Grading Fashion - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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Grading in the fashion industry is not the same as a teacher grading class papers.  However, if you are a teacher at a fashion school, it is true that grading is part of your responsibilities.  Anyway, grading a test is simply different then the type of grading that I plan to discuss on this page...
Grading of a pattern (or grading of size spec measurements) means adding or decreasing inches (or other measurement units such as millimeters), to a specific part of the sample sized pattern in order to size up or size down.  In other words, when grading you are creating a size run of varying dimensions and sizes.  For example, if your sample size is size medium, you will need to grade "up" to determine the measurements for size Large and X-large etc.  If your sample is size medium, you will need to grade "down" to determine the measurements for size small.
In order to do this, you need to have established grade rules.  Unfortunately, grade rules vary from company to company.  Also, they change depending on the fabrication.  For example, the grade rule for the neck opening for a knit top may be different for the neck opening for a woven top.  It is important to take into account that knit will stretch more then woven and therefore, may require different rules.
For example, one company may grade the sample size's waist measurement up 1 1/2" to make a size six a size eight.  However, another company may grade the sample size's waist measurement up 1 1/4" to make a size six a size eight.  Because their is no apparel industry standardization each manufacturer or designer has the opportunity to decide how their production pattern gets graded.  They determine their standard sample measurement as well as their specific grade rules.
You may wish to consult a pattern maker for more information on this subject.  If you are a pattern maker, please join us for discussions at the pattern maker discussion group at the Fashion Industry Network.

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