What’s a PDF pattern and what do I do with it?


I have always been crafty and have sewn things, but I usually just winged it. I tried buying traditional patterns once and was completely at a loss of how to use it and never made anything. Then pinterest came around and the birth of my first daughter, and I became more interested in sewing. Through pinterest, I was introduced to the world of PDF patterns and the rest is history.

What is a PDF pattern? Well PDF is Portable Document Format, so a PDF pattern is basically a pattern that is downloaded and saved to your computer. This for me is great because I would never be able to keep the old tissue paper patterns in nice condition to use over and over again. Since I am working on a wardrobe for my son who starts preschool this fall and I thought I would show you a little bit about how it all works.

Etsy.com is about the easiest place to start. I mean, a simple search of pdf sewing patterns gave me 86,210 results! There are patterns for everything! Clothes, toys, car seat covers, underwear… Yes, underwear even. I also like that purchases through etsy are stored in your account and make it easy to find. Now the hard part… picking a pattern(s). I’ll warn you, they are addicting.

Like the new watermark?! I think I’m starting to get this whole blogging thing!

So I have chosen a few patterns from my collection that I plan to sew up for Bud’s new adventure, preschool! Almost everything is from Peek-a-Boo pattern shop and a couple were even free! The next step is almost as important as picking the right pattern. Printing.


I have always printed my patterns at home, but it can get quite expensive. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a brand new HP laser printer at goodwill for next to nothing. It was literally unopened with the sample cartridge still inside. This printer sells for $160 at most stores. A laser printer isn’t necessary, but if you get sucked into the addiction that is pdf sewing patterns like I have, then it kind of is. It will certainly pay for itself with the money you will save by not having to buy ink for the inkjet printers.


As I said above, printing a pattern properly is extremely important. Any good pattern will come with a test square or measurement of some sort so that you are able to check if the pattern was printed to scale. Some may think that being a 1/16th of an inch off is no big deal, but when your test square is one inch, that means that you pattern is going to be off 1/16th of an inch for every inch of the pattern. Even little Bitty has a chest measurement about 20″, so that is huge difference if not printed correctly.


Clearly not the best angle, but always check you test square. Once you have done so, it’s time to prep you pattern. There are patterns that don’t have to be trimmed and can just be overlapped, but many need to be trimmed before you assemble the pages. Time to assemble your tools.




The paper cutter isn’t necessary, but a huge time save and this one in particular is great for getting perfectly straight lines. As you can see, there is a tiny guide wire that makes it easy to line it up with the cut lines on the edge of the page. Another time saver that I use is only trimming 2 sides of each page. I typically trim the bottom and the left edge. This allows for me to overlap onto the untrimmed edge and then tape the pattern together.



I promise I wasn’t drinking and taping. Honestly, I’m pregnant! I used invisible present wrapping tape and that stuff is so flimsy and sticky! I typically buy just plain ol’ scotch tape, but couldn’t find mine… didn’t seem to have any on hand, so I used what I had. It isn’t pretty, but it works. Once you have all the pattern pieces assemble according the the designers instructions, it’s time to cut out the pieces.


I know this all seems like a long process, but it really doesn’t take all that long, and again the advantage of PDF patterns that if something happens to the pattern that you have printed and ready to go, you can reprint and you aren’t out the pattern!


I save paper and ink by only printing that pattern pieces and then looking at the instructions on the computer, or phone, or kindle. Whatever I have in reach. Another advantage of PDF patterns, their portability. As you may recall, PDF stands for Portable Document Format.

Then it’s time to sew!


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