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Monday, May 6, 2013

Pattern Drafting Software: To buy or not to buy

Last year I took a semester long pattern drafting course at the local community college. I really enjoyed taking a drawing of a dress, turning it into a pattern and then turning it into a wearable dress.  I made a dress that was a copy mix of two different dresses I was drooling over from Mad Men.  (The Project Peggy dress).

I put the pattern I used online and offered it for free on Craftsy. I haven't seen anyone make it yet, but I like the thought of someone making the dress.  It makes me smile. 

My next goal is to make new patterns, grade them and sell them as e-patterns. I don't have grand dreams, but I think I can make enough to pay for the software and eventually pay for some fabric purchases here and there.

I read a really great series of posts by Sew Mama Sew about how she does pattern drafting, grading and makes e-patterns. She does it all without the aid of a pattern drafting program. And while this has been the most informative and helpful information I have seen about making e-patterns, I am still not dissuaded from looking for software.

I found out there aren't that many options for the home sewist.  The commercial pattern-making software is out of my budget.  They run 7,000-10,000 and are (apparently) fantastic.  I may never know.

There there are some others that work for home sewists to make their own patterns.  That is fine, but I want to make graded e-patterns.  There are really only two options for the the a small business with that functionality.  They are still a lot of money, but I am willing to invest in something if I think I will (eventually) make back the price of the software in sales.

There is the option of using grading services, but I'd rather not hire out the work since I am not planning on this replacing my actual job.  So.... the options:

PatternMaker Grading Studio
I took a computerized pattern drafting course at a local community college and they used this software.  I was extremely disappointed in the class.  One of the issues was that the class was actually two different classes (fashion illustration and computer pattern drafting) at the same time, taught by the same teacher.  It was a disaster run by a less than tech savvy teacher.  She just had me following the manuals on my own.  She was not a good teacher, didn't seem to know anything about the software and I dropped the class after only a few weeks.

I wasn't all that impressed with the exposure that I did have to the software.  It seemed clunky and something that hadn't been cutting edge since 1985 or so.

Here are the cons:
Clunky and not intuitive or user friendly.  It seemed impossible that I would ever do pattern drafting in this software.  Curved lines were hard to create and control.  I tried to create an empire waist from my sloper, which involves slashing the bodice with a slightly curved line and it was a complete mess.  Soooo much easier by hand.

Here are the pros:
Grading, grading, grading.  Allegedly.  I never got to try this functionality.  The college didn't have this module, so I didn't get to try it out.  I don't mind hand-drafting patterns, but grading and tiling them for e-patterns are a pain.

The software package for the grading is found here:  It is currently about $1,200.  The big problem with wanting to buy this is there is no demo and I don't see a return policy.  Eeek!  That is a lot of money to try out something and not have it work.

Wild Ginger Cameo 5
Their Web site is just terrible.  You would think that with all of the fantastic programming skills needed to make good software, they could manage a simple site.  I kept looking for a product feature sheet that I never found.  However, they do have a demo to download, as well as a 15 day money-back guarantee.

Here are the pros:
Grading. Money-back guarantee and demo.  At least I can try it out before I shell out that kind of cash.

Here are the cons:
Too little information on the Web site.  It is even more expensive than PatternMaker.  You have to buy two modules at almost 1,000 each and then it isn't clear what else (if anything) I would need.  I think two modules should do it, but I am not entirely sure.  It is really a lot of money.  But if it is really that fantastic, it may be worth it.

You can find Wild Ginger information here:

I am going to download Wild Ginger Cameo and do the demo.  If anybody has any other software they have tried or can talk me down from the "grading is a pain" ledge, I'd love to hear from you.  Maybe I am making it more difficult in my mind than it really is.


Pattern Drafting Course with Cal Patch


  1. I think your Mad Men dress looks really lovely! I have been looking all over for a pretty (and free) dress to download and make. I will definitely be making this one!

    Many thanks!

    P.s. I am not at all at the stage where I can talk about the best software or grading patterns for different sizes (just my own)... Hats off to you!! X

  2. Thank you so much! I hope you like it! I would love to see a pic. Let me know if you need any instructions!

  3. Hello
    Look at Fashion cad $1,200,00

    And Poly Pattern look great $1,350,00

    About PatternMaker Now you can download a demo.

    I hope that help you

    Great job nice dress.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions... I'll check those out. I haven't started evaluating any just yet. I keep putting it off because there are too many dresses I want to sew and not enough weekend.

  4. Have you used the Poly pattern software. I emailed them and watched a tutorial on you tube

  5. Have you used the Poly pattern software. I emailed them and watched a tutorial on you tube

  6. Jules, I haven't used polypattern, but I did just buy a trial of Wild Ginger Cameo5... I'll blog about it soon. There is a steep learning curve, but it looks good so far.

  7. As you know, choosing the right pattern-making software is a big decision! I don't mind shelling out for the right product - but which one is that? I will be awaiting your review with great anticipation. Thank you!

  8. I don't like how you say "I don't have grand dreams".... why not? You obviously have a passion for what you are doing, so dream grand...

  9. Please check out My Sloper at It is so affordable, and although you can't sell e-patterns from it, you can sell garments from the patterns if you also purchase a Cottage Industry License for Home Dressmakers.

  10. Here a useful pattern generator online:


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