Digital Pattern Cutting with Adobe Illustrator

Digital pattern cutting is fast becoming the new form of manual or paper pattern cutting. Monthly subscription software applications such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and some free platforms like Inkscape are making it far more accessible to individuals and students. The hardest part is finding custom fitting digital patterns and learning how to use those platforms. However, once you grasp the software and its range of tools it becomes quite simple to transfer your pattern making knowledge from paper to digital.

To help resolve this, we have created a series of in-depth video tutorials that focus on pattern making in Adobe Illustrator. We show you step by step, where to find the software, how to set it up for digital pattern making, what tools you need and how to use them. You can then adapt your digital basic blocks into hundreds of different designs.

Not only are they FREE but we have designed them to work for all ability types, regardless of whether you are professional pattern maker or a complete novice.


Below you will find our ever expanding list of “Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator” tutorials. It’s very simple- start at the top and work your way down the list. Each step will reinforce the last and then introduce a new tool or concept. It is 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 pattern making in Adobe Illustrator. 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 and making your own collections.


If you do feel there is something that we have left out or you need specific advice then please fell free to comment or ask us a question. There is a comments section at the bottom of each tutorial. Adding comments or asking questions is a great way for the community to learn together and get answers to similar issues.

Adobe Illustrator (AI) can be a very intimidating platform, especially when it displays all the bells and whistles! In this 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. 

ow 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. 

Like manual paper pattern making, 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 cutting. It’s the same for digital pattern making, although the tools we use are slightly different.  In this 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? 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, 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? 

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

ou’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! This is usually a long, time-consuming process which 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!

Paper sewing patterns are slowly becoming redundant, 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 patterns digitally, it’s time to start selling and sharing them as multi-page PDF sewing patterns. 

Want more?

Put your skills to the test, and improve your ability at pattern making in Adobe illustrator with our Style tutorials. Simply find the style you love, auto-draft your custom-fitting basic block, and follow the tutorial. When you're done, why not add yet more design elements such as a neckline or sleeve to create a truly unique design!

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