Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best Software for Pattern Making

When in comes to pattern drafting, think DRIVING. 

It sounds very scary for those who doesn't drive, tension, panicking, fear comes to mind. "You will never get it right!"- the voice  keeps ringing in your ear,  "Told you so", every time you hit a small bump on the road, and so on and so on. You keep learning, sometimes the hard way, you are getting through, until you realise that the voice is gone, you catch your mind wandering somewhere else and the whole thing feels like a second nature to you.

Drafting your patterns can seem very intimidating, but it is a really amazing skill and it can take you to a completely new level of possibilities. The good old paper and pencil method certainly is great, but with the introduction of various 2D CAD designing software makes it much more efficient.

If your dream is to design paperless patterns, you must first look at what kind of packages are out there to suit you best

Here are just a few examples of professional  pattern making programs:

Fashion Cad : They discibe them selves as an integrated suite of accurate pattern making software for perfect fitting garments - including pattern design, grading, detailing, marker layout and CAD drafting. A practical and affordable pattern making software system ideal for home based or commercial businesses.

e-Telestia. Advanced tools to create and modify designs. This unique system combines a set of easy to learn CAD tools and functions, with sound pattern cutting knowledge. You will be able to create your own blocks and styles, build-up your own style library, modify and adjust existing blocks and create fully professional collections.

Gemini Pattern Editor A very comprehensive piece of software- includes quick and accurate pattern design, using basic design tools and advanced geometrical procedures. Advanced model design and make-up with simulation for darts, folds, -Automatic and manual pattern grading. Pattern checking and verifying, measurement table, real time watcher. Pattern digitising, support for fast access digitising functions, vocal confirmation.

Gerber Accumark  With AccuMark, you can quickly create new patterns or modify existing ones, use powerful shortcuts to automatically apply common pattern changes. You can also perform even the most complicated grading calculations instantly, according to the rules you specify.

Sound amazing? Well, be prepared to fork out around a thousand bucks for most of those programs. You have the money? Fantastic! If you are thinking to start your own business in pattern making - get one of them! But for the majority of dressmakers this is not the option, so what is out there for those who cannot spend so much?

To start with the most of the cheaper software options available share very similar qualities:

Pros:  you have a vast majority of pre-installed styles to choose from, often come with comprehensive sewing guides, and you can design your own styles using multiple custom measurements charts. You can edit the pattern within a program to create your own unique designs.

Cons:   You cannot save your unique designs to open them with a different measurement chart. There is no grading option (this is the one you have to pay your big reddies for in professional software). The file format can be program specific- that means you cannot outsource the patterns for grading services. Also some fitting issues are reported to be quite problematic.

Here are a few examples of home user pattern making programs

Pattern Master - offers five separate software programs that automatically draft custom-sized sewing patterns to your measurements. It has a 2D pattern Editing CAD software, yardage calculator, and amazing customer support. Around $225 per program

PatternMaker - Their Professional Studio is a full-featured CAD program, specifically designed for pattern drafting. You can extensively modify a pattern made from the collections, or you can draft your own pattern entirely from scratch, it also support .dfx files- which is a very common file type in the professional pattern making world. Great interface. $399 or $600 for a Grading Studio.

DesignSew -Designer Software for creating and Sizing patterns to measure for custom fit The interactive interface and vector CAD format provide the features and benefits of a CAD studio to input and print patterns using a windows PC and Printer. $499 ($179 for a home user edition)

The bottom line: if you want to make your own patterns  using CAD software, you need to ask yourself  this:?

  • Do you want to learn the basics of pattern drafting from scratch, or you are happy enough using the preset options? 
  • Are you going to do with the patterns you create? If home use is all you need- there is no need to spend too much on it. Wild Ginger is selling a book on Digital Pattern Drafting with a 2D CAD program included for just $99! 
  • If you are looking to create patterns to share or sell, you need to first of all research each software output format options.  It is not the issue with more expensive ones, but beware that some of them are saving patterns in a specific file format, that will not convert to other types. It can be a real issue if you need to outsource grading, for example.
Download trial versions, when possible, and find the interface that works for you best. It is worth spending a day or two on a demo, to have a clear idea on whether is will suit your needs best.

