6. Cutting your block into panels and manipulating darts

Cutting and slashing your block into different pattern panels is yet another fundamental part of paper pattern making. It’s possibly the first thing that we learn as pattern makers. It’s a very similar concept in Adobe Illustrator, but doing it well can be tricky. This tutorial focuses on two separate methods and introduces the Pathfinder tool. We also explain how to use your pattern panels to close darts by rotating them around the bust point. There’s a lot of content in this tutorial, but it’s well worth watching.

Draft or Download a Digital Basic Block

Follow along with our tutorials and learn digital pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC. Purchase and download one of our editable digital basic blocks. We have a few options for you to choose from...

 

Tutorial Overview

1.Technique one: Extending your neckline line using the Pen tool to extend it beyond the outline for your basic block in preparation for cutting the block.

2. Decreasing the weight of your line to create a fine cut line. 

3. Transforming your fine cut line into an object using the Expand tool.

4. Exploring layers and the arrangement of objects in Adobe Illustrator.

5. Cutting your basic block using the object and the Minus Front Pathfinder tool.

6. Creating your new neckline by removing the upper panel.

7. Technique two: Using your neckline line as a guide to cut your block.

8. Separating the two pattern panels and duplicating the neckline line.

9. Combining the separate neckline lines to their respective separated pattern panels using the Join tool.

10. Bonus – Using the Eyedropper tool to add the attributes of your existing block to your new pattern panels.

11. Dart manipulation: Cutting the block at the shoulder line and bust point using technique two in preparation for closing the existing dart.

12. Using the Pathfinder tool to individually close the separate pattern panels of your block.

13. Ungrouping your block to release the individual pattern panels. Regrouping each panel separately in preparation for closing the dart. 

14. Selecting and rotating the left block around the bust point to close the lower dart and open a new dart on the shoulder. 

15. Using the Pathfinder tool to reunite the existing pattern panels into one block. Includes Add Anchor Point tool and how it affects the Pathfinder tool

16. Repeating the whole process using the back block dart.

17. Repeating the process by cutting the back block in two using a curved line. 

18. Closing the top dart to create one seamless upper panel.

19. Locking the upper panel to create a template using the Lock tool. 

19. Refining the upper block’s curved line by using the existing curved line as a template.

20. Unlocking the upper panel, joining the new curved line to the upper panel and removing the existing curved line. 

21. Renaming the text elements on your block and finalising your pattern.

15 Comments

  1. Indi

    What a fantastic tutorial, no…Fantastic set of tutorials! I have been wanting to learn how to pattern cut digitally and woww! BUT? is it enough to help me land a job in

    the industry?… with Covid rules etc…. like working from home for a designer etc? Any advice?.. Would I need to do more advanced stuff? Any advice would be greatly

    appreciated.

    Also, how do I practice this stuff? Do I need to own an AI Programme?

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Indi, Thanks for your comment!

      Firstly, thank you for the love, we really appreciate it!
      There is no reason why you couldn’t get a pattern making job either working with a company or with individual clients on a freelance basis. It would be far easier to work with individual clients because you are in charge of your own work and how you output that work. However, working with a company (using the Adobe Illustrator technique) might be harder. Purely because a lot of companies use grading software such as Gerber etc to grade their patterns. This software often uses DXF files which is something that Adobe can output but it can be a bit touch and go. Translating Adobe to DXF might be problematic. Companies also tend to have in-house basic blocks that they use and adapt to create their products. These are often cardboard or paper patterns which you would need to scan and import into Adobe illustrator before you could start pattern cutting with them. You could export Gerber files as DXF and import them into Adobe but once again it might need some experimentation. Since Pattern making in Adobe illustrator is a relatively new concept, most companies won’t understand your process of pattern making in Adobe Illustrator.

      To sum up, if you can prove to them that your work is viable in Adobe Illustrator and convince them of the benefits to you and them when it comes to working from home, you should be fine! But once again, you would find it far easier setting up your own freelance company and managing your own patterns and format. I hope this helps?! Either way, enjoy the process!

      Thanks
      Ralph

      Reply
  2. Renae

    Hi Ralph. Fantastic tutorial, and so helpful. I have two tips for faster workflow in AI 2021.

    1. To deactivate the pen tool,: instead of switching to the direct selection tool and clicking off, you can now just press the Escape key. If you want to deactivate the pen tool AND be ready to select something, press Escape and then A (direct select) or V (select tool).

