How to Grade Sewing Patterns Part 2

How to make Sewing Patterns Bigger (or smaller) - Melly SewsHey y’all – WOW that post on grading patterns last week was really popular! But quite a few questions came from it, so I’ve decided to do a follow up post on how to grade sewing patterns today.

Remember to view part 1 of this topic if you missed it. You can find the original post here.

The first issue I want to cover is what do you do with multi piece tops/dresses/pants? Well, all patterns, even multi-piece ones, start from the basic bodice, sleeve, skirt or pants blocks. When you realize that, you might realize the best way to grade multi-part patterns is actually to put the pattern pieces together until you have a complete piece. Let me illustrate with my Rose T-shirt, which has a multi-part bodice.

To grade this, you’d need to overlap the pattern pieces, matching the stitching lines if the pieces include seam allowances. Once this is done, you can slash and spread or slash and overlap. In this way, each piece is graded in only the areas it needs to be.

How to grade a multi-piece sewing pattern - Melly Sews

Next, there were some questions about sleeves. Sleeves and armscyes go hand in hand. In order to grade a sleeve, you’d need to first grade the bodice. Then look at the slash marks, and add up how much total length you added or subtracted from the front and back armscyes. When you slash your sleeves, you need to make sure that the total amount you add to the sleeve cap equals the amount you added to the front AND back armscyes. Unless you have a half sleeve that you cut on the fold, then add the same amount you added to the front bodice.


In the example above, a total of 1/2″ was added to the armscye of the bodice. So you’d need to make sure that a total of 1″ was added to the length of the sleeve cap (because the back bodice armscye would also have had 1/2″ added). I’ve shown how that total breaks down on the sleeve.

So hopefully this helps clear up a couple questions so you can get your patterns to fit you!

Hooray - you read the whole post! Wanna hang out more? Check out the best sewing pins with me on Pinterest, join our Facebook discussions, get your daily sewing fix and behind the scenes scoops on Instagram, and your weekly updates/free pattern access through the newsletter


  1. Judy K. says

    Eureka, I have found it! Tears of gratitude flowing here, Melly. My old patterns have been given new life, thanks to your grading instructions. I’ve been looking for YEARS for information regarding grading sleeve to armscye, buying many books and searching many sites in the process. The subject of fitting sleeve to armscye is largely ignored, but not here. Many thanks. I’m 73 years old and can finagle most alterations, but the sleeve-to-armscye had me well and truly stumped. I feel so empowered now that I want to go sew every old favorite I have. Thank you.

    • says

      Convert everything to 1/16s. On the armscye you add 2/16+2/16+4/16= 8/16 Multiply that by 2 (front and back armscye) and you get 16/16, or 1″ that you added to the armscye. For the sleeve you add 3/16+3/16+4/16+3/16+3/16= 16/16, also 1″.

      • Emily says

        Right! I thought the same thing when I first glanced at it, but then checked and the 3/16″ marks have two arrows each.

        Thank you for the insider tip!

  2. Liz says

    Hi Again — Oops! I just read the first article on grading and got all my questions answered. Thank you sooo much! Now I know what to do. Have wondered ab out this for years. I appreciate you so much for making this kind of information available to those of use trying to make well-fitting garments at home for ourselves.

  3. brenda says

    the tutorial and illustrations along with the peasant dress pattern should help me with doing some sewing for a young tween with an extra chromosome. he challenges are short stature and the weight gain associated with DS and thyroid disease.

  4. says

    Love these two posts on grading. Thanks for taking the time to write these explanations up! I was thinking that a download would be a great addition to these posts! Could you do like a bullet point cheat sheet to hang in the sewing room? Again love your blog and your patterns! I do return here often so thanks for writing!

Share Your Thoughts:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *