MN2005 Matilda / Sewalongs

Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes

We’re pretty excited here in the Megan Nielsen Studio about having Matilda in our full 0-20 and 14-34 size ranges and we hope you are as well! If you’re like me though and your measurements don’t fall into one straight size, Matilda can be a bit of an intimidating one when it comes to grading between sizes. We’ve shown today’s adjustments on the Curve pattern because grading around the more significant bust shaping of Matilda Curve seems a little scarier, but the exact same alterations can be applied to the 0-20 pattern.

Matilda does have quite a few pattern pieces which is why it might seem formidable, but while having more seams to grade might just sound like more work, it also means that we get to grade more evenly throughout the garment! We can add or take away a little bit from lots of places, instead of big amounts just from the side seams – so it’s easier to keep things in proportion, with smoother transitions between sizes and it also gives us the opportunity to really personalise the fit.

If having an awesomely fitting garment sounds like something you’d love, let’s get started!

Do you need to grade between sizes?

Grab out your tape measure, notepad and pencil, it’s time to find which size/s you align best within our sizing chart. Remember that sizing isn’t standard across all brands of patterns (or clothing, or shoes, or anything really). Every brand has its own sizing, so it’s really important to check. Let go of any ideas you have of exactly what a size 18 should be, or what exact size you should be. Just look at your measurements and look at the chart and let the maths decide. After all, you want to be comfortable and feel great in your Matilda dress and that won’t happen if the size you picked isn’t what going to fit.

If after looking at your measurements and the size chart, you’ve circled more than one size across your bust, waist and hips, then this post is for you! If you’re just one size in all your measurements, feel free to sit this one out ;)

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Deciding Whether To Grade

If you’ve done your cup check and realised you need a bust adjustment, fear not, we have you covered with this great tutorial for adjustments to princess seam bodices!

If your measurements fall in-between sizes, take a look at the finished garment measurements on the pattern sizing & yardage chart. Because Matilda isn’t a catsuit, there is going to be ease (i.e space between the body and the garment). Seeing how much bigger the garment is compared to your body measurements can make it easier to decide whether you want to choose the size above or below your measurements.

For example, if your waist is 47″ (halfway between a size 28 and 30), you could check the garment measurements and see that size 28 would have 1″ of ease, and size 30 would have 3″ of ease. Knowing that you can then decide whether you’d prefer a firmer-fitting waistband or a more relaxed fit. Deciding whether to grade between sizes involves a lot of personal preference, so it’s up to you!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong

Before We Start

Something I should mention before we begin is there’s actually a difference between how the printed 0-20 Matilda pattern and the 0-20 PDF pattern look. Don’t panic, they are the exact same pattern, but some of the pattern pieces have been nested differently depending on the format. Nesting!? You cry. What’s that!? Well, nesting is the way that the sizes of a pattern piece have been aligned. We make a decision for each piece individually, whether the sizes are centred, to one side, slightly spread etc, to make sure its edges, notches & other markings are as clear as possible and things are as easy as possible to grade.

So the difference in the Matilda 0-20 nesting is in the side front and side back pattern pieces of the bodice. On a printed tissue pattern as all the sizes are on one layer, clarity of the markings has to take priority. So the bodice pieces in the printed version of Matilda were aligned a little off-centre to make sure each size could clearly see the princess seam edge and the bust notch. In the PDF pattern, however, because we can improve clarity with PDF layering which allows you to temporarily turn off any sizes you don’t need, the pattern has been aligned on the princess seam edge to make grading and adjustments more straightforward. We’re covering them both today though, so no need to stress about it, just make sure to look at the one that’s relevant to you.

Grading From The Bust To The Waist

Getting the fit right in the bust & waist is key to an amazing-looking Matilda! Have a look below for grading first from a smaller size bust to a larger size waist and then the reverse. Remember that if you want a good fit on your upper bust and shoulders, you have to check that you’re aligned with the relative upper bust & cup size of the size you’ve picked, not just the full bust measurements.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Smaller Bust To Larger Waist Grade - PDF Patterns

As you can see above, our example grade is going from a size 24 bust to a 28 waist on the PDF nesting which aligned with the princess seam edge. The transitions between the sizes are below the bust notches & armholes to make sure we don’t affect the bust fit but are also as smooth and gradual as possible. Something else to note is that the grading is all done between the seam allowances – not between the armscye & waist edges of the pattern piece. This is because those stitch lines need to stay the same to be able to fit with their size 24 sleeve or sleeve band and size 28 waist. One other note for 0-20 sewers, while your pattern piece #4 (the bodice back) is cut on the fold instead of the full Curve version pictured – the process will be exactly the same, just only on one edge.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Smaller Bust To Larger Waist Grade - Printed Patterns

For those of you with printed patterns, this is for you! We are doing the same process as the PDF sewers, however, we have to take into account the fact that the princess seam edge of the smaller size is actually the one on the outside. We don’t want to skew our pattern piece by blending inwards to the larger size, so instead, we are going to keep using the princess seam edge of the smaller size and measure the amount it sits beyond the larger size’s princess edge to then subtract from the side seam. That way we will have the correct width for the larger size, but maintain the right shape. Remember to blend between seam allowances and keep your transitions as gradual and smooth as possible!

