Default patterns to ship with Seamly

Hello Everyone,

I have been playing around with Seamly for a few days now. I am new to patternamaking and sewing but I have some prior experience with various CAD software and a bit of manufacturing/engineering knowledge. I am a huge supporter of open source code and more importantly open licensed content made with that software. I am thrilled to see that there is a community forming around opening up clothing design in a sharealike way as has previously been done with things like wikipedia, maps, music, games, etc.

However, as powerful as the seamly program seems to be (once you learn its few quirks), I was really surprised to find that it does not ship with any example patterns. Having read through the forums a fair bit, it seems like this is mainly due to a lack of redistributable patterns - i.e. ones that are not just rote repetitions of systems found in copywritten works. The existing bodice blocks, etc, by Joseph-Armstrong and Aldrich are great starting points but it is questionable (probably unlikely) if we could distribute a bodice block based on these systems without running afoul of copyright law. I am not a copyright lawyer, but the question of whether you can copyright a method like Aldrich’s is an interesting one - in my mind it would be patentable, but not copyrightable. But that is purely my opinion and obviously not enough to distribute that with the default install of Seamly.

To remedy this I have decided to produce a series of pattern block designs based on my own methods developed by me. This means that they are free of any messy copyright issues since I can liscense them however I want and therefore can give them a GPL or Creative Commons license (or both) suitable for allowing them to be bundled as examples with the software.

I do have to say, that there is a big caveat - I am not trained as a tailor, and am only beginning to learn this very, very complicated subject, so my layouts will very likely have some issues that more experienced people here can likely help resolve. That said, however, I do have a very strong background in math, computers, CAD, and 3d stuff, so I am starting from a much better place than most people would.

As a first start I am building a bodice block pattern. It is going to include variables for ease in the most common places, as well as some basic darts (which will be automatically enabled or disabled as the measurments require) Currently I have the bodice front designed (with no darts yet, but I have plans for how to work them in). Last night I cut out a paper bag using the derived coordinates from my pattern and it fit nearly perfectly when pressed against my body. I plan to finish up the back of the bodice today or tomorrow and I have some muslin ready to go to do a test fit. If things go well I plan to post it for others to review once I am sure it actually works more generally (not just for me specifically).

Going forward I have a few questions though.

  1. Where to post the .val files? I know there is the pattern cloud, but it looks like early beta code and only has a few patterns on it. The forum here has a few more but they are really hard to find. I couldn’t find any on the wiki, but that or github seem like a good place for more finalized versions (that have been thoroughly tested first). Github obviously is the best choice for final ones to ship with the software.

  2. I would need to know what licenses the files should be published under to be distributable with the software, and what the criterion for doing so would be. Basically like the coding standards for open source projects, but for a pattern. I think rules like “all body measurements must be done as standard measurments in the included library, with custom variables only used for things like ease, neckline height, etc”. I don’t expect a formal list of rules/guidelines to come out right away, but I think this is a good discussion to have.

  3. Lastly I think it would be good to put together a list of what patterns should be shipped with the software (and what ones should not be). Bodice, skirt, and pants blocks are the obvious starting point, but there are many other things that would be good, both from a “learning to use the software” point of view, as well as patterns to show off different functionality of the Seamly system (stuff like the custom backpack I saw in a tutorial video). Lastly I think it would be good to include some simple “useful” patterns as well - a pincussion is a great example. A very simple thing to make, a simple pattern for a new user to understand and see how Seamly works, and something that is useful to them to actually print out and make. A pincussion is also small enough to print it on regular paper without taping sheets together, etc. Other things would be stuff like a pressing ham design, or maybe an ironing board cover, etc. Stuff that is simple, shows how the program works, and is something that is easy to understand (unlike a full bodice block which is too much for a novice to grok right off the bat). Lastly, what kinds of patterns should not be included? I know there is a video tutorial to design a pair of panties - should designs like that be included by default? What about lingerie, etc? Obviously we don’t want to include anything too questionable, but where is that line.

Anyway, this post got a lot longer than I planned, but I think it is a good starting point for the discussion. I think the software is great so far, but it is currently very unapproachable due to how complicated patternmaking really is. Some good, very clean, very well thought out examples would go a tremendous way to showing people what can be done with the software, and what they might use it for. Looking forward to seeing where this discussion goes and hope I can really get the ball rolling on some tutorial/example patterns.


Hi @Andrew, Thanks for this! We’re interested in updating the resources that come with Seamly, they’re very outdated.

