plaid wool shorts and pattern grading

future project.. plaid wool tap shorts

This weekend, I started work on the plaid wool tap shorts I wrote about last week, which come from a 1950s sewing pattern.. really high waisted, kind of short, side zipper, perfect for tights and silk button up blouses. And maybe a good early fall piece?

The first step in constructing these shorts is change the pattern size. The pattern's measurements are about four inches larger than my own, so I needed to grade (or size) down the pattern pieces to make them fit. Using Megan Nielsen's quick and easy tutorial, I changed the size of the pattern in about 30 minutes.

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What I used for this project.. brown kraft or packing paper (pattern paper and muslin work just as well, if not better - I'm just cheap and this stuff is 1.50 a roll), a styling design ruler (depending on if the pattern you're using has curved edges, you might be fine with a standard clear ruler), paper cutting scissors, pattern weights (I use 5/8 washers bought at a home improvement store, cheaper than pattern weights), and a pencil.

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I began by trimming the two front and back pattern pieces, then laying them out flat on the kraft paper. I weighed the pieces down using the washers, then I traced the edges in pencil using my curved and flat rulers.

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Once the two pieces were traced, I cut them out. I marked the waistline and center seam (as well as which piece was the back or front) on each pattern. Then, I altered the new kraft paper pattern pieces. According to Megan Nielsen's tutorial, when you're grading down (making the pattern smaller), you have to figure out the measurement you'd like the pattern to be, then divide that by 4. I wanted my pieces to be 4 inches smaller than what they were, so I divided that by 4 and came up with 1 inch. Once you have your number, you take in the center seam and bottom edge of each piece by that measurement. So, for my pattern, I simply marked 1 inch from the center seam and bottom edges of the pattern pieces, then trimmed it where I marked.

And that's all! If you'd like to grade up a pattern, simply reverse the process and add the divided-by-4 measurement rather than subtracting it from the center and bottom seam. This is a very simple way to adjust a pattern, and there are more complicated and accurate ways (like the cut and spread method), but I think this will do the trick just fine. I'll find out how well it worked for me when I make the tap shorts this week.

There will be no shop update this week as I'm preparing for a back to school lookbook (hitting the blog in a couple of weeks), but I will be putting plenty of items on sale in the next few days! Lots of late summer markdowns.. I need to make some room in the store. Happy Tuesday, all.