I’m sure most of you lovely readers will have at least heard of PDF sewing patterns before, but if you have never used one, don’t really understand what they are all about or are a bit sceptical about using them then I’m sure this blog and video will help you!
I’ve broken things down into smaller chunks to make it easier to follow so feel free to jump to the section you are most interested in!
You can hear me chat all about them in my latest Youtube video or read on for more info!
They are electronic files in a pdf format of a sewing pattern that can either be printed at home or printed using a copy shop or pattern printing service from companies who offer that.
As technology has advanced over the past decade, PDF sewing patterns have increased in popularity and become much more readily available. So now, many pattern companies release the PDF version of their patterns alongside the traditional packaged and printed sewing pattern. There are also lots of companies who only offer their sewing patterns as PDFs. Or it might be split, so for example, different size ranges may only be available in PDF format.
So when you purchase a PDF pattern, you typically get access to download the files immediately, or they are emailed to you immediately so it means you can get working on your project right away!
Once the files are downloaded, its best to save them in a safe place in your computer or device so they are easy to find later. I have a sewing pattern downloads folder on my computer where I put all of my PDF’s and you could then organise that by having sub folders or pattern company, or garment type for example, whatever works for you.
The files that you receive will typically include:
When you print the pattern at home on your regular printer - you need to print at 100% scale and make sure the right paper size is selected. Then check the calibration square to make sure its printed at the right size.
Some sewing pattern companies tell you what pages are needed to be printed for the version you are making, which is really useful and can save on paper.
Most patterns printed on single sheets will have an empty border all the way around the edge that can vary in width. You might notice a little mark or notch to tell you where to line the pages up. Some patterns come with a print layout guide as well like this one here. It tells you the order that the pages stick together in.
There are different ways to put the single sheets together to make up your full size pattern.
I personally prefer to trim the bottom and right hand side of all the sheets.
I then use a glue stick to overlap them and stick them together, or you could tape them together. I will stick together a whole row of sheets overlapping the pages. Then I’ll stick the next row together, then stick those two rows together.
If you are finding that the lines don’t match up exactly, then it could be that there was a slight discrepancy when you were cutting the pages down. If its only a really small amount I wouldn’t worry about it its unlikely to make a different to your finished garment. If its a more fitted garment or its bugging you too much then I'd recommend just getting it printed in A0 format.
We started offering a pdf printing service back in July 2020 when we invested in our own A0 printer. The printer lives in the studio above the shop and prints patterns full scale from large rolls of paper that get cut automatically into sheets.
You can order your files to be printed on our website by viewing the sewing pattern printing service product and selecting the number of pages that are in your file to be printed. Most patterns just have 1 or 2 A0 pages but if it's a garment with a lot of pieces, like a coat for example, then it can be more pages.
You will then be prompted to upload your files at the checkout page. The website will allow you to upload one file per pattern printing product. So for example, if your pattern has 2 pages but each page is a separate pdf file, then you’ll only be able to upload one of the pages. You can then either email us the second page or create a zip file to combine the files into one.
We will then print it out for you, check that the scale is correct, fold it up neatly and send it out to you.
We can also print the instruction booklet for you as well if you like to have a paper copy but don’t have a printer at home. There is a pattern printing product that you can add to your basket online, and upload the instruction booklet in the same way at the checkout.
Some of you might be thinking, once it's printed out, either at home or on a large scale printer, how do you then use that pattern to cut out your fabric if its on thicker paper than traditional fine tissue paper?
There are a few options to consider and a lot of it comes to personal preference
I use A4 clip folders to store mine or you could use paper envelopes in a similar way. I usually put the instruction booklet at the front, or even just the first page of the instruction booklet facing out so that I can easily see what it is and then I try to store them alphabetically, but you could choose your own order for filing.
You could colour code the patterns by garment type, or fabric type (stretch vs woven) or pattern company.
A great idea to be able to get a quick visual reference guide to what PDF patterns you have is to create a Pinterest board. You could pin the image of the front of the pattern instruction booklets or even pin images of versions of the patterns made up that inspire you!