Offset Path in Illustrator CS6

Offset Path in Illustrator CS6
The Offset Path command or effect feature in IllustratorR is very versatile. When it comes to making SVG cutting files for electronic cutting machines, it’s a time saver.

When I took clothing design in collage, we first created a pattern, without seams, in plain muslin. We would pin the muslin pieces on to a model, for the perfect fit. The last step was to add the extra width of the seams along the edge of the muslin to complete the pattern. I wish we had Illustrator back then. Boy it was time consuming to add the extra width by hand with a ruler.

Now we can do the entire chore with a click of the mouse. Illustrator’s Offset Path feature is perfect for this. In our example, I am creating a cutting file for a dress form, which is a very popular topic in paper crafting. You see mostly flat dress form shapes that crafters can embellish with designer papers, rhinestones, etc. I have only seen a few 3D mini dress forms and most of them are made of fabric.

For my cutting file, I wanted the dress form to be 3D. The challenge was to make a pattern, or stroke path, that would create the smooth curves along the bust and hips. First I tweaked the front/back and side pieces until I got the cutting line I needed. Then it was time to add the seams or fold over tabs. These tabs will extend beyond the outline line of the side piece. The crafter will assemble the dress form by gluing the tabs on the side pieces to the front and back pieces.

I decided the tabs would be .25 inch in width and different lengths, depending on the amount of curve along the edge. The first step was to “expand” the edge of the pattern .25 inch using the Offset Path feature. Here are the basic steps.

  1. Select the stroke that is our outline shape of the side piece.

  2. Select Object - Path - Offset Path and set the offset distance to .25 inch.

  3. When you click OK, you will get a duplicate of the original stock line that is .25 inch larger (offset from the stroke path).

Now all we need to do is draw our final cut line for the SVG using the final shape as a guide. When we draw this cutting line, we will add a few V-shaped cut out areas along the curves.

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