5 Top Tips For Using PDF Patterns

Happy Thursday everybody! Today is the last day of my annual leave so I’m sat on the sofa doing some life admin and watching the Bourne Supremacy and I’m about to assemble my Helen’s Closet Luna Tank pattern. If anything that last few days have made me realise that I really need some proper annual leave to just do nothing! However it has given me the chance to start on a very big project as well as film a few YouTube bits and reflect on a part of sewing I had never engaged with prior to this year which is PDF patterns.

Initially I thought that PDF patterns were irritating because you have to print and assemble them at home however as I’ve started sewing more often and more complex garments I’ve realised that if there is one thing I hate more than assembling PDF patterns its tracing from pattern sheets. Now tracing from pattern sheets with multiple patterns is fine, its one of those necessary evils but tracing from a tissue paper pattern is a step too far and honestly I’m starting to prefer if not outright love PDFs. I know there are lots of people out there who have never used a PDF pattern so today I’ve going to take five minutes to explain why they are awesome and give you five quick tips on using them to make your PDF pattern life simple.

1. Cut Off The Corners

This is a trick I picked up on instagram and I honestly cannot remember for the life of me where I saw it first but whoever first thought of it, you are a stone cold genius. One of the most frustrating aspects of PDF pattern assembly is cutting off the margin edges of each page and trying to line them up perfectly. However 99% of the time there is a rectangle around the pattern itself to indicate what is pattern and what is just page. So if you just neatly clip the corners of each page you can then overlap the pages and line up the external rectangle et voila! One pattern constructed in half the time and its a lot easier to tape because you aren’t trying to tape two raw edges together. Haven’t tried it before? Try it now and thank me later.

2. Use Pattern Weights

There are few things more frustrating in the world that carefully lining up you pattern pieces, extending your seletope only to find one of the pieces has somehow moved out of line. Now apologies if this sounds obvious but I genuinely didn’t think about it until the other day, use pattern weights to the fixe the pages in place then tape and move on. It makes everything so much simpler and while its more effort to get your pattern weights out it cuts down the frustration that seems to be so synonymous with PDF patterns.

3. Have A Printing Day

If like me you don’t have a dedicated sewing room or office space with all your equipment laid out then chances are you are getting out your printer just to print your PDF patterns. In this case it can be hard to work up the motivation when just buying the pattern means you have it physically. My top tip in this case is to have a printing day, if you can save up a few PDF patterns then put on a movie, get your printer out and print them all in one go. If you want to you can even assemble them at the same time but if you’re anything like me one of the biggest hurdles is just getting them printed out.

4. Check If There Are Layers

These days pattern designers are putting more and more effort into their PDF versions and many patterns now have a layers function. This means that you can isolate down just your size and print that, making cutting out a pattern with over ten sizes on the sheet a lot easier from the get go. Just a note, if you are a MAC user then you will need to use Adobe as preview doesn’t work.

5. Get It Printed Professionally!

Sometimes you may not feel like assembling a PDF pattern when its over 50 pages which is completely fair. This is why there are wonderful people out there who will do it all for you! If it’s a big or complex pattern I just pay for it to be copy shop printed. I use Natasha from Pattern Printing Girl who can be found on instagram and facebook who is cheap and speedy! There are also businesses such as The Foldline or NetPrinter who will print and send to you just be aware that some printers may have a minimum order of A0 sheets.

Three A0 Pages for my TATB Eden Coat!

One of the fantastic aspects of PDF patterns to me is that you always have the original meaning you can print it and cut it out as many times as you want without ruining the original. Plus you can grade between sizes so easily, you can even draw all over it if you need to, it gives you the freedom to make as many mistakes, edits or adjustments as you need. While there absolutely is a place for paper patterns and I do love the pattern envelopes sometimes its nice to have the pure freedom of cutting into a pattern and not having to worry.

Do you have other tips for working with PDF patterns? Let me know in the comments below!

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