    2. You can save a few steps when dividing parts of a pattern by drawing your line, skip the object expand option, and under Pathfinders –> Pathfinders (instead of Shapes): press Divide. This does a few convenient things. It saves the step of creating an object AND it automatically trims the excess lines that extend beyond the shape.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      This is some fantastic advice! Thank you for sharing this with us. This will speed up our process dramtically.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Ralph Thank you so much for this advice… its soooo helpful…. really! I’ve always wanted to work in the industry but I realised that if no one ever gave me a chance I

      may never get that break I need and how am I ever gonna gain the experience required? and now with all this covid… I want to work from home more than ever So

      Im just gonna continue to upskill.:) .

      But what do you suggest about

      1.. grading patterns? is it the only way to do it is by making each pattern individually and saving it as a pdf or is there another way?

      2. when patterns are drawn on here can I do it in actual measurements? printing the pattern would be in segments right? then I would now have

      to trace the entire thing to create a block yes? Not sure if I understood that carefully…However, I will certainly like to practice these tutorials to get to know the keys etc.

      How can I access an AI Programme, without it costing me a fortune? Any thoughts?

      Ralph thank you so much from the bottom of my heart

      Reply
  3. Fernando

    Hi, Ralph! I ‘ve just found out your website and I’m loving everything about it! I’ve learned how to sew and create patterns during the pandemic, and, as a graphic designer, I’ve already started at Adobe Illustrator since I have more intimacy with the software than to paper and scissors lol. There’s a few tools that I never used on Illustrator and your tutorials were amazing for me to learn them!

    But I have a quick tip for you and your followers: the latetest versions of Illustrator comes with the “Shape Builder Tool”, which is a simple click and drop tool where you need an shape, or line, “intersectioning” on top of other to just click and create a new form. I’ve been using this tool as a much more simple and effective way to cut my patterns where I wanted to. But a warning: it only works when you are using strait lines, dotted lines doesn’t let the tool works.

    Here’s the Adobe Help about the tool. https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/creating-shapes-shape-builder-tool.html

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Fernando,

      Thanks for your message and really helpful tip! I’ll certainly give it a shot and possibly add it to a future tutorial. Keep up the pattern making in Adobe Illustrator it’s the best thing since sliced bread!

      Thanks
      Ralph

      Reply
    • Justine L Kohn

      Fernando, That is what I was going to suggest. The Shape Builder Tool is great for pattern cutting and you don’t have to overshoot/ cross the lines like you do with the Pathfinder: Divide or Minus Front tools. Also dotted lines work now. I too am getting a refresher on less used tools as well as new ways to use old tools.

      Reply
  4. imman

    I want you to teach us to make a basic bodice block on illustrator.

    Reply
  5. Liv

    Hey, thanks for the tutorials.
    Any troubleshooting tips for technique two? I’m following the instructions, but after I cut the 2 points when I select with the direct selection tool and drag with the other one it just drags the whole block as if the cuts were never there. I tried rotating it and then dragging, which enabled me to move it.

    I did manage to get the new part to move once, but then I backspaced and it went back to not moving separately.

    Reply
  6. Kaine Akponor

    Thanks so much for this series. It has really improved my digital pattern making skills. I used to make different layers to divide a block, this has really simplified things.

    Reply
  7. Kerry

    This is an excellent tutorial, thank you!

    Reply
  8. ILANA BINYAMINI

    HELLO TO YOU RALPH. FIRST OF ALL I WANT TO THANK ON YOUR EXTRAORDINERY LESSONS.
    I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT CUTTING THE BLOCK
    WITH THE SCISSORS AS YOU SHOW IN THE 7.30 MINUTE IN THE VIDEO. WHEN YOU DEMONSTRATE IT LOOKS GREAT BUT WHEN I TRY I GET EVERY TIME THE MASSAGE: ” PLEASE USE THE SCISSORS TOOL ON A SEGMENT OR AN ANCHOR POINT ( BUT NOT ON ENDPOINT) OF A PATH)” AND I CAN’T DO THIE CUUTING ACTION LIKE YOU .
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
    ILANA

    Reply
  9. ELIZABETH SANTOS

    Just want to say what an amazing tutorial it had helped me loads!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad you found it useful. Enjoy your digital pattern making journey.

      Reply

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