26. Dear Gabby: PDF Patterns: Community Follow Up!

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.

Biggest hates:

  • 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…

Gabby is pictured frowning,  holding a roll of tape, with the title 'number one hate: TAPE'
We asked, and you answered. The most hated part about pdf print-at-home patterns? Tape.

On tiling:

  • 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.


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