Do you like PDF patterns? Do you buy your patterns online? Or are you still used to going through catalogs in fabric stores to choose a new pattern?
Maybe you've wanted to buy a downloadable pattern once, but you were not sure what to do next, to get your pattern ready to use.
So you didn't take the plunge.
Personally, I really like PDF patterns. And above all, I don't like the patterns bought in stores, made of tissue paper that will rip just because you looked at it... In addition to the fact that I hate the paper of those big brands pattern, I love the endless options of pattern found online. We have access to so much. No matter what you need.
And if you sew more or less, but you craft (whether it is cardboard, EVA foam or other material), there are also a bunch of patterns suitable for these projects.
✂ Psst! I actually offer all kinds of downloadable patterns in my shop.
So if you wanna know how to work with downloadable patterns, follow me, I'll explain it all to you.
The first step, once you've bought your pattern, is obviously downloading.
From one online store to another, it doesn't always work the exact same way, but you can get your file instantly, pretty much all the time.
There is still a pretty important little trick: make sure you have easy access to your pattern.
It might sound obvious like this, but if you don't know where your computer saves automatic downloads, you may be looking for a long time...
Small tip, if possible, open an account on the store where you bought your pattern.
I know, you already have accounts everywhere, and too many passwords to remember... But the useful thing about having an account on a store that sells PDF patterns (or any digital product in fact) is that you'll have access to your purchases. So, you'll be able to re-download your patterns if you lose it.
If not, at least make sure you keep the purchase confirmation email in a safe place. Mark it as important, make a special file in your mailbox… but don't delete it. Normally, you'll get the download link in that email too.
Important note: I've seen stores that don't allow multiple downloads. That means, once you've uploaded your file, it's over. The shop considers you to have it. And if you lose it, you have to buy it again.
I get the idea: if you buy a McCalls pattern at your local fabric store, and lose it on the bus on the way home, that's not so much the store's problem. It's sad, but it's not their fault...
So, I highly suggest you do a little check up on the shop policy to find out their methods.
✂ Wondering how my shop works?
My patterns can be download an infinite amount of time. If you lose your files, go back to your account they are still there. I lose everything myself. So I understand.
Saving your files
Ok, you have your file in hand. Great. But just before we go any further, I want to give you a small unsolicited advice. File your stuff right on your computer. OK? I know, I just told you that it's possible (most of the time) to re-download your pattern if you lose it, but that doesn't mean you want to go back and download it 25 times.
Create a folder dedicated to your PDF patterns. It will save you time for the future.
Open your files
I hear you say, "I know how to open a file. Double-click. Can we skip to the next step… ”
I agree with you, but there are still a few small details to know:
- If you downloaded a .Zip document, don't forget to extract the files. It's super simple, you usually just right-click on your document and choose the "extract all" option (on a PC).
- To open a document PDF , you need a program that reads them. My suggestion: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. It's free, and you'll have the option to choose which layers you want to print if the options is available (I'll explain later).
The choice of size
Before printing your pattern, you need to choose your size. Why before? Because many pattern brands give you the option of printing just the size you want. You just have to select the layers you want to print.
That's really cool because you won't get mixed up with the different lines of the different sizes.
So choose your size. To do this, you have to rely on the size guide from the pattern shop.
No, you can't say to yourself: "I'm wearing small , I will print the small ". Because we all know that the small of a brand is the medium of the other ... So take the time to check the size guide (normally the information is included with the pattern and instructions) and make sure you print the correct size for you.
* If you're not sure how to measure yourself, go check this out.
✂ Wondering how my pattern are made?
They are separated into layers. So you can clearly see the size that interests you, without being distracted by a lot of other things. And the measurements of the different sizes are listed in the instructions that come with the pattern.
Okay, now we're ready to print.
First, make sure you have the correct format. Depending on where you are in the world, the paper size is not the same. Letter format, or A4 for printing on your home printer. Check the name of your file before continuing.
Then, make sure you are printing "actual size" (or 100%). This is one of the most important things. If not, your pattern will be the wrong size. And, a pattern that is not the right size is not very useful, right?
Most PDF patterns have a small square somewhere that you can measure, once your pattern is printed, to verify that everything is ok.
✂ Wondering how my patterns are presented?
I offer Letter and A4. Plus, on the first page, you will see 2 small squares to verify the measurement (1" or 2cm - depending on your preference of the metric or imperial system).
A little puzzle game
If you've just bought a pattern to make a small stuffed animal, a Viking helmet, or a purse, chances are the pieces will fit pretty well on your letter size or A4 sheets.
On the other hand, if you're about to make yourself a sweater, pants or dress, the pattern pieces are certainly larger than the sheets that go through your printer.
So you will have to do a small (or a big) puzzle:
- Sit in a space big enough to spread everything.
- Don't mix up your pages too much (normally they should be pretty much in order).
- Check how you should put them together (some brands ask you to overlap the sheets, others want you to place the sheets side by side).
- Place the pages correctly and assemble them with tape.
* By the way, it may happens that some line don't aling quite perfectly. Your paper moves in your printer, it's totally normal. As long as it's under a couple of mm, you should be good to continue. Simply retrace the line to make it smooth, and everything will be peachy.
