Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator CC

Digital pattern making is fast becoming a popular method of pattern making and is starting to replace manual or paper pattern making. This is simply due to its speed, precision, shareability and space saving abilities. You no longer need a big studio, large table, expensive tools, rolls of paper or storage space for your patterns. With digital pattern making, you can work from your laptop or desktop PC, saving thousands of patterns in folders and files on your computer or memory stick. You can even share them online with your community or send them to friends on the other side of the world in seconds! Not only that, but you can copy and paste full scale patterns without having to spend time tracing them from existing templates. You can add one-click seam allowance without having to draw it by hand. Maybe you want to create your own independent sewing pattern company? Great! With digital pattern making, you can transform your patterns into multi-page PDF printouts – we have a tutorial for that! There are countless benefits to digital pattern making.

Software applications such as Adobe Illustrator CC, CorelDRAW, Affinity designer and free software, like Inkscape, are making it far more accessible for individuals and students. The hard part is learning how to use the software and then finding digital basic blocks/slopers/basic sewing patterns to adapt, experiment with and eventually turn into finished professional sewing patterns. And that’s where we come in!

Digital Basic Blocks, Slopers and Basic Sewing Patterns

Our online software (the Lab) automatically drafts made-to-measure or custom fitting digital basic blocks/ slopers /basic sewing patterns to fit you or your clients measurements exactly. We then provide them as either multi-page PDF sewing patterns or fully-editable digital basic blocks. These digital patterns can then be adapted to become any design or style using our digital pattern making tutorials. 

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...

FREE Digital Pattern Making Tutorials

We have created a series of in-depth video tutorials that focus on digital pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC, since it’s by far the most popular platform. In these tutorials, we show you step-by-step, where to find the Adobe Illustrator CC software, how to set it up specifically for digital pattern making, what tools you need and how to use them. You don’t need any prior experience of either digital pattern making, regular pattern making or Adobe Illustrator CC. We’ve designed the tutorials for both absolute beginners and experienced pattern makers.

Below you will find a list of video tutorials. It’s very simple- start at the top and work your way down the list. Each tutorial will reinforce the last and then introduce a new tool or concept. It’s important that you complete each tutorial in order. This will ensure you don’t miss anything crucial. Once you have finished all the tutorials, you should have a firm grasp on the basics of digital pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC. You can then go on to learn and develop your pattern making skills by following our design tutorials.

That’s pretty much all you need to know, why not give it a shot! Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at making your own digital sewing patterns.

Tip: Some of our followers have found it useful to watch the tutorials on a tablet or mobile device, at the same time as having a go on their laptop or PC. This means they don’t have to keep switching between screens. Try it, maybe it’ll speed up your learning process.

Adobe Illustrator CC (Ai) can be a very intimidating platform, especially when it displays all the bells and whistles! In this digital pattern making tutorial, we show you which tools are important, where to find them, how to add them to your workspace, how to remove tools that you don’t need, and finally, how to save the workspace so you can use it each and every time you draft patterns using Adobe Illustrator CC. 

Now that we have set up our workspace and added the important tools for digital 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 CC. 

Like manual pattern making (on paper), the ruler is possibly the most important tool in your arsenal. Having the ability to measure straight and curved lines, and marking points on those lines is a fundamental part of pattern making. It’s the same for digital pattern making, although the tools we use are slightly different. In this digital pattern making tutorial, we show you which tools we use to do this and how to use them effectively.

In manual paper pattern making, we use a ruler to draw straight lines and a Pattern Master or French Curves to draw curved lines. But how do we translate this to digital pattern cutting in Adobe Illustrator CC? Simple, we use the Pen tool and all of its derivative options to seamlessly draw curves and lines. In this tutorial, we show you how to use these fun tools to divide your block into panels or add design elements such as necklines.

In Adobe Illustrator CC, your block is comprised of many different lines, segments, points, and elements. The only thing keeping them together is grouping. All of our ePatterns (digital basic blocks) come pre-grouped which makes things easier when importing them into Adobe Illustrator CC. However, what happens when you start adding new elements and removing old ones? 

Cutting and slashing your block into different panels is yet another fundamental part of pattern making (on paper). It’s possibly the first thing that we learn as pattern makers. It’s a very similar concept for digital pattern making in Adobe Illustrator CC, but doing it well can be tricky. 

You’ve cut it, slashed it, designed a new neckline, rotated your darts and added all kinds of new design details. So what’s next? Adding seam allowance! In the physical world, this is usually a long, time-consuming process. It takes some careful attention with a Pattern Master tool, especially when you’ve got lots of curves and panels. It’s a process that I personally used to dread. Well, not anymore! In digital pattern making adding seam allowance is a simple and joyful experience.

Paper sewing patterns are slowly becoming less popular, mainly due to the cost of commercial printing, packaging, and delivery worldwide. It is this slow transition from paper to digital that is making independent pattern companies a huge success. Now that you know how to adapt your basic blocks/ slopers/ basic sewing patterns digitally, it’s time to start selling and sharing them as multi-page PDF sewing patterns. 

I would like just to say, MERCI!
I was completely afraid of Illustrator before this because many people said to me “Oh it is very difficult to understand and use it for patternmaking.” You can’t imagine how you have helped me and shown me No it is not so difficult! These videos and tutorials are clear.

I tried many other solutions to draft my lingerie patterns and now I have an overview of what I have to do in my design process. So Merci beaucoup

Claire – tutorial comment

“Just purchased an ePattern and going through PatternLab’s tutorials. Excellent resources! Easy, understandable and fun!”

Rosalind H – Instagram comment

“Your tutorials helped me land a job in the product development (fashion) industry.
Thanks for all the tips and tricks 

Janusteyn – Instagram comment

“This is an incredible resource and so brilliantly done. I’ve been watching them for a while and they’re so helpful 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Nicole P – Instagram comment

“I’ve been creating fashion illustrations and I am thrilled to have found your site to make my designs come to life with such ease. Thanks for the free tutorials!”

Rosalind H – Instagram comment

Want More Pattern Making Tutorials?

Now you’ve learned the basics, put your new digital pattern making skills to the test, improve your ability or learn how to draft specific design elements. Take a look at our digital pattern making tutorials on sleeves, necklines dart manipulations and much more. We’ll be extending this existing range with a new digital pattern making tutorial each week.

If there is a specific sleeve or design element that you’d like us to add, follow us on Instagram and leave your suggestion as a comment on one of our existing posts. We’ll review the request and get started. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our FREE digital pattern making tutorials!

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