Friday, March 12, 2021

Drafting on the computer

     I have been trying out some new things this past year of Covid woe. For someone like me who is used to having problems to solve on a daily basis, this year has been a challenge in the absense of a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

    One of the things that I am using for a brain exercise, is learning some new things on the computer. I have been seeing so many patterns by Indie designers out there available for digital download, and I wondered what software some of these people were using.

    I thought that I could learn to draft patterns with the computer and started a search for software (affordable) with which to do this. 

    I have no experience using the computer for this task and I love, love, love, drawing patterns on paper, so I am not likely to give that up by any means.

    I started this journey with Inkscape, and began teaching myself some of the tools of that program. It was quite enlightening, I learned a lot - much of which may not have lodged firmly in my brain, but it opened up a door to a place I had never gone before. It was interesting and there are so many helpful YouTube videos out there that made the steep learning curve ever so slightly scalable- hats off to Logos by Nick for an excellent set of tutorial videos, even though I had to stop and start constantly because at his slowest I still was struggling to keep up.

    I decided that Inkscape was not the pattern making solution for me.  I am keeping it in my back pocket but decided to look further afield.

    I encountered a program called, Patternmaker Pro (closed down recently)which also did not work out for me- I could hardly get started and I was not looking for plug and play solution. I want to be able to control the parameters of my own drafting.

That then led me first to Valentina and then Seamly2D

    I am still learning the software and the tools with in it, but I have been encouraged by my progress so far and also by the welcoming and helpful forum of users.

Here is a little learning exercise I did recently.

This is a replication (just as written) of a vintage waistcoat draft.

It is a challenge for a paper and pencil gal to adapt, as following the process as written works well with paper, but isn't in the best order of operations for the computer.  I do like a challenge and this has been a lot of fun to do.

I don't necessarily have a plan beyond learning right now, but who knows, this may come in handy in the future.

I might become an indie pattern designer of period menswear😉

What do you think? Do you use a drafting software? Any advice?


  1. I've tried Tuka, Pad System, Pattern Master/Cameo, Pad System, Clo and Valentina. Of those, Tuka is my favourite for having more learning resources such as a manual and videos within the software - others sometimes leave you to figure it out through youtube. But I can't justify its price tag now that I'm not using professionally and it's pc only (I have one, but my main computer is a Mac).

    Obviously, if Tuka is out of my price range so are Lectra, Gerber and Optitex. But the first two allow alterations to be applied to the base pattern, which would be very useful when you return to the theatre. Of all the more accessible titles out there, I think Cameo is the only that also has an alteration module available.

    1. Would you be interested in answering a few questions I have about cad programs and pricing? Reply with your email. I will not publish it, but ai will be able to contact you privately.

  2. Wow, thats quite a list! More to look into for sure.
    I doubt that computer drafting will be useful in our work, but things are changing and so you never know.

  3. Good luck on your digital pattern making journey. A few notes on my several decades dealing with computer generated patterns. I first worked with just the plotted patterns in the early 80’s, during by my last year in the design program at the U of Washington, double checking that they were accurate. Years later I was hired as a computer patternmaker for a local jacket company, but was let go. I was still in the learning phase, but I never found using computers that much fun. Later as a freelance designer, I outsourced all my digital patterning to another freelancer. Working with a couple of smaller sewing contractors, they regularly hired me to correct the computerized patterns they had to work with. The local freelancer I worked with really knew her stuff, but she also needed quite a bit of cash to pay for the monthly lease on the commercial software she used, the expensive computer, and the room sized plotter that was needed to print out the patterns. If there is a less expensive software option, and you like that digital manipulation of a line and pattern, go crazy on the computer!

  4. Yes, from what I understand, the software can be very expensive either to buy outright or lease. Luckily Seamly is open source so it is not costing me money to try!

    I am curious as to what aspects you were correcting? Was it a problem with the basic pattern shapes or was it a computer problem?

  5. Computers don’t make mistakes, or so we are told. My theory is that people are trained to use a computer that does digital pattern making, but these people have no training in apparel design, construction, and pattern making and grading. If you have a perfected sample size, you should be able to push the right key, and voila, a complete nested graded set of patterns. What if the original was off, such as seams not trued or matching up? What if parts or pieces are missing? And what if the grading rules are wrong? And often, the final patterns are almost never muslin tested or checked to see if all the seams line up. It’s simply garbage in, garbage out.

    By the way, your blog entries tapered down to a very slow trickle. Did you accomplish any personal sewing/design projects? Although it may have been an awful time for most people, for me, the lock down gave me creative time to go crazy! I cut and sewed three fleece jackets, one recycled wool letterman’s jacket, and two thrift store leather jacket refurbish/embellishment projects. Now I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go!

    Have you given any thought to signing up at a technical college where they have course work in computer pattern making?

    1. During the past year, I did some sewing for myself, finished some freelance projects, worked away from home for a month, and did another tv/film gig.
      I dont' think there is a drafting course I would be able to take as a stand alone option. I don't intend at this point to pursue it as a work option at least for now. I am just content with learning something new.

  6. You should TOTALLY be an indie period men's wear pattern maker! There is SUCH a void in the market out there for it! SO great to be able to read your blog again! Keep it up!

  7. You should TOTALLY be an indie period men's wear pattern maker! There is SUCH a void in the market out there for it! SO great to be able to read your blog again! Keep it up!

  8. Take a look at Pattern Workshop online. A lot of indie pattern designers use Adobe Illustrator and from what I understand this course can help. I haven't taken it myself but was looking into it. Also if you make some period menswear patterns I would totally be interested, especially in the construction instructions that you could include. I would love to learn from you.

    1. Thanks for the info about Pattern Workshop Online.