2. An overview of the cutting table and how to import an ePattern

Now that we have set up our workspace and added the important tools for pattern making, we’re ready to start learning how to use those tools! In this tutorial, we show you how to open the Cutting Table in Adobe Illustrator. The Cutting Table is an important document that we have developed to give you some additional tools to help keep your pattern-making and finished patterns consistent. It also features a selection of pre-built seam allowances that we explore in later tutorials. Most importantly, it is the document that we use when pattern-making design elements such as sleeves, necklines, dress styles, etc. It is very important that you familiarise yourself with this document. We also show you how to open your purchased basic block or ePattern into Adobe Illustrator and copy it to the Cutting Table.

Tutorial Overview

1. Opening the Cutting Table document into Adobe Illustrator.

2. A quick overview of the Cutting Table, its features, and why we need it for pattern cutting in Adobe Illustrator.

3.Customising the Cutting Table to work with either centimetres or inches and saving it as a template for future use.

4. Opening an ePattern in Adobe Illustrator and copying it to the Cutting Table ready for pattern cutting.

5. Navigating your pattern using the Zoom and Drag tools.

6. Saving your Cutting Table and ePattern together as a new document.

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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...

59 Comments

  1. hadia `

    with me it’s not working at all when I tried to convert the bodice pattern into AI file

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Did you purchase the PDF pattern or the ePattern? Our ePatterns are saved as SVG files which is fully compatible with Adobe Illustrator. You should just be able to open the ePattern file in Adobe Illustrator. Our PDF patterns are not editable in any software application, they are simply for printing.

      Reply
  2. Izelle

    I don’t see the download for the bodice block which you included for the tutorial.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      We stopped providing this file quite a while ago. We offer FREE tutorials but these tutorials take a lot of time and money to create. To be able to continue the FREE tutorials, we needed to make some form of revenue from the basic blocks. This is why we no longer provide the free basic block. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      Reply
  3. Tiffany Stephenson

    Hi Ralph I purchased a basic block in my size to be able to practice on the cutting table. and tried to up load it to my adobe to word on a pattern and it ask me for a password. what should i do now?

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Tiffany, thanks for your comment. It seems that you have bought one of our non-editable PDF patterns. You need an ePattern (fully editable in Adobe Illustrator). I can change your pattern from a PDF to an ePattern. Please email me at info@patternlab.london and I’ll get that done for you!

      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Hi Ralph I purchased a basic block in my size to be able to practice on the cutting table. I realized only after I downloaded it, was as a PDF, rather

    then an E pattern, This explains why the pattern was password protected so that’s fine as I sent you a previous message but I understand that now.

    not sure what to do can you help? please? Is it possible to import the same pattern as an e pattern for practicing in the cutting table?

    without making another purchase so soon.

    ok thanks.

    Indi

    iNDI

    Indi

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi, i’m very sorry for the delay. I can certainly resolve this for you. It’s quite easy for us to convert the PDF pattern to an ePattern. Can you send me an email to: info@patternlab.london and i’ll make the change. I just need your email address so I can pull up your account. Please don’t post it here!

      Reply
    • Tiffany Stephenson

      Hello Ralph I purchased a basic block in my size to be able to practice on the cutting table. after I downloaded it. I tried to up load it to my adobe but it said i need a password. What should I do?

      Reply
    • Tracy

      Hi! I’m interested in buying a custom block pattern in e-format so I can edit it. I have Inkscape- will it work with that and will I be able to follow your tutorials? Also – does the cutting board come with the basic block pattern? Thank you for a very useful site!

      Reply
      • Ralph Pink

        Hi Tracy,

        We have customers that have used Inkscape to edit their patterns. They’ve had no issue editing their patterns and following the tutorials apart from the obvious differences in the software: Inkscape/ Adobe. I would say, give it a shot and see how you get on. Unfortunately, we don’t use Inkscape so can’t offer much in the way of tips or tricks. The cutting board does not come with a free digital basic block. You will need to create one using the PatternLab software. Good luck wih your project!

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Hi Ralph, I’ve been practicing these tutorials for weeks, I finally bought illustrator 2021 and an E: pattern basic block size 12 downloaded it, and saved

    it to desktop.

