How to use grade patterns up or down

Usually grading a pattern occurs when you draw onto an original but im going to show you using a pdf file and without a printer.

I thought I was only one who did this but I’m not. I have no printer and therefore I put my  paper to my laptop screen and gently trace my pattern off. It works well and I’ve had no sizing issues to date.

It’s really difficult finding patterns for small dolls that aren’t knitted, crocheted or just the wrong size. Equally it can be hard finding free patterns in the exact right size you need so I’m going to show you how I do it!

Here are two outfits. One is a shirt dress for Dolly (12 inches) and one is diaper shirt and bloomers set for Daisy (21 inches) .

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To get the pattern click this link. This page is in french but if you scroll a little there is highlighted words in red saying PAT023_blouse_chouquette and thats your pattern link. Or you can use my link by clicking the words and will take straight to the pdf. As you can see I made two very differently sized items from same pattern.


First download the pattern. It’s important you download and reopen in a pdf reader and not just on the internet as you will need the option to resize it on screen. This means downloading, opening and saving to a folder on your computer then opening directly from the folder so opens in adobe. This is because I’m showing you how to copy from a screen rather than print.

Opening in adobe acrobat allows you to resize more accurately. In a browser it zooms in and out at 25% increments which is no good when you need precision or the option to change the percentage manually

To start resizing for a smaller size you:

Measure the chest measurement. Dolly’s (cloth doll above) is 23 cm. As this is a flared out style the chest measurement is fine. However if it’s a straighter style make sure the widest part (waist or hips) matches up too.

Now taking the measurement halve it and halve again so you’ve 1/4 measurement of the chest. For Dolly this is 5.75 cm. Now take into account you will need seams and add 1 cm to this and round to nearest cm. 5.75 + 1 = 6.75 rounded to 7 cm.

You need to consider the fit next. Nearly all baby patterns unless they are tight fitting have ease added. Ease if the extra fabric that allows for comfort and ease of dressing. I add around 2 cm to the half measurements meaning you will end up with 4cm positive ease all round. Negative ease is when you make it smaller than body to allow for a tighter fit when using stretch fabrics.

Also bear in mind the rounding up adds extra and my rounding up added extra 1 cm overall 0.25 x 4 = 1.00. So in total I need the half chest to be 9 cm.

Now you need to play with your percentages until that chest measurement on screen . The chest measurement is measured directly under the armpits, as shown below. (ignore the numbers 😉 )


Once you’ve achieved this you can draw the pattern out. You will need to type into the percentage box simply using plus or minus is too big a difference to work for most patterns.


Provided the chest measurement is correct the sleeves and other sections will be too but it’s always good to check especially with all in ones/rompers and sleeve length.. You can reuse the sleeve part for different projects just make sure to lengthen if needs be. You can straightened off the bodice to use for dresses or less a line style. For Dolly I measured from her neck to knees and carried on the bodice line past the hem line using a ruler.

To draw off a pattern successfully without adjusting for size you still need to play with the your percentage but this time instead of measuring chest you are comparing the width of an A4 sheet of paper to the screen. For me this is 90% if you leave it as 100% it will be the wrong size. The 100% refers to your screen and not the pattern itself. The other way to check is to measure the 1 inch square usually drawn in but I find this to be effective and accurate. You now have the option to download patterns and not be restricted to paper patterns, if you’ve the patience.


Checklist of things to consider:

  • add seam allowance
  • add positive ease for woven comfort fitting clothes
  • add negative ease for tight fitting outfits
  • check body, sleeve and leg length before cutting into fabric
  • check neck measurement is correct. if seems too loose draw neck-line higher if too tight draw lower
  • check your box is correct if not adjusting size.

Hope you found this helpful



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