Doll Clothes Pattern Drafting/Illustration w/TurboCAD

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I have spent years searching for and testing software programs that claim to be the end-all to making the process of pattern drafting for dolls easy; and came to one conclusion from talking with professionals in the pattern drafting industry.   If you are not going to sell your pattern designs, then draft patterns from draping and merely draw them by hand.   If you are going to sell copies of your pattern designs, buy an inexpensive illustration program that will allow you to add seams and adjust line widths.  

The only available such software sells on ebay, and it's TurboCAD Pro.   In some cases I've purchased it dirt cheap.

There are a few versions of TurboCAD that do not work for your purpose.   The program designed for a Mac does not work the same way on a Mac as it does on a Windows based operating system.   It doesn't look the same and you can't count on anything.   I've followed instructions very carefully and I can't even get it to print properly.   I'm sure it's wonderful for architectural or engineering purposes.   DesignCAD is intended for other uses.    Deluxe doesn't do some of the functions you will need.   The software has to be Pro.

If you find an older version and have a new computer you will be able to find downloadable software patches out on the Internet to make the software work on your computer.

Here are some features in TurboCAD that are really important because they are very easy to use and they make pattern illustration very easy:

You can create any number of 8.5 x 11 pages, columns and rows, to cover any size garment.   If a piece doesn't fit on a page, the software automatically and correctly pushes the pattern into another page when printing, and you can tape the pieces together.

You can print a 1" background grid so your customers can adjust their printer settings.

You can customize the look of the functions so you don't have to deal with all the architectural and engineering terminology.

You can easily use a bezier curve for straight lines and use the node select and handles to change the shapes.   This means if you want to resize the garment later you can change the shape of a curve or add a curve.

The  software provides you with a few symbols that can be used to mark places where gathering starts and ends, etc., and you can draw your own symbols to put into a "block" library.

You can also make blocks of typical text, such as your business name and copyright information to insert in each pattern.

You can group and ungroup sections of your patterns.   This makes "nesting" your pattern pieces easy because you can select that piece and move it around on your screen.   Just don't forget you grouped it because you can't make changes to it until you ungroup it.

You can drape your garment, import the shape by scanning it into a free graphics software program, and copy it to TurboCAD.

If you are really "into it", you can draw your instructions with TurboCAD.

The process is easy for a beginner, and if you are computer savvy limitations to your creativity depend only on you.   I love to create designs to be printed on fabric, and I love to do it through TurboCAD.

TurboCAD can also be used to make basic machine embroidery designs.   For example, I really love redwork designs and I didn't want to purchase any very expensive version of an embroidery software program.   I did my line drawing in TurboCAD, saved it out as a .wmf file, and imported it into my embroidery program.   Because the bezier curve is so easy to use it took me minutes to make the drawing and even less time to convert it to stitches in the embroidery program.   A .wmf file doesn't make mistakes the way a .jpeg might in an embroidery program because it is a vector file.


If you call any professional design company, everyone will tell you the most efficient way to design is by draping.   The reason they use drafting software is to send the design to a manufacturing company where the pattern is entered into computerized cutting machinery.

There are quite a few excellent professional pattern drafting software companies, but their professional software runs into the thousands of dollars, as does the newest versions of TurboCAD Pro.   That should tell you something about the quality of other software when it comes to design.

One company claims that you need three plug-in measurements to design doll clothes.   Not true.   There are thousands of doll shapes, and that is the best reason for learning to drape from scratch.

As an added caution I would like to encourage everyone to be very careful.   Be sure to ask what the company takes for payment!   Use a credit card for your purchase so you can get your money back if the software is a dud!   If the company will only take money through your checking account, don't buy!!!!!   Also, ebay feedback is misleading.   The buyer usually doesn't wait until they have tried out the program to leave feedback.

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