Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: Putting the Pattern Together

It’s time for another installment of my Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns!  Sorry this on is so late.  My little ones decided they needed their momma the last few weeks, so blogging was put on hold.  But I’m super excited to share some more great tips with you today, so let’s get on with it!  Be sure to see Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 if you haven’t already checked them out!

Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!


Tape, tape, and more tape.  This is the part some people hate.  I actually don’t mind it.  It gives me something to do while my husband is watching some boring action movie.  He always insists I watch whatever movie he’s picked out so we are bonding.  I’d rather be sewing than watching an action flick, so since this gets be closer to actually sewing and I can do it in the living room on the floor, it’s a win win.

This tip maybe a little more geared to those that have never worked with pdf patterns before.  When I tell people what I do for a living, they often give me a blank stare if they’ve never heard of pdf sewing patterns before.  They just can’t for the life of them figure out how you can get an entire pattern piece off of a small sheet of printer paper.  Well, folks, this post is for you.

First thing you need to do is print your pattern.  Make sure you follow the tips from our previous post.  And don’t forget to measure your print square!  Got it?  Good.  Now gather your tools:Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

I really recommend a paper trimmer if you don’t already have one.  I really like this one  because its cheap and gets the job done.  You can buy it through that affiliate link and throw a few pennies my way for the recommendation, or just pick one up at your favorite craft store with a coupon.  It’s easy to use, and I also have little chance of slicing my finger off which is a plus.  You also can use scissors, but I find that takes twice as long.

Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

So the first thing I do is cut the edges off on the right and bottom sides.  Now you don’t have to do this on all patterns as some are no trim.  Granted, you will still have small unprinted edges on no trim because a lot of printers won’t print regular paper borderless, so I always end up trimming anyway.  Plus I’m a creature of habit.  Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

Once you have all your pages trimmed, you’ll have a pile like the one above.  Now its time to get taping!  Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

All pdf sewing patterns should have a printing guide.  They very by pattern designer, but they will look similar to above.  Basically, you match up the lines to mae sure you tape them together properly, and then tape.  Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

I tend not to tape the entire paper, and just tape on the areas of the corresponding pattern piece.  This piece looks funny because I needed to blend two sizes together, so I printed two sizes instead of just one.
Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

Tadah!  You’ve got the whole pattern together!  Now you just need to cut!   Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Tape together a PDF Pattern - Great tips!

You can now cut or trace just like you normally would with any other sewing pattern.  Easy peasy.  And my favorite part about PDF patterns is the instant gratification.  You can purchase, print, and sew all without leaving your house (or waiting on shipping).  


Sharing the Designer Love: Seaside Notions

Some sewist may or may not not know this, but the PDF Designer world is very close knit.  I have never before worked in an industry where people were so friendly and helpful with their competitors.  It’s totally awesome to get to be real friends with other people that share your passion of fashion design.  Because of that, I wanna share a little love with my bestie in the PDF world, Nicola of Seaside Notions.

When Nicola asked me to test her new Point Mugu Maxi Skirt pattern, I was stoked!  I love her brand, and it was an honor to get to test together.  When I found out she was putting together a blog tour, I quickly signed up.  I love this pattern, and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my readers.  Plus it gives me the perfect excuse to show off cute photos of my oldest princess sporting her new skirt.  So without further ado, I’d like to present to you the Point Mugu Maxi Skirt:

Isabella-Tester-005 Isabella-Tester-011 Isabella-Tester-013The skirt features an elastic waist band and four tiers with lots of ruffles.  It sews together so easy and fast.  The fit was spot on, and my daughter absolutely loves it.  She always says how pretty she feels when she wears it which melts this momma’s heart!

Isabella-Tester-015 Isabella-Tester-026 Isabella-Tester-031There were several things I loved about this pattern.  First off, let me go a little geeky for a second.  Seaside Notion’s branding is beautiful!  I love when I open up a pattern and it’s pretty.  It makes it a joy to read.  The other thing I love is the fact that the pattern not only has layered pattern pieces, but also a measurement chart.  It’s like the best of both worlds.  Plus it has a very large size range of 12M to 14 which means it will last me a long time.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of this pattern, now is a perfect time.  You can get it for 20% off using coupon code blogtour.  Seaside Notions is also giving one lucky person a copy for free!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s your favorite thing about this pattern?  Let me know in the comments!  

Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: Printing Your Pattern

It’s time for another installment in the Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns series.  On Day 1 we learned how to organize your files and on Day 2 I showed you how to use the layers feature to print just the size you need. Today we are going to learn what is probably the most important part, how to print.  Now I know what you’re thinking.  File>Print.  How hard can that be?  Well, it’s just a bit more complicated than that.  And doing it wrong can have a big effect on how your garment sews out.

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Print a PDF Pattern Properly - This really helped me!

Print settings matter, y’all.  They are super important and make the difference between your favorite new handmade outfit and a garment that doesn’t fit.  And if it doesn’t fit, it more than likely will be too small.  Before we talk about how to print properly, let’s talk a little more about why it affects the fit so much.

I often hear in sewing groups that the print square is “only off by 1/4 of an inch.”  On first thought, that doesn’t seem by much.  You could just add the amount missing to the end and you’d be golden, right?  Right?  Let’s look below to see why that isn’t the case.

