This post on Chiral Craft strikes a chord. Especially as I’m in the process of drafting the dress I just finished for someone a different size and shape.
“What I guess I’ve learned is that it’s true that grading isn’t as easy as “just making something bigger,” because everyone’s got a different build and proportions, and gains and loses weight in different places. So offering a pattern in a very wide range of sizes is challenging, especially when it’s quite fitted. Not impossible, clearly, but challenging, so thanks to those pattern lines that give it a go.”
Its where the size difference is (sometimes equating with where the weight gain or loss is), its shape changes, and its what will be flattering.
I’m one of the most vociferous of the slaggers-off- of -the -Big4, but have a nagging feeling that this is slightly hypocritical of me. A small inner voice is carping on the question “How would you cater for all these variations and still turn a profit to stay in business”
Design development can take a lot of time. I’m not talking about churning out an A-line skirt with just a slightly different yoke style or a couple of pockets, but a completely fresh looking fashion can involve weeks of trial and error. There’s a reason why design development is almost always done in a small, small cup, sizes. Its just that much easier to make anything work on what is the nearest thing to a blank canvas.
Back to the pattern in hand. The size I’m working on now is five inches bigger on the bust measurement than the one I just did, and most of that is in the front block. That translates as starting with a bust dart twice the size.
The easiest way to get a flattering fit on larger cup sizes is without a doubt a shoulder dart or a shoulder dart translated into a from the shoulder princess seam. Only, I hear ya plus people, getting pretty bored with that whole concept. Everyone else gets at least six dart positions to play around with, getting stuck with one feels like discrimination.
When a drafter branches out, trying to grade up something that’s working well in a small size, there’s a lot of fabric to move somewhere. Its not the actual measurement itself, its the relationship to all the other measurements.
The best answer to this is, I think, to attempt subtle adaptations of the style. For example, one huge dart becoming three smaller ones,or a simple dart shapes becoming boat shaped darts to get over the baggy midriff problem, or using extra dart positions not in the original smaller style. Or hiding seams under drapes and putting some of the dart in the seam.
All of this takes a lot of extra time. How commercially viable would a pattern company find it?