Screenshot of a digital pattern making workspace in Adobe Illustrator showing outlines of dress pattern pieces with labeled dimensions.

Selecting & Grouping Patterns in Adobe Illustrator

Pattern Making Course in Adobe Illustrator

What’s next in our digital pattern making course? Well, transitioning into the realm of digital pattern making introduces you to the intricacies of managing your designs efficiently in Adobe Illustrator. The essence of keeping your pattern or basic block intact lies in the art of grouping. As part of our pattern making course, this tutorial delves into the critical skills of selecting and grouping patterns in adobe illustrator, ensuring that your designs remain cohesive and adaptable as you evolve them with new elements or modifications. Mastering these techniques is pivotal for anyone looking to refine their craft in digital pattern making.


Tutorial Insights:

1. Mastering the Direct Selection Tool: Begin by using the Direct Selection tool to precisely select anchor points and lines within a grouped object, a fundamental skill for detailed pattern adjustments.

2. Leveraging the Selection Tool: Learn to utilize the Selection tool for efficiently moving both grouped and ungrouped objects, streamlining the process of organizing your design elements.

3. Enhanced Selection Techniques: Discover the power of queuing up selections with the Shift key, enabling you to manage multiple elements simultaneously with ease. This is a technique you will be using often in the digital pattern making course, so it’s a technique to remember.

4. Grouping and Ungrouping Made Easy: Explore various methods for grouping and ungrouping elements within your basic block, ensuring your patterns maintain their integrity through all phases of pattern making.

5. Navigating Nested Groups: Understand the structure and functionality of nested groups, an advanced technique for managing complex designs with multiple layers of grouping.

6. The Crucial Role of Grouping: Emphasize the importance of maintaining groups to prevent your patterns from disassembling when moved, copied, or pasted, a key practice for preserving the cohesiveness of your patterns.

7. Resizing with Caution: Learn the implications of resizing your block or grouped elements and why this approach should not be confused with proper grading techniques.

8. Rotating with Precision: Utilise the Free Transform tool to rotate your pattern or grouped elements, adding dynamic perspectives to your designs while maintaining their structural integrity. It’s another important key part of this digital pattern making course.

Essentials for Following Along

Before we dive in, you’ll need a bodice basic block to keep up with this pattern-making project. We offer two types of basic blocks for your selection. Standardized basic blocks are ready for immediate use, allowing you to start drafting right away, though they might not match your measurements perfectly. On the other hand, a bespoke basic block, tailored to your specific measurements, offers a precise fit but requires time to create, as we’ll need 28 of your body measurements. Choose the one that best suits your needs!

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Standardized Basic Block

Start pattern making immediately

Visit our partner site, DesignLab.London, for a variety of bodice basic blocks available in multiple sizes. These serve as an ideal starting point or base pattern for your pattern-making project. Explore the collection, select your preferred style and size, and download it to proceed with your project.

Master Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator with our Free course Adapt basic blocks into finished patterns

Bespoke Basic Blocks

Craft a personalized basic block designed for your unique measurements

Looking for a tailor-made basic block for this project? You’re in the right place. Construct your personalised basic block in the Lab by providing your measurements. Simply create a profile, input your measurements, and utilise this profile to design a range of basic block styles. You’ll need the bodice basic block for this project.

Continue Your Pattern Making Journey!

This lesson marks an important step in a series designed to transition you from manual to digital pattern cutting in Adobe Illustrator, making your pattern making process more faster and far more precise. Are you ready for the next lesson?


  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: 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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