✂ Wondering how my patterns should be prepared?
I prefer to put the pages of a pattern together by simply putting the sheets side by side. I find it faster. Since most printers don't print to the edge, that means you're going to have little gaps along the lines. If you want, you can trace the missing bits… But, don't worry, it's not enough to lose track. I swear.
To help you put together your puzzle, I include a template on the first page of the pattern. This way, you will have a good idea of how to place your sheets.
Checking the pieces
Whether you're on the verge of making a costume with a pattern you downloaded or using a physical pattern, this step is important: Take the time to check your pattern pieces.
Do you have all the pieces? Do you understand the pieces? You can loosely build the model by placing the pattern pieces against each other. This is a good way to make sure you know where you're going, and that you understand the model.
Most brands will list you all the parts included in the model. Take a look at that list and confirm you've got everything. There's nothing worst than realizing halfway through creating a costume that you're missing a piece.
Before you even start cutting anything, take the time to read the procedure. It will allow you to:
- See if you understand everything.
- Make sure you have all the tools you need.
- Confirm that you have all the material
- Check if you want to make changes to the pattern
- Understand each of the pattern pieces (if you weren't 100% sure)
The amount of information, the type of details, and the format vary greatly from pattern to pattern. From one company to another.
There are patterns that come with a lot of detail on how to build your project. Others who assume you can sew and just need to get the general steps.
Sometimes the steps come with photos. Sometimes they come with illustrations. Sometimes it's just text.
Crafting patterns are often simpler, with shorter procedures. We often assume that you already know a little about what you're doing (and that the most important thing is to know which piece goes where).
Anyway, no matter what type of pattern you have, do a check up and make sure you have everything you need. And that you understand everything.
✂ Wondering what my instructions look like?
I like to give you a lot of information. And, I know you're probably very visual. So I make complete steps by step, with photo.
I also like to give you enough information so that you understand patterns in general. And I like giving tips and options.
My goal is for you to become as independent as possible.
Materials and tools
Not all pattern will offer you fabrics options, or tell you exactly what you need. That's kinda why I suggest going through the procedure once before you start.
It's a bit like making a plan for yourself when you start a cosplay project. It's really a good practice to list everything you think you need. There are fewer surprises afterwards.
If the information is not included with the pattern you bought. Make a list. And, keep it with your pattern. That way, it'll be faster if you ever do a project with that same pattern again.
Tests and adjustments
Here you are ready to begin... or almost.
I strongly advise you to test the pattern before cutting everything and sewing your project in your final material. Especially if this is your first time making a pattern of a certain brand.
Sizes and shapes are standardized. It's quite normal that the pattern is not perfectly adjusted to your proportions. And that's why you're making a mock up. It will allow you to test the shapes, measurements and proportions a bit. And adjust the pattern properly.
The same way you might have favorite clothing stores, because they always have fits that look good on you. You're probably going to find pattern brands whose cuts speak to you more. That fits a little better. That you don't have too much alterations to make.
Creating your project
I know, it sounds like a long and arduous process. But, I swear to you, if you take the time to prepare your things well, the creation of your costume will be that much easier.
Take your time. Apply yourself. It's going to be awesome! 😊
Keep your pattern
Because, once you've finished your project, you have to do something with that pattern.
You want to keep it, and you don't want to have to redo all the preparation if you ever want to use it again, right?
Put your pattern away quickly after your project. Because if you let it hang around for a couple of weeks, chances are that you will lose pieces ... We both know that there are gnomes who live in our workshops, and steal the stuff lying around.
Put all the pieces in a large envelope, and clearly write what the pattern is. Even better, if you have it, put a picture too. And, you can even slip in your current measurements (just in case you change a bit).
Personaly, my patterns are in a filing cabinet. I like being able to search by categories. But if not, a box where you can stack all your patterns, would do the job as well. As long as it's easy to check up.
By the way! Don't be afraid to take direct notes on the pattern (the kind of thing that you wouldn't be able to do on a tissue paper pattern...). It will help you remember details you don't want to forget. Write where you adjusted it, how you finished it. Add some annotations. Futur-you will be happy to read those small infos.
Ethics and copyright
Yep, a PDF file is easy to share ... But, remember that there is a lot of work behind a pattern bought online (whether it's mine or those of other creators and companies).
There is a lot of effort put into creating the pattern, testing it, adjusting it, transforming it, re-testing it, grading the different sizes, preparing the file so that you can easily print it at home…
So out of respect for the creator behind the product, please keep your pattern to yourself. It’s not for distribution. It is definitely not made for resale.
Psst ... If you are ordering for someone. And you make a costume that you are going to sell ... It's okay if you use my pattern. My pattern is a tool. Don't sell my tool. But you can sell the fruit of your labor done with the tool that I provided you. 🤓
Finally, if you want to make someone happy, share your creation on social media, tagging the creator of the pattern you used. I guarantee you will put a little sunshine in their day.
Anyway, I can guarantee you that I'll do a dance of joy if you do. 😊
Talk to you soon.
Until then… Keep on crafting!