You’ve just bought a PDF sewing pattern…so what’s next? This step-by-step tutorial walks you through downloading, printing the pattern to the right scale and assembling the pages to connect the pattern lines together.
some things you’ll need
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Really all you need is scissors and tape…but you could also use a paper cutter or trimmer to help speed things up (and save your hand muscles). I do have a paper cutter that I’ve tried to use, but I actually prefer using scissors because I feel like I have more control over how straight my lines end up ( I was also that kid in school who loved the craft projects that involved using scissors 🙂 ).
I recently switched from using tape to a glue stick and love it! There are times when I use a combination of both, but for the most part, gluing the pattern together goes quicker for me and I find that I can fold up my patterns more easily afterwards. You’ll figure out what you like to use and what helps the process go more smoothly! It also gets quicker with time and practice.
- Paper Scissors
- Glue stick – I like these small glue sticks because they fit really well in the pattern borders
- Tape + tape dispenser
- Paper cutter – this is similar to the one that I have or this more compact paper trimmer looks easy to use
- PDF sewing pattern – I’m using the 7th Street Tote pattern for my example
download and save your file
After purchasing your PDF pattern, you will be directed to a download link or receive a link through your email (or sometimes both). Download the pattern files to your computer right away somewhere you can find them. My sewing patterns includes 3 files to download: the instructions, the print from home pattern, and an A0 copy shop pattern.
My pattern downloads don’t expire, but I do have a limit on how many times you can download the file – so take a minute after purchasing and save your files!
The good thing about PDF patterns is that you can print them as many times as you’d like! If you don’t have a home printer, you can also take them to a local copy shop with the files on a flash drive or check your local library to see if they have printing options.
Print your pattern
I recommend downloading Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free PDF reader) if you don’t already have it, to use when printing your pattern. When using Adobe Reader you can pick the layers you want to print, which is really helpful when printing apparel patterns and you can print only the size you need. My bag patterns only have one size so you don’t need to worry about turning off/on any layers.
Open up the tiled pattern file (mine is labeled “Print at Home”) and start by printing page one to test the scale. Make sure that you are printing at “Actual Size” or at 100% scale (see screenshot below).
The boxes on page one of the pattern are to test the scale before continuing to print the rest of the pattern. Take a ruler and measure against the box to make sure that it’s printed at the right size. If it is, then you’re all set to print the rest of the pattern!
Both my Lakeview Tote and 7th Street Tote patterns fit on 3 rows of 6 sheets of paper (so 18 pages total). The beginning and ends of the rows don’t have a triangle, so that’s how you know you’ve reached the end. I always start by assembling the rows first, and then glueing the rows together.
For the first row, you only need to cut off the right edge of each page along the thin border line. As I finish trimming off the edges I lay them out in order (or you could stack them in a pile). When you reach the last page of the row it won’t have a triangle on it and you can skip trimming off the right edge.
On the second row, you will need to cut off the right edge and the top edge along the thin border line.
(Alternatively, on the first row you can cut off the right and bottom edges and then on the second row do the same. I just like only having one edge to cut on the first row)
Continue in this way until all the pages have been trimmed!
Tape / glue together
I used only tape for a long time when assembling patterns and while it works great, I’ve recently switched to using a glue stick instead! You have to work a little faster so the glue doesn’t dry up before it’s bonded, but I like connecting the pages in one go instead of using several pieces of tape. I also find that the pattern folds up easier when it comes time to store it.
However, there’s a little more control when using tape and less rushing against glue drying time. Sometimes if the pattern border is narrow, or I’m taping really long rows together, I prefer using tape so I can take my time and lines things up. Use which method you prefer or use a combo of both!
Tape or use a glue stick to assemble the pages together from left to right matching the triangles. The thin border lines do not overlap but line right up to each other. Connect the pages together to make rows (there will be 3 rows total) then assemble the rows together.
You could also connect each page one by one instead of assembling row by row – it’s your preference!
Any pattern that has 6 pages in a row or longer I find hard to glue together quickly enough before the glue dries, so I chose to tape the rows together in this example. Tape liberally! I always add tape at the page intersections, and at each section on the pattern where the pattern lines connect…and then in between to keep the pattern from gaping.
Cut out the pattern
Once all the pages are assembled, cut along the darker pattern lines until all pieces are cut out. I like to quickly cut around each piece with about an inch of space around so I’m not dealing with a giant piece of paper.
After all your pattern pieces are cut out, then you can cut it out from your chosen fabric! I like to lay my cut pieces on top of the corresponding paper pieces to keep things organized. I’m using a cheerful yellow waxed canvas to make my 7th Street Tote and a fun floral quilting cotton for the lining (you can see photos of the finished bag here.)
I hope this PDF pattern assembly tutorial was helpful! Let me know of any questions or any other tips that you’ve learned to make the pattern assembly process smoother. 🙂
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!