Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


Tutorial: Grading between sizes for the Jedediah Pants

Yesterday Eadaoin posed the following question in our comments:

“Since this is a sew along :) , I have a question for you… My hubby has a waist of 39.7″-> size 40 but a seat of 42.5″ -> size 36. With the slash pockets, I can’t grade-in the hips or can I? What would you suggest! … Thanks”

I thought this was a good question because, with the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along beginning tomorrow, I am sure quite a few people are considering ways to create the perfect custom size!  Evidence of this is Elena of Elena Knits‘ recent post on adding width to the thighs and knees in order to better suit her athletic partner.

In order to help Eadaoin and others with any grading they might choose to do, I’ve illustrated how I would approach grading from a size 40 waist to a size 36 seat.  What do you think of my approach?  Do you know of any better way to do this?  Click on the images to see them full size.  The red lines indicate where you should draw new lines using a curved ruler (or eyeballing a smooth curve).  After drawing these lines you can cut out the pattern using the size 40 waistband, the graded lines and then the size 36 legs.

Front and Pocket-01

Back and Yoke-01

I HIGHLY recommend doing a mock up of the pants if you choose to grade between sizes (or before you start to sew your fashion fabric regardless of if you have adjusted the pattern or not as you may find out that you would like to make some adjustments based on your mock-up!).  There are a few potential issues that could be created by grading the pants.  Here are some that I anticipate if your grading is quite extreme and a few suggestions on how to solve them:

1. The front pockets could gape a little too much: If you mock-up the pattern after doing your grading you will see if this is the case.  You can remove the excess fabric by creating a deeper seam allowance for the front of the pants at the waist seam and the side seam (flattening the front of the pants onto the pocket lining and facings).

2. The seat seam might not fit as well as it will the way the pattern was originally drafted: Grading between two sizes will change the curve of the seat seam.  If you are worried about opening the can of worms that adjusting a pant seat seam can be (ug!) then consider leaving the seat seam as is and only doing minimal grading along the side seams.  I know this isn’t the correct way to approach things but it is far less intimidating if this is your first time adjusting the fit of a pattern!  Only do this if you are grading up or down ONE size (meaning you only need a small adjustment).  If you DO need to grade the seat seam, try to keep the shape and length of the new curve as similar as possible to the old curve.

3. The thigh area might become too baggy or too tight:  To fix this, you will simply need to extend your grading down the leg further so that the shift between sizes is more gradual.  At the tight or baggy point, make sure to keep your graded line closest to the larger or smaller size accordingly.

If all of this has got you a little overwhelmed, consider buying a cheaper pants fabric and just sewing them up in the closest waistband size for the sew-along – even if they’re not perfect, they will be a good start and will likely fit as well as RTW pants do.  From that point on you will feel comfortable with the sewing process and more familiar with the pattern so you will be ready to begin your custom fit adjustments for the next pair!  Basically, what I am suggesting is – don’t freak yourself out and just let the sew-along pants be your wearable mock-up!


I hope this helps everyone prepare for the big day tomorrow!  I will post the first sew-along post in the morning so that you have all day to make time to cut out your fabric.

By the way, check out Andrea of Four Square Walls‘ not one but TWO pairs of Jedediah Shorts – they look wonderful!  I love the tobacco colored twill she’s used for her second pair!

Jedediah Pants Thread Theory 7