Learn how to use a PDF sewing pattern to get digital copies of free and favorite sewing patterns. Get access to lots of sewing patterns online.
I love PDF sewing patterns. I’ve always loved sewing, but the world of possibility opened up to me and I improved the most once I started using PDF sewing patterns.
PDF sewing patterns have been around for awhile, but I wanted to give you an in depth look at what PDF sewing patterns are and how to use a PDF sewing pattern.
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What is a PDF sewing pattern?
A PDF pattern is a sewing pattern designed digitally on the computer and then organized so that it can be printed on several pieces of paper. Usually PDF patterns can be printed on A4 or letter size paper.
Once it’s printed to the correct size, it is assembled into a full size sewing pattern and all the pieces can be cut out.
I love using PDF sewing patterns because if the pattern gets ruined or if I need a different size, I can always print it again. I doesn’t matter it the paper gets destroyed since I have a digital version!
How do you use a PDF sewing pattern?
Downloading the PDF
The first thing you do after getting the files of the PDF pattern is to download it to your computer or cloud storage. You’ll want to make sure you have a save place to store it so that you can always access it.
Sometimes the PDF is compressed into a ZIP file so you’ll need to unzip the file to find all the individual files. Often PDF sewing patterns come with different sizes (like a copyshop file) or formats (like a projector file) so there is a lot in one file.
Opening the PDF
Open the PDF on a computer. You’ll be able to see all the pafes of the PDF. Sometimes there’s instructions before the pattern so you can scroll through to see what you want to print or not.
I usually just print the pattern and read the instructions from my computer or phone while I’m working with that specific pattern. I don’t like to print the instructions.
Printing the PDF Sewing Pattern
Now it’s time to print the PDF pattern. I will show you two different examples of printing because I have found that the print dialogue box is often different and you need to be really aware of the settings to have success with the pattern.
Plan on printing the one page of the pattern that has the measurement box so that you can measure and get the correct size before printing everything else out.
When I usually go to print something, the settings are on print all, page sizing “fit”, and portrait orientation. The page sizing “fit” will print the incorrect size.
Sometimes the page sizing is “shrink oversized pages”. The page sizing “shrink oversized pages” will print the incorrect size.
I almost always choose “actual size” or “custom scale 100%” to get the accurate size. You want the pattern to print to the size the designer created so that it will print correctly.
Sometimes when I choose “portrait” or “auto” the PDF will shift to the center or to the top left of the page. I prefer when the PDF is at the top left so that I don’t have to trim anything off before I assemble the pattern.
This is another print dialogue that I see often, but when you first pull it up there are no options of changing the sizing and orientation. Click the dropdown arrow next to “more settings”.
With all the settings showing I choose the paper size, and the scale which is default or 100 so that the pattern will print the correct size.
Assembling the PDF Sewing Pattern
Once the pattern is printed it can be taped together to get the full size. Then it can be cut for each pattern piece size or individual sizes can be traced so that the pattern can be used again and again.
Learn about different ways to assemble PDF sewing patterns. If your PDF printed in the center of the page, then you’ll need to trim two sides of each piece of paper.
Then assemble the entire PDF pattern by taping or gluing all the pieces of paper together. There are markings on each page to help guide you with how it will be taped together.
I prefer to tape over gluing, but every sewist figures out what they like best.
Cutting the Sewing Pattern
Once you have it all assembled you can cut out all the pattern pieces that you want. You can choose the size, grade between sizes, and hack the pattern before you cut it out.
You can also just trace the pattern pieces and leave the big pattern untouched so you don’t have to assemble it again.
Cutting the Fabric with the Sewing Pattern
Now you can use the pattern pieces to cut out the fabric. Use the guide on each pattern piece to know how to cut it out and how many pieces of fabric to cut.
And that’s how you use a PDF sewing pattern!
If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!
I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather