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Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any limit to the pattern sizes I can print with Dress Shop?                   [TOP]

We have not found any individual to be too large for Dress Shop to generate patterns. Though built-in pattern sizes only go to size 40, most customers use our custom measuring options. We have customers successfully using Dress Shop software who have circumference measurements as large as 90 inches around, but even that doesn’t represent any known limits of the program. Height isn’t a problem for the program either, as users have been known to sew patterns from Dress shop, for individuals as tall as 6’6”.

On the other end of the scale, people have made patterns for dolls as small as 6” tall.


I've sewn for many years and I know how to take measurements. Or, I have recently been measured by a professional. Will my known good measurements produce fitting patterns with your products?

Possibly not. You really need to take your measurements using the procedures described in the program, which may vary from what you have used elsewhere or in the past. Your measurements may not be wrong, but they may be different from what Dress Shop assumes in its pattern drafting rules.

Here is a sampling of reasons why the measurements you KNOW are correct might not be right for use with Dress Shop:

  1. Though they drafted a perfect garment in a previous version of Dress Shop, we might have made a change to the program (usually our changes are intended to further refine the fit and make it more accurate to measurements, and maybe the program wasn't drafting to those measurements of yours as accurately before, which created some slop in the draft which is now gone).

  2. The measurements you "know" are correct may have been taken by an "expert" but maybe she made a mistake (people sometimes do, even we "experts") and if you didn't confirm it at the time with a Dress Shop sloper, there's no way to know if they were ever really correct. Your measurements may be "perfect" but maybe you're one of those people who really need MORE measurements in order to get a great fit.  More measurements, you gasp?  NO PROGRAM requires or uses more measurements than Dress Shop.  However, there are points between the points we measure to that could affect fit.  Sometimes we have to fudge "real" measurements to compensate for that.  Generally, if you have worked up slopers and found that "perfect" or "real" measurements don't give you a fit, but you make a small adjustment that makes your slopers fit well, then you've probably found the adjustment that will correct your measurements for all garments. Maybe that measurement set isn't "correct," but it WORKS, and that's what's important.

  3. This is the toughest one to stomach (ahem).  Your measurements may have changed since you had them taken.  Sad, but it happens.  And while adding a bit to ease often deals with this, if it's more than a few pounds, you may need to remeasure.

  4. You might not have taken your measurements according to the directions in the program.  I've seen this happen time and time again, and generally it's the MORE experienced sewers that fall into this trap.  You see, they KNOW how to take measurements.  They either "don't need to read the directions" or they read them and decide that they're wrong and they're way of taking a particular measurement is better and the deliberately ignore the instructions.  Yes, this does happen.

We have Dress Shop patterns fine-tuned to a gnat's whisker as far as measurement fit.  Yes, bugs crop up now and again, but generally, if you measure the patterns you'll find that they are drafting to the measurements you gave them.  If your patterns don't fit, you need to look to the measurements, however many good reasons you have for believing in them.

Can I take my measurements by myself?

No. There are some measurements on the back side of your body that you just cannot reach. Others would require you to bend to take and that bending would distort the part of your body you meant to measure. You will need a helper. Your helper need not be trained, but would need to follow directions precisely. You MUST follow the guidelines in the program and in the user manual for taking measurements or you will not get good results with your patterns.

How accurate do my measurements need to be?

This is a matter of personal preference. Obviously, you are not completely satisfied with off-the-shelf or ready-to-wear clothing or patterns. If you were, you would not be looking for the better fit that Dress Shop products can give you. But, that superior fit can only be obtained with precise measurements. If you take shortcuts when measuring, estimate or approximate some values, the fit of your garments will just not be as good as it could be. Spending a bit more time and care taking measurements will be repaid a hundred times over as you use them again and again to get great fitting clothes, first time and every time.

My body is not "typical". I have unusual fit problems. Can Dress Shop accommodate these?

There are no typical bodies. Everyone has some “abnormality,” lack of symmetry. That was the whole point of a product like Dress Shop. Dress Shop will draft patterns to your measurements, regardless of what those may be. Dress Shop patterns have been used to successfully fit very large people, very tall people, very short people, stooped, bent back, twisted arms, and an incredible variety of different shapes and sizes. Whatever your concern, there are others with similar concerns and Livingsoft has been working with them for 11 years now, solving the problems that you face when you try to find clothes that fit. Dress Shop patterns can work for you.