    Once I tried to import it to illustrator it starts asking me for a password. it says’ this document is password protected” and therefore I am unable to

    move forward,

    Can you help please I’m stuck as not sure which password it’s asking for

    Ok Thanks

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi. It sounds like you bought a PDF pattern which is not editable. Please send us an email to info@patternlab.london mentioning the email address that you used to create your account. I can change you pattern from a PDF to an ePattern. Thanks!

      Reply
  6. Pepa Carro

    Hola, primero quiero darte las gracias por tu sitio y por los tutoriales que realizas, me están ayudando mucho en mis estudios de moda. Quisiera preguntarte la mejor forma de escalar patrones en Illustrator.
    Gracias.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    HI Ralph, so ive been going through the tutes’ and wondering when u organize your ‘workspace’ 1st tute/ with the tools u need, then u go to the cutting table 2nd

    tute’/ r your tools from the workspace still there? … or is it now a different set of tools in the cutting table? Only asking as I dont have AI CC as yet, so the tools are a

    little difficult to see on my laptop

    thanks

    Indi

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi there! Thanks for your comment. When you’ve finished creating your workspace, save the workspace as per the tutorial. Now, each time you open a new document (cutting table) you can select that workspace that will display all of the tools that you added when creating the workspace. Unfortunately, this only applies to Adobe CC. You might need to set up your workspace each time you open Adobe Illustrator. Hopefully, that answers your question?

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Hi Ralph, ok so I get it. I have since taken out a subscription, funny its

        illustrator 2021 as I had problems acquiring it on here. anyway hope its ok

        as good not so different from 2019 cc..

        I realized I must purchase an e.pattern in order to continue with this

        tutorial am I right ? Only fair really.

        as the downloads/ templates are all the same.. I gathered

        from the notes u have on here. I’m really getting into this trust me I have

        no experience. with illustrator, so I really need all the help I can get.

        Great Tutorials btw

        Thanks Indi

        Reply
        • Ralph Pink

          Hi… Yes that’s correct, once you have Adobe Illustrator, simply purchase one of our digital basic blocks (ePattern) and follow the tutorials. You’ll be a pro at digital pattern making in no time at all.

          Reply
  8. Sarah Hamblett

    Hi Ralph

    I have purchased a made to measure block and have started following your courses. I am up to the point of copying and pasting the block on to the cutting board and it keeps pasting it way above it so it’s on the black background and not the board. Looking forward to buying more custom blocks and following these tutorials.

    Thank You

    Sarah

    Reply
  9. Cara

    Are you available for individual consulting? I would like to hire a tutor to be able to ask questions for my specific needs.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Cara, Unfortunately, we do not give personal tuition. We simply have too much to do when creating our future blocks and don’t have the time or resources, however, it is something that we would like to do in the future.

      Reply
  10. Linda Barnes

    How do you take a photo of pattern and loading into Adobe Illustrator and scale to right size?

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Linda,

      You can scan paper patterns into Adobe illustrator and then digitise them. Here is the method that I have used in the past.
      1. Draw hashed lines all over each of your paper pattern pieces, preferably using different coloured pens.
      2. Next, break your patterns up into sections and scan each section. You don’t need to cut your pattern, just scan it starting at one end and progress until the whole piece has been scanned. The scanned edges will need to overlap.
      3. Paste your scans into Adobe Illustrator and make each scanned image 50% opacity. You can then start to piece your pattern sections together. The opacity allows you to see where the scans overlap to join the pattern. Use the outline of the pattern and the hashed coloured lines to match the scans together. You might need to rotate and move each piece until they match.
      4. Once you have pieced your scans together, group them and lock them. You can the start to trace your paper pattern using the pen tool.

      I hope this is helpful! Good luck with your project.

      Reply
      • Linda

        Can you take a photo instead of scanning? If yes how

        Reply
  11. Jocelynn Smith

    Hi Ralph! AWESOME tutes!! I am just a bit confused about the download files. I understand they are printing templates for the size paper you will print on, but what is the ”CC compatible, CS4, CS5 and CS6? They all have the same templates in them. Am I missing something? You ROCK!! You’ve made understanding digital pattern drafting super easy, and now I feel like a dunderhead for not giving it a try earlier.

    Reply
  12. Ben

    Hi there, I can’t find the free basic bodice block you refer to in the video so I can follow along? The Lin k just takes me to the design lab website where I have to purchase…

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Hi Ben,

      There’s a comment further down, that this was made over a year ago and at that time they were doing them for free. They no longer are. I haven’t gone through all the great tutes here, but there is a good pattern drafting tute to make your own blocks if you search it.

