5. How to group patterns and use different selection tools

In Adobe Illustrator, your block is comprised of many different lines, segments, points, and elements. The only thing keeping them together is grouping. All of our ePatterns come pre-grouped which makes things easier when importing them into Adobe Illustrator. However, what happens when you start adding new elements and removing old ones? These groups need to be maintained otherwise your block will fall apart when it is moved around the page. In this tutorial, we explain how grouping works and various ways of grouping and ungrouping elements, allowing you to safely carry on pattern cutting. We also explain how the Big and Small selection tools function, when to use them and how they affect grouped and non grouped objects.

Tutorial Overview

1. Using the Small Selection tool to select anchor points and lines within a grouped object.

2. Using the Big Selection tool to select and move grouped and ungrouped objects.

3. Bonus – How to queue up selections using the Shift key on your keyboard.

4. How to group and ungroup elements of your block in a variety of different ways.

5. How nested groups work.

6. The importance of using groups to ensure your blocks don’t come apart.

7. How to increase and decrease the size of your block or grouped elements and why it is not a valid form of grading.

8. Rotating your pattern or grouped elements with the Free Transform tool.

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  1. MJ

    Hello ,
    I can make a patern from an image I add a layer and create a copy on the top. All the mesure are fine but when I save as pdf and print it . The final product is never the same as my patern somethimes it is bigger or larger . I dont know why I am printing alot of paper in vain.
    Anyone has an idea. ( I amde a print Template from you Video )

    i am quite at loss how to proceed to fic this issue


    • Ralph Pink

      Hi MJ,

      Thanks for your comment. Most likely, you are not printing your pattern at the correct scale. When you click print, you should get a print dialogue box that pops up with a range of different options. I recommend selecting “Do not fit to page” or typing 100% in the scale input box. This should ensure your printed pattern is the correct scale when printing. Another issue might be that your “pattern image” is not the correct size. Are you taking a picture of your pattern and then importing it into Adobe Illustrator to digitize? If so, this will not create a very good result. We have a tutorial on how to scan and import paper patterns into Adobe Illustrator. Maybe this will help? You can find the tutorial here: https://patternlab.london/home/project/digitising-paper-sewing-patterns/. I hope that resolves the issue. Good luck with your project!

  2. Liana

    I seem to be having a constant issue with the big selection tool not working when I try to use it to move an object. Instead of grabbing and moving it, it draws a marquis. I am using and Apple laptop and AI 2021. Can you help?

    • Ralph Pink

      Has the object you are trying to move got a fill? If it doesn’t then you are selecting empty space. You need to select the line or outline of the object and not the middle or empty space inside the outline. I hope this helps?

  3. Justine L Kohn

    Something that I like to do when it comes to changing individual elements within a group, instead of ungrouping especially if you want to just group it back together later is to double click on the group and it will isolate it. This allows you to make changes within the group. It is especially handy when you have groups within a group; you just keep double clicking until you are to the group you want to change. Exiting it is as easy as double clicking outside the group or you can use the group chain at the top if you want to just move back a group.

  4. Sandy

    Thank you so much for posting these tutorials. I have been teaching myself AI, and these were exactly what I needed to apply the software to my pattern drafting.

    You mentioned that for grading to different sizes, that it is essential to create each block to the desired size, which I understand. What I am not sure of, is what is the usual process for creating patterns of different sizes? Does one start with different sized blocks and apply the same design elements to each (pleats, tucks, etc?) once you know what you want to change? Or do you apply those design changes to one block, and then grade up or down from the modified block?

    Or is that a future tutorial I haven’t got to yet ?

    • Anonymous

      Normally in pattern cutting you would draft a pattern and then grade it into different sizes..


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