Use these Do’s and Don’ts for successful digital sewing pattern printing
Hey y’all, today I’m going to talk about how to print pdf sewing patterns. Since part of my business is pattern design and I sell PDF sewing patterns, I often get questions about printing issues. Today I’m going to share a tutorial for digital sewing pattern beginners. I know when I first heard of these I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to print a full size sewing pattern on a home printer. If you’ve never downloaded and printed a PDF sewing pattern, know that the patterns are tiled and you assemble them in first row, second row, third row etc like a jigsaw puzzle.
The other important point with printing sewing patterns at home is that you need to be precise in your print settings to make sure your printed and assembled pattern ends up the correct size.
My patterns include very thorough printing instructions, but sometimes people still run into issues. In an attempt to help everyone, I made a short video for my YouTube Channel. (If you can’t get the video to play below, click here to go watch it on YouTube.)
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Now that video is just how I format my patterns for printing and assembly. There are various methods that designers use to mark rows for assembly. I add both numbers and alphabet markings, but I’ve seen diamond markings, cute graphics and other ways to delineate the columns and how they get taped together. Patterns can be printed in portrait or landscape view; in my patterns I alternate depending on which way the pieces better fit. But I always include those instructions.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF PDF PATTERN PRINTING
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to print sewing patterns. Note that I am U.S. based, so my measurements are imperial. If you’re in the UK, Europe, or other metric measurement countries, you’d use those measurements. Most sewing pattern designers format for both U.S letter and A4 sized paper and include a test square with both imperial and metric measurements.
- Use Adobe Reader to view/print, not Mac Preview, your internet browser or the version of Adobe Reader that comes with Windows. You can download Adobe Reader for free here.
- Print the page with the test square and measure carefully before printing the whole pattern. THIS IS IMPORTANT. If the square is 1/8″ (3mm) off and it’s a 2″ square (which is what I use) that means a pattern piece that is 8 inches long will suddenly be 1/2″ (12mm) longer or shorter – and that can be a whole size different! Longer/wider pattern pieces will be off even more.
- Read the printing instructions in your pattern
- Play with “Fit” “Scale” “Select by File Size” and “Auto-Rotate and Center” to get the right size test square. These settings may vary depending on your combination of printer and pattern.
- Write down settings for future reference
- Use Mac Preview, your internet browser or the Adobe Reader that comes with Windows to print. I have personally printed from Mac Preview and seen every page be off by a different amount! And if you click print straight from the internet browser or your email, you may even end up with missing lines or that aren’t on the actual pattern. Always download the pattern, then open in Adobe Reader.
- Print the whole pattern before measuring the test square
- Assume that because you used the same settings as you used another time the pattern is correct. ALWAYS MEASURE THE TEST SQUARE.
Once you’ve printed, you can use scissors, or a rotary cutter to cut off tile edges. I cut off two edges only, then overlap the tiles and tape on the size line I’m going to cut.
Hopefully these tips will help you with PDF printing frustration and help with getting a perfect fitting garment from the pattern.
If you’re ready to get started with PDF patterns, check out the kids and women’s clothing pattern in my shop, Blank Slate Patterns. And if this post just convinced you that you don’t want to deal with digital printing at all, I offer copy shop prints for my women’s patterns which you can have shipped to you. For those in other countries where shipping might be cost prohibitive, A0 files are also included in the women’s patterns so that you can have the local copy shop print for you.