independent London based pattern cutters to grade some of the patterns that were worn as costumes through out the Danny Boyle directed ceremony.
Some of the costumes are currently on display at the Museum of London for the Opening the Olympics Exhibition.
We get many inquiries about the process of starting a clothing brand and how you translate sketches into garments, below is a step by step guide covering the stages of production:
Initial research will include both the design concept, trends, fabric as well as market research.
Illustrations or technical drawings will be made, with special consideration of the construction and seam placement.
– Fabric Sourced
The designer will then source and provide the manufacturer with the fabric and components.
– First pattern produced
This can be done using manual pattern cutting; flat / on the stand or digitally using pattern cutting software. We work using a digital system so any previous blocks are digitised in and amended using a computer aided design program.
– Toile is sewn
A toile is a practise garment that is sewn in cheap fabric of same weight as the final fabric, it is only used by the pattern cutter, garment technician and designer.
– Fitting, Pattern Amendments and further fittings
The toile is then used to identify any problems with the pattern, construction or silhouette. Comments are given after each fitting and amendments are carried out.
– Pattern sealed
The pattern can be sealed with comments or without comments once all of the adjustments are complete.
– Pattern Grading
The base size pattern is now graded into additional sizes to create the complete sizing range with consideration to the market type and consumer preferences. We grade using a point by point system giving you the ability to design a bespoke sizing system to specifically target certain consumers. We can also produce size specification sheets from our graded patterns to help with quality assurance with manufacturers.
– Markers and layplans produced
We offer printed pattern sets in both paper and card, as well as paper printed pattern nests and layplans , we can also convert and email our files into AAMA, DXF, HPGL, or additionally export the paths to Illustrator.
– Pre-production sample
Initially a final garment is made in a variety of sizes in order to check the appropriateness of the construction methods, finishing’s, fabrics and components. This will be produced in accordance with any comments from the seal stage.
– Garments are manufactured
The order is now finalised with the manufacturer, (many manufacturers impose a minimum order quantity so this is something to consider when costing). We have a few manufacturers with whom we work regularly with, we would be happy to refer you to the most suitable one once we have a feel for your collection.