As it turns out, PDF print-at-home patterns are a hot and steamy topic! So much so, I felt it was only proper to gather more of everyone’s hints, tips, rants, and observations in one place. A giant Thank You goes out to everyone who commented here on the blog, on Instagram, and sent messages with additional info! ❤️
But before I get into the list, I’d like to address something else that grew out of the pdf pattern conversation. Reviews.
So many people mentioned wanting the ability to leave reviews on pattern company websites. It’s easy to blame yourself when a pattern doesn’t work out right, and of course there are a lot of factors to consider when a pattern is essentially a template to make your own product: fabric, construction difficulty level, and human error. However, if an issue is called out again and again, chances are there’s something wrong and it’s valuable for a company to know this. Patterns are products in and of themselves, and when they are consumer products, there’s an accountability that is required. The endless Instagram/Reddit positivity groupthink can stifle valid critiques, and when there’s no outlet for an honest review process, people can get completely turned off and frustrated. When companies own their mistakes, create errata pages, and operate with transparency, this creates trust and helps foster the community. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in apparel manufacturing is that consumers trust and are loyal to companies they feel listen to their customers − regardless if the company has made a mistake. Especially if there is an honest approach and follow-up.
That said − onto the comments list!
Let’s start with the biggest wants:
- This was a biggie that has been repeated over and over : bust/waist/hip placements to be marked. The height a pattern is drafted for only goes so far!
- Would like AO sizes offered across the board, sometimes only A4/letter sizes are available.
- Everyone wants size layering offered, especially for copyshop files that may or may not print that way.
- Please either give measurements for rectangle pieces and bindings, or the option to print them separately. [Gabby’s note: this has been edited to remove ableist verbiage based on a conversation in the comments.]
- No-trim pages!
- Pages should automatically print with page numbers.
- Please don’t duplicate pieces that are the same (front and backs), or use a full sleeve piece if it’s symmetrical and can easily be cut on the fold.
- There were a few asks for patterns that had removable seam allowance layers, so people could make their own.
- The price difference between pdf & printed patterns is not often worth the time, effort, paper, ink, and tape required.
- Print-at-home pdfs are so inconvenient, many people pay extra for copyshop files.
- Front and back pieces that are oriented in different directions, but say “cut on fold”. If you’re using directional nap fabrics, this is really inconvenient.
But the biggest, baddest, and most mentioned of these was…
- Please tile center fronts on a cut/border line, and pay attention to tiling alignments and arrangements to minimize paper waste.
- Don’t just sell separate size layers of a nested pdf, this is so lazy and leads to so much paper waste, because the tiling has not been optimized per size.
Some helpful tips:
- Lots of folks tape their patterns on windows and glass doors to easily match lines and notches.
- Some people use Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Powerpoint to make their own AO/copyshop files when they’re not available. User bytinbit has in fact coded their own program to do this very thing!
And lest anyone think all we do is complain, these were the two most popular callouts for why we love print-at-home pdf patterns, pain in the butt though they can sometimes be:
- People love single sized patterns and marked seam allowances!
- They are loved globally for sheer ease of access in parts of the world where physical patterns are simply not available!
Have we covered everything? What else are your fondest dreams for print-at-home pdf patterns? Let’s keep building this wishlist…
Gabby is a technical designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.
HA! It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who hates using my tape! I like PDF patterns where the layers are unlocked/editable so I can grade in Illustrator and then rearrange the pieces to print efficiently. By the way, an A0 file can be printed at home from Illustrator if you select “Tile Full Pages” under Scaling in the print menu – and you can choose your own margins, including none! Of course this presupposes Adobe Illustrator so it’s not a universally helpful tip.
Great tip, thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for this topic, and the followup. I totally agree about the desire for marking bust, waist, hip points. I know there is no one right answer about layering; I often grade between 3-5 sizes, so I appreciate having everything available to me. I’ve gone to copyshop printing recently (although I always keep a print at home copy too) because I have a good shop near me and it costs very little to print a pattern. If I need a new copy of one piece, I can just print those few pages at home. I generally find that if there is an update for a pattern I’ve bought, I will get a notification and a link to download the ‘fixed’ one. I agree that the ability for sewists to leave reviews would be great, but for many small companies, I think that the administration of this could be problematic – I often use Sewing Pattern Review or the Foldline to see a collection of reviews for a particular pattern. If I had a big problem I would write to the designer directly.
Do you have a way of just printing the three sizes in copyshop? That’s my preference too, but I don’t know how to send them that way.
The shop I go to has a field for “Notes” on the order/intake form – as long as the pattern has layers, I just ask for the sizes I want in the notes – check how the shop you use would deal with it 🙂
Great callouts, thanks for sharing! And, yes re: patternreview/the foldline! I typically search instagram hashtags for things I want to make, and tend to forget about those websites, thanks for mentioning 🙂
‘The endless Instagram/Reddit positivity groupthink can stifle valid critiques…’
Love to know where on reddit you have found endless positivity about patterns! There is lots of encouragement and positivity about sewists and their projects, but pattern critiques are fair game in the reddit communities where I am active.