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So I have been working on the basic bodice block, and it is taking longer than I expected. I am making progress though and hope to have something to post here on that in the next few days to a week probably. I have gone through a couple design iterations already and used the coordinates to plot points on paper bags which I cut out and test fit against my body. The results so far look promising, but I want to make a proper muslin from the design to test the fit properly, as well as make a muslin for another set of measurements to make sure it doesn’t just fit me, but fits well for different body shapes.

However in the meantime I have been playing around with some of the simpler patterns I mentioned. I made this pattern today and sewed it up and it works pretty well. It’s a trapezoidal pincussion. The top and bottom are rectangles and the side profiles are trapezoids, so it sits nicely on a table without tipping over easily since the base is a bit wider than the top. I think it serves as a good test pattern for people to try out printing/sewing since it is a functional thing they can use in their later sewing. It also makes use of the custom variables, so it can demonstrate that to new users. I would like to probably add something like an internal path to it (if I can think of what would make sense to add) and also would like to add in notches on the pieces to show how those work (but I don’t know how to do notches myself). It is pretty obvious how the pieces join up, but it would be a good demonstration, and I think that all the patterns that ship with the software should make use of all of the relevant functionality of the program to show what it is capable of.

Anyway, that’s the progress update, here is the file.

Pincussion - trapezoid.val (13.3 KB)


Wow! Very nice, @AndrewBuck

Perhaps you can add an internal path where one can add an optional elastic loop to the base so that one can slip it over the hand onto the wrist so that it’s always available while sewing.

As for notches, you could add them in the centre of the longer edges so that they line up when sewing - just as an exercise in adding them :slight_smile:


I don’t think a wrist elastic would make sense on this pattern. The shape makes it stable when sitting on a table, so that is what it is kind of designed to do. A wrist pincussion would be a good one to add though as a separate pattern. I had planned to include a few pincussion designs of increasing complexity. That would be the ‘second level’ one and the ‘third level’ would be something like one of those little tomato style ones with a spherical shape and the little circle on top.

I added the notches to the pattern. I did know where to add them, and even how, but I was prevented from doing so due to a bug in Seamly. I found a workaround in the other thread though so I was able to add notches on all the edges. Here is the new version with the notches. I would say this version is probably ready to ship, unless it makes sense to rename the points on the pattern, although for a simple geometric pattern like this I don’t know that it makes sense to name them differently than they already are.

Pincussion - trapezoid.val (21.5 KB)


I’ve been continuing my work on patternmaking and am moving up the difficulty chain a step or two. I have put together a skirt pattern (which from my reading is kind of the next easiest thing to learn). The pattern is for a basic A-line skirt with pleats. It makes use of the standard measurements from SeamlyMe for the body dimensions as well as a few custom variables for customizing the design automatically.

Regarding naming schemes for the patterns, I am using the _f and _b suffixies for points on the pattern, to keep consistency with how the measurements are named (like waist_arc_f for example). I have also introduced a naming scheme for the custom variables, and this leads me to an idea for a feature request. I have variable names prefixed with ‘style’, ‘fit’, and ‘sew’ for variables that a user of the pattern should adjust and then no prefix (but maybe I should add one like ‘internal’ or something for ones that the pattern uses, but are not meant to be played with unless you are totally redesigning the pattern. Similar to private variables in an object oriented programming paradigm. The ‘style’ variables are for purely stylistic elements like how high up the body does the skirt start and how low below the hips it hangs. The ‘fit’ variables are for adding positive or negative ease, controlling how tight the fit on the body is (which I consider a separate issue from style adjustments). Lastly the ‘sew’ variables are for things relevant to sewing the pattern together, like how much seam allowance to leave on hems or other seams, and other things only relevant during the garment production phase. The unprefixed variables are for things like calculating the number of pleats to apply based on the style choices set, how much extra fabric the pleats will add, and anything else that I use myself in the pattern calculation that a user normally shouldn’t mess with since most (if not all) of these values are formulas and are set automatically once the other measurements are entered.

The idea for the feature request is to add an extra field on the custom variables to set whether they are intended to be adjusted by a user of the pattern or if they are purely for designers working on the fundamental pattern itself. I think it should be more than just a true/false kind of selector, probably a text field with a few standard entries like my ‘style’, ‘fit’, etc outlined above. Interested to hear what others think.

As for the pattern itself, I consider this a draft. I made one skirt purely to check the fit, adjusted the design to add pleats and made a second to ensure the pleat calcs are correct. I want to produce a third, final draft which makes the pleats optional by setting the pleat distance to 0 (and using if statements in Seamly to handle this correctly. I also want to modify the design a bit to make the side seam straighter (or perfectly straight). Currently it uses the waist, highhip, and hip arc_f and arc_b measurements to determine the shape of the side seam. Although this allows the skirt to be much more form fitting, a curved side seam does not play nicely with pleats and looks a bit odd without them. Although the fit is perfect, the aesthetics of the curved seam are a bit off. I would like to know what people here think of the merits of the two options and if a straight seam is better, how to go about constructing on while still approximating the front/back fit as best as possible.

