When I was a little girl (and have never heard of a PDF pattern) and Mom was often sewing on our kitchen table and my idea of a sewing pattern was a Huge Messy Sheet with red and green lines overlapping everywhere, surrounded by numbers, letters, and weird symbols… pretty confusing, indeed!
I remember that, every single time, she had to trace off the pattern before starting to sew… Time-consuming too!
But, let’s go deeper into this compare:
Pro to PDF patterns
- PDF Patterns are definitely cheaper than the paper version.
- You can save them to your pc and reprint if you need to cut a different size or you cut the wrong one.
- You choose, buy, print immediately, at any day (or night) time… and we all know the urge to sew!
- You can help little designers grow (Thanks <3)
Against PDF Patterns:
- You need a little crafting between buying the pattern and sewing: cut and tape sheets can take a long time!
- … nothing else?
PDF patterns seem to be a good choice for any frugal eager sewist (do you know anyone that could fit in this category?), but you need to know some little trick to keep Fast and Easy this (boring) assembling task (I’m going to share mine with you below!).
What you need:
- A home printer (or a print shop service);
- sheets of paper (in Europe we use A4 21 x 29,7 cm or 8 1/4 x 11 3/4″ – American Readers will go with Letter Size 8 ½ x 11″ or 21,6 x 28 cm) that fit your printer;
- tape (or glue stick) – I go with tape – no sticky messes on my sewing table, please!
- scissors (not the one you use for fabric!) or a guillotine (for paper, not for heads…)
Green Tip #1:
Please do not print your instructions, download the PDF on your laptop or netbook or tablet or smartphone and read them from there without printing: you’ll save some tree (and ink –> money!).
If you have an iPad, use this tutorial to save on iBooks (for Android is pretty much the same, simply save the Pattern and open it with any PDF Reader you can download for free from Google Play – ask help if you need, I can take some screenshot for you!)
Green Tip #2:
In Serger Pepper’s PDF patterns, cutting lines for different sizes are drawn in different colors but also with different dotted lines, so there’s no need of a color printer and you can print them in Black and White if you want (I do!)
Let’s print our PDF pattern
- Download the PDF on your PC and save it on a Folder called “My PDF Patterns” (or something similar, just to be sure you’ll find it again next time you’ll need to print it – ask me why I’m telling you this!)
- To open a PDF, you have to use a PDF Reader; the most popular is Adobe Reader (the same brand of Illustrator and Photoshop, but free! – just be sure to unflag the “Mc.Afee Security Scan plus” square, there’s no need of it!)), but it’s not the only one: if you Google PDF reader free you’ll see a lot of other FREE programs: choose one and download it, if you still don’t have one on your device!
- Any program you chose and download, be sure it has the option of printing “actual scale” or “100%” or “full-scale” or unflag “shrink to fit”… endless options, I know – just to be clear!
- Really important step! Print page 1 (or check your PDF pattern printing layout where the test square is if it’s not a Serger Pepper PDF pattern!) and measure its sides with a ruler. If the square size matches the described size, go on printing the rest using the same settings – if not, check your printer setting and try printing page 1 again!
- Now that you have all your pattern pieces printed out, take one more look at the printing layout inside the Instruction file to see how to tile your sheets of paper:
- I found easier tape together sheets by rows, from left to right, so I’d suggest you to start aligning pages 1 to 4 (or whatever is your first row last number on right side) and cut along right side of the frame and bottom side from pages 1 to 3 (while on page 4, being the last of the row, you only need to cut out the bottom). If your pattern has more than two rows (unlike the Sheer Top Plaid that we’re using here in this demo), go on cutting along right and bottom frames on all the pages except the last ones of each rows (where you cut only along the bottom line).
- Go on with our second (and last) row: pages 5 to 7: cut only along the right frame lines page 8 or your last page of the last row: nothing to cut!
Take a look at all our pattern pieces, side by side like on the pattern layout: yippie!!! As you can see, I cut along the frame lines highlighted in green:
Why do I bother you with these detailed instructions?
