Setting Up LibreOffice To Make Cutting Layouts.


The Software: Libre Office Draw

There may be many other fine drawing software that would work as well, or maybe even better, than Libre Office Draw. But this software is free and it is a quality software which does the job we want it to do. These instructions are for using the Draw features of Libre Office But Libre Office is a branch of Open Office and the instructions should be very similar if you are using the Draw package of Open Office. If you have not already done so, download and install Libre Office. When you first open LibreOffice it asks that you register it. Go ahead and take a few moments to register your software.

Setting Up "Draw" For Making Layouts

Each Drawing page has two layers, include both a master view  and the normal view. They can be accessed using the top menu: "View > Normal" and "View > Master". Anything that you put on the master view will also show through the top layer (Normal View), but whatever you put on the Normal View will only show on the Normal View. So, in doing layouts we draw the fabric rectangle on the Master View and put all the fabric cutouts on the Normal view. That way the fabric rectangle won't be accidentally moved as we move the cutouts in place over the top of it.

As you follow this tutorial, I suggest that you save your Cutting layout as a drawing document right away, and then save it every so often, just in case something happens that you loose it along the way.  When you get it all finished, you can then save it as a Template so that it will be available every time you want to make a new cutting layout.

Here is an example of a basic cutting layout template which I created. On the Master  view (which is the background page, is the Fabric rectangle (by itself). Then on the "Normal" view (which is the foreground page) I've created three "Items" rectangles, which have the dimensioning lines attached ready for use. In the Normal view you can see both the background Master view (with the Fabric rectangle) and the forground (with the Items rectangles).

Here are the features that you need to change to make Draw more useful:

Setting up your page size: 

Format>Page  (Update: in the newer vesions of Draw, Page has its own menu. Use Page>Properties)

  Under the Page tab, the Paper format section, next to  the Format label choose Letter (The format will automatically change to "User" when we are finished here). For Orientation choose "Landscape". With the Landscape orientation, the height should be 8.50", for width, choose 20"

The Width will vary from 11" to 30" to 40" or more, depending on how many yards your are laying out. When setting your page width, the variable is this, for every 5 yards of fabric, you will need about 9" of width (plus your margins). As an example, if you have a 10 yard job, you will need the width to be 18" (plus margins). You can change the Width with each cutting layout. So, for this template we chose a width of 20" because it is a nice round number, it will handle most small to medium jobs, and because it will print out on 2 sheets of paper.

Setting up the measurements and other misc.

Now let's set some of the miscellaneous settings:

Tools>Options>LibreOffice Draw>

First choose the General Option>

  • Settings:
    • Objects always moveable
    • Unit of measurement : Inch (If you use a different unit of measure, set that here.
  • Scale    Change Scale to 1:20 - This changes the scale of the rulers and objects so that you can do your layouts to print out on regular paper. 

Then choose the Grid Option (see above picture)>

  • Under Snap, choose "To object frame" - This allows you to easily attach the dimensioning lines to your rectangles.

Finally, choose the Print Option>

  • Under Page Options   Choose "Tile Pages". This allows your larger layouts to print on multiple pages, which you can tape together.

Setting up the Dimension Lines.

Although I'm showing you how changings the settings below will affect the dimension lines, you won't be able to see the dimension lines or the measurements connected to the drawings until we set that up later below. I am only showing you those pictures to show you why you are making the changes to the settings.

Because we will be working with small rectangles on screen, we need to get rid of the arrows and overhangs at the end of the dimension lines. Here is an example of how the normal dimension lines look with the normal sized arrows and overhangs. They take up about half the interior of the rectangle.

Press F11 to open the Styles and Formatting box.

Right-click on "Dimension Line", choose "Modify".

Click on the Dimensioning tab, set all these to zero,

  • Line distance - Set to 0.00"
  • Guide overhang - Set to 0.00"
  • Guide distance - Set to 0.00"
  • Left guide - Set to 0.00"
  • Right guide - Set to 0.00"
  • Decimal places set to 0 for only full inch measurements, or set to 1 for full inch measurement with one tenth decimals


Click on the Line tab. The dimension line will be place on top of the rectangle lines. To make it stand out on the rectangles, do the following:

  • Under Color choose "Blue"
  • Under Arrow Styles "Style" chose -none- in both the right and the left arrow menu boxes. 

This is what the above rectangle with dimensioning lines now look like.

However,  the numbers are still too large, especially when we make very small rectanges, i.e. 10" x 12" etc. So let's make the numbers smaller, yet they still need to be readable.

Still in the Styles and Formatting box, right-click on the Dimension Line, click on the Font tab, Choose the Arial Narrow Font, Regular Style, and size 10. The numbers are now this size.