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Larger Bust To Smaller Waist Grade

The process for grading between a larger bust and a smaller waist is exactly the same as what we’ve described above, but just in the opposite direction! The same rules of blending between your seam allowances and keeping your lines as smooth & gradual as possible still apply though, so don’t forget ;)

The Waistband

Because the waistband is only a small section of the overall garment, it would be quite awkward to blend between sizes without things changing shape and potentially not fitting back together again. So it’s best to cut your waistband in one straight size, using the finished garment measurements to decide if you are between sizes. The finished garment waist measurements in the sizing & yardage charts of Matilda are measured at the bottom of the waistband and don’t forget that the Matilda waistband is designed to sit above your natural waist, not over or below it.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Waistbands

Grading From the Waist to the Hip

So we’ve sorted the bust and the waist and we’ve gotten to the easy one, the hip! I say this is the easy one because Matilda has an A-line skirt with a nice amount of ease – not too much, but not too little – that means you have a little more wriggle room in terms of sizing. If your hips are only a little bigger than your waist, you’re not going to see much difference visually if you cut a straight size to fit your waist. If you’re not wanting to sacrifice any of your precious ease and skirt swish though, or you’ve got a significant difference between your waist and hip size, we’ve got you covered with a few different methods of grading.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Waist To Hip Grade - Along The Side Seams Method

For smaller differences in waist & hip, simply drawing between the waist seam and the pocket notch can give you those extra few centimetres you’re looking for. I like to use a french curve to make my transitions nice and smooth, but it’s not vital. The reason this is best for only small differences is that sometimes a dramatic curve between a waist and a much larger hip you can end up changing the A-line shape of the skirt and cause some distortion.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Waist To Hip Grade - Slash & Spread Method

Method two for grading between a smaller waist and a larger hip involves slashing and spreading the hem of the skirt. This has the benefit of keeping the side seam shape intact, as well as adding extra width slightly higher up and spread out throughout the skirt, for those who need it in the high hip area.

To make sure your waist seam line stays the same size that’s perfect for your waistband, you will need to cut on either side of the stitching line (5/8″ (1.5cm) in from the edge of the pattern piece), leaving just a tiny amount uncut so you can use it as a pivot point. This method involves altering one straight size and just measuring the amount you would like to add at any specific point in the skirt.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Grading Between Sizes - Waist To Hip Grade - Waist Seam To Hem Method

The last method we’re looking at today is a quick & easy one. It’s a more gradual grade, spread out across the full length of the skirt between the waist seam and hem. This method keeps your side seam straight as well which is nice but also needs to be used in consult with the finished garment measurements, to make sure that the size your grade is hitting around the hip area is going to have enough ease for you.

Grading from a Larger Waist to Smaller Hip

Don’t worry my friends with smaller hips compared to your waists, I haven’t forgotten about you! But I am going to tell you that you don’t need to worry about grading your skirt! You can simply cut your skirt to your waist size without any visual change in the end result of the skirt. Not only that, but grading down to a smaller hem can also throw out the shape of the skirt, so we generally suggest leaving it be. Less work for you, score!

And that’s a wrap on today’s post! I hope you all found this useful and that you’re feeling a bit more comfortable tackling your Matilda grading!

Naomi xx

How to Grade Between Sizes on the Matilda Sewing Pattern | Megan Nielsen Blog


Here’s the full list of Matilda posts and tutorials:

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About Author

Naomi is the Design Assistant here at Megan Nielsen Patterns, and our resident helping hand. She stays busy assisting Meg with pattern development leg work, getting super excited about good instructional diagrams and making green coloured fabric suggestions for every sample we make. She’s a problem solver, a fabric addict, a serial tea-forgetter and a passionate maker.

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Jenny Mai
Jenny Mai
2 years ago

Thanks for providing such a comprehensive guide! What type of fabric was used for the orange version?

2 years ago
Reply to  Jenny Mai

Hi Jenny! This sample was made using a tencel fabric that we purchased from a local designer warehouse sale many years ago. Unfortunately we haven’t found the same fabric again, but can recommend this fabric as a good orange option
meg xo

Alexandra Masson
2 years ago

this post is GOLD with extra sparkles. I’m going to be bookmarking it. Thanks!