      Reply
  13. Annaleigh Stafford

    Hello there.

    I have been following along with these tutorials, and when it comes to downloading the basic bodice block are you able to provide me with the link where i can purchase it ?

    I see that you have the nest of basic bodice blocks available to purchase in the store section of your website, is this the one I should be downloading to use for these tutorials? or is there one with just one size ?

    Cheers, Annie

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Annie, Thanks for your comment. Yes, the nested blocks (designlab.london) work very well with these tutorials. They are all digital patterns that open in Adobe Illustrator. Enjoy!

      Reply
    • Diane

      Hi I downloaded the bodice block.I opened it and transferred to cutting table all ok.My problem is I can not make the shape change when I drag on it like you did.How can I fix this please

      Reply
  14. Arlene

    Thank you so much for these tutorials! So so clear and well explained for beginners. I’m so happy I found them. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      You’re very welcome! We enjoy creating them as much as people enjoy watching them 🙂

      Reply
    • Devipriya M

      I have more details.

      Reply
  15. Jasmin

    hey there, in your tutorials you’ve been saying there’s basic bodice block to download for free, i cant find the link for download it. could you help me please ?

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Thanks for your comment! These tutorials were made about a year ago. At that point, we were offering a free basic bodice block to experiment with, whilst following the tutorials. The aim at that point was to create an extended course of pattern making tutorials that were available to buy. We decided to scrap this concept and offer this extended range of pattern making tutorials for free, using the sale from blocks to subsidise the time and effort it took to create the tutorials. These tutorials are not just designed for digital pattern making. The techniques demonstrated can also be applied to paper pattern making or manual pattern making. Someone might already have a set of paper patterns and use them to follow along with our tutorials applying the same methods demonstrated in the video to their paper patterns. Either way, we apologise for the misunderstanding. We’ll look at replacing the old set of introductory tutorials with new ones that highlight this change. We appreciate the feedback!

      Reply
    • Gabi

      This is excellent!! Thanks so much for the tutorials

      Reply
    • Jelena

      Hi Ralf Just looking at your Tutorial. Great job, thank you. I have the same question as jasmine. Several time I tried to download PDF printing template to follow tutorial but can’t get an e-Pattern. What do I do wrong?

      Reply
  16. Cathy cox

    Is the pattern block for the tutorials one we need to purchase? I found download for cutting table but can’t find block?

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Cathy. That’s correct! You can either purchase an editable basic block using the Lab or you can visit our sister site DesignLab and purchase a pattern pack. The pattern pack contains standard sizes UK4 – 24. We’ve added a Banner link on each page to help people find the blocks. Thanks for your comment!
      Ralph

      Reply
  17. Lupe Deira

    I have Used the cutting table file but when I try to place a pattern onto the board it is not scaled correctly. Is there a way to make sure the placed pattern is scaled correctly, or to scale it once placed?
    I can use the scale function by dragging the placed object but I was wondering if it was possible to say pick a line and state its 5cm and have that then cause the rest of the placed object to be scaled correctly.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Lupe, thanks for your comment. That is very odd. Which basic block are you trying to place? Was it a basic block that you drafted using the Lab or was it the free basic block download we originally hosted on this page? If it was the free download, Unfortunately, this block was an out-dated SVG file that we had to remove/ update. Please see the banner at the top of this page. It will explain the various options now available for drafting an editable pattern for use with our pattern making tutorials.

      Reply
  18. Joshua

    I just came in contact with patternlab. Pls i will like to know the tools i will need to use adobe illustrator. I have xp-pen star g640.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Joshua. I’m assuming that is a tablet? If you are familiar with using a tablet instead of a mouse then the process is pretty much the same. I would recommend experimenting with the tablet in Adobe Illustrator. If you have your tablet set up correctly, a single or double click on your pen should be the same as it is on your mouse.

      Reply
  19. onyx

    Adobe has decided to no longer recognise the bodice file or the cutting table file.
    Any idea why this might be the case? Baffled on this end.
    More annoying is that it worked perfectly well two days ago.
    Since i cleaned my laptop and reuploaded creative cloud, it has decided to reject these files. Is there something i may have inadvertently done that i could undo? or should i be contacting adobe on this issue?

