Laying out your pattern for printing

Is there a way to layout a pattern so that you use as little paper as possible? I find that it is just so random. Sometimes for no apparent reason, it flips a piece by 90 degrees and you end up with an arrangement in an L shape. Or it leaves a massive gap on the right hand side.

I know the algorithm to lay shapes is really complicated but for me, I think I could probably lay out my pattern pieces manually far more efficiently than the algorithm yet sadly this isn’t an option.

This is really important because I export to A4 tiles and printing with lots of gaps either waists lots of paper, or waists time because I have to note down which tiles are blank and exclude them from the print out.

Help would be much appreciated.


Hey Byeek, if you work with OS, you can preview your tiled pdf in a contact sheet mode, looking at all the printable tiles at once. Then pick the ones with pattern info and print only those. It’s not perfdct, but it’ll help you save some paper despite the Lay-out not being ideal. Is there a similar viewing option for pdf preview in Windows or Linux?


I guess nothing is… :joy:

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The issue isn’t with the PDF. The issue is before that. The workflow from what I understand is that you Draft your pattern, then draw your pieces and add seam allowance, labels and notches etc. The final section is to layout. All I want to do is layout my pattern pieces on a piece of paper using the least amount of waste possible. Here is an example example

Here I have four pieces pretty much the same length and two small pieces. Why oh why does one have to be angled along the bottom like it is and why is another at 45 degrees? Why not just line them up straight? Or, can we not have an option to layout the pattern manually which would actually be much better for this level of software.

Screenshot 2023-08-27 144009


Sort of. You can export (to svg) the pieces in piece mode, then using an app like Inkscape, Illustrator, or CorelDraw… manually arrange the pieces as you like, and either print or export to pdf from there.

We’re aware of the limitations of the current “layout” mode. The original dev was not well versed in pattern making and thus current layout mode we’re stuck with.

Ideally we will implement a way to manually create markers, as well as improve the auto layout algorithm.


That’s a great shout. I’ll try the SVG method. Thanks!


Actually you can pre-arrange the pieces in piece mode so you might not even have to use another app. Only caveat is currently you can’t flip or rotate pieces.

Which is probably the direction I will head in making the piece mode more of a manual marker, making the layout mode rather moot - where you could select a paper / fabric width, and then place the pieces on the marker… rotating or flipping as required.

In regards to any auto layout… it’s a very compkex task - one that for experienced cutters is rather easy and instinctive. It becomes a tradeoff between how efficient you want the layout VS time to do it. For ex… given your example I could layout the pieces in less than 30 secs… maybe a good layout algorithm might take 2-3 mins. Take a patttern with 30 pieces and that time could jump drastically.


My gut reaction is that as far as I’m concerned ‘merely’ enabling the Print functions in Piece mode would eliminate my use of the Layout mode. Further consideration reveals some slight caveats, such as being able to flip & rotate pieces, or layout only a couple pieces for printing without ruining my full-pattern layout, to deprecate the “Layout” mode, but I think there is a good chance that I’d decide it was worth the trouble.


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IMO… and I think @Grace would probably concur… if we just enhance the Piece mode there really is no reason for the Layout mode. Especially given the fact that the Layout mode more or less duplicates a lot of the code… in some cases not exactly in the same way. For ex: There is a routine that creates the notches for a Pattern Piece, and a completely different routine that creates the notches for pieces in a Layout. Why? You’re guess is as good as mine. The point being - it’s twice as much work to maintain features because you have to make any changes to the Pattern Piece class and to the Layout Piece class. By consildating functionality to the Piece Mode, we can just get rid the Layout mode altogether, and any duplicate code that comes with it.


Oh, I love the way you think, @Douglas :star_struck:

As long as you don’t remove the A4 slides pdf function. But on a serious note, one thing the layout section does potentially offer is the ability to layout within a certain width of paper which is really useful for those who print on roles of paper. Forsee two options. Manual mode for people like me but also something that is a little more streamlined and less inclined to lay pattern pieces at 45 degrees across blank paper for more complex patterns.


My idea would be to make Piece mode like a marker, where you would select a fabric or paper width, depending on whether your just exporting to print or to export as an actual cut layout. You would then be able to either manually arrange the pieces between the edges or have it automatically layout with the current algorithm or ideally with an improved algorithm.