In this article, you will learn how to accurately print and assemble a PDF pattern. It’s simple really!
A PDF sewing pattern is the digital cousin to the tissue pattern.
There are a lot of free and paid beautiful PDF patterns out there.
And do you know what two of the best features of PDF patterns are?!
Well, one, we don’t have to leave home, drive to a store, and rummage through drawers overstuffed with patterns hoping that they will have the one we want and in our size range.
And, two, we don’t have to duplicate it, because we can always reprint as needed!
Now, how fabulous is that?!
But PDF patterns are truly like a “puzzle,” so we do have to put them together.
And while it can seem crazy printing, cutting and taping the pages together, it can be worthwhile…
So if you’re ready, let’s learn what we need to know to print and assemble a PDF pattern as painlessly as possible…
NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!
What You Need
- A laptop or desktop computer with a PDF reader installed + printer
- Paper scissors (I love my Fiskars Nonstick Titanium Softgrip Scissors!)
- Grid ruler
- Removable Scotch tape (blue label)
- A little bit of patience
How to Print a PDF Pattern
FIRST, it is important that you print your PDF pattern properly if you are to get an accurate pattern!
PDF patterns usually include printing instructions. And this is one of those times you will need to read the instructions provided by the maker of the PDF!
But I do have some bad news…
PDF patterns, as far as I know, still cannot be properly printed from mobile devices. Because mobile devices are primarily designed for you to hang out on the Internet and browse.
So if you want to print a PDF pattern, you will need to do so from a laptop or from a desktop computer (remember those?!)
And here’s how you would do it for most PDF patterns:
Step 1: Open your PDF file on your computer.
Step 2: Next, press CTRL + P at the same time to open your Printer’s dialog box. In the Scale section, you need to make sure that it is set to print at a 100% or Actual Size or Default.
What it will say will depend on your printer or even your computer operating system.
But what you do NOT want is any of the following:
- Fit to Printer Area
- Fit to Page
Page scaling must be turned OFF or the pattern sizing will be thrown off!
Step 3: Now, scroll the file and look for the page that contains a test or calibration square — this is usually page 1. For now, Print ONLY this page.
Step 4: Once you’ve printed the page, it will tell you what the test square should measure. Measure it to make sure it is the specified size. This will ensure that when you print your pattern it is true to size.
Step 5: Print the remaining pages if the test square is the right size.
Sew easy tip: Five centimeters (5cm) is equivalent to 2 inches.
Once you’ve printed all of the pages, you are ready to assemble your PDF pattern…
How to Assemble a PDF Pattern
How you begin the assembly process will depend on how the PDF maker drafted the pattern.
But there are certain tips you can always use regardless of whose PDF pattern you are assembling:
The pages of the PDF pattern will be labeled either numerically, alphabetically, or a combination of both. This labeling will help you make sense of how all those pages join together.
In the image below, the PDF pattern maker is using a combination of numbers and/or letters — for example, 1, 1A, or A…
Most PDF makers include margins on two or more sides. Other PDF makers may not include any margins. You can see the margins in the image above.
To determine what is what, get your pages in order and start by placing a handful of pages together. You’ll immediately be able to tell which margins you have to trim. For example, in the image below, you need to trim at least four margins.
Some PDF pattern makers are kind enough to alert you of this by including an image of a pair of scissors along the margin(s). Zoom in and take a look at the scissors along the left margins in the image below…
So if your PDF pattern has margins, you will need to trim them off.
You most certainly do not have to trim one page at a time. Because that would be unbearable. Just stack three to five pages on top of each other, staple them together, and then trim the margins in one go with your paper scissors.
Once your margins are trimmed off, you’re ready to begin the abutting process. Use the numbering on the pages as your guide to assembling your PDF pattern puzzle.
Relax and take your time.
I will tell you that after assembling many PDF patterns, you may not be able to get every single thing lined up perfectly. So I would recommend that you do your best, but don’t be too anal about it. Or, it will drive you nutso!
And that’s it! You’re done!
Sew easy tip: Make a muslin, please.
Alright, at this point, you know quite a bit about using sewing patterns. You know…
And now you know how to print and assemble a PDF Pattern.
So guess what?!
I think it’s time we conquer how to read a ruler.
And best of all…
You can put all fear aside because I’m going to make understanding how to read a ruler super simple.
Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!
RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to unleash your dressmaking superpowers and learn how to sew a simple dress! Warning: This is a MEGA 5-part series!