Software for pattern making

I work for a company that manufactures life jackets and apparel. Thus far I have been using Illustrator and sending files to China. The problem with illustrator is that it doesn’t output exact measurements and it can’t spit out a volume.

My boss feels that we could do all of this in a CAD program. I have used I am familiar with solidworks but I think that will only be good for getting a volume for our foam patterns. I have also never heard of anyone using a a CAD program for garments, I have always been told that Illustrator is the industry standard, and it’s what I used when I worked for a bag manufacturer.

I have seen some plugins for Illustrator that can do minimal cad work like the ones found on, but I am not sure if they are as great as they promise to be.

Any thoughts and suggestions would be great.

For creating fabric patterns and marker layouts I have used Optitex Software. It gives you a lot more control over the grading points in your pattern, having it being something of a cross between Illustrator and AutoCAD. After creating your fabric pattern, the pattern would be placed into a marker layout, and then sent over to a fabric CNC cutter and cut out to your exact specifications.

there is a plugin for illustrator called CADTools, basically giving you dimensioning capabilities. im not sure how much it costs, but might be more cost-effective than buying a whole other program.