Ha! Fair point. I’m referring more to the actual project- I think there’s a tendency to post the rosy glow photos, and everyone swoons, but if there’s a problem, people may not feel like they can bring it up because they don’t know if it was their mistake or a mistake in the pattern.
This is a great topic! Here’s my two cents:
Reviews. I agree they can be really valuable, but I’m not sure if the company’s website is necessarily the best place to find unbiased reviews. I have definitely noticed on one company’s website that most of the ‘reviews’ were left by pattern testers around the time the pattern was released. I’m also in the FB group for the company, so I recognized the names. The fact that they had tested the pattern and had most likely received the pattern for free was not included in the reviews. That doesn’t seem very transparent. Was it part of their responsibility as a pattern tester to do this? I’m not sure how common this practice is in the indie pattern world, but it’s left me feeling a bit sceptical of the reviews on other company websites as well, especially when they’re all glowing and the reviews are clustered around a certain date. I usually look to Sewing Pattern Review and the Fold Line for reviews, and I add my own there as well.
My absolute fondest dream, since I think it’s a very useful one, no matter what format you get your pattern in: MORE POINTS OF MEASUREMENT in the size guide! How about shoulder width for starters? Upper chest width? Upper back width? Bicep girth? Thigh girth? Calf girth? Having that info readily available would help us pattern users identify possible fit issues before we’ve even printed out the pattern.
Thank you for calling out patternreview/foldine! Great places to look. And I totally agree with your measurement ask, that would be so helpful!
I love the immediacy of PDF patterns. But I will often curse the amount of wasted paper once printed and cut. I’ve tried drafting my own and it’s not easy to make it all fit how you want on minimal pages, but I do wish pattern companies would try, or at least make sure pattern pieces fit fully on the page, rather than just overlapping the edges.
Have people seriously not heard of https://sewing.patternreview.com/ ?
Not only should bust, waist, hip levels be marked, but bust apex. So much easier for the chronic fba sufferers.
I think many newer sewists probably haven’t- and I know I tend to search instagram first, because that’s my primary go-to for photos and info on patterns I’m thinking about. But yes, it’s a good place to look, as well as the Foldine, as a few other commenters have mentioned above. Agreed with you re: apex! The more placements the better, as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for reading!
Pattern Review’s culture is offputting to a lot of people too, including me – the sewing pattern reviews may be helpful but it’s not a site I feel comfortable using. I realise that’s not the focus here but I think it’s a mistake not to say it.
I’m grateful when people have reviews on their own blogs and have avoided plenty of pitfalls thanks to those.
Thank you for mentioning it! I didn’t, because I don’t know enough about the situation to speak one way or the other. Is there somewhere you can point me to educate myself?
That’s a vague political comment that has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic. Just the sort of comment PR moderators regularly delete because they do nothing to contribute to the discussion.
I have heard of it (have been following sewing blogs since 2009 or 10) but honestly find the site really cumbersome to navigate so haven’t made a habit of it. I know they’ve been around forever but I do wish they’d update their interface–I recall it was a choice they made not to as a preference for current users. Which I totally respect but it makes it hard to pull in newer people. I also never saw any statements from them around racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement which was a bit disconcerting…perhaps they made more commentary in places I didn’t see.
I suspect that simply their existence is a statement about racial justice since the owner of patternreview.com is a person of colour.
Also recommend Textilia for reviews/database searching! I honestly am usually lazy and just search IG but they are a great resource which is constantly building and very committed to inclusivity and access.
Yes, thank you! I haven’t explored Textilia yet, but follow on IG and as you mention, their commitment to inclusivitiy and access is stellar!
I have a couple of thoughts to add.
1) I think the rectangle pieces could be included on separate pages (that could be printed or not, depending on preference).
Personally, I need the rectangle pattern pieces. I have significant issues with spatial processing, and it makes sewing hard enough as it is. I’ve given up on many projects because I’m “too stupid” to figure out the “simple” rectangle pieces.
It’s very discouraging to read a dismissive statement saying that “there’s no reason to have to cut and tape plain rectangles”, when this is literally a make-or-break for me.
2) If a pattern does not require you to print every single page, then it would be nice if they had test squares throughout the pattern. I’ve had to print an extra page just so I can get the test square. It’s a waste of ink and paper.
Oh no! I’m so sorry to be dismissive. I think that’s a great solution, to have an option to print them or not. I did not mean to imply that people were “too stupid” to figure out rectangle pieces, and I hope you can accept my apology.
I also agree with your point on test squares- thanks for your input!
And a follow up, I’ve edited the post to remove that verbiage because you’re right, that can absolutely be hurtful- thank you for calling me to task.
Thanks so much Gabby! I don’t think you specifically implied that I (or anyone) was “too stupid”. But feeling dismissed is definitely a trigger for me feeling that way. I appreciate you changing the wording. <3
Every time I’ve tried allegedly “no trim” patterns, they haven’t lined up properly and needed to be trimmed, but because they weren’t supposed to need trimming, there was no indication of where to trim them. I think that no trim patterns really need to have more obvious lines to match up the pages so that if your printer doesn’t print to the edge, you can still get them to work.
/gets off soapbox