The Brasilia Dress Part 1 - Grading


Hello All! Do you know about the Brasilia Dress over on the House of Pinheiro blog?  If you don't about it then here are the deets.  Rachel drafted herself a lovely sheath dress for "Fall for Cotton" sewing challenge and we were all impressed.  

Because she is a generous sewing blogger she decided to make it a free download to be released later this year. But first she needed to ask for a few volunteers to test that baby and put out the call on her blog.  I was like that annoying kid in class waving my hand and going Oooooo, Ooooo, Ooooooo Pick MEEE!!!  Well I did get on the "elite" pattern testing squad that gets first crack at it and I squeed with joy. Here's the technical drawing, which we all know I love so much.

Now since this gonna be a free download you have to do your own pattern grading if you are not a amazonian hour glass like Rachel. Yes I'm a wee bit jealous. ;)
Rachel's measurements are:
Bust - 37"
Waist - 29 7/8"
Hip - 40 1/8"

Pre baby Heather would have been near that size (not has busty) but post baby Heather is much more of a pear.

My measurements are:
Bust - 37"
Waist - 34"
Hip - 43 1/2"

I must admit that having to grade the pattern myself made me a bit nervous.  Back at Fashion Design school they taught us a lot of great stuff, but grading wasn't one of them.  Well that's a bit of a lie, they taught us how to digitize patterns and then click a button in some software that magically graded them. Wooo Hooo the power of software! So while I could still digitize a pattern in my sleep,  the principles of grading never made it into my gray matter.

Since Rachel is a professional she provided us with several web resources to learn about grading, she is so clever.  I took a look at all of them and the one that worked best for me was Casey at Elegant Musings blog series. After reading Casey's posts I realized that I was a nice even 4" grade in the waist and hip area and this was gonna be easy peasy.

I'm going to break down my personal grading steps in case other people find it helpful in the future.
1. Since Rachel and I are the same bust size the top half of the pattern need to be removed. I decided to cut the pattern in half along the length/shorten line that is below the dart.
2. Next I marked the 3 vertical lines through the bottom half of the pattern that will be slashed and spread.  None of the information I read said these lines needed to be drawn in at an exact measurement.  You just want to spread them as evenly as you can without bisecting any darts. Again see Casey's post if this doesn't make a lick of sense. Here's a look at the bottom half of the front.
3. I put one grading line through the waist inset piece since there were already two lines through the waist on the main front piece. (Which you can see above.)
4. I slashed and spread my grading lines the same way Casey suggested, 3/8" on the two outside lines and 1/4" on the inside line. I did this to both the front and the back piece. Here's a look at the back.
 5. I reattached the top half of the front by lining up the CF's. Then added some paper to the inset seam side and drew a new line that blended into the underarm area.
6. Next I reattached the top half of the back by lining up the fish eye dart. On the armhole side I added some more paper and again drew a new line to the armhole.  On the center back side I drew a curve over the tush area and cut the extra paper off.  That did remove some of the grading from the center back waist, but since removing ease from that area is a common alteration for me I figured it would be fine.
7. On the side seam inset I just added paper in the gaps the grading created and trued the seam line. Then walked the seam line to make sure they still matched.  They didn't so I cut down the inset a tad at the underarm area and at the hip.
And that was all I had to do to grade the Brasilia dress to my size.  In my next post I'm gonna talk about what fitting alterations I needed to do and flash a few muslin pics.  So exciting?  Maybe I should have frog do some photo bombing.


  1. After looking at the WIP on IG I'm so excited to see it on you. Thanks for sharing your grading tips. I will be sharing them to others when the pattern is released. X

  2. Wow! Lucky you to test this!! Can't wait to see it on you!

  3. Thanks Rachel. I've had a lot of fun with this pattern and I'm pretty happy with myself for learning something about grading.

  4. Thank Margo, You'll love the fabric I pulled from the stash.


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