If you still have doubts, try the demo. If that looks promising, but you still have doubts, you can order knowing that all Livingsoft software carries an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee.  So you know that if the software doesn’t meet your requirements, you have the option of returning it.

Is it really necessary to mark my body to get good measurements?

Yes. If you think you can take 5 different measurements that are all supposed to go to the same spot (with the other end of the tape at different spots), without a mark to measure from, you are mistaken. On many, many occasions, complaints about imperfect patterns were traced to this simple cause. If you take shortcuts or make up your own rules, you may or may not succeed. If you follow the measuring directions, you will succeed. It really is that simple.

What are the minimal system requirements?

System requirements for Dress Shop are a PC with 80 Meg of free space on the hard drive, and Win 98 / ME / NT / 2000 / XP / Vista / Win7 / Win10. 

Will it run on my Mac?

Dress Shop software was not designed for Mac OS/X. However, it will run on Mac computers using a Windows emulation software such as Oracle's Virtual Box (free). Be aware that since it's a Windows PC emulating a Mac, the Mac will need to be reasonably new and fast, else the emulation may be too slow to be useful. Before purchasing Dress Shop to run on a Mac, we would encourage any prospective purchaser to download the demo and run it, to make sure the operating speed is satisfactory.

Why the Internet Explorer Browser

Unfortunately, there are differences between browsers, particularly with regard to dynamic web pages, those that change in response to user requests. Dress Shop relies heavily upon dynamic interaction with the user. As you make selections, your choices are illustrated on the screen. The patterns are generated interactively, altered to your direction, rescaled and reshaped to your command. These dynamic features require the use of web page coding that is not handled the same by different browser manufacturers. Since browsers are free and since we chose to focus our resources on pattern making, rather than supporting all the many browser variants, we do require the use of a particular browser. 

Why Internet Explorer, rather than another? Simply because more users already have this browser than any other. Somewhere between 75% and 85% of Internet traffic is by Internet Explorer compatible browsers. This includes AOL, which uses IE internally. It's free. It works. And, if you prefer to use another browser for web surfing, you are free to do so. IE can be used for Dress Shop while another browser serves your web needs.

So, if you do not prefer IE for web browsing, then please just consider it to be a part of Dress Shop, used for nothing else. And, if you do already use IE, then you will find Dress Shop conveniently integrated into your web surfing routines. 

Why Adobe Acrobat?

The user manuals for all Livingsoft products are supplied in electronic format in PDF format, viewable with Adobe Acrobat, which is a powerful document viewing tool that is available free on the Internet. In electronic form, our manuals can be downloaded when needed. Updates are available at no cost whenever they become available. You can print them out if you wish, but accessing them within Acrobat allows you to search for keywords, and hop from topic to topic quickly. A paper form of the manual just cannot provide that quick access. 

And, the electronic manual is ALWAYS available to you when you are running your program. If a question comes up, you are a couple of mouse clicks away from the answers. No need to find the paper manual and flip pages, searching for the answers.

Using electronic manuals is not to everyone's taste, but we have found that the ease of use, instant availability of replacements and updates, and low cost of distribution (free download) outweigh the fondness for paper that so many of us still have.

Can I make a backup copy of my program?

Absolutely. There are no restrictions at all on making extra copies of your program.

Can I put my program on another computer?


Can I give a copy of my program to a friend or relative?

Yes. When you give a copy of your software to another, it is exactly the same as if they had downloaded the free evaluation copy from the web site. As long as it has not been enabled for printing, then it is just another demo and all demos are free. You may not give them a keycode, though. They must purchase there own.

Can I give my keycodes to anyone else?

No. If you provide your keycode to anyone else, you will be violating the copyright of your product.

I'm not exactly sure how to download and activate the Dress Shop program I just purchased?

If you have downloaded the demo or are currently running the latest version Dress Shop, there is no need to download anything. If you are not sure if you are running the most current version, you can use the programs File/Check for updates option within your Dress Shop program If you are indeed running the latest version go the File menu within Dress Shop, select Enter Keycode, then enter the keycode that was sent to you.