Go to relevant forums, discussions and read carefully all posts- especially the ones complaining about any issues- negative comments can often give an insight into potential problems you can encounter in your future.

If paperless pattern making is for what you want to do, thinking these few points through can not only save your money make it an amazing fulfilling experience, but can simply make it an amazing fulfilling experience

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  1. This is great info, thanks for sharing. Is one of these the wild ginger one? I've heard a lot about it being open ended etc but have never tried it.

  2. Which of these are available for osx? Really mac-compatible, though, not the crap some software people try to say like "oh but you can run our windows program in bootcamp", urgh. Are there any?

  3. Unfortunately, only FashionCAD has Mac support as far as I know .  This is my dilemma as well as I am doing everything on my MacBook Pro. 

  4. Pattern Master is Wild Ginger software. I have their PatternMaster Boutique- it is not bad, I want to draft and produce unique patterns, but it is very limited for that. 

    It is good for home use although you will need to make a sloper for every measurement chart and it might need to be adjusted- They have a great support team and get back to you very fast, but the fitting can be an issue. Solvable, but hassle. This is from my own experience. 

    There is a lot of styles to choose from, they are a bit outdated in terms of fashion- but then the designers are not super trendy lot either. Would work in the 80s )))) But there are many options for adjusting your pattern and you can re-draft it using Patern Editor. But re-drafted styles are not possible to save to use in a different measurement (((( This is from my own experience. 

  5. Thanks for detailed response. I quite liked the Marvellous Designer one you linked earlier but that seems to be Windows only. Don't these people realise all the creatives use Macs? ;D

  6. Guys I just found this but its an old link.. something callled Cochenelle for Mac http://wwwearables.com/talk/2009/03/24/my-favorite-pattern-drafting-software/ been around for 20 years apparently..

  7. There is a Threads list here http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/6111/pattern-drafting-software

  8. Another old Threads link here but it seems to have good reviews for the Cochinelle 

  9. Thanks for sharing this! Although I'm searching for something in Spanish, I think the next step in my pattern making progress is to make my patterns by computer, but I don't know what kind of knowledge is necessary. Do you think is good to invest some money in pattern making by computer courses? Or this kind of programs are intuitive and don't need any extra programs to know before working with them? Thank you!

  10. It is a nightmare- I believe it is a some sort of conspiracy LOL Marvellous Designer is great for visualisation, but it is not for serious pattern drafting

  11. they are all CAD based. All need basic tools course at least. If you are looking for something to start with try PatternMaster, PatternMaker or Cochenelle. If you are going to buy the professional software, it will be very complex. You can get demo's to try things out too. 

  12. After reading your reviews of the CAD software, I think I will stick with good old paper, ruler and pencil. Almost free and I don't have to learn another program. Love the blog.

  13.  thanks everyone! It looks like Cochenille is the only one, though, as FashionCAD is exactly what I was avoiding: "...on a
    standard PC running any Windows software (up to the
    latest Windows '7') or intel mac with 'parallels' and
    Windows XP or Windows 7"

  14. First of all thank you for the compliment!  I somewhat agree with you, but being very addicted to al things progress (it is 21 century, after all), I wanted to personally take it to the new level. And the main thing is that I want to start my own pattern making brand some day, so I will have to use some kind of program. After a couple of weeks of an intensive research, I thought sharing my findings might be useful to my readers too. 

  15. I checked out Cochenille, they have a free Garment Designer Demo- it is not really fully versatile program- you couldn't draw anything from scratch there ((((( Not for me, not for $200

  16. Have you decided on a program that is what you are looking for? I've also been researching because I want to make some children's patterns to sell. It seems no matter what it will take a lot of work even with a program like Garment Designer from Cochenille. You still have to take your patterns into another program  to edit and make a pdf. 

  17. Hi Juliette, may I suggest you to use Inkscape ? Don't know if you already found it: It is an open source vector drawing application that runs on Win/Mac/Linux, and is very flexible. Some people uses it to trace sewing patterns; then you can save them as SVG file (a standard format recognized also by web browsers) or to PDF. Also, it can handle very complex scripting features: I was able to realize a fully automatic pattern generator for simple skirts, based on real measurements!

