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Self Sewn Wardrobe Member Susan Low posted this picture in the group a couple of weeks ago:
It’s a picture of a small section of a tissue pattern from the Kwik Sew brand. The text on the pattern reads:
“WHEN CUTTING OR TRACING THE PATTERN PIECES, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE SAME SIZE ON ALL LINES AND PIECES.
NEVER CUT BETWEEN SIZES OR “BLEND” SIZES BY CUTTING FROM ONE SIZE TO ANOTHER.
Visit www.kwiksew.com/support for more information”
Well, did that all cause a stir! In fact, even 2 weeks later, people are still commenting!
So many people commented with hilarious sarcasm, and I can’t recreate it all here- so go to the Self Sewn Wardrobe Facebook Group and check it out. There was lots of mentions of the sewing police and hopes that one would be forced into “sewing jail” (hours of continuous sewing) if they broke the rules.
Of course, there were a few more practical and serious comments along the lines of “If I never blended between sizes, I’d never make clothes that fit”.
So, can you- should you- always/never/maybe blend between sizes?
Blending or Grading Between Sizes on a Sewing Pattern
First off, I believe this warning exists as a COA (cover our ass) for the pattern brand. If you incorrectly blend two sizes together and ruin your $75/yd fabric- they don’t want you to come crying to them. Understandable. That’s ok- you’ll make a test garment, won’t you?
People blend between sizes, because they are one size in one area (say the bust) and another size in another area (say the hips). This is normal. In fact, a lot of pattern companies instruct the user on how to properly grade between their sizes (something this Kwik Sew pattern clearly does not do). So, if you make a t-shirt and decide you need a size Medum in the bust and a size X Large in the hips, you might be tempted to blend between sizes.
We would be tempted too. No, we wouldn’t be tempted- we’d just do it.
There are indeed ways to do blend incorrectly- but let’s talk about how to avoid those!
Trace Trace Trace Your Sewing Pattern!!!
Before we go too far, I’d highly recommend you trace your pattern when blending- don’t cut it out. You could be right, you could be wrong- but tracing will make sure that you don’t eliminate any important information you might need later- in case you change sizes, want to make the garment for someone else or find out that your adjustment was incorrect or unnecessary.
Make Sure Your New Seam Lines Line Up
When you change the shape of a pattern out of the envelope, you need to be cognizant of how the whole thing fits together. Blending between a bust/waist difference on a tank top with two pieces is different than blending between sizes on a princess seam dress with 6-7 pieces that go around the body.
If you blend between sizes, make sure that your new cutting lines align with one another. Doing this before cutting into your fabric is absolutely necessary for success! They don’t have to necessarily be the exact same shape, but they need to be the same length.
Is Your Pattern Nested Properly?
Some patterns are not nested properly in order to grade them. This may have even been true about the Kwik Sew pattern that Susan posted- but, probably not. Anywho, see if the way the pattern is nested “makes sense” for blending. This means the pattern would grow out from a common point, like the crotch point on a pair of trousers, or the bust level of a shirt.
Check the Vertical Measurements on Your Body and on the Sewing Pattern
This is actually something you should do all the time, but it’s important in this case especially. One SSW member cautioned that blending could result in “disproportionate” pattern pieces. Well, that’s kind of the point- right? Our body may be “disproportionate” to the formulae used by the pattern company, and that’s why we modify. Heck, that’s probably why we’re buying a sewing pattern in the first place. I think if you check on the nesting and find that things are grown from a common point, but you need to double check!
When you really look at the distance between sizes on a sewing pattern, you’ll find them to be subtler than you expected. There are normally about 2 to maybe 4 inches difference between sizes. Divide that by 4 and you get small incremental changes between the 2 sides of front bodice pattern and 2 sides of a back bodice pattern- but we know it makes a difference! The same is true for length.
You will find that larger sizes are generally longer. Sometimes people misunderstand this as pattern companies thinking that if people have a larger hip size, they are suddenly taller. There’s a little bit of that going on, but we also need to remember that we are not just x and y axes- and if someone has wider hips that another person, they may very likely need a longer rise in a trouser.
But this is where most sewing patterns do admit that they don’t know what the heck is going on- with the inclusion of “lengthen/shorten” lines. So, make sure you check those, especially when blending between sizes.
-The KwikSew.com domain has not been maintained by the new company who now owns Kwik Sew, Vogue, Butterick and McCall’s. One commenter spoofed the warning and said “NEVER VISIT THAT DOMAIN, THE SECURITY CERTIFICATE IS OUT OF DATE…” That gave us a good chuckle, but also made me sad that the new brand hadn’t maintained the domain.
-Speaking of domains- we own a lot of domains. We can’t stop coming up for names for things. Do you have a good idea for what “StitchSlapped.com” could be? Let us know- we own it.
-Speaking of domains again…we decided to start a podcast and kept brainstorming names until we landed on the PERFECT ONE! “SEWING OUT LOUD”!!! We checked the domain and someone already owned it- luckily it was US!