Because when you have to tape together patterns with a lot of pages (unlike with the Sheer Plaid Top, easy and fast), you need to find a way to save your precious time!
Folding (or cutting) along with all the frame lines, you’ll double your work and your pattern pieces won’t align perfectly, leaving you with a wonky pattern (less than accurate in sizing, then).
As you can see in photos, I have a guillotine (a recent purchase). With scissors, this task is much more time-consuming and really wearisome for your hands (plus: cutting straight with scissors on paper it’s really not my thing, especially on those PDF patterns that don’t have frame lines to follow: this is why Serger Pepper’s PDF patterns have frames!)
Let’s take a deep breath and answer a question: do you plan to use again this pattern, in other sizes?
- kid’s clothes, where the model will grow and change size, or you’ll sew for brothers/sisters;
- a pattern you want to sew in different sizes for different people;
- you’re not sure about the size and you need to sew on a muslin (that could not fit).
If you think you will need it again, trace it into a separate pattern paper (like the one for medical exams). In this case, use long strips of tape (when all tapede together, to reinforce), to be sure your taped and folded PDF pattern will stay together when you unfold it after some time in your storage.
In our demo, being a simple pattern made of only 8 sheets of paper, I would cut it directly and eventually reprint next time (remember to save your PDF for future uses!)
Choose your size and cut
Locate the size chart (it’s in both PDF pattern and instructions), measure yourself and choose the proper size.
Then find the corresponding dotted/solid line on the size legend in the PDF pattern.
It’s time to tape
Knowing which size are you going to cut, you’ll be able to save some tape, putting little strips of it on each corner where sheets meet AND on cutting lines, being sure to tape right above your size lines toward the inside of the pattern.
It’s a little trick and on tiny patterns doesn’t change a lot but, if you’re a pattern hoarder like me (and a couple of sewists I know), on bigger patterns you’ll see the difference!
Tape together the first row, matching frame lines and cutting lines;
Now start taping the second row, sheet by sheet, from left to right, matching horizontal top sides to first row’s horizontal bottom sides and vertical sides of each sheet to the previous one in the same row.
Notice that aligning frame lines you’ll have pattern pieces perfectly matching!
Go on taping any other rows until the last one.
Now (if you decided you don’t need to trace your size and save your printed pattern) cut along the size lines you chose and …
My Best Tips for PDF pattern assembling:
- If you use a print shop service insist they do not scale!
- If you have a craft table that it’s not your sewing table (or your floor is easily washable – I have wood), you can use a glue stick to tape together your PDF sheets. I hate the mess I always do with a glue stick in my hands, I know it would end with a stained fabric!
- Seam Allowances: in this demo pattern (Sheer Plaid Top) you have to add your seam allowances. You can add them directly to your paper pattern, instead of on fabric: just draw a line 1 cm far from cutting lines, all around, and 3 cm on the hemline of the pattern.
- Check the fit: if you’re going to sew a new pattern or you’re in doubt with the fit, consider “trying on” the pattern. With our demo PDF pattern, you could try it “wearing” the half bodice in front of a mirror to see if it’s long enough for your taste. It’s easier add (or subtract) some length, cutting a line anywhere between the armpit and the slit notch and spacing or overlapping the two bodice pattern pieces (then re-tape them!)
- When you’re in doubt with sizes, I feel better going upsize and then check the fit; if your bust/waist/hip measurements belong to different sizes on the body chart, you often can mix sizes, following right cutting lines in each point of the pattern (remember to do that in every single pattern piece!)
- When two sheets of paper don’t share any pattern piece, I usually don’t tape them together!
- If you tape row by row and then tape row one to row two (and so on), you’ll end up with the last tiles of each row not perfectly aligned (and your pattern pieces not matching… aaaargh!). So much better proceed sheet by sheet, matching both long and short sides in the same moment: you’ll spend some minute more, but your pattern will be more accurate!
If you’re in trouble, you can always drop me a line, and I’ll be more than happy to help you!
Do you have a PDF pattern assembling trick to share with us? The comment section is here for you!