How To Use PDF Patterns

Downloadable PDF (digitized) sewing patterns have been around for a few years.  And, Folkwear is now starting to produce some of our own digital patterns.  We have plans to digitize some of our out of print patterns as well as some patterns that are smaller (such as children's clothing patterns, accessory patterns, etc.).  

PDF patterns have the benefits of often being cheaper than paper patterns, they don't require shipping (no shipping cost), and there is the instant gratification of being able to start working on your sewing project minutes after purchasing. However, digital patterns take a little bit more work up front to prepare.

Getting Started

When you buy a PDF pattern from us, you will receive a downloadable zip file at check out as well as in your email once the purchase is complete.  This zip file will contain everything for the sewing pattern, including a print-at-home version, a print shop version (or two), and sewing instructions.  You will need Adobe Reader to be able to open the files.  Most computers come with this program, but you can also download it

When you get the link to the file, you can download it to your computer.  We don't suggest downloading to a tablet or phone because these files are often too large for these devices and can be tricky to use from them.  I usually download the zip file to a folder I have specifically for sewing patterns on my computer.  

You can then open the zip file and see what documents are there.

Printing at Home

To print your PDF pattern at home, you will open the file that says "tiled" or "print at home".  This document contains the tiled version of the pattern - which means it is like a large pattern tissue that has been cut up into rectangles (tiles) that can be printed from your computer and stuck back together to create the large "tissue".  

Some of our print-at-home versions will have the patterns separated in the document so that certain parts of the pattern can be printed on their own.  For example, 109 Little Folks has each of the garment patterns separated into their own set of tiles in this document so that you can print the papers needed for each individual pattern (rather than for all 9 garments at once).  You would just click on the garment you wanted in the margin of the document and print only those pages.

Usually, the first page or two of these documents contain the layouts or pattern information, as well as a measurement scale.

It is very important when printing at home to choose "Actual Size" or "100%" when printing so that the pattern prints in the correct size.  If your computer uses the setting "Scale to Fit", the pattern will not come out in the correct size.  You may need to go to Print Properties to make sure your settings are correct.  

While in Print Properties, I usually set my printer to print as a draft since I don't need high quality printing and it will save ink (and therefore money).  

You can also choose the page numbers you want printed to save paper, printing only the pages that have the pattern pieces you want on them.

Print the first page of your pattern before printing any other pages, just so you can measure the test square to make sure you are printing in the correct scale.  

The first page(s) will also show how the tiles (or paper) should be put together.

Assembling the Pattern

Most pages of the pattern will need to be trimmed so that the edges will easily and accurately line up.  Trim off the left and top margin of each page as you go.  If you like, you don't need to trim the top margin of the top row nor the left margin of the first page on each row since they don't overlap with any other pages.

I trim as I assemble, going row by row.  The pages are numbered and have triangles that will align when placed together.  The first page or pages of the pattern will also show how the pages, or tiles, should line up.  Line up the pages on a flat surface next to each other as straight and flat as possible, trimming and taping as you go.  

I use clear tape, but medical tape also works well.  Tape on cut lines that go across page edges and where the four page corners meet.  Otherwise, place small pieces of tape every few inches or so. 

I have sometimes used glue sticks to assemble pdf patterns, but you may need to wait for glue to dry before using the pattern (or, as in my case, you may find that the glue doesn't stick as well as tape).

Once your pattern is assembled, you can cut it out like you would for a paper pattern.  Or, trace the size you need and cut from the tracing paper.  

Printing at a Print or Copy Shop

Printing at a print or copy shop means that you don't have to print out and tape together all those rectangles.  If a pattern is very large and I don't want spend the time taping it together, I will often send it to a print shop since it saves a lot of hassle and time for me. We include two files in the zip folder for printing on large scale printers.  One is for 36" wide paper and the other is for A0 sized paper (metric units).

You can often email a print shop the file and ask for a quote. Or, you can download the print shop version to a jump drive and take it into a print shop.   I can get our local print shop to print patterns for me for $4 to $9 a pattern, depending on the size. Ask for the print shop to print black and white on their cheapest paper, and scale to 100%.  I've heard that big box print shops often charge a lot more (up to $25), so get a quote before having them print.  

When picking up your print, measure the test square to make sure the print was scaled correctly.

That's it!  Not too hard.  When I am finished with my PDF pattern, I store the paper paper, folded up and labeled, in a box or rolled up a stored in a corner basket in my office.  Some people store them on hangers or in physical files.  

Pattern Instructions

Sewing pattern instructions can be left on your computer and referred to as you sew (that's what I do), or they can be printed in part or in full and used while you are sewing.  Folkwear patterns also often come with instructions for handwork like embroidery, crochet, cord-making, etc.  Those instructions are usually found in their own document in the pattern zip file and can also be referred to on your computer, or printed.   

I hope this helps you use and enjoy your Folkwear PDF sewing patterns!