Designing a graded pattern for an “FBA” or Full Bust Adjustment – Warning: This is Technical – Part 2

How is your brain capacity for grading right now? Overwhelmed yet? I wanted to break the bust grade out into a new post because its is more complicated.

Step 3: Bust and Across Back Grades

To better understand the relationship for a bust grade is different than a size grade. Looking at the quick graphic below, size grades go from one full body size to the next. The cup sizes for rtw are unrelated to the body size. For the cup size grades, you need to keep the waist and hip measurements the same for the same letter size, but the bust size changes.

I pulled my largest measurement for the cup range from my previously defined charts and dropped it into this chart.

The bust area is a tricky task to deal with. I next had to define my bust span for each size. This is the measurement from apex to apex. This part was a lot of work, so I’m not going to share this chart with you. (I know, I’m mean.) I will add this to the book I write on the subject, but at this point, I’m not going to share it. (I know, I keep saying this and it is still mean.) This part came from a lot of trial and error. I took what I knew about bra making, but also incorporating ready to wear bust spans into the mix.

For a quick reference, here is the full size chart again that I explained in the first part of this article.

My next task was to determine the across back measurement, which is the amount from armhole to armhole. I use the underbust measurement (from my sports bra chart).

In the case of the XS, the underbust was 27 on the larger side of the range. The back for each letter size is not graded for the bust, so we need to determine the back sizes before we can determine the front bust measurements. I took the 27 and divided it by 4. The quarter measurement for the XS is 6.75. These amounts are for the back of each size.

For the front, we remove the across back from the full bust measurement. This is determined by taking half the underbust measurement and subtracting it from the full bust. For the XS – A/B Cup, this leaves us with 16.5 or the half amount of 8.25.

The grade amount for each bust size going down the chart is a total of 2″ for the full grade. Each bust size is indicate by a 1″ change of circumference. This amount covers 1/4 of the body, so the grade amount shown is 1″.

Have I lost you yet?

We haven’t even gotten to actually grading yet. There is a reason it takes pattern makers years of schooling and practice to get this right.

I’m thinking I need to end this post here and let it simmer in your brain. The next and final post will be how I did the actual bust adjustments on the pattern.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 6 – Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method by Hollen & Kundel

You probably never realized how many pattern making books there were. This is the 6th book in my pattern drafting book review series. This is an old book, just look at the cover image. The copyright is 1993. This book is called Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method by Norma Hollen and Carolyn Kundel.

By the looks of this book, you might wonder if this is a computer pattern drafting book, but no, it is not. The cover photo is very misleading. This is a very good beginner pattern drafting book. I would compare this to Helen Armstrong’s book. The font is outdated and small, but very informative.

This book covers a lot more pattern manipulation than the Armstrong book does, but it does not cover drafting by measurements (with the exception of pants). There are both 1/2 scale slopers and 1/4 scale slopers for manipulation.

If you can get your hands on this (most of the used books are listed at $200+), it is worth it (but not at $200). After the explanations in the chapters, they include a page of designs for you to practice. I love this feature. No one else does this.

What I love about this book: I love that it is spiral and you can lay it flat. I wish Amazon allowed print on demand books to be spiral, because I would totally take this route for my pattern books. They don’t because it goes back to the store shelf display option. Print on demand books can be sold to bookstores, and bookstores can’t properly display a spiral bound book.

Perhaps it would be smart to take all my reference books that are bound and have them put into spiral binding. I like this idea. It only costs about $5 at Office Depot to spiral bind a book. They will even cut the spine off for you.

Okay, back to the loves. I love the examples to practice. They even have some sewing tips. I love the multitude of options included in this book.

What I dislike: The same as all the other books really, I really dislike the instructions grouped by letters and numbers. This one isn’t too bad, but it doesn’t show all the steps to do something, just writes it. The font is small and totally an 80s font, so are the illustrations. I also dislike that you can’t buy this used for $20.

