Not much beats the immediate satisfaction of being able to buy, download and print a PDF sewing pattern, all in the comfort of your own home and without having to wait like a desperate pup for the postman to come. However, If you've not yet gone down the PDF pattern route, the initial process from purchase to print can seem pretty daunting - so much so that its original appeal can be forgotten quite quickly! No fear - we're here to hold your hand...
OK. Let's talk technicalities. If you've never downloaded and printed a pattern at home, don't worry! Just like a paper pattern, it's all very easy and straight forward: once you've purchased the pattern, you'll be getting a confirmation email from us with a download link (check your spam folder if it's not popping up in your inbox!). Simply click the link to download the pattern file to your computer...
*Please be aware that you will be downloading a .zip file, and this can only be opened from a computer; you will not be able to open and/or print your PDF pattern from a smartphone or tablet*
Printing your pattern at home
Once you have opened the .zip file, you'll see that the folder contains two or more PDF files: the instruction booklet, and the pattern itself - which will sometimes be split up into multiple files in order to minimise paper wastage. For example, our Anna Dress pattern has separate files for the bodice and two skirt variations so you don't have to print off the maxi skirt pages if all you want is the midi. Same goes for our latest pattern, the Zeena Dress, which has separate files for the two different bodice variations so you only have to print off the one you want to make there and then. We recommend printing only the pattern files, and keeping the instructions up on your computer screen as you sew to save paper.
Once you've opened up the pattern file in a PDF reader such as Preview, Adobe Acrobat or Reader, you'll see that the first page is a "test square" - we need to print this off first to check that everything is printing off to the right scale. In your print preview, choose to print page 1 only, and make sure that is it set to 100%, 'no scaling' or 'actual size'.
Print off the test square, check that it all measures up, and if it does - hooray! - you can print off the rest of the pattern in the same way.
If your test square does not measure up, then you'll need to go back into the print preview to double check that you've set your printer to 100% scale or 'actual size', and not 'auto' or 'scale to fit' or anything like that!
Assembling your pattern
Once you've got your pattern all printed off, lay out the pages on the floor matching the border notches, and using the image in the 'Assembly' page as a guide.
When you're happy with the layout, trim away the borders and carefully tape or glue your pattern together, matching the notches. We particularly like masking tape for this job as you can easily peel it off if you need to fix a mistake. You're now ready to trace or cut around your size and go about the making of your garment as normal!
We are very aware of the fact that printing patterns at home can be very draining to the old paper and ink supply. We've done our absolute best to keep pages to a minimum, and maximised the space on each page by making the borders around the pattern as narrow as possible, whilst still being suitable to print on both A4 or US letter paper.
Printing your pattern at a copyshop
For some, the idea of printing and assembling multiple pages of A4/US letter paper is more than a little bit tedious, especially when it comes to maxi dress patterns... Enter the 'copyshop file'. To print your pattern intact on large sheets of nice 'n' sturdy paper, simply locate your nearest copyshop or printers, and email them the 'copyshop' files that come with your PDF sewing pattern (alternatively you could take the files in on a flash drive). They'll need to be able to print on paper that is at least 841mm wide, and from a continuous roll of paper. Then simply pick up your pattern, skip on home and cut that bad boy right out! No trimming, no sticking, no mess, no fuss. Phew!
We really hope that this post will have shed some light on the process of buying and sewing from PDF patterns. Please feel free to chime in or ask us anything in the comments below.