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Computer design programs

SewNancy | Posted in General Discussion on

I avidly read another letter from a woman who uses Pattern Master Boutique and loves it.  Ever since I read the Threads article I have been tempted to buy one, but even after rereading the article I don’t know which one to buy.  I want to be able to design my own things, but not to have to draft from scratch.  In other words if I see a designer item I’d like to copy how easy will it be?  I am only moderately computer savvy and a large learning curve is not for me.  I am still struggling with my image editing software from my new camera!  So, my question is who out there uses these programs and what is your personal experience with them?  How long did it take you to learn them and how much do you use them?



  1. tinac | | #1

    Nancy, I use Dress Shop.  Bought just the pant patterns 3 years.  I now sew almost exclusively with Dress Shop. I have never used any of the other programs.  Dress Shop uses 54 measurements and gives me a custom fit I can not get with the Big 4 pattern companies.  There are Users Group all over the country and an open Discussion List that you can join without owning the program...Download the free demo at Livingsoft.com.  You can also sign up for the discussion list at that site as well.

    I need to say that I was so pleased with the program, I am now a volunteer Dress Shop Educator and User Group leader.  If I can answer any more questions, please write me privately at [email protected]

    1. SewNancy | | #2

      Thanks.  I think that I will start with the pants program first as that is my biggest problem.  I will save your e-mail address  in case I have any specific questions.


  2. FitnessNut | | #3

    I have Fittingly Sew and use it for some of my projects, although I seem to use manual techniques more. I love using the programme to draft patterns once the sloper is fitted, but it seems to me that it requires more tweaking than it should to get to that stage. It does require a fairly large learning curve however, which may be more than you want. The manual is very good and I was able to teach myself in fairly short order. But I have college training on professional patternmaking software, so I may have an advantage that the average person does not. Fittingly Sew is more like professional industry software than most of those available. I have used it recently to make a wedding gown and another evening gown, but for the difficult bodies I have been working with lately, I somehow seem to prefer working manually.

    I understand that Cadterns does a very good sloper and, if you get the upgraded version, you can use the slopers in a CAD programme to draft patterns. Again, I expect that there would be substantial learning involved at that stage.

    You say you're struggling with digital camera software.....I just got a camera on the weekend....I hope it doesn't take until Christmas to learn how to use it!

    1. SewNancy | | #4

      The camera itself took me a couple of days to run through the manual learn how to operate most of the features, but I bought a camera that can be used completely in manual or in totally in auto.  So I could annd did use it right out of the box.  My tourble is the editing software.  Basic stuff is fine, but any thing more is causing me grief, but I am not really computer savvy.  The camera itself was easy, but I have a photo background and that part of it was pretty easy.

      I am interested in the design software because I don't have real training in pattern design and I can do some manipulation, but I don't know how to copy a more complicated idea that I see that is more than changing darts.  I don't really want to design from scratch, but I would love to take some ideas from my favorite designers and copy them as they are way out of my price range!  I would also like to be able to get a pattern that doesn't take me so much time to adjust to fit my body.


  3. SkiNsew | | #5

    I use Pattern Master Boutique and am very happy with it.  The program is designed so that you can use it just by entering 26 measurements and then checking boxes on design options.  For example in pants you can choose pleats or no pleats, number of pleats, type of pockets, type of waist, etc.  In addition to the click and choose option there is a part of the program that you can use to actually made drawing changes.   I used the program successfully for 1 year before I ever tried to even use the section on making drawing changes.

    If you go to the web site http://www.wildginger.com you can download a demo of the product so that you can actually see what you would be buying.

    In addition Wild Ginger has an unconditional 90-day money back guarantee on all of their software products.

    I hope this helps.  Good luck with your decision.


  4. LynneMHoyt | | #6

    I was considering a computer design program too, but I recently came across the Lutterloh system. My neighbor attended a seminar and bought one of the packages. She loaned me her videotape of the class. I like it better than computer programs becase it just doesn't have the learning curve problems.  You can find all the info at a web site called  http://www.designtofit.com  I bought the basic system with almost 300 models that you can mix and match all pattern pieces to come up with your own designs. So now I can make any style I want in absolutely any size I need.  Check it out; you may end up like me and go low tech instead of high tech for pattern design!

    Best wishes,

    Lynnie Marie

    1. SewNancy | | #7

      Thanks I will take a look.  I went to the websites of a few of the computer programs and went to their galleries.  I was so unimpressed with what people had done with their designs that I was kind of turned off by the systems.  Granted, the designs are only as good as the people designing, but the fit wasn't great either on many of the designs.  Don't know if this is a matter of the programs or the fact that you have to know what constitutes good fit. 


