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CAD for pattern design?
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Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
CAD for pattern design? on 01/09/2011 20:51:57 MST Print View

Does anyone know of any sewing-pattern-design specific software out there that can be used to design, adjust, and model patterns? I've seen stuff from Optitex, Wild Ginger, etc on their websites but they are aimed more at businesses and the costs reflect that (in the thousands). Anyone know of anything free or reasonably priced that provides an improvement over the cycle of hand drawing, cutting, sewing a test piece, checking for fit, and then repeating the process?

Or has anyone had much success using regular old CAD software for this purpose?

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: CAD for pattern design? on 01/10/2011 22:57:17 MST Print View


I've used TurboCad Deluxe for tent, bivy, tarp, and pack patterns. Never tried clothing. I'd used TurboCad and its predecessors in the past for residential plot plans and such, so it’s what I was familiar with. You can verify dimensions of matching pieces and plan material layout among other things.

I use a 36” plotter to print out patterns. Print shops will print out your full sized PDF files, but cost a dollar or more per square foot. Here are a few examples of a bivy pattern from TurboCad.

Bivy Pattern before cutting

Bivy pattern after cutting

Bivy material cut

bivy with hood up

Hope this helps!

Edited by Lancem on 01/10/2011 23:02:21 MST.

Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
Good stuff on 01/11/2011 08:12:10 MST Print View

Hey that looks pretty good. That is very helpful. Thanks!

Are you able to use TurboCAD to do things like set perimeter or edge length constraints that would allow you to make modifications that automatically propagate through multiple pieces of the pattern?

For example, here's what I'm doing that prompted this question:
I'm making a Maxima Jacket for my girlfriend who is smaller than the XS pattern. So I made a shell with some scrap from the unmodified pattern and had her try it on to figure out what I need to change. Turns out I need to raise the armpit up and make the sleeve narrower there. So that means I need to change 3 pieces: the sleeve, the front panel, and the back panel. And I need to make it so that the edge of the sleeve remains the same length as the sleeve cutout on the front plus the sleeve cutout on the back (because the front and back get sewn together and then the sleeve to that). So as I'm imagining doing this in software, I would have some kind of constraint saying this edge equals this edge plus this edge, and I can move some other things around while the software maintains that constraint for me.

I have a student copy of Solid Edge from my undergrad days which I might try out, unless anyone has any suggestions of free/open source software they like.

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
CAD for pattern design on 01/11/2011 17:31:17 MST Print View

Lance sweet bivy, looks great! I have been playing around with AutoCAD a bit at work and just got a student copy of it thanks to my wife working at a college. I have been trying to put my Kinsman pattern on to AutoCad, which was a little tricky, but I think I got it. I wanted to be able to have a copy of the pattern for future use and be able to make any changes to it if I need to after I finish one. It would be cool if there was a program out there that made designing patterns simplified.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: CAD for pattern design? on 01/11/2011 17:42:18 MST Print View

Most 3D CAD programs will allow you to 'unfold' some curved surfaces onto flat sheet metal, IF that would be possible in real life. Obviously nothing is going to let you unfold a sphere or a saddle surface onto a flat surface.

I have been using several 3D CAD programs - TurboCAD, SolidEdge, Alibre, plus SolidWorks in the distant past. I have also played with VariCAD and a couple of others, but only to see what they can do. If you want something worth-while, make sure it is parametric.

These days I don't have a large plotter (I'm retired), so I model the surfaces mathematically and use (gasp!) a spreadsheet to generate the XY coordinates, for the edges, and plot them out on builders 200 micron plastic sheet. Works fine for me.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: AutoCAD on 01/11/2011 17:46:26 MST Print View

Highly biased opinion: I would rate AutoCAD as the most user-hostile cad package I have ever met - and that was *after* doing a full training course on it. Sure, market leader ... like Windows.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: AutoCAD on 01/11/2011 18:11:00 MST Print View

Speaking of AutoCAD, I need to get current on it again.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: CAD Dimensional Constraints on 01/12/2011 00:39:09 MST Print View


"Are you able to use TurboCAD to do things like set perimeter or edge length constraints"?

TurboCad Deluxe does not have dimensional constraints. For ten times the money, TurboCad Pro does.

As an alternative, you can lock the aspect ratio and resize multiple objects at once. For instance the armseye of a sleeve, front piece, and back piece could be resized equally then the intersecting lines moved and reconnected as needed.

I'm not familiar with other CAD software. Anybody?


Edited by Lancem on 01/12/2011 01:56:22 MST.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
bivy pattern on 01/13/2011 10:42:25 MST Print View

You should sell the pattern for bivy you made it looks great. Is the hood held up with wire or aluminum poles?

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
clothing scripts on 01/13/2011 11:17:02 MST Print View

I wrote some AWK scripts over ten years ago to convert the pattern-block instructions from Winifred Aldrich's pattern books into automated block generators. The scripts take a measurements file and create basic pattern blocks for jackets

Unfortunately, while they do generate reasonable blocks, these are really only starting points for development of properly-tailored items. And they're based on 'fashion' blocks, so not really suitable for outdoor designs.

The plan was to develop the basic scripts, and then modify them to produce more outdoor-oriented blocks, with raglan sleeves, shallow scyes, ease in suitable places, etc. But, as with so many things, I got bored (aka found it too hard...)

Paul Elliott
(PaulElliott) - F
printing alternative on 01/21/2011 12:45:47 MST Print View

I use Turbocad, then use Rasterbator ( to laser print on multiple 8.5x11 to make a pattern. A bit more work than printing to a plotter, but it works fine.