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Make Your Own Digital Pattern

Hello darlings!

I've recently been getting into making digital patterns for purchase on my shop so I thought I'd share my process. Digitising a pattern is really useful if you want to share it with someone or want to save it for yourself in a digital format without having a load of paper patterns kicking about.

I'm mostly using this tutorial as a kicking off point, so go and give it some love and you can also use it in conjunction with this tutorial if you like a video!


  • Paper pattern- make sure to mark everything you want on your digital pattern on the paper pattern (eg. seam allowance, gathering lines, darts)

  • Procreate for Ipad- one time purchase of £12.99

  • Adobe Illustrator- 7 day free trial (or £30/month)

  • ~Optional~ Stylus- you can use your finger, but a stylus does make it easier (even if it's only a cheap one!)

I am a cheapskate so I will try to avoid paying for anything where I can, but unfortunately when it comes to things like this it makes it so much easier to just pay for the proper software.

If anyone knows of any free alternatives please let me know and I'll include them here!


I'm writing this tutorial using my Ali Baba Jar pattern. It's not a very big pattern, but you can scale this up for proper dress patterns.

You may want to save the purchase of the Adobe Illustrator free trial until you have completed the procreate section as this can sometimes take longer than you think!

1. Take picture of pattern.

This doesn't need to be good quality, but try and take it directly from the top down with as little distortion as possible. If it's a particularly large pattern, you may want to stand on a chair for this.

If possible, get all pattern pieces into the same photo so they're all the same scale in relation to one another.

2. Open the photo in procreate.

Select a canvas size (I like to use 4k just because it's the largest). Click on the top left 'spanner' icon and 'insert a photo'. Choose the photo from your camera roll.

3. Trace the pattern.

Set the pen to the smallest size (the top of the two grey bars on the right side), and for the brush select the 'brush' icon on the top right and select 'calligraphy' and the brush 'monoline'.

You may need to adjust the opacity of the photo in order to trace over it.

Add a new layer by selecting the two boxes on the top right and clicking the plus in the top right of the box. If you want to keep your pieces on separate layers to make them easier to adjust later make sure you add a new layer every time you finish tracing a piece.

Note, some of my lines don't quite match up as I wanted this pattern to be perfectly symmetrical. There are several drawing guides that can assist your drawing in procreate if you select the 'spanner', 'canvas' and then switch on 'drawing guides'. You can use a grid or symmetry and adjust either of these to assist in drawing your pattern.

Make sure to include any markings you want on your final pattern (eg. seam allowance, gathering lines, darts) as well.

4. Remove the photo.

You can do this simply by clicking the two boxes top right and unticking the checkmark next to the layer with the photo.

5. Export the drawing.

Click the 'spanner', 'share' and export it as a png.

A screen like this should pop up. You can either save the image, or I like to email it to myself as we now have to transfer over to the laptop.

6. Open a new file in Adobe Illustrator.

Set up a custom size. Change the size to inches, with the width 8.5" and height 11".

The number of artboards depends on the size of your pattern. Each 'artboard' will translate to 1 A4 sheet of paper, so you can do some rough calculations about how many you'll need. I'm using 4. If you're doing a bodice pattern you'll probably use around 6, for a dress pattern 12.

If you're not sure, add more- you can always delete them later!

Scroll down and click 'more settings.'

Set the spacing to 0, and the artboards going from left to right. I only want two columns, but if you have a wider pattern you may want more columns.

Double check all the settings, then you can create the document!

7. Prepare the canvas for your pattern.

Measure a straight edge of your pattern. This can be any part that's straight, or through the centre as I'm doing. You only need to do this for one of the pattern pieces.

Make a note of this measurement.

Then select the 'line segment tool', which you can find by right clicking the rectangle on the left hand toolbox.

Double click on the canvas and this should pop up.

Input the length of your straight line and set it at 90°, unless your line is horizontal, in which case set it at 180°.

8. Insert your sketch.

Drag and drop it into the canvas; if you use file<open, it'll open the image in a new canvas.

9. Arrange the sketch so the line you measured lines up with the pattern.

Hold shift as you adjust the size so it transforms uniformly.

You may need to adjust the layers to see the line you created. You can do this from the right hand panel by selecting 'arrange' and setting the pattern to the back.

10. Separate pattern pieces.

Copy and paste the image as many times as there is pattern pieces. Make sure not to adjust the size of any of them as you do. Crop the images so each piece is separated.

Don't double click to crop; if you accidentally do this, right click and press 'exit isolation mode.' Instead, go to the right hand panel and click 'crop image' while the image is selected.

*If the pieces overlap, you can go back and adjust the spacing in procreate. If you didn't put each piece on a separate layer, you can adjust individual pieces by clicking the 'ribbon' icon on the top left, circling the piece and then pressing the mouse icon to move it.

11. Adjust the pieces so they fit nicely on the artboards.

With especially large pieces, you may want to move them so they interact with as few artboards as possible. If you can, make sure there aren't tiny little edges going onto other artboards; if there are, move them so they're larger sections as these will have to be glued together later.

12. Polish pieces.

Add the names of the pattern pieces, plus any additional information which you didn't add at the procreate stage.

You may want to add page numbers for ease of putting together later, or put markings on where the pattern goes across multiple artboards to make sure you put the right pieces together.

I quite like to add a straight line across where a pattern overlaps so I have the exact line where they need to be glued together. Sometimes this doesn't work perfectly when it comes to the printing stage so you may need to adjust this later.

13. Save pattern!

After clicking 'save', change the file type to PDF.

Your pattern is now ready to be printed!

You might want to do this and put the pieces together, then put them against your original pattern just to make sure that it is scaled correctly. If there are any more adjustments that need to be made make sure to do them before your free trial ends!

*If you need to adjust the artboards at any time, there's a small button on the left hand tools panel. Here, you can delete pages, adjust the order and size.


Until next time,

Aisha x

P.s. If you like this pattern, you can find the instructions for how to follow it on my previous post, or if you would like to send it to other people you can find it on my Etsy!


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