Digitizing Sewing Patterns Using OpenOffice Draw Part One

Part 1: Sizing Patterns to Scale

I remember the first time I found a free sewing pattern online. It was for a hooded bolero jacket and it changed the way I now look for patterns. I couldn’t believe someone would put a free pattern online for people to print and have. I needed more! After printing many more patterns from as many websites as I could find I started to get into pattern drafting. The first thing I drafted was leggings. I have since drafted many patterns and hope to upload them here soon.

For a while everything I had drafted was on brown packaging paper and I had no idea how to get it online or on my laptop. I watched YouTube videos on how to digitize and grade patterns using Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, but these programs cost more than my hobby could afford. I knew I had OpenOffice Draw on my laptop (which is free!) but I wasn’t sure if I could use it to digitize patterns and there are no tutorials online, at least not that I can find. So I tried it out, spent a few hours working on a pattern and learned that it can be done. I digitized and graded my first pattern that I drafted without any help or tutorials. The pattern is for an over sized hooded sweater.  Then I never tried it again until June, when I wanted to resize someone else’s pattern so it was to scale.

So, today I am writing about how to resize your pattern. I’ll add more Draw tutorials but I think this is a good place to start. It is intended for when you have a pattern already, but you need to scale it. Later, when I write about how to upload your own drafted patterns, I will come back to this.

Step 1: Make Grid Lines 1″ and Divide into Eighths of an Inch

I live in Canada so I rarely use inches for anything. However, I use them in sewing. If it wasn’t for sewing I don’t think I would even know how big an inch is. Anyway, here’s how to set that up:

  • Click Tools -> Options -> OpenOffice Draw -> Grid
  • Under Grid select Visible grid, I also selected Snap to grid but you don’t have to
  • Under Resolution select 2.5 cm for horizontal and vertical
  • Under Subdivision select 8 spaces for horizontal and vertical

Now your grid is divided into inches and subdivided into eighths of an inch.

Step 1.png

Step 2: Insert the Pattern

So, when I do this, my pattern is saved as a picture.

  • Select Insert -> Picture -> From File
  • Pick your pattern

Now, chances are your pattern is going to be way bigger than the page, so you’ll have to make the whole page bigger. You can do this by:

  • Selecting Format -> Page
  • Change width and height to something really big. I use 100 cm. We’ll change it back later, before printing.

You’ll want to zoom in a lot once you change the size. Zoom is in the bottom right hand corner.

Step 2.png

Step 3: Bring Grid to Front

The grid has to be in front of the picture so you can actually use it to measure.

  • View -> Grid -> Grid to Front

Step 3


Step 4: Resize Pattern

In my fake pattern here I marked in a 1″ x 1″ square. This square is to scale so when you print the pattern, if this is 1″ squared then you know the rest of the pattern also printed to the correct size. If you do not have a square that you know the size of, you can use something else if you know the size of it. For example, if I know the top of my rectangle is 5″ wide I can use that instead.

This is probably the easiest part:

  • Click on your image so the little green squares pop up.
  • Click on a green corner square, and drag it until your 1″ x 1″ square is the same height and width as a grid line.
  • You might have to move to image around to get the 1″ square to line up with the grid lines.

Step 4.png

Step 5: Change Page Size

Last step before saving! You’ll want to change the page size so you don’t print off too many blank pages. Click on your image and drag it to the top left hand corner, then go back to Format -> Page.

Count how many inches across your pattern is. Mine is 12. Multiply this by 2.5 to get the number in centimeters. 12 x 2.5 = 30. So I will change with to 30 cm. Do the same thing for height. Add an extra centimeter or 2 to make sure you don’t accidentally cut off any of your pattern.

Step 5.png

Step 6: Save

Save however you like to save your patterns. I like to click Export Directly to PDF because pretty much anybody can easily open and view a PDF file. Also, PDF’s of patterns are the least complicated to print, in my opinion.

Step 6

That is it! I really hope this helps people resize their patterns to scale. I can’t wait to get more into how to digitize, and even scale, patterns using OpenOffice Draw.


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