Years ago (2012) I wrote a tutorial on installing Blender and setting up for making clothes in Second Life ™. It is titled: Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial. It has all the gory details a person with OCD would need. A couple of years later I wrote: Fitted Mesh Base Avatar Files, about which mesh models to use for making clothes. The articles have good information but we have learned and advanced since then. So, we can simplify things.
This article will hopefully take some of the pain out of your entry into clothes making for Second Life.
There are two ways to install Blender™. You can install it as one does any Windows program using the provided install program. This is simple and quick. If you are just curious and in the process of exploring, this is your option.
However, if you are serious and committed to making clothes then there is a better option.
Blender is in what I consider rapid development and updates often. Some of the updates make changes in the core parts of Blender. These changes force third-party add-on makers to update their add-ons. If you are dependent on an add-on you’ll run into times when a Blender update will break your model and/or your add-ons and you are left waiting for a third-party update.
You need an easy way to have multiple installations of Blender and your add-ons installed so your projects are protected from these changes. And it really helps to have everything separate as it allows you to complete a project with a single version and set of add-ons. And in the future, you can come back to that project and tweak or revise it without having to deal with updating your project to use a newer Blender and add-ons, which can be a very tedious effort.
The Blender developers are aware of these legacy compatibility issues. So, they make all versions of Blender available for download. That “ALL” means every version ever released. And they talk about the incompatibility issues here: Previous Blender Versions.
The solution to all this incompatibility stuff is to use Blender’s PORTABLE install. You’ll find that version in macOS, Linux, and other versions section, the gray button.
The portable version comes in a ZIP file. It unpacks a working copy of Blender into a folder you can place anywhere on your computer. You can double-click the blender.exe file to launch that version of Blender. This works and keeps the versions separate. However, it does not make the install actually portable.
To make a portable install that might go on a USB drive and be used on any computer, you need to unzip the files and then manually create a folder named config in the folder containing the unzipped Blender. The details of Blender’s folder structure are here. As I only use Blender on one machine, I don’t bother making it portable. I just want things kept separate so I can have multiple versions of Blender and my Add-ons.
So, I download the portable version, unzip it to the drive I keep my Blender versions on (which gives me a folder titled: blender-3.1.2-windows-x64), double click blender.exe inside that folder, let blender start and then right-click the Blender icon in my taskbar and click Pin to Taskbar. I am set.
The portable installation is a bit more complex. But it makes future updates and projects much easier to use and maintain. I highly recommend it.