The Importance Of Childrenswear Sizing.
(22-37-08). Childrenswear grading and sizing is one of the biggest causes of problems for new childrens clothing brands. It is vital to have your designs graded correctly, as it should significantly increase sales and reduce returns.
When your customers have confidence in your sizing, they are far more likely to buy from you again.
Grading Rules For UK Childrenswear.
Childrenswear grading is far more complicated, although necessarily less precise than standard adult grading. There are very few graders in the UK or abroad who understand how to grade childrens clothing.
Experienced graders use established childrens size charts to calculate the increments. But while size charts will give you an indication of how to grade childrenswear, they do not give the whole story.
For any style, it is important that the design keeps the same look and feel right through the size range, as far as is possible. With childrenswear this is not always possible, because children do not grow uniformly.
Because younger children tend to have less defined shaping, sometimes there may not be enough seams to allow for the extra suppression that the larger sizes would require. That could affect the waist increments. If you followed the size charts the results would be disastrous. It is better to test the grade rules on the most extreme sizes before finalising the grade.
There are many thousands more measurement combinations involved with childrens sizing. When we grade we are attempting to make each individual size fit as many children as possible. So, we tend to average out the increments to simplify the grading, and to cover as many kids as we can.
If you are interested in learning how to grade childrenswear patterns, then we run a childrenswear grading course for beginners and intermediates. We teach an easy system that enables you to save money by grading your own patterns.
A childrens track suit style graded from 2 – 14 years, with a 4 cm wide stripe down the side leg – Do you grade the stripe, leave it the same for each size, or have different widths for a range of sizes ? Maybe the stripe is bought on a roll with a minimum order for each width and each colour.
A very baggy sweatshirt. When you grade the width do you just grade according to the measurement chart, or do you also grade in the percentage of ease ?
A trouser with elasticated waist. Do you grade the waist according to the chart, or do you allow for the same degree of elastication ?
Offshore Factory Grading Services.
Offshore factories tend to understand childrens grading even less. Poor grading is one of the biggest problem areas for new chidrenswear brands. I would go so far as to say that over 90% of new childrenswear businesses will have had bad grading experiences.
The problem is that factories do not have suitably experienced graders. They may be able to do a decent job cheaply if they have guidance though.
Range Of Sizes.
Childrenswear requires many more sizing categories and needs to fit a wider range of sizes. Grading Childrenswear is very complicated and requires intricate knowledge of size specifications and sizing charts as well as other factors that effect the grading rules.
Because there are so many sizes involved in childrenswear and the grading process is so complicated it is vital that there are no mistakes at this stage. Ideally a client should sample every size, but this can be prohibitively expensive and impractical, so we need to grade in such a way as to limit any potential costly problems.
I tend to keep childrens grades more uniform than is standard, partly because it is more straight forward and partly because it is this way it is easier to check for any discrepancies in the grade. While a large company can afford a few errors, smaller clothing companies cannot afford to make the same mistakes.
Just the fact that a child`s head is 90% the size of a full grown adults can lead to big problems with neck sizes. Also children often do not like certain types of fit, especially round the neck.
In this sector I tend to work more with small startups mostly based around London or Kent, rather than with larger high Street Companies. It is these small clothing businesses that can encounter massive problems if they do not have the correct advice from the start. Every aspect of the sampling and production process can be a minefield for them.
Single Sizes Or Double Sizes.
Because there can be so many sizes in childrenswear, production can become very expensive. Factories like to have a run of garments per size and per colour in order to make it cost effective.
Ideally for childrenswear you would grade for every single year. This would allow for a better fit for each size. But you will have twice the amount of sizes as for if you were to have every grade cover two years.
Unless you had a lot of money to spend you would need to limit the amount of sizes, either by limiting the size range, or by double sizing.
A high end brand would be better using the single size grading method over as wide an age range as necessary. A mid range brand may be better using the double size grade.
Any grading system used will be a compromise, as it is complicated to accurately grade a large range of childrens sizes. Although it is possible to grade one pattern through the sizes from three years to sixteen years, it is not generally recommended .
While there are grading rules for childrens clothing, there is no hard and fast method for grading childrenswear. The chest, waist and hips grow at different rates, but lengths grow far more rapidly than girths.
On making a base pattern for childrenswear, we may refer to a size chart, but the shape and fit can vary wildly in childrenswear.
So, it is more sensible to use an existing garment or block to work from. A large high street brand will have an extensive library of patterns to refer to when making a new design.
A new childrenswear brand will not have this luxury. For them it is advisable to refer to existing competitor garments rather than starting from scratch for each style.
The most important measurements in kids wear really are the lengths. When it comes to the actual grading, we will again refer to the size chart, but it is also necessary to use a certain amount of judgement.
The shapes will change enormously over the sizes, but each size must still retain the basic look of the original design.
Because of the big differences between the tallest and biggest sizes, sometimes you need to think whether you grade purely by the body measurement, or whether you allow a percentage for ease as opposed a fixed amount.
Keep It Simple.
Generally it is best to keep childrenswear grading as simple as is practical if you are a small business. Big brands such as M&S can afford to be as fussy as they want, because they are making many thousands of each style.
If you over complicate your grading, not only does it cost more in grading, but the garments become more complicated to manufacture, and it is difficult to heck for errors.
Grading For Genders.
Although boys and girls do not grow at the same rate, generally it is not necessary to grade differently for the genders, except for the older children.
Grading For Age Or Height.
Childrenswear is generally graded by age rather than height, although garments are often sold with both categories being equally prominent.
There are three main sizing categories in Childrenswear :
Nappy allowance has to be considered for this category, but boys and girls can be graded the same
Childrenswear ( 2-12 years)
Again, boys and girls can be graded the same as there is no significant difference in growing patterns. ;
Teenwear ( 12-16 years)
Girls and boys have to be graded differently as there is a significant divergence in growing patterns that needs to be accounted for in the grading system . Normally each size category would have a separate block to grade from.
The reason we may choose to grade equally through all the sizes is because if the smallest and largest sizes are correct, the sizes in between should also be more or less correct.
The size charts themselves are only an average. Children are all sorts of sizes – They do not conform to the standard measurements in size charts, although they will tend to fit within certain measurements. We therefore aim each size to fit as many children as possible, with room for growth allowance.
There are some areas of childrens grading that we may decide not to grade evenly, especially for younger children. For example, it may be necessary to not grade the neck for some ages on some styles. Childrens head sizes do not change much, and children may not like to pull their head through a tight opening.
One good reason for a small business to grade evenly between sizes is that it is far easier to check that the patterns are accurate. If you grade evenly, it is easy to check the grade by making a sample in the smallest and the biggest sizes.
All sizes for each pattern piece can then be stacked up one on top of the other for checking – Any discrepancy would be easily spotted and rectified.
If the patterns are graded to an uneven grade rule, you either have a sample made in each size, or you take a risk and assume that each size is correct. Obviously making a sample in each size is not a cheap option. But neither is having all the sizes wrong.
Manual Or Digital Grading
As a manual grader, we may sometimes take the view that it would be more economical to have your patterns graded digitally. This is because there are a lot of sizes in childrenswear, making it very time consuming if done manually.
In this case we would figure out the best way to grade the style , if necessary, by making the largest and smallest patterns first.
Then we would supply the grading rules to the digitisers. The digitisers themselves, if they understand childrenswear grading at all, will be inclined to simplify the process to suit themselves. They will normally request that you supply a grading chart anyway.
We dont offer a childrens grading service ourselves, because that is best done by specialist digital grading services. What we do offer are specialist tech packs and size charts. Grading companies will generally ask you to provide a size chart, especially for childrenswear.