This book is out of print. I found it on Amazon for $200-$500. Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method. Sometimes there are used versions out there, you can try with this link. Note that this is an affiliate link.

The Start of the Laurel Sports Bra Grading Saga

I have completed the design of the Laurel Sport Bra and made all my necessary changes to the 38J pattern (my size).

I made a few pattern adjustments since the last sample and just printed out the pattern in preparation for sewing my last design sample. At this point, there shouldn’t be any changes to the design, but I have to make the sample to make that final call.

I am so confident on the patterns that decided to go ahead to start work on the grade sets. The waistband was simple as I was able to copy the grading from the Christina for the waistband.

The second easiest is the back grade. Here is the screen shot of back grade in progress. This part wasn’t that hard to complete. I copied the backs from the Christina Sports Bra so I could infer the grading from the latter. To give you an idea of what you are looking at, the pattern between the blue guidelines is the 38 J graded patterns for J cups across the range of 28 to 52.

The last changes I had made to the back are actually pictured here. Since the back grade doesn’t take long, I had already graded the backs to the previous iteration of the back from the last sample I made. I basically doubled my work, but it really only took me about an hour to do it all, plus its good practice for me. The back is just a little tedious and you have to follow the steps in the right order. 

That bit went quickly so I thought I would start on the front, which was a little overly ambitious. It was my intention to copy the grading from points on the Christina Sports Bra onto points of the Laurel Sports Bra. Here are the two patterns. The top two in the middle of the page are the Christina and the bottom are the Laurel.

The first steps were relatively easy. The first set is a J cup graded for bands 28 through 52. I had to keep the same proportions of the Christina Set for the Laurel Set. I had to make sure the princess seam lines matched for all sizes for both pattern pieces. The waistline, side seam and armhole didn’t really change, so my main concern was the seam line. The armhole did change, but the measurements didn’t. After creating all the J patterns, I then change the grade rules for A through K. Its a little tricky.

I started with the 28J pattern with the cup grades and tried to match grade points to the 28 grade set. This proved to be a little harder than I had hoped. I was originally thinking, I’ll just do this in an hour and be set. WRONG. In the screenshot below, you can see the measurements from the Christina. The first measurement titled bust is irrelevant. The curve amount won’t relate to the Laurel either, but the three other measurements MUST match the Laurel’s measurements.

I played around with changing some grade points and then I checked measurements, these need to be exact in order for the pattern pieces of the Christina and Laurel to be interchangeable (front, backs and waistbands).

What I thought I could do quickly will not happen. And as I’m typing this, I remembered a pattern modification I had to make that I didn’t do here. Anyway, its dinner time and I give up for the day. 

I will make my final design sample, which I also just realized I need to alter. I removed space off the waistband for the hook and eye, but I did not reduce the amount I removed from the pattern with a stretch reduction. Basically, I removed 3/4″ for the hook and eye, but really should have only removed about 1/2″ off of it since the hook and eye won’t stretch. Its probably why my last sample was too tight on me. To be on the safe side, I will add 3/8″ to the back waistband.

Designing a graded pattern for an “FBA” or Full Bust Adjustment – Warning: This is Technical – Part 1

I recently created a pattern called the Rachel Tank, with 5 bust size options. It was a challenge to determine how to break down the sizes. I wanted to create a versatile pattern, but really didn’t want to have to create a different pattern piece for every bust size known to man.

I chose this simple design to help me establish my grading for bust sizes in RTW styles. I know grading extensively for bra making and for basic patterns, but I never tried adjusting a pattern for a full bust. This series is on how I altered a basic tank with a “FBA” or full bust adjustment. I don’t go into the nitty gritty of making changes, but this series tackles how I created my grade rules for the FBA on a RTW garment style.

I first took a basic tank from my Porcelynne collection from years past. It is a simple tank I made thousands of times over the years. It was great for me when I was on the thinner side. I might have been a DD when I was a size 10/12 in the past.