However, if you are running an earlier version, you will need to go to the web site at Updates and get the current version downloaded and installed. Then, again, simply enter the User Information issued.

If you have not yet downloaded Dress Shop, or have ordered Hat Shop or Home Dec, you can get these downloads from Downloads and select the product you have purchased.

Once you have installed the program, enter the User Information issued.

Any time you need to enter additional keycodes, use the programs File/Enter keycodes option within your Livingsoft program.

What's the difference between an update and an upgrade?

Updates are program modifications that correct problems or add additional patterns to the package you are using. In many cases, new options (necklines, collars, sleeves, etc.) may be included FREE. Complete patterns generally must be paid for by purchasing a keycode to enable them. Updates are released every few months and are available free by download from the Livingsoft web site.

An upgrade is a major change to the program, a completely new version with new features, new options, new patterns, etc. Upgrades are not free.

What do updates cost?

Not a thing. Updates are available for download free of charge.

What do upgrades cost?

Upgrades are not free and the price varies depending on the new features included.

What are keycodes?

All Livingsoft products are available free by download from the Livingsoft web site. These free downloads cannot print patterns. That allows anyone the opportunity to try out the program and see how they like it before deciding to buy or not. If you choose to purchase the product, you will be given a keycode that will convert your demo version into a fully functioning product. Enter your keycode once and your program is enabled for printing thereafter. You should keep all keycodes somewhere safe in case you ever wish to install your product on another computer. Or, to reinstall after a system problem of some sort.

Since all keycodes include a user identification number, any release of a code to the public will make it obvious who the responsible party is and that code will be disabled thereafter. Protect your codes and do not share or you may lose your product.

Do I need more than one code?

Keycodes can be used to enable various Livingsoft programs or pattern packets. If you purchase The Hat Shop and Ultimate Pants and Dress Shop, each will require its own keycode. And, if you purchase additional pattern packets, those, too, will require keycodes. One code may enable many addons. But, if you purchase each individually, you may end up with many keycodes. Keep them all safe, in case you should ever need to reinstall and reactivate these items.

Why do activations go away sometimes?

Your keycodes are stored on your hard disk. If you should damage or delete the file they are in, your codes are lost. If you should reformat your hard drive, your codes will be lost. If you wish to install your program on another computer, you will need your keycodes again at that time. 

You can save your codes any way you wish. Print out the email that you received with the codes in it and place that printout in your files. Or, you could copy the codes into a text file and save it to a floppy disk for safe keeping. 

How do I restore a keycode?

If you should ever lose some feature (addon patterns, ability to print, etc.) that you have purchased, just re-enter your codes, as you did when you first received them and that feature will be restored.

I lost my keycode and need it replaced. Will this cost anything?

No. You can get replacement codes for free. Use the "Your Account" button at the top of each Livingsoft web site page to go to your account. Enter your email address and password and all keycodes you have ever received will be displayed.

How do I replace my keycode?

You can retrieve your keycodes from our secure web site.

If you are unable to retrieve your codes, you may email customer support and request new codes be generated for you. Please refrain from doing this unnecessarily as it requires manually verifying ownership and issuing new keycodes.

  • Printing                    [TOP]

  • How does Dress Shop software print full size patterns? Do I need a special kind of printer? Will I have to print the patterns in miniature and enlarge them?

    This is the most commonly asked question about Dress Shop. The answer is, that Dress Shop patterns will print, full sized, on any Windows-compatible printer. The program drafts the patterns, and then reads your printer settings and prints the patterns out in sections, on pages with match marks that you can easily tape together after they come off your printer. Most of our customers use ordinary single-sheet printers. Taping the pages together is quick and easy, and only takes a few minutes. Complete instructions for taping patterns toget

  • her appear in the user manual, available inside the program by selecting "Help - User Manual".

    Downloads and CDs                   [TOP]

    Can I download the software or is a CD available? 

    You can download the demo version of Dress Shop, or the full program, if you have DSL or a cable internet connection. (The demo is the same thing as the full program – the entry of a purchased keycode turns the demo into the full program.)

    If you have a dial-up internet connection, it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully download our programs. Even if you can keep the connection open for long enough, the likelihood is that the install file will suffer a glitch during the long download process.
    We no longer offer a CD of the product due to high production and maintenance costs.