Grading a Pattern

There are rare occasions in the bespoke shoemakers life, when we have to make a whole eerie for the same style of last. Here are some advices.

1. Don’t bother with US sizes. Seriously. You need to make half sizes as the scale if pretty big, so you will end up 11 sizes – even if you do every half size, that is 6 patterns. (If you really want to work with US sizes, well… go ahead. I warned you.)

2. You can buy fancy grading machines on eBay – they do the same what Illustrator can, but you will have a problem with the size of the printing. And by the way – even if it seems logical, the proportion might be a bit different what sizes would suggest – this is why we don’t measure the length of the sole, but the length from the countertop to the toe. That gives a more accurate number.

3. You don’t need to scale everything.

4. Don’t be afraid to scale everything.

5. OK. I need to elaborate the last 2 points, so… not everything needs to be scaled – decorations, eyelets, buckles, rivets, dogtails… etc. This rule will be used if you use those fancy machines.  Theo there one – when you scale everything – after all the eyelets will not be one millimeter bigger, right? So, if it doesn’t cause an extra work – just throw that scale on the whole pattern. It won’t hurt.

6. Start from the middle sizes if you scale the patterns. Always.

7. Don’t bother with any of these rules, and follow this method:

use European sized lasts. Tape every second size. 39, 41, 43.. draw the main design lines and put them on a flat.


Now you have 3 sizes – make those modifications, start with the medium size. (I am not gonna list those, I assume you can’t make a pattern if thou want to learn grading, hmm?)

Then use the medium sized pattern as a ruler to adjust the style lines the same and voila, you are done with the master pattern, the rest is a piece of cake.



ps. I make these for my upcoming (June) courses. By the way: we have only 2 seats left.

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