Learning to grade your own patterns – book review

I decided today to write this post as I was chatting over lunch with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a while. She expressed an interest in the fact that I do my own grading and then said she was considoring purchising the book Grading for the Fashion Industry Theory and Practice by Martin M. Shoben and Patrick J.Taylor.

I warned her of my findings from using the book and that I wouldn’t purchase it again. I’m going to talk you through the book and how I found it to use. I think that although you can purchase it from several reputable retailers such as amazon and morplan you should borrow one first before parting with your money.

My first criticism is that it reads as though the author wrote the book and then never re-read it and neither did the copy editor! I purchased the Third Edition so you would have thought that any errors would have been picked up and changed by then.

It’s almost like no one has ever got past the first part of the book. I have been working on some designs and I thought I would have a look through the style reference section that takes you through different styles and how to grade them. I quickly stumbled across an error. On page 126 it says this:

‘A fuller discussion of track grading can be found see page ?.’

It then says ‘Back skirt as block (page ?)’ and again it happens on p135.

This book gives the impression of taking you from start to finish, from beginner and beyond. When I read this book I felt that there was crucial information missing. It jumps around from one bit to another. They grab a number from thin air and don’t explain where it has come from. The important information may well be there somewhere but you have to fight through the waffle to get to it.

It feels like a problem that I have found before, that an expert in their field writes a book but isn’t an expert in conveying their knowledge to others.

I was reading the instructions and having to constantly flick back and forth to diagrams that they reference but have strangely placed overleaf. Surely you place illustrations and diagrams next to the explanation?

When reading this book I was of the mindset of very much understanding the concept of grading yet wanting some clarification of how to go about it.

In the end I combined alot of information that I gathered from various sources together and worked it out. Since figuring out how to grade I have looked back at the book and some areas have made more sense.

There does seem to be a gap in the book market for a simple to understand book on the basic steps of grading. Once the reader can grasp those techniques you can show them the pitfalls and the different styles etc…

The books on the market are expensive and I (as others probably did) picked the book Grading for the Fashion Industry because it covers a variety of areas and also isn’t as expensive as the others. At £25.00 it is a snip compared to these others:

Concepts of Pattern Grading: Techniques for Manual and Computer Grading


Pattern Grading for Women’s Clothes: The Technology of Sizing


apparel pattern grading (2nd edition) [paperback]


But then in hindsight it might be worth paying the extra money! I am yet to look at those other books but I would be interested in knowing what they’re like.

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