      1. FitnessNut | | #8

        "Don't know if this is a matter of the programs or the fact that you have to know what constitutes good fit."

        I suspect its a bit of both. The programme I have highly recommends that you print out the sloper and fit it to the subject. Then go back into the programme and make the appropriate changes, then save the revised sloper. This is the same thing you would do when working completely manually. Having said that, I imagine that there are variations in the fit of the original sloper as calculated by each computer programme. And don't forget errors in measuring. There are lots of variables involved here, as you seem to realize.

        And what people will do with the computer programme is as individual as the people themselves. As someone designing and producing custom clothing, I can honestly say that the bulk of my customers are looking for rather simple garments with outstanding fit. I have to sew for myself (primarily) to experiment with design.

        1. SewNancy | | #9

          Which program are you using?  I find it interesting that your customers want simple garments with great fit.  I can relate to that as well as  most people who are aware of  what good fit is.  It is so hard to find great fit in ready to wear clothes even in expensive clothes. It is also hard to get great fit in my own clothes that I make.  I fit the paper pattern and then fit  a muslin and it still isn't perfect.  Part of my problem is not copying the pattern and woking on a copy at each step of the way so that I can go back a step and recover data so to speak!  I am really concentrating on fit as I get older I am pickier than I used to be and I really want to be able to make pants that fit!  I am fine with jackets, skirts even coats, but that perfect fit in pants continues to allude me.  I decided to take pants that fit well in certain areas and copy and compare those areas to my pattern.  When I finally get it right I am going to bronze that patter! 


          1. carolfresia | | #10

            Just as long as you don't bronze the pants themselves. They're really not that comfortable that way.


          2. SewNancy | | #15

            Wore my Chanel suit to  a wedding on Sunday(saw Dina there)  and got lots of complements which always makes one feel great. 

            Instead of bronzing the pattern I am going to take Sandy's suggestion and make a master pattern in oak tag.



          3. carolfresia | | #16

            It is gratifying, isn't it, to receive compliments on your creations. I'm usually happy enough if I like what I've made, but it sure feels good when someone else enjoys looking at it, too. My harshest critic is my 4-year-old daughter, who has very high, and sometimes difficult to interpret, standards for what's "pretty." If I like what I've sewn, and she likes it, I feel it's a real winner!


          4. SewNancy | | #19

            Dear Carol,

            My daughter is 18 and very hip so when she complements my sewing  I know that it is really good.  When she gets complements md on what I make for her that is even better.


            Edited 10/25/2004 3:32 pm ET by Nancy

          5. kjp | | #20

            I guess this is a good thread to ask this question.  My mom heard about a new computer fitting system at a quilters meeting.  I have not heard of it; she couldn't remember the name.  It seems that you get "scanned" in a dark room, thus giving total measurements for a pattern sloper.  The initial body scan is around $100.  Rescans are much less.  A computer program is then used to develop personalized patterns - she seemed to think Mccalls, Simplicity type - which theoretically should fit to a t.  Has anyone heard of this or seen it used?  My mom is a lifelong sewer & master quilter, but almost never adjusts her patterns & is not comfortable doing so.  I'd love any feedback on this type of system!  Thanks, Karin

          6. GinnaS | | #22

            The company that is doing the scans is Unique Patterns and those they duplicate are Butterick.   The company has had a lot of trouble with the scanning and the resulting patterns.  There have been several discussions of this at http://www.sewingworld.com.  A few ladies were happy with their patterns but many were not.  Sometimes the scanning was at fault and sometimes the patterns themselves were the problem.

            One other thing to consider is that if there are several views in a Butterick pattern you would have to order each view separately as a pattern from Unique.  For example, if a dress comes with  a straight and full skirt  you could get either one as a Unique pattern.  If you wanted both views you would have to buy 2 patterns.



          7. kjp | | #23

            Thank you ever so much!  I will warn my mom to stay away.  The reviews on Sewing World are awful.  Karin

          8. Jnj | | #24

            My daughter and I just put our measurements into the Wild Ginger Patterer and the fit was great, in fact, perfect.  We were very exact with our measuring, and I am just starting to use the patterns as is, and am looking forward to getting into the designing end of this software.  I am thrilled.  I believe it was Nancy who reccommended it  to me.  Hope your mom enjoys it too, they will demo it at a shop that carries fabric and quilting supplies as a specialty.  Oops!  Nancy said she had friends that had used it and were pleased with it, but had not used it herself. 

            Edited 11/8/2004 7:00 pm ET by bungie

          9. kjp | | #25

            Thanks!  I will suggest it to my mom - maybe we'll do it together! Sounds like a worthwhile venture.  Karin

          10. cloetzu | | #26


            I'd like to read some of the reviews as I'm considering gettting a scan but the link to Sewworld doesnt' work???