I am now a I/J cup and a size 18, although I am slowly losing weight. I laughably tried on one of my tanks from my younger days and thought – well, this won’t do. I need to create something for “real” women, aka myself.

I spent several hours redesigning my basic Porcelynne tank to include a dart – which makes it shaped better on the body. I also removed some of the fitted-ness of the top. I figure it is always easier to remove, than add, once it is sewn together. For someone who wants a more fitted tank, the individual can take it in on their own.

I had already spent hours (but closer to days) developing the size chart of my Christina Sports Bra. I planned this to be the base of all my sizing. I will try to walk you through my grading madness.

I have a spreadsheet with multiple tabs going. Some accounting for stretch on a garment and some for non-stretch. I probably won’t share all of it, as it was a lot of work on my part and honestly I am always adding to it when working on a new garment. (This is a foreshadowing that I will be writing a book on grading- but not today!)

Step 1: The Size Chart

When making the grade, I first needed to create my size chart, aka my grade rules. I used my existing sizing from the Christina Sports Bra. This is only for part of my size chart – 28 through 40 Bands (the rest of the chart can be seen on the Christina Sport Bra product listing). The cup amounts are the full bust measurements.

I took this size chart and accommodated it for letter sizes, meaning small, medium, large, etc. I took the basic size measurements for the B cup for the A/B Cup sizes of each letter size. Letter sizes generally cover a range of number sizes. For example, a small covers dress sizes 2 and 4.

Not everyone has the same chart. Mine may not be appropriate for you to use. Mine is for my customer. I have already trained my customer with my previous patterns (California Dreaming and Christina Sports Bra). My existing customer knows how my patterns fit, so this size chart reinforces my existing fit.

I added the corresponding dress sizes, my sports bra band sizes for reference, waist, hip and my basic bust size of A/B. As you can see by just looking at the XS, the A/B cup size is my B cup for the 28.

Things got more complicated for the rest of the sizes. I had to make a call on how my sizes were created. I initially took the smallest A measurement for the smaller size and B measurement for the larger band size. For the small, that would be 31-34, which is a 4 inch range.

Letter sizes are traditionally a 4″ change in circumference from size to size (not including any stretch adjustments). To me the 4″ change for the bust size was too big of a change for each cup size.  

I opted to make my bust size range only 3 inches instead of 4 for the A/B, but only 2″ for all other cup sizes. I played around a bit with my numbers and this is the chart I came up with. 

My bust sizes don’t necessarily equate to the actual bust sizes from the sports bra size chart, but they are close.

Step 2: Measurements for Patterns

The size chart was the hardest part of all of this, but I can use this size chart for all my future patterns. It is important you have a sound size chart prior to developing any patterns.

The second step was to determine what measurements I was basing my patterns on for each size. You can’t have a range at this point, only a singular number for each point. I started with my waist and hip measurements since those were the simplest to create.

If you notice, the waist measurement I listed here is larger than the largest size in each range. This accounts for 2″ of ease in the garment. Remember, I have not adjusted the charts for stretch, so this chart is still being built for normal ready to wear. Some pattern companies may use the middle of the range and some may use the lower end of the range. These decisions are done by the designer and no choice is considered wrong. I prefer my patterns to be on the generous side, than “smaller than expected.”

In this chart I write in the full amount with ease, then break the amount into 4 since most drafting is done on one quarter of the body. I also list how much my grade is between each quarter amount. This shows my growth per size, or my grade per size.

Am I losing anyone yet?

I will stop here for the day. The bust grades are more complicated, so I’ll let this sink in for a day or two. Tell me what you think I might do for the bust grades. I’ll include the result in Part 2 of this post.

If you ever wonder why its so expensive to hire pattern makers or why pattern makers always ask for a defined size chart, hopefully this will help open your eyes to why we ask for it.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 5 – How Patterns Work by Assembil Books

Thanks for reading my review series on pattern making books. This review is the 5th in my series and is called How Patterns Work – Fundamental Principles of Pattern Making and Sewing in Fashion Design.

