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.




  1. 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.

  2. Aletha

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

    • 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?

  3. 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.

    • 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!

  4. 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!!!

    • 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!


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