Taking Your Skills to the Next Level, Pattern Grading, Hacking, Math

Pattern hacking is simply a new term for altering a pattern. It’s the happy way to say alterations done to an existing pattern to get a new look.

A few summers ago I made a custom romper using this pattern. I added to the design special features for medical tubes and such.

Tracy McElfresh

I know, looking at the pattern cover this looks like a dated fashion although I had one or two of these in shorts dresses aka romper as a teen and loved it. The good points to the shorts romper is,  loose, cool, comfortable, cute and great for summer bike rides.

My first problem was I had no buttons so I need to make it a zip and I didn’t want a front zip where that pattern had buttons. If I put a side zip no matter how long the zip, I will not be able to get my body into it with the design unless I could curl my entire body up into a 28″ round ball. I would need to design tie shoulder straps. I learned this after making it. Good thing sewing gives me great patience and problem solving skills.

Tracy McElfresh

Pattern grading is a technique of making a pattern bigger or smaller and problem 2 was the patterns sizing. My pattern finished was a 39″ bust and I needed it to be finished at 34″ going me 2″ of ease. I’ve recently been researching the pattern grading method called slash and spread or cut and spread on the internet and thought I would give it a try. I saw at least 5 great blogs that helped me work it out.  I’m ok at math, not great but I know enough to get me along. Don’t get discouraged if you make mistakes, they happen!

I needed roughly 5″ taken out of the top width and some length. I simply divided 5 (the inches I needed out) by 4 (the four places I would make it smaller) and then by 2 to figure out how much each fold should be (since there are 2 sides to the fold). Then I measured across both full size pieces and subtract seam allowance. To make my math easy and less trimming I made my seam allowances 1/2″. This is grading at such a simple beginning place to learn.

Normally I’d make the top just as the pattern is, take it in by trying it on and pinning where it needed to be before its complete.

Tracy McElfresh

Teaching others to sew really pushes you to learn new skills and try them. It’s what makes teachers great, they love to learn.

Thank you for reading!

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh is the owner of Tracy’s Sewing Studio LLC.
Tracy McElfresh

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