For a book with exactly 500 pages, there sure is a lot of text. I personally am a visual learner and have always had issues in my reading comprehension. I know, that may sound strange. I can write a 400 page book myself, but I can’t sit and read one. Its different to write one than to read one.

This book covers a lot of information. It is wonderfully packed with information if you are an avid reader, which I am not. One of my students turned me onto this book. She raved about it, but our backgrounds are vastly different. She was a nursing student, so she was used to massive amounts of reading and comprehension.

The book covers a lot of information, from draping (which none of the other books cover) to transferring the pattern to paper. I would say the main focus of this book is to take a drape and to true it and turn it into paper patterns.

What I love about this book: This is a draping book on turning a drape into a pattern. I like this approach as this is the way I learned how to draft. But as a drafting book, this isn’t really a drafting book when you compare it to all other drafting books. This book is thorough and covers everything it takes to draft basic silhouettes and turn them into a pattern.

What I dislike about this book: The size of the book. Not that there are 500 pages, but the fact that it is 7″ by 10″. The book is hard to hold open for the amount of content there is. If this book ever did a second edition, I would love seeing this larger, so the information isn’t broken down so small. There is a lot of text to read, but I think a little layout revision would solve readability.

I had considered writing a draping book, but as my mentor, Dawn Marie, says “You can’t teach draping in a book.” It is extremely hard to write about a creative process such as draping. It’s about as hard as trying to teach someone how to paint a creative painting. This book is about draping, but not about the creative process, which is what I think I would write about (if I wrote about it).

This is a book I don’t think I will ever need to reference for myself, so if you are interested in having this book, comment below and I might do a give away if I have a big enough response.

You can get your own copy on Amazon now by going to the following link. Note that this is an affiliate link. Affiliate links help support my business. How Patterns Work: The Fundamental Principles of Pattern Making and Sewing in Fashion Design

Pattern Release – Girl’s Sized Little Rachel Tank Top

My daughter is such a spunky little girl. She wants to be just like her mama. She comes home from school and has to “do orders.” This involves putting random stuff into bags with my order buckets.

Then she has to do work of cutting out “patterns” with her fabric scraps. This involves taking pattern pieces from the recycling bin, cutting on the edges of whichever pattern she gets her hands on and cuts the shape out of scraps. Occasionally she will sew the pieces together randomly.

I admire her drive. Although right now, she won’t let me write. I keep telling her I need 15 minutes to write so we can go swimming. She has interrupted me about 16 times in the last minute. We will see if I actually get this done to go swimming.

Because she wants to be like me, she wants to make things for herself that look like the things I make for myself. This is the first official pattern release of the girl’s sized version of something I made for adults. The Little Rachel Tank Top. I made it available in only 3 sizes – small, medium and large. I figure over the large, girls can wear the adult sized Rachel Tank Top.

We bonded over cutting the pattern out and I walked her through sewing the seams of the tank top. She was partially involved in the rest of the construction, but the videos show proof of her work.

I am trying something new. I will be releasing each pattern part a day apart from each other. I will update this post with each of the videos when they go live.

We decided to experiment with making a swimsuit out of the Little Rachel Set. I am so tired of those kid’s bathing suits just not fitting. The tops ride up on her in her size, but if we go up a size for the set, the bottoms fall off of her and the top still rides up. This tank was designed to be wider at the butt and belly, because frankly, not all kids are tube shaped, like the industry dictates.

This bathing suit is now officially her favorite item of clothing. I have actually released both the top and bottom on my website, but the videos for the bottom will not be released for a few weeks. I need to space them out a bit. I will make another announcement when the bottom is officially released.

