PDF Pattern Assembly – 2 Ways!

So you’ve decided to purchase a PDF pattern. Or perhaps you’re considering it, but don’t know what they entail. Read more about our PDF patterns below, and follow along to assemble your patterns at home!

PDF patterns have many benefits – the largest being that you can print them off multiple times. This means you don’t need to worry about preserving all the sizes for future use. You can cut where you please with impunity! Many of our PDF patterns also have the benefit of Adobe Layers, meaning you can choose to print only some sizes which is easier to read (more on this below).

Our PDF patterns come in two file sizes. The first is designed to be printed on a home printer using standard Letter- or A4-size paper. These smaller sheets will need to be trimmed and taped together in a grid before the patterns can be cut out, and this is what we’ll go over in this post. Since these versions do require the effort of assembly, we’ve broken some of our larger patterns (such as our Solo Dress pattern) into multiple documents so you don’t need to assemble all the various style options if you don’t plan to use them.

The other file is an A0 size (roughly 33 x 47 inches) that you can have printed at a local or online-copyshop. These large sheets are similar to what you would receive in a physical printed pattern, but with the benefits we’ve already discussed (such as being able to print multiple times, and use the Layers function). While this option may be more costly than printing at home, it saves time in assembly and may be cheaper than shipping our printed pattern overseas. Since these don’t require assembly, we’ll be focusing on the Letter/A4 size for the remainder of this post.

A PDF pattern from our Solo Dress pattern, showing the 22 Letter/A4 pages and how to align them.

We recommend Adobe Acrobat Reader for our patterns as you will have the benefit of the Layers function which is an Adobe-only feature. However, you should be able to print from any PDF reading program.

When opening the files in Adobe Reader, click the Layers button on the far right panel to see the size options. From here you can un-check any sizes you do not need. Be sure to keep the Guides and Markings, or you will be missing a lot of information! The photos below show the document with all layers selected, and then only 2 layers selected. This is a useful feature because it cuts down useless visuals. The user here knows they are a mix of size 6 & 8, so they don’t expect to need sizes 0, 2, 4, 10, or 12 for this project.

When you’re ready to print, be sure to fix your settings to either “Actual Size” or Scale to 100%”. To confirm that your printer is scaling correctly, you can check that the rectangle around the edge of your pages is 7.75 x 10 inches (197 x 254 mm).

This is the most common method for assembling PDF patterns.

1. Start by reviewing the layout guide found on the first page of the document. This shows how the pages are to be arranged. Now the edges need to be trimmed where two pages meet, but they only need to be trimmed from one page – not both. Here we will trim the right sides and bottoms, as indicated by the red and blue lines in the photo. Notice that pages on the far right (3, 6, and 9) do not need their right side trimmed since there is no page to meet there. Likewise, pages 7-9 do not need the bottom trimmed as there is nothing underneath them.

2. Trim away the right side and/or bottom from pages as indicated by the red and blue lines.

3. Overlap pages 1-2. The small circular registration mark can aid in alignment. It also will indicate if you’re trying to join the wrong pages, as it is in a different location on each page.

4. Add the remainder of the pages in the first row in the same manor. Repeat this with each row.

5. Join rows in the same manor, overlapping with the trimmed bottom edge.

See the finished sheet below. The patterns are now ready to be cut out!

[Note that we did trim the right edge of page 9 in the bottom right corner by accident. It didn’t hurt anything, but it also gained us nothing.]

This method’s speed may feel like you’re cheating, but its window requirements may not work for everyone.

Method 2 requires a window. Preferably a large window. You can still do this with a standard house or apartment sized window but it will be trickier for patterns with many pages across. You could also probably use a lightboard if you had one.

This time, we skip trimming and rely on the transparency of the paper against the daylight outside to align our paper. We like to start by attaching page 1 to the left side of the window with a tiny piece of tape but this is not strictly required. Then we simply line up our pages and tape them together like we did in Method #1. There will be some trimming required later, so we recommend using less tape now and adding more as needed after the trimming.

Once the pages are assembled, return them to your workspace. You will see that some lines may be hidden by the overlapping margins of the paper. You will have to do some trimming in this method, but it is easy to see where it’s needed and where it’s not. You may even skip trimming altogether and just re-draw the pattern lines over the margins with a straight or curved ruler.

Overall we think Method #2 is slightly faster, but may be awkward if your windows are quite small. However, both methods should yield you beautiful results!

Now go forth and happy sewing!

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