Little T’s Haberdashery | Happy Sewing!

PDF Sewing patterns – 3 Tips to save your sanity!

Since discovering them about 6 months ago, I’ve become a big fan of PDF sewing patterns. I’m all about instant gratification, you can find, purchase, print, assemble and cut a pattern at any time of the day (or night), wherever you like!

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to dressmaking but I wanted to share some fab tips I’ve picked up along the way that make using PDF patterns a whole lot simpler.

  1. Check the Measurements.

All PDF sewing patterns will include a sizing chart, depending on the item you’re sewing there might be waist, hips, bust or height measurements (or others).  Don’t automatically assume that the size you wear in shop bought clothing (also known as ‘RTW’ Ready to Wear) will be the size you need in the pattern. Get your tape measure out and check! Need a new tape measure? You can buy one here

2. Printing.  

Pretty much the most important thing about printing a PDF sewing pattern is setting the print scale properly. Many at-home printers will try to scale a document to best fit a paper size. You don’t want to do this with a PDF pattern because it would make the pattern pieces the wrong size (and therefore your finished garment). Make sure you set the print scale at 100%, do not check “Scale to Fit” (or similar).

Check the test square! All PDF patterns 20160506_091517-01will include a 1cm/ 1inch square on one of the pattern pieces. Measuring this will allow you to be certain that your pattern has printed to the correct size.  A great tip is to find the one page which includes the test square, and to print just this, before printing the entire pattern (and potentially wasting a lot of ink and paper if it isn’t correct).

3. Assembly

My favourite way to assemble a PDF sewing pattern is to use my patio doors! I 20160506_091642-01literally stick them to the window. The windows act like a lightbox and make it much easier to line up the pattern lines and markers on the pieces.   Make sure you line all the pieces up, so that the edges are straight and they’re laying flat.  I like to use masking tape or clear cellotape to join the pieces together.  This way you can still see the pattern lines underneath and it allows for more accurate cutting out of the pattern.  An alternative method is to attach the pieces together using glue, it gives a very neat result but you do have to wait for the glue to dry before cutting out the pattern (and I’m far too impatient for this!).


Once all your pages are joined together, you can treat the pattern as you would any traditional tissue pattern. You can either cut out the pattern pieces with scissors, or you can trace your size off so that if you need a different size you don’t have to print and reassemble the pattern (I’ve found that lots of Work at Home Mums take this option, because of the frequency and amount of patterns they use, it saves them a fortune in printer paper and ink).


Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Leave a comment / drop me an email, I’d love to hear them!


Happy Sewing




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