In addition to completing these videos, I am changing how I am providing my pattern for download. This pattern and the brief contains four files each: the instructions, letter size, A4 and A1 for large format. I have also redesigned the patterns to be edge to edge with a 3/4″ overlap so those who hate trimming, don’t have to anymore.

I am also adding the option to have a paper copy of the patterns mailed. I will be working on updating the Christina Sports Bra and the Adult Rachel Tank and Brief to be provided in a similar manner. The Christina will be last as there are 143 sizes to update and that isn’t on my priority list right now.

Enjoy and subscribe to my channel or this blog to be notified of new videos.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 4 – Pattern-Drafting for Fashion Advanced by Teresa Gilewska

This is the 4th book in review for my pattern making book review series. I would have written about the Basics book of this title prior to this review, but I can’t find it anywhere. I think I loaned it to an employee or a student. It was at my store, so I’m more inclined to say I loaned it to an employee. If I ever get my hands on a copy, I will review it. I have made a Wishlist of the books I’d like to get if anyone is feeling generous.

This book is very colorful and pretty to look at, but in my honest opinion, most of the color is too much. I like that the sections are separated by color, but the colors are so bright, it is slighting blinding and distracting from the material in the book.

The first section is on jackets. It covers everything from drafting the sleeve of a jacket to drafting a lining. The second section is all on Kimonos, followed by Raglans and Trousers. There are draft by measure directions for pants, but not for the bodice and torso. I think those were in the basics book, but I can’t recall. I have so many books that remembering the specifics of each are difficult.

What I love: The visuals are great on the drafting instructions. The colors for variations and steps are helpful. The book appears very thorough in the topics it covers, but to be honest, I have never referred to this book. I think it is pretty to look at, which is why I think it survived the book shelf cut. If I ever get heavy into drafting jackets or cold weather clothing I will definitely be referring to this book, but most of what is covered doesn’t peak my interests currently.

What I dislike: There is too much color running down the sides of the pages. I can’t focus on the information. The text seems kind of small for the amount of white space in the book. This book also utilizes the letter/number instruction steps that I’m not a fan of. I just find it difficult to focus on the measurements at hand. Measurements are also in metric. Some imperial measurements are listed randomly, but I would have to write in the book for reference so I don’t make a stupid mistake.  Although I’m not so sure writing is possible due to the type of paper it is printed on.

This book is not readily available on Amazon. I think I saw it listed for something like $400-$1000. If anyone is interested, comment below and I can offer a giveaway of my copy of this book. Although, as it goes, as soon as I get rid of something I generally need it again. I will consider it if I get a lot of comments.

National Sewing Month is Here!

National Sewing Month is here! I honestly didn’t even know there was a thing called “National Sewing Month.” But a colleague in the industry reached out to me to see whether I would be interested in being a part of her celebration of National Sewing Month.

I said, “Sure, why not?”

So what’s the deal? Maddie Flanigan of Madalynne Intimates is hosting a giveaway of several sewing prizes, including one of my book Bare Essentials: Bras. It’s an Instagram sewing challenge, but she will also be awarding a $100 gift certificate to her own shop, a $200 JoAnn’s Gift Card and a year subscription to Creative Bug.

This is also in preparation of Maddie teaching courses through Creative Bug. Take a look at the sewing challenge on her blog.

I know there are a bunch of promotions across the interwebs of the internet this month. I wish I could be more involved than I am, but hey, I’m blogging at least.

As my own personal celebration of National Sewing month, I will be de-stashing my parent’s garage of my fabric. Check out my fabric stash on my Porcelynne Business Facebook page. I have a lot of random fabrics that were left over from my store or my personal stash. When we moved, I packed them all in air tight bags and stashed them in my parent’s garage. I will be pulling fabrics out of storage all month, so check out what I have.

It does feel nice to finally go through them. My loss is your gain. I’m participating in a few events this coming weekend. On Saturday I will be at Whim-so-Doodle in Downtown St. Pete doing a crafting garage sale from 11-2. On Sunday I’ll be at Art Pool from 11am to 5pm. At Art Pool, I will have all my cool vintage fabrics and trims, Saturday is more random stuff.

