Quite a lot of independent sewing designers use Adobe Illustrator to draft their patterns. It's relatively quick, you can achieve accurate measurements, and it's much more cost effective than investing in specially designed pattern software, especially if you are a start up or only do light pattern work.
But when it comes to grading, things can get tricky. Sometimes you need to walk a specific size to see how the shape is changing, or ensure that you are getting all the measurements you want through all sizes. This is when the special software comes into play and makes grading so much easier!
Typically CAD programs don't play well with other software. But fortunately Optitex, the program I use, transtitions well to make the apparel specific process, such as grading, much easier to do.
Here is how it works:
The Illustrator file needs to be pretty basic. Don't worry about sending me pieces with logos or different line qualities.
These are the important parts to keep in mind when formatting your illustrator file for grading.
* Every piece must be on one layer
* "Ungroup" everything
* Eliminate any unnecessary text that is not relevant for grading purposes
*If you are not including seam allowance lines, please make sure to let me know what is intended because when I check the grading I check based on the sewing line.
It may sound a little fussy, but it makes it worth it to have a precise final product.
I take over from here and convert the file into my software program. I will put the sew lines in and check all your seams to make sure we are good to go. I'll let you know if I find anything major that is off, but if it's a small 1/16" off, I'm just going to fix that because I need everything exact to check for accuracy for all sizes once the grading is complete.
When I'm done I will export the file back to Adobe Illustrator for you. Now, this is not fancy- it's actually pretty minimal, bare bones lines, but it allows for a lot of creative liberty. What I love is each size becomes it's own layer which allows for really simple line quality editing.
If you are struggling with the technicalities in grading and/or just don't have the patience to try it in Illustrator, I will help you out and make sure you have a professional product.