Oh, my goodness! Last week, I was grading (sizing) a pattern and I had the biggest mess of Excel spreadsheets on my computer screen. If only you could have seen that mess! Oh, but wait! You *can* see the mess. Here’s a screen shot.
And, if you want to see the mess bigger, here you go: embiggen.
So, what in the world caused the need for three separate spreadsheets? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’m crazy, that’s what. I am forever coming up with oddly-constructed designs. They are cute! They are clever! But, they may be the death of me in sizing for 6 different sizes. ha!
Through a lot of research and hands-on experience, I can size a garment without much of an issue. That part is easy. The hard part is making it work in a pattern. Patterns need to be concise. They need to be step-by-step for all the sizes. You can’t write a separate pattern for each size for a publisher. I could do it, if necessary, when writing for my own line of patterns, of course. And, I have done that, when necessary. But, the restriction of having to say something like this makes it tough:
“Repeat previous 2 rows 5 (6, 6, 7, 8) times more.”
… when you really need to write:
“For sizes small, medium and large, repeat previous 2 rows 5 (6, 7) times more, but for size 1X, do this instead, but for sizes 2X and 3X, do this instead.”
So, why do these problems arise? It comes into play because, as the body grows, height and shoulders do not change much, if at all. So, while it’s a breeze to write the size small with the shoulders and chest fitting into a nice, cute little box, it’s crazy difficult to get from the shoulders to the bust on the larger sizes without making some radical changes. The diagonal line drawn from the top of the garment to the bottom of the armhole for a size small is pretty slight. But, you have to make a much greater diagonal line to get from the top of the garment to the bottom of the armhole in the larger sizes. Crazy quick increasing in about the same amount of space. That’s tough!
Then, let us talk of necklines. With a size small, the neckline usually starts above the armhole decreasing. While the armhole increases as the size increases, the height of the human being doesn’t. There is very little fluctuation in the neckline. The neckline starts to overlap with the armhole decreasing as you go up in sizes. But, that’s not a good thing for a pattern because once again, you would have to have two separate instructions for the variations. It’s crazy talk!
So, as a pattern writer, you can’t always get perfection. It’s not like we’re cutting out fabric where you can be precise. It takes some clever number crunching to get the pattern. Sizing is easy. It’s the pattern that’s crazy.
For all the new designers, I feel you! I know it’s difficult. It takes lots and lots of practice. Don’t dispair. It *does* get easier with time and practice. But, even with my 10+ years of experience, I still have patterns that make me want to throw in the towel. But, don’t give up! With each new pattern, you will get better and better. I promise.