Next, we want to change the ID font to be a small but readable font. Still in the Styles and Formatting box, right-click on the Default label. Choose Modify. Then click on Font, choose Font: Arial narrow, Style: Regular, Size: 12. Click OK. The text in the center of your Items rectangle will look like this. (You won't be able to see it until you enter some text in that location, to be covered later on.)

Now you are finished setting up your Items rectangles.

When you are finished making your choices, click OK.

Setting Up the Fabric Rectangle Background

Drawings in LibreOffice Draw have both a background, which is called view "Master". You can put anything on this Master view that you want in the background of your drawings. Whatever you put on the Master view won't be affected by what you do on the drawing. 

We will use the Master view to put a rectangle representing the fabric for our layouts. To begin, go to to the top menu and choose View>Master:

This brings ups a blank page. You will know that you are in the Master view because a Master View message box pops up. (See right side of the larger picture below.) Start by clicking the rectangle icon in the lower left of the screen.

Since we will be resizing it below, draw a rectangle on the screen (see below) of any size. While the rectangle is still highlighted (it has the blue squares at the corner), choose the color white in the top menu, as shown below.


Resize the rectangle

While the rectangle is still highlighted, press f4, which will bring up the Position and Size box. Enter the Width as 360" and the height as 54". These measurements represent 10 yards of fabric. Click OK.


This should resize the fabric rectangle to be the full width of the page, as shown below. Just remember, in the future you can resize the page and readjust the size of the fabric rectangle for each job as needed.

Now click on the "Close Master View" button (see above picture.)

Setting Up the Items Rectangles

Click on the Rectangle icon at the bottom left of the screen

Draw a small rectancle of any size. While the rectangle is still highlighted (small blue squares in the corners) press the "f4" key, which will open the Position and Size box. 

On the Position and Size box that pops up, choose a width of 30" and a Height of 24". (You can actually make these any measurements that you want.)

Now to add the Dimensioning lines. At the bottom left of the screen, click on the "down" arrowhead by the arrow button (A in the picture below). The choose the dimension line icon (B).

Notice that the rectangle is no longer highlighted. Carefully put the tip of your mouse at corner A and draw your mouse to the right to corner B. Let go of the mouse button. If you have done it correctly, you should see a blue line with a 30" measurement on it, as in the picture below. (Note, your drawing will not have the arrows or the corner letters that are in this drawing.)

Click the tip of your mouse at corner C and drag it carefully down to corner B, and let go of the mouse button.

When you are finished, your rectangle should look like this below.

However, the dimension lines are not attached to the rectangle. When you move the rectangles, the lines won't go along. So we need to attached the lines to the rectangles.

Click your arrow cursor at the bottom left (A in the picture). Then click and drag a larger rectangle clear around the Items rectangles. This larger rectangle should be large enough to go all around with a little extra. If even one tip of the rectangles or lines are not in the rectangle, the next step won't fully work.

When we selected everything in the last step, the rectangle shows that it is chosen (see the little blue boxes at the corners). Carefully right-click with the exact tip of the mouse anywhere on the highlighted rectangle. From the context menu choose "Group."

When you are finished, the rectangle will look like this. You won't be able to see anything different. To determine if the Grouping work, just click on the rectangle and move it anywhere. If the Grouping worked, the dimension lines should have moved with the rectangle.

Now that we have all the parts finished, copy the Items rectangle (draw thelarger rectangle around the Items rectangle & press "ctrl+C") and make several other copies, ("ctrl+V") and move them wherever it seems good to you. In the picture below you will seen where I placed everything.

Create a Template-Making It Easy to Use Each Time

Now let's save this page as a template.

LibreOffice Draw is a very useful drawing program. Since you may want to use it for making other drawings as well as creating layouts, you need to create a couple templates for your cutting layouts. A template contains all the specific Draw settings for your cutting layouts. To make it more efficient to make cutting layouts, we have changed (above) some of the basic document settings.

Draw uses templates to remember the measurements and other settings in each document. It has a standard template that it uses whenever you create a new document. Since we want all of our cutting layout documents to use all the settings that we have created above, we need to save this documet as a template so that we can use it over and over again.

Now that you have all of your settings configured, save this blank document as a template: File>Templates>Save  Give the template a name under "New template" (We'll use "Horiz Cutting Layout Blank" as our example name) and choose the "My Templates" category. Click OK.

Whenever you want to create a cutting layout using these settings, go to File>New>Templates and Documents, click on Templates in the left pane, and then choose our cutting layout template in the middle pane (which we had named "Horiz Cutting Layout Blank"). Click on Open.


(to be continued)