          11. Cherrypops | | #27

            You are correct the website is no longer operational. You replied to a post which is 3yrs old. I hope the member is still available to answer your question. Do a search on google for Sewing World. something may come up. CherryPops

          12. TheSloperLady | | #21

            A fitting thought that needs some clarification:

            there is no perfect fit

            there is no proper fit

            preferred fit will be personal to each person.

            Just because a computer or a laser draws your personal patterns doesn't make them any better or worse. A person had to tell the computer or whatever source WHAT TO DO with the measurements that it uses.

            I am very interested to keep up to date on the laser fitting system. It will need to be told how much ease to provide where - a style or design decision. The laser set of measurements might just provide too much information.

            Laser perfect measurements would be of comfort to anyone who is totally unsure of her measurements, I question whether the value is $100. When it becomes an old technology available as a convenience, it will be very handy. In the meantime, we can choose stretchy fabrics if we really want to emphasise figure details.

            I will be happy when we are able to take measurements in a flash (laser?) and choose a silhouette (ease?) to get personal slopers for a set of basic patterns and suggestions for how to use them.

            I am sorry to go on so. You might guess that I feel quite passionate about this subject and it will be interesting to watch how laser changes things as we know them.

            Cheers! TSL "Sew smart - fit FIRST!"

          13. FitnessNut | | #11

            My computer programme is Fittingly Sew, but I have to admit that I don't use it all that often. I'm not even sure why. I just find it easier and faster to use a pencil and a ruler, even though I've produced excellent patterns for clients with the computer. Its a catch-22, I'm afraid. In order to become better at the programme, I have to use it more. But I have so much work that I don't have time to sit with the computer. I keep hoping that I can find a balance somewhere down the line. One of the nice things about working at the computer is the ability to make copies of a pattern piece and play with the copies, ensuring that you have a back-up if things don't work out. You can't do that with slashing, glueing, trimming, etc. And many changes are, in fact, faster and simpler to do with the mouse than a pencil.

            I think that once I get through this pile of garments, I'm going to head back to the computer and really work at it. I've convinced myself. Thanks ;-)


            PS I recommend that when you get your pant sloper fitted the way you want, copy it to oak tag or other stiff paper. Use it as you would a template - weight it down on a larger sheet of paper and trace around it, making hatch marks to mark hipline, dart ends, grainline etc. I use a push pin to mark dart points so I can transfer them to the paper below with the tip of my pencil. Use the paper underlay to develop your pattern, preserving your master sloper for later use. This is how it is done in the garment industry and once you do it this way, you won't do it any other way.

          14. SewNancy | | #12

            Thankyou so much for your advice.  I have gotten close before (fit wise) and then ended up destroying the pattern trying to perfect the fit and had to start from square one again.   I know what you mean about the computer program.  I have a relatively new digital camera and while I am familiar with photography I was a neophyte at digital editing programs and learning is time consuming add to that a computer program for drafting and I decided to put off the purchase because I just don't have the time to learn it.


          15. FitnessNut | | #13

            Well, I don't know how much I helped. But at least you know that you're not alone in this....I got a digital camera for my birthday almost a month ago. I've just figured out how to successfully download and attach photos to emails. Somehow I managed to lose half a dozen pictures, if you can imagine! (She, who can make a pattern on the computer!) I haven't even had the nerve to install the editing programme yet.

          16. SewNancy | | #14

            The editing program is the tuffy.  I don't like the one that came with my camera and my 81 year old uncle who is very into digital photography  reccomended Paint Shop Pro 8 but the new one is out, Paint Shop Pro 9.   I am probably going to purchase it, Amazon.com has a good deal, but after we go to India.  He also reccomended going to a news group for digital photography, there is one at Google and I didn't even have to ask a question as there are people out there asking the same dumb questions that I had!  You probably didn't lose the photogs, but you saved them some place you just haven't looked yet.  Do you have Windows XP?  Go to your documents and or MY Photos and see if they are there. 


          17. FitnessNut | | #17

            You're right about my losing the photos....the default file they saved to was totally illogical. Unfortunately, my husband was working at the computer later the same day and thought they were duplicates, and trashed them, as I've since learned. Naturally, I had already deleted them from the camera. Teach me not to be more vigilant!A news group is an excellent idea....when I have some time on my hands. Too much going on at the moment, though.

          18. SewNancy | | #18

            Hopefully you can retake the pictures.  Learn how to make a cd backup of anything impportant.  I have learned this the hard way.  Also, just read that Google is either out, or coming out with search program for the desktop which is much better than the search provided by Microsoft.


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