The pleat calculations are done separately for the front and back of the skirt. The user enters variables for the extra fabric to add for each pleat as well as a desired spacing between pleats. Currently the values are set to a desired pleat distance of 2 inches with 1 inch added on each pleat that gets folded in whatever pleat style the sewer is planning on. The calculations the divide the 2 inches into the front and back arcs and round to the nearest whole number to get the number of pleats to use on each segment (for me 5 on each side on front and 4 each side on back). It then recalculates a true pleat distance for front and back and marks spacing guides on each piece with these true values which are very close to, but not necessarily exactly the desired 2 inches in order to ensure a whole number of pleats are put on each segment. I figured it was better to have them be slightly different sizes (in my case less than 1/4 inch difference) than it was to have half a pleat left over along a seam, which would be way more noticeable.

Anyway, here is the pattern file as well as the measurements file used in the design. Obviously if you want to make the design yourself you should swap out the measurements file, but I think it makes sense to include it for ease of testing.

Andrew - 2022-01-02.vit (8.4 KB)

Skirt - A-Line.val (22.0 KB)

Actually I think I have figured out how to handle the straight seams on the edges. Going to test it out today and upload the file if the test works correctly.

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In other words a “type” dropdown? If it’s a preset list of items, it’s relatively easy to do, if we wanted to add custom user items, it gets more complicated.

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Yeah, I guess a type dropdown would make more sense than a freeform text field. I was thinking just leave it freeform and have a few standard types recognized by the Seamly code, but I don’t know what else you would want besides the few listed above.

As far as what seamly does with the variable type that is also to be determined. My initial thought was to have the variables background be color-coded in the table with something like green for style, yellow for fit, some other color for sew, and then something like grey or light red to indicate the ‘private’ ones that a user should not mess with unless they know what they are doing. You could also pop up a ‘are you sure you want to change this’ type dialog if one of the private values is changed with a ‘keep changes’ and ‘revert changes’ responses. (Should probably only ask this once or have a ‘do not ask again’ checkbox in the popup.)

If we need much more discussion on this point we should probably start a thread for that specifically.


I finished making the changes to make the skirt side seams straight. It basically extends out the line from the waist side to the highhip or hip, whichever gives a wider flare to make sure it is wide enough. I’m not sure that is ideal, but it seams to work pretty well. This combined with the front and back darts (each of which is independently sized) makes it close around the waist to highhip area and then basically drop straight down past the hips (assuming 0 flare is added in the style variables).

The basic design seems solid, however there is the issue of how to close it at the back. The idea is to use a zipper which has a length computed based on the difference between the waist and hip measurements to allow it to fit over the hips when you pull it up. I think this will work, but someone should maybe double check the math on that.

Currently the zipper length is given as:

  • max(hip_circ; highhip_circ) - waist_circ + 1.5 inch

Also, it might be nice to have a variant which snaps/hooks/buttons at the top hem, and if so, then there should probably be an additional flap of fabric to cross from one side to the other to engage with the button and/or to cover the open area that the zipper would be closing. I need to think a bit more about how to do that, basically should be like the flap on the front of a pair of jeans, but I haven’t figured out how to do that on the pattern yet. If someone wants to figure that out that would be cool.

Lastly, there should probably be some slight tweaks to the front/back allocation of the top and bottom of the side seam. For someone with very different front/back arcs at the different heights (waist, highhip, and hip) it might lead to the side seam not running vertically. I need to think this through a bit. and maybe see some results from people with different body shapes to see how to deal with this issue.

Anyway, here is the pattern - use the same measurements file from a few posts above.

Skirt - A-Line Straight Seam.val (19.6 KB)

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It’s not going to sew up well. It breaks one of the basic principles of sewing, where adjoining pieces on either side of a seam should add up to 180 degs, or in most cases corners should end in right angles. Other wise when you sew or hem across a seam you will end up with vee’s Which means for a fitted skirt the waist and hem need to curve. Not to mention the waist darts need to be trued up or the waist will also vee, come up short, and not hang correct. Hint - the seam of the dart should also add up to 180 degs. Another hint… sew a dart in a piece of fabric - cut a curve across the dart like it’s the waist line… then rip the dart apart and see what the pattern looks like - or drape a dart at the waist on a dress form - same difference.