Everything I don’t sell in terms of the vintage fabrics will be added to the Facebook shopping link on my facebook page.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 3 – Basic Pattern Skills for Fashion Design by Zamkoff & Price

Thanks for reading the third book review in my pattern making review series. This book is called Basic Pattern Skills for Fashion Design by Bernard Zamkoff and Jeanne Price. Zamkoff was my instructor of pattern making at the Fashion Institute of Technology. This is the only book I kept from my college years.

I don’t know what happened to this book, but I’m guessing I used it so much that the covers came off and I wanted to preserve it so I put it in a folder instead.

When I first started teaching pattern making out of my studio, I used this book with my students. The steps are easy to follow. This is great for a beginner in the pattern drafting. I don’t know whether this book included any slopers, but my version does not have any it, but I’m also missing pages at the end. There is no draft by measure, but drafting from measurements is not very introductory. I don’t think anyone should be drafting from their measurements until they understand how to draft.

The pivot method and slash and spread are easy to understand and follow as well as the dart manipulation and pattern alterations.

My first day in pattern class with Zamkoff, a lightbulb went off and I finally understood how everything was connected. It helped me understand the relationship between the draping and the drafting methods to create a sloper. At FIT, our focus was on draping. Drafting wasn’t offered to first years. It wasn’t offered until you were almost out of school. We learned by draping and creating patterns from our drapes. I transferred in from another school so I had extra electives available. I took this class a year before I was supposed to.

What I love about this book: Everything. It is great for a beginner, but for me, even as a beginner I had a background in draping. I wonder if I would have found this as easy to follow had I not taken draping first. Either way, this is great book.

What I dislike: That I lost part of the book, but not the books fault. I just used it too much I guess. I would question whether someone being introduced to this book without any pattern or draping knowledge would struggle.

I thought this book was out of print, but it looks like the second edition is still available on Amazon. Here is the link. Note that it is an affiliate link and affiliate links help support my business. Basic Pattern Skills for Fashion Design

It’s our 16th Anniversary!

This month marks the 16th anniversary of my business, Porcelynne. 16 years ago this month, I made my way across the country to San Francisco to start my lingerie design business, Porcelynne Lingerie. It has been a wild and amazing adventure thus far.

In the past, I have not celebrated my business anniversary. It never really came up and I never really had any significant announcements to make during this anniversary month. My business has changed forms over the years, from a lingerie design business, to a co-op boutique, to a retail fabric shop and now I’m just an online supply and pattern shop.

Despite my love for having a brick and mortar shop, it really does take up all your time. You are having to figure out how to make twice as much money to keep the doors open. This can pull you away from your ultimate goals just to make ends meet. When you are online only, you can actually focus on other things – like family and personal growth.

Ideally, I would have made a big deal about my 15th Anniversary, but we had just moved to Florida and we were dealing with hurricane season. Remember Hurricane Irma and Maria? That put us out of power for a week. We had just moved into our house a few weeks prior to Irma hitting Florida and we had just started to unpack. Once the chaos ended, I was back to playing catch up from our cross-country move. These are pictures of my sewing studio during the chaos.

It is now a year later, I have moved my business forward, but my storage unit is still full (aka my parent’s garage). I am actively going through my storage unit to unpack my fabric. Most of the fabric is from my store, but I do have some personal fabrics stashed in there too.

If you haven’t noticed, I rarely ever do a store-wide sale. This is mainly because I price myself fairly competitive so I am unable to really do any markdowns and keep my business afloat. I introduced the reward points a few years ago, which gives 10% back in rewards for future purchases. That is my way of offering a site-wide sale.

In the coming months, I will be releasing more patterns, books and downloads, so now is your chance to take advantage of sampling my patterns at half price.

Thanks for being a part of my journey.