This is a print square.  Every quality PDF Sewing Pattern should have one.  If they don’t you will have no idea whether the pattern is printed properly or not.  Some patterns have a 1″ square.  I prefer a larger square because if there is a print issue, it will show up better on a larger square.  But it’s just personal preference.  All the Bella Sunshine Design Patterns have a 2.5″ and a 4 cm square like what’s shown above.
Now let’s say that print square is off by 1/4″.  A seemingly small amount like that can have a huge impact.  Here’s why:

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Print a PDF Pattern Properly - This really helped me!

Because that 2.5″ print square represents a scale, your pattern with be 1/4″ off every 2.5 inches.  That small amount can become a huge amount when you are talking about a pattern piece.  Especial when its cut on the fold and only represents a forth of the circumference of the body.  A pattern piece that’s 1 inch too short can be 4 inches too small.

OK, so the print square is important.  Got it.  What if the pattern you bought doesn’t have a print square?  Proceed with caution.  Every high quality pdf sewing pattern will have a print square.  If yours doesn’t, the first thing you can do is measure your pattern piece and do a little math to see if it will fit you/your child.  Your second option is to sew a muslin to see if it will fit.  Or lastly, you could go with a designer that you know and trust.  There are tons of amazingly talented designers out there, but a few bad apples can spoil the bunch.  Enough said.

So how do we make sure that the print square prints correctly? Last blog post we discussed that you should be using Adobe Reader to print all pdf patterns.  This will ensure that the pdf is printed the proper size.  The next thing you need to check are your print settings.  Most pdf sewing patterns will have print instructions located in the pattern.  If they don’t a quick scroll through the pattern will let you know what pages you need to print.  I suggest saving a few trees and only printing the pattern pieces.  The instructions can be used digitally (more on that in another post).

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to Print a PDF Pattern Properly - This really helped me!

The biggest thing you want to check besides the page numbers to print is the scale.  A lot of times “Fit to Page” will be selected.  This means that the printer will adjust the size of the pdf to print on whatever page size you have selected.  Great for easily increasing or decreasing images on a page, not so great when you want a proper fit. Instead, we want to make sure “Actual Size” or “Custom Scale: 100%” is selected.

Want to save some paper? Two tips. Print only the page with the test square first. That way in case for some reason the print square is off, you know it before you print all the pages and waste all that paper and ink.  Second tip… if you are printing a smaller size, scroll through the pdf to see what pages the size you need is actually on.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve printed the entire range only to find several pages with page numbers but no pattern piece.

So in case you just skimmed everything above, here’s your cheat sheet to making sure that you print properly:

  1. Always use Adobe Reader to print.
  2. Always make sure that “Actual Size” or Custom Scale: 100%” is selected.
  3. Always measure the test square before bothering to cut the pattern out.

If you follow these three things, you will bypass a majority of issues with printing pdf patterns.  Have any funky issues you’ve dealt with that have caused problems for you?  Tell me about them in the comments.  And be sure to check back next week for help on taping your pattern together.

Tip & Tricks 4 PDF Sewing Patterns: Using the Layers Feature

You’re back! Did you enjoy our first installment of Tips & Tricks for PDF Patterns that debuted last week? If you missed it, be sure to catch up. Today I want to discuss something that not every PDF pattern has, but is a new feature that a lot of designers are moving towards. In fact, every single Bella Sunshine Designs pdf sewing pattern has this feature. It’s layers! I promise you, once you use your first layered pattern, you will hate using any pattern that doesn’t have them. Which brings us to our next installment in the series…

Using the Layers Feature to Select Your Size

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to use the layers feature in PDF Patterns. So cool!


Ahhh… layers. How did we ever get along with PDF sewing patterns without them? Honestly, they are my favorite feature of sewing patterns which is why every pattern that I release has them. To use them, you need two things: a pattern that includes the feature (not all patterns are created equal… ha ha), and Adobe Reader which you can download for free here. Go ahead and download it now if you don’t already have it.

Got Adobe Reader? Good. Open your PDF pattern.

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to use the layers feature in PDF Patterns. So cool! Simple right? Now we are going to access the layers option. Click on the little icon that looks like two sheets on top of each other. This gives you access to the layers.

Next there will be an option with a triangle next to it. It will be named according to what the designer specified when they named the pattern pieces when they saved it. The name isn’t important. Click on it to access the goodness that lies below.
Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to use the layers feature in PDF Patterns. So cool!Here is the moment you’ve been waiting for: the layers! Again, these will be names differently depending on the designer. Generally, there will be several different sizes listed, as well as some layers that must be left checked.

Tips & Tricks for PDF Sewing Patterns: How to use the layers feature in PDF Patterns. So cool!

Toggle the layers on and off by clicking the “eyeball” to the left of the layer name. You can play around with the layers to determine what layers need to be checked if your pattern printing instructions don’t already tell you. I think my favorite thing about layers is you don’t get confused when cutting by having the other sizes there to distract you. But the most awesome part is that you get the benefit of nested sizes because say if you need the width of the size 5 and the length of the size 10, you can easily adjust the pattern after printing all on the same page. Easy peasy. And now your life will never be the same.

Many people have asked who does layered pattern pieces.  Here is a short list of those that have layered patterns at the time of this writing.  While this is no way all designers that may have this feature, it’s a good place to get you started:

ALL clothing patterns have layers:

Most recent patterns have layers (ask the designer directly for more details):

Have you enjoyed this series so far?  Let me know your favorite tip so far in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post?  Be sure to check out on any posts you missed:

Day 1: Organizing Your PDF Sewing Patterns
Day 2: Using the Layers Feature
Day 3: Printing your PDF Sewing Pattern