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I’ve also been thinking on the copyright & creative commons laws. I seem to recall that @slspencer looked into these quite a long time ago and it was found that, while it would be totally incorrect to include pages from the different books & methods, sharing the pattern doesn’t apply. If it did, then one wouldn’t be able to create a pattern & sell it or even to wear a garment made from the book.

With this in mind, I think that we shouldn’t be trying to recreate the wheel but rather to put together a set of basic pattern blocks that are complete with all pattern markings, etc., along with a set of individual measurements - that one could change to their own measurements and expect to at least put together a muslin that fits in most of the right places.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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You are absolutely right!

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Wenn ich im Bereich der Schneiderei arbeite, gelent habe wie Schnitte aufgestellt werden und damit Maßschnitte oder Kollektionsteile erstelle, sehe ich meine gefertigten Schnitte als mein Eigentum. Darin liegen meine Erfahrungen die ich mir im Laufe meines Berufslebens erarbeitet habe. Bei der Schnittgestaltung hat jeder seinen eigenen Weg. Natürlich greift man auf Bücher zurück wie Grundschnitte konstruiert werden. In meiner Ausbildung habe ich das auch getan. Genauso wie man lernt Modelle zu erarbeiten. Ich habe noch gelernt die Schnitte auf Papier zu konstruieren und bin vor ein paar Jahren erst auf Valentina und dann Seamly gestoßen. Da es für meine Betriebsgröße finanziell unrentabel war mir Programme wie Graffis zu leisten bin ich unheimlich dankbar für diese freie Version. Dennoch musste ich mir viel anlesen um mein Wissen der Schnittgestaltung auch am Computer anwenden zu können. Dennoch bin ich der Meinung, dass meine Schnitte egal ob sie mit Hilfe von Büchern wie Müller und Sohn oder einem anderen Autor konstroiert wurden meine Schnitte bleiben. Mein Kunde zahlt ja auch für den Schnitt, wenn er ein Kleidungsstück von mir kauft. Es ist meine Entscheidung wem und wie ich die Schnitte weiter gebe. So sehe ich das.

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In the US, copyright laws as applicable to garment patterns & books… you can’t copy or use the actual print of the pattern. The pattern design itself (or the system to create said) is NOT copyrightable. Clothing is considered a common use item, and as such you can’t copyright the design. If you think about it, if clothing was copyrightable we’d probably all be walking around naked :wink: What is copyrightable when it comes to clothing is a design printed on a fabric used in a garment - that is considered artwork and as such can be copy written. You can’t copy images or use the words verbatim describing a system to create a pattern, but a pattern created from said system is not copyrightable. It’s analogous to music… you can copyright a music score & lyrics of a song, an actual recording of the song, but you can’t copyright music notation or the English language. The same principle exists with recipes… you can’t copyright a recipe, but you can copyright the book or magazine the recipe is printed in or the recipe if:

Recipes can be protected under copyright law if they are accompanied by “substantial literary expression .” This expression can be an explanation or detailed directions, which is likely why food and recipe bloggers often share stories and personal anecdotes alongside a recipe’s ingredients"

That being said… how ever you arrive at producing a set of pattern blocks has already been described by any number of existing pattern systems… so we are just creating wheels from what’s already there.


So, does that mean that someone could draft (on Seamly 2D ) a basic pattern directly from a published drafting book and make it available to anyone here who wants to use it?


Yes, you can’t publish the book or the step-by-step instructions in the book, but you can publish the pattern and measurement.

And out of courtesy, you can mention the name of the book and the author’s name. This will give back to the author in sales of the book.

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Yes… otherwise what would the point of all these drafting, design, and grading books be if one could never use the material contained in them to create patterns and garments? What would be the point of schools if you couldn’t use the knowledge you gained?

Here’s another analogy… I often find myself late at night watching reruns of the Bob Ross “Joy of Painting”. While the show is copywritten, meaning you can’t digitize the show or transcribe the words and sell it online… there is nothing stopping anyone from using Bob’s techniques or “System” if you will to make their own paintings to sell. Or record their own show using their own words. In fact Bob often talked about techniques of painting that “sell”.


So to relate back to the original post, perhaps a sample pattern of a skirt following Winnifred Aldrich’s instructions and measurements would be more useful rather than an attempt to réinvente the wheel?


I would agree. In fact to further expand on the OP and expediting the creation of patterns… Most pattern systems I’ve used usually have a basic draft block that all the styles are based on… if those blocks were bundled with the app, a user could save a lot of time by selecting a block template based on the system they want to use. Not to mention it could help new users learning to use the program, and help create a more uniform Seamly style of creating patterns.