Industry Insights: Grading Season!

Some of you expressed an interest in hearing more about my ‘day job’.  This is something I have largely avoided on my blog because a lot of it is confidential, as you can probably understand!  There are snippets I can show you though, so here is the first in a series of occasional ‘Industry Insight’ posts.

Although it is Spring 2016 showing in New York and London, here in New Zealand the opposite is happening.  Our Winter 2016 collection is showing, and even though the agents are still out there selling, production has already begun. For me this means it is grading season!

All the selling samples in our collection are made in size 10/Small. As a patternmaker it is really convenient for fitting purposes that I am almost a perfect size 10 too!  Obviously the rest of the world is not a size 10 as well, so patterns for all the other sizes need to be created before garment production can proceed.

At my workplace we do this by manually grading sizes up and down from the size 10 (S) pattern.

Grading the XS sleeve from the S Sleeve

Yes it is all done by hand – and there is a lot of cutting to do!  Larger organisations might use a CAD system but we still do it the traditional way.

All the sleeves graded and cut out

We usually grade five sizes in total  – XS/S/M/L/XL (3 up, 1 down) and sometimes we grade an XXS or XXL if they are requested by buyers.

After cutting them all out, each piece is nested to check for accuracy:

The Backs nested

Nice accurate work!

This simple top took only an hour to grade, but the lined coat-with-a-zillion-pieces I graded earlier in the week took me the whole day!

Grading can get a bit monotonous, but it is also therapeutic after the stress and deadlines of producing a sample range.  Most of the styles will be graded in the next month or two, and then the fashion cycle begins all over again as we start to design our Spring 2016!

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

16 thoughts on “Industry Insights: Grading Season!

  1. Bahaha! That does sound convenient being the “perfect” size. 😉

    I'm fascinated that you do the grading manually… I guess I had assumed everything in the industry would be computerized by now. (Not sure why I'd assume that—I don't exactly work in cutting edge industries myself. 😉 ) thank you for sharing this sneak-peak! 🙂

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  2. I don't work for a clothing company but I can manually grade and was taught by an ex tutor from AUT who also manually grades. I would love to know who you work for (out of pure NZ Interest). I work at an academy teaching pattern making so it is great to have some insight into the business side of the job I do

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  3. Ha – yes it would be perfect if I didn't have to strip down twice a day and try on skimpy summer samples in freezing cold winter, and woollen samples during a humid summer! The things you do 🙂

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  4. Lovely to see the manual approach still being used comercially- we use CAD and I always feel something is lost with digitization (though appreciate its speed). When ever I'm back in Auckland for a bit I refresh my skills with Don & Anne so as not to lose them!

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  5. Wow, amazing that you do your grading manually. I took a class in CAD grading and we never really discussed the benefits over doing it by hand vs CAD. What a great day job – thanks for sharing!

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