Learn all about printing PDF sewing patterns at home using you home printer, so you can make DIY clothes for yourself!

PDF Sewing Patterns: How Do They Work?

July 25, 2018Eve Tokens

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Sewing patterns are available now in two formats: paper or PDF sewing patterns. For many though, PDF sewing patterns are a new thing, and that can sometimes be a little overwhelming for people new to PDF sewing patterns.

This step by step tutorial will demystify everything about PDF sewing patterns and you’ll feel super confident at printing them at home!

In part two of this tutorial, I’ll show you on video how to put the PDF sewing pattern pages together.

Printing PDF sewing patterns

What Are PDF Sewing Patterns?

PDF sewing patterns are digital files. When you buy a PDF sewing pattern, the company you bought it from will usually send you an email with a link inside.

When you click the link, it will open a page in your web browser and in this web browser window you will either see more links based on the pattern options, or it will download immediately to you computer’s hard drive.

Select to download all, or, you can manually click links based on your needs.

What’s Included In A PDF Sewing Pattern File?

Usually, a company will include:

• A sewing pattern in A4 or US Letter size

• A sewing instructions booklet

Sometimes, they may also provide you with:

• An A0 size file which can be printed at a copy shop or online and sent to you

• A permission slip allowing the pattern to be printed at a copy shop

Not all companies that sell PDF sewing patterns will provide it in A0 format though.

How Do I Print A PDF Sewing Pattern At Home?

To print a PDF sewing pattern at home, you’ll need a printer, some black ink as a minimum, A4 or US letter sized paper and tape or a glue stick. I only use a glue stick, because I like to make the pages are properly stuck together!

Opening The Sewing Pattern File

To open the sewing pattern file, you need to double click the PDF file on your computer.

As an example, let’s use my fanny pack sewing pattern. That is named Clio and the file name for the PDF pattern looks like this:


This is what it looks like on my computer…

PDF sewing patterns file names

When I double click on the file CLIO-SEWING-PATTERN.pdf it will open in a PDF reader. I have a mac computer, so it opens in Preview. Yours may open in Adobe Acrobat Reader or another PDF reading application.

Printing The Scale guide

Every PDF sewing pattern designer worth their salt will provide a page that has a scale guide on it. The reason for this is simple; if you print your pattern at the wrong scale, you will end up with a pattern (and garment) that is either bigger or smaller than you intended it to be.

For this reason, it is really important that you first print off the page that is the scale guide.

Here’s what the scale guide looks like on my sewing patterns…

Scale guide used when printing PDF sewing patterns - The Creative Curator

It is usually the first page in the PDF, and so you want to start by printing just this one page. Here are some screenshots of how I would do this using Preview on my computer. This will work the same for every printer, and every PDF file reader!

1. Opening The File

Go to the top of your browser window and click ‘File’ and then scroll down to ‘Print’. You can also use the computer keyboard shortcut cmd+P (mac) or ctrl+P (windows).

Printing PDF sewing patterns

2. The Print Setting Box

A ‘dialogue box’ will open that looks like this…

Printing PDF sewing patterns

3. Selecting The Printer

First, make sure you have the correct printer selected. I have three printers ‘installed’ on my laptop computer, so I need to make sure the printer at my place is the one selected. And then I need to make sure it is switched on, so that the ‘this printer is offline‘ warning disappears.

Printing PDF sewing patterns

4. Copies And Page Amounts

Next, keep the number of copies at ‘1’ but change the pages option from ‘all’ to ‘from 1 to 1’ option. You’ll see on the left of the image that there is only one page to be printed now, whereas the image above, there are ten pages!

Printing PDF sewing patterns

5. Select The Correct Paper Size

I use A4 here in the UK. It does come up automagically for me and should for you too, but you may need to change it to your region if it doesn’t.

Printing PDF sewing patterns

6. Scale.

This is the MOST important part when printing your PDF sewing patterns. You can see from the image in steps 2, 3 and 4 that the file is set to print as ‘scale to fit’. This means that my printer will scale the document to fit on the page. This could mean scaling it up or scaling it down, but in the photo below you can see that it works out to be 107%. Not cool!

Printing PDF sewing patterns

Now, we want every single one of our PDF sewing patterns to print at 100% – nothing bigger, nothing smaller. So, to change this I need to click the ‘scale’ button and then change the 107% back to 100%. And – you will have to check this every single time you got o print a PDF sewing pattern!

Printing PDF sewing patterns

If you compare the screenshot above with the screenshot in step 5, you’ll notice that the preview image on the left of each screenshot is different. The one just above has more space around the rectangle of the pattern, while the one in step 6 has the rectangle sitting closer to the edge of the paper.

7. Testing The Print

Now hit print, and then when the page comes out, measure the scale box with a ruler.

Don’t use a tape measure as they can stretch over time and give an inaccurate reading, while a plastic or metal ruler will always stay the same size.

Cross check that what the dimensions the pattern designer has added to the scale guide match what your ruler shows. My scale guides are all 10cm x 10cm which is equal to 4 inches by 4 inches, and you can see that printing it at 100% using Preview on my Mac has worked perfectly.

Printing PDF sewing patterns

8. Printing The Pattern

Your final task is to print the whole pattern, not just the scale guide page. To do this, you will need to start from Step 1 again, but this time when you get to step 4 you’ll want to make sure that ‘all pages’ is checked this time.

If you don’t need to print the scale guide page again – some designers purposefully don’t include any pattern pieces on this page for that reason – you could select ‘Pages –> From 1 to 1’ but then change the page numbers.

For my fanny pack sewing pattern, I can change it from 2 to 10…

Printing PDF sewing patterns

And you can see in the image above that by doing this, the preview image changed from the scale image to the second page of the document which is part of the PDF sewing pattern.

How Do I Put Printed PDF Sewing Patterns Together?

Now that you have all your pages printed, you’ll need to stick them together, and I’m going to show you that in the second part of this tutorial. Check back soon for the video tutorial!

Other Things To read

While your waiting for my video post on putting PDF sewing patterns together, why not check out these related posts?

Five Easy Sewing Patterns For Beginners

Learn Sewing: A History and Basic Stitches

Sewing Seams

Sewing Zippers

Benefits of Sewing


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