top of page

Excuse Me ... Umm, That's Not How It Works

There's a few posts going around various groups about using Adobe Acrobat/print preferences to scale an adult women's PDF pattern down significantly so that a child could wear the same style as mommy. Cute concept indeed, only it should be fairly obvious that it doesn't work nearly the way you want it to.

Let's look at the really, really obvious to start with. A child is not a mini-adult ... they are completely different shapes. Children are fairly straight all the way down with slightly bigger tummy on average and frequently narrower hips than their upper half ... the average adult women has a B/C bust, a smaller defined waist line and much bigger hips ... and that's just the horizontal shaping. Now unless your version of adobe illustrator can scale up and down different percentages in different areas it should be clear it's not going to work on just that alone.

But there's more when you start looking at the vertical. Let's look at the average ratio of nape to waist vs chest/bust for each. On average an adult woman is about 1:2.2 and an 8yo child is around 1:1.7 or about 23% squarer ... and that's just comparing the first indicator measurement. I bring that up because that's more than double the negative ease amount you need ... you've got some serious editing to do now and can you guess how much exactly?

You guessed it, there's more. That unremovable hidden seam allowance that's in the pattern you're scaling down to, say, 70% has just gone from 6mm to 4.2mm ... presuming you've scaled the XY proportionally ... I can't bear to think what's happening to the seam allowance if you scaled disproportionately.

Oh yes there's more still. An adult pattern has very specific design lines that require certain anchor points on the body to hold the purposely shaped design under tension and in just the right place ... those aren't going to be there on the kid in even close to the same way. If you could scale differently on the X and Y, and in different places (actually possible in CAD, but not by simply scaling your printer) it still won't work because of the lack of tensioning in the right position and at the right ANGLE ... see you can't XY scale an angle disproportionately and have it remain the same angle ... can you say "shear ripples"?

Oh no, don't go anywhere, I still haven't finished yet. Let's look at armholes ... they are a certain shape and make up a different proportion of the upper chest with each size ... even within a graded nest they aren't the same proportion within the nest because arm size doesn't change as much as chest size does ... so if you just scale down to a kid size from a single adult size you're going to find two things mess up: firstly the arm hole suddenly becomes massively too small and secondly the whole thing doesn't true at the seams any more, especially now your shoulder line is more angled ... you're going to need to do a lot of editing afterwards to get that right again and good luck matching a sleeve to it!

Just add up every one of those inconsistencies above are there's no way you're going to know exactly what's what or wrong without making up a sample ... and even then you're still going to be guessing which area to pin to take out the excess because it's not always the obvious place causing the problem.

But I want to make a smaller version for my little girl, so how do I do it? Well you need to learn how to draft a pattern if the original pattern designer didn't offer it in a kids size and shape in the first place. I use blocks for a reason ... I can simply open up the relevant kids size block (which is the correct shape) and copy/draw on the adult style lines making sure they sit in just the right place, add my seam allowances and print at 100% ... that's it! ... and I know it'll fit perfectly first time with no ripples and all the stability the particular design offered. I don't have to make up a toille (or two) and pin out the badly fitting areas, alter the scaled pattern and remake ... mine will work the first time because it's based on a block that I already know works for the child concerned.

Considering all three posts I've seen are based on using acrobat reader, it's simply not possible without a huge amount of hack work and testing.


Recent Posts

See All