  18. Hi Juliette, can you suggest me a software for automatic making cloth pattern from real measurments. I am looking for some basic patterns that would change as I change costumers measurements.
    Thanks in advanced. Your blog is really amazing!
    Greeting from Croatia:)

  19. Thanks so much for the information!

  20. Hi Juliette. I would love your advice on which CAD software package would best fit what I would be using it for. I need to be able to create 2 way stretch patterns then be able to reproduce them into a size range so I can print to pattern sheets to then retail. I look forward to any guidance you can give me, I have never used CAD software before just paper,rule & pencil. :D

  21. I can help you set Garment CAD

  22. Hi, can i ask.. is this compatible for mac? i'm starting a swimwear business and i hope to find a great software that can meet my need. Thank you for your info :)

  23. hi im lawrence i can like you to help me with a patternmaker software thanks.

  24. I just ran across your post! Thank you so much for posting this. I am currently looking into a software program instead of making patterns the old fashioned way. Your thoughts are a huge help. I appreciate you taking the time to share them.

  25. I thought it was a bit ironic that you used a screencap of StyleCAD but didn't mention it in your post. Fwiw, I do think StyleCAD is the best of the commercial programs. In addition to stylecad (which I use in my business) I've used 2 others (optitex, gerber) and am familiar with Lectra and Pad. These are the most reputable commercial CAD companies.

    Commercial programs cost about $8K to $13K. Peripherals (72" plotter, 4x6 foot digitizer) can run another $10K-$15K.

    CAD programs targeted to homesewers cost $2K or less. Those can be an excellent option for enthusiasts if you have the money. I don't recommend these for businesses though unless you WON'T need to outsource services (grading & marking). If you want to use these anyway, you can do that as long as you know that you'll need to have the patterns redigitized because none of the major CAD brands work with hobby cad file formats.

    Generally, you can tell the difference between a legitimate industry CAD program from a hobbyist one by their marketing. If the marketing features increased efficiency, higher yields, output in the form of cut files (CAM) etc, then it is industrial. If the marketing specifically mentions use by independent designers and small companies, it is a homesewing program.

  26. Hi Thanks everyone! DesignSew.com is now launching version 6i, Sign up for a designer account and design, edit, print, manage & size your patterns & designs in the digitizer software.

  27. Hello,

    I have read your interesting blog related to software for retail. These are very interesting facts covered on this blog.

    You can also find some more facts about software for retail in this site:-


  28. i like this job and i am doing patterns master course in pakistan.

  29. If you Want CAD pls send mail to caddesigncad123@gmail.com

  30. I am A Pattern Maker of all type of garments. If you want any pattern and grading pls send mail to caddesigncad123@gmail.com

  31. You guys is a joke. Most of the links form your Website are dead. I couldn't use the contact us link, and you expect us to pay for the software.

  32. Your main Website is not working, most links are dead. I couldn't use the contact us link. Do you really expect us to pay for your software?

  33. The site & email works for me, I would be happy to answer your product questions email us at: info@designsew.com

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  36. Thanks everyone. i have a number of best commercial CAD softwares like Gerber, stylecad and lectra. My email : tech2rk@gmail.com

  37. There is a new Web 2.0 based currently free pattern making software that is still work-in-progress here, http://kosherpatterns.com/tutorials2/41-my-sloper-pattern-making-software-web-2-0-by-kosherpatterns.html

  38. Please check out a new Web 2.0-based free pattern-making software, currently at its initial development, here, http://kosherpatterns.com/tutorials2/41-my-sloper-pattern-making-software-web-2-0-by-kosherpatterns.html. Thank you.

  39. I purchased FasionCad. So far I have run into a few bumps like getting it downloaded and licensed, had to change IE browser. I am a true novice with CAD but very knowledable in pattern design and grading with paper pencil. I am a little frustrated with the program. Anyone have tips?

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  41. Anybody try Cochinelle? I've read that it's good.

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  45. I am looking for a CAD program do design ballroom dresses for myself. Using aPC. What would you recommend? I have no blotter just a standard printer. Thank you!

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