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Sewing with PDF Patterns, A Beginner’s Guide

PDF pattern organization

Lately I’ve been using a lot of PDF patterns.

Beach bag for shellsOne big reason is the convenience, but as I’ve used them I’ve discovered more advantages than just being able to print them out from my home!

  • Convenience = This was the first reason I started using PDF patterns.  I live over an hour away from the closest store that carries patterns.  And then I also don’t have to chase small children around the store while trying to pick out patterns.
  • Affordable = PDF patterns run around the same price (or cheaper) than traditional patterns.
  • Tested = I’m not sure who tests traditional patterns, but it’s not mom’s with little kids, which is who is producing PDF patterns.  Then those mom’s pass it on to all their sewing cohorts who test it again, give them feedback and perfect it.
  • Durable = I LOVE working with paper over tissue.  Maybe it’s just me, but the traditional tissue patterns always end up with more than one tear in them.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Reusable = Usually the PDF patterns are in good enough shape to reuse again, if I’m making a smaller size or (because kids grow) if I’m making a larger size, I can just print out the pattern again and cut out a larger size.  Try that with the flimsy tissue ones!
  • Smart = The makers of PDF patterns don’t treat me like I’m a liability with warnings like “always use caution when using pins” or “be sure to keep the hot part of the iron away from small children!”
  • Clean = I’ve always hated all the dots, triangles, and extra marking on traditional patterns and skip right over them and the marking part.  Maybe I haven’t started sewing complex enough PDF patterns yet, but please, I can match the top and bottom of matching pattern pieces without three triangles in between to help me!
  • Clear Directions = Usually I have to read the directions on a traditional pattern more than once (okay more than twice!) to get the gist of what they want me to do!  Not so with PDF patterns!  Maybe it’s because of the…
  • Real pictures = Yes, if I can see it, I can do it!  I’ve wondered if the illustrators of traditional patterns are the same as the writers, and if they both speak the same language!
  • Cuteness = I have never found a traditional pattern that has the basic cuteness of a PDF pattern unless it’s one so complicated I know I’ll never make it because it would make my eyes roll back into my head!
  • Customizable = It could be me, but when I make a traditional pattern, I have to follow the directions to a T, not deviating in the least.  But with a PDF pattern, I am easily able to make changes as I go.

I’ve worked with 5 different PDF pattern companies making 7 different PDF patterns.

Josephine Blouse and Dress PatternI started with Violet Field Threads and made the Josephine blouse

wrap pocketsThen I made the Puddle Jumper Rain Coat by peek-a-boo pattern shop

Beach Outfits for Spring BreakNext it was the Beachy Boatneck Tees from Blank Slate Patterns

The Betty SkirtAnd I made The Betty Skirt by The Shaffer Sisters to complete the outfit. 

PDF patternsEarlier in the week I was working with another Blank Slate Pattern, this one from the free selection on Melly Sews.  And today I’m working with one from Heidi & Finn!

 I just have a few tips for sewing on PDF patterns because of all the advantages listed above!

  • Read the instructions all the way through before you start.  Then go back and read the page of tips the PDF pattern maker wrote at the beginning, they really are life saving!
  • If you run into trouble, contact the PDF pattern maker.  They almost always include their contact information at the beginning of the pattern, and really do respond when you ask for help!
  • Look at the versions other people made!  It’s fun, inspiring and helps you if you get stuck.

PDF pattern organization

  • If/when you start accumulating several of these PDF patterns because of their awesomeness, you can organize them like I did.  I 3 hole punched the instruction papers and put them in a 3 ring binder.  Then I slid all the pattern pieces into clear plastic page protectors and put them in the 3 ring binder also.  If/when I get a whole bunch, I’ll add divider tabs and sort them by type.

PDF pattern organization

Well, that’s all my PDF pattern tips for beginning PDF pattern sew-ers!  Now get out there and get sewing!

Make it beautiful,


Published by skirtfixation

Audrey, a mom of 9, sews and blogs at Skirt Fixation, your home for everything skirt related! There's lots of other sewing goodness too...after all can't leave the boys out of sewing adventures! She also designs and sells pattern through Project Run & Play.

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