    Reply
  20. Agnes Somogyi

    Hi! I downloaded the bodice file, and when I want to open it in Illustrator it says that it can not open the SVG file, it needs to be vaildated.. Do you have any idea how to fix it? Or could you send it in an other file format? Thank you! Agnes

    Reply
    • Agnes Somogyi

      Sorry for bothering, I have downloaded from an other page from this course, and that version works fine! Great course by the way! 🙂

      Reply
      • Karla

        Thanks for the Tip.. !!!! Done it

        Reply
        • Ralph Pink

          Awesome sauce! Glad it worked 🙂

          Reply
    • James Kehinde

      Please I don’t have s bodice pattern what do I do, can I build my own pattern from scratch

      Reply
  21. elisabetta

    Hello! I need some more sewing allowance brushes how can i create them? Thank you

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Elisabetta,

      You can create your own custom brushes by following this tutorial: https://patternlab.london/home/project/epattern-seam-allowance/

      You can also add a seam allowance using a far simpler technique:

      1. Select the pattern you wish to add seam allowance with the direct selection tool.
      2. Go to the ai. menu and click Object> Path > Offset path. A pop-up window will appear.
      3. Type the value of seam allowance you require into the Offset field.
      4. Type 10 into the Miter limit field.
      5. Click OK.
      6. Your pattern will now have the specified seam allowance.
      7. If you see three lines appear on your pattern, delete the innermost line.
      8. If you see two lines, do not delete any of them. The outside line is your cutting line.

      Reply
  22. Priscilla

    Hi Ralph,

    The key on the cutting table is missing. I just get a bIanc page. I have an older version of Adobe illustrator CS6 16.0.0
    I’ve tried everything from pasting to converting. Is there a way to get the key panel another way or make it myself right on the cutting table.

    Reply
  23. Aletha

    Hello, the legend key is not showing up in my illustrator file.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Aletha. Thanks for your comment.
      I’ve opened the cutting table file and the key is definitely present. The cutting table is a huge art board within Adobe Illustrator and the Key can get a bit lost in that huge space. Navigate to the top left corner of the cutting table and zoom in. You should find it there. Otherwise it might be a compatibility issue. What version of Adobe illustrator do you have?

      Reply
  24. nina cadzow

    hello there-been trying to set up the bodice blocks onto the cutting table but they keep appearing much reduced and not to full size. when i measure the shoulder it comes to 4.6 and it should be about 12-12.5???Also i am on a slightly older version of illustrator and have discovered that the rulers will only change to centimetres if you go into document set up and change it through there then do the preferences.

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Nina. Which version of Adobe Illustrator are you using?

      Theoretically, there should be no scaling with .SVG files when copied or opened in all versions of Adobe Illustrator. That being said I’ve not used all the Adobe Illustrator platforms. I’ve only used CS5, CS6, and CC. We always recommend using the most up to date software package to prevent any issues with your ePatterns. Possibly, I can grab your pattern, download it, open it in CC, check the proportions and save it as an Ai file that is compatible with your current version. This isn’t a means to an end but a quick fix. Any future blocks you produce might have the same issue if it is a common occurrence with your version of Ai.
      Let me know your thoughts.

      Thanks again!
      Ralph

      Reply
  25. nina cadzow

    hi there- i am an experienced manual pattern cutter wanting to digitise all my blocks- how is this done-or am i trying to run before i can walk!!!

    Reply
    • Ralph Pink

      Hi Nina, thanks for your comment.

      That’s a really interesting question and something that I dealt with quite some time ago. It’s not as efficient as you might think and really depends on the size of your patterns.

      I found the easiest way is to make traced copies of your patterns, cut them into A4 or A3 pages (depending on the size of your scanner), then scan them as individual pages, import them into Photoshop and then piece them back together. Adding markings or lines to the pattern, before cutting them up, will help you piece them back together. Once they have been pieced together in Adobe Photoshop you could them copy them to Illustrator and trace them once more using the pen tool to create lines and curves that trace your scanned pattern.
      It is by no means a quick or easy process. I guess it all depends on how many patterns you have and how much time you want to spend on digitising them.

      Alternatively, you could take them to a digital grader, and ask them to plot them using Gerber or a similar software application. They would then save the plotted patterns as a DXF file (similar to our ePatterns) You could then edit and amend these files using Adobe Illustrator like in our courses and tutorials.

      I hope this has helped enlighten you, whatever your course of action.

      Thanks again!
      Ralph

      Reply

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