Printing patterns in PDF (Portable Document Format) is seen by many as something of a PITA (Pain in the Ass)!  I quite enjoy it; it’s like putting together a not-too-taxing floor puzzle.  Both Burda and Colette suggest using sticky tape in their guides on “how to put together PDF patterns” but a glue stick is pretty darn quicker since you cut (or fold back) half the margins.  Let me demonstrate.

1 cut marginTake two sheets that fit together, left to right.  Cut off the right side margin of the sheet on left.  1 trim right hand side margin, cover left hand side margin liberally with glue

Rub a streak of glue on the margin of the corresponding sheet.

1 stick

Stick the trimmed sheet to sticky margin.

If you’re unhappy with the placement, you have a few seconds before the glue dries to remove the sheet and re-apply.

Once you have completed a row, trim off the bottom margin of the entire row and stick to the top margin of the row below.

Work systematically, completing the assembly row by row as you would with tape.  Be  consistent, always cutting for example the right-hand-side margins and the bottom ones.  This Colette Aster, Version, 1 took me under 20 minutes to assemble.  As you can see, there’s a page missing.  By using Print Preview, I realised one of the pages didn’t have any part of the pattern on it so it didn’t get printed.  This may not have saved time, just paper!1 aster pdf in under 20 minsAnother advantage of using a glue stick is that you don’t get the gaps in between strips of tape.  Oh yeah, and you can run an iron over without melting anything!

Do you use the glue method or do you prefer Sellotape or Scotch Tape?  If so, why?

18 thoughts on “PDQ PDF

  1. I tend to use glue stick after trimming off one side and the bottom of each sheet. I trim off with a paper cutter (exacto knife?) and a ruler on a cutting board. Tried a guillotine but it’s not precise enough.
    One thing I started doing a while back is to lay them out and then stick them together in groups – not with someone like Named, natch – but usually one can isolate each pattern piece and I find it way easier to align blocks precisely. Or as precisely as possible. At some point or other, every pdf pattern has something that doesn’t quite match up!

    • Thanks for your tips. I have a craft knife (where you snip off sections of the blade as they blunt) so could try it that way too.

      I’ve not tried Named patterns: another new company to look
      out for.

  2. Ooh, good idea – I’m always getting in a tangle using sellotape. If I overcome my current aversion to PDF clothing patterns, I will definitely give this a try.

    • Oh Lynn, they do have their advantages, the PDFs! The biggest being that I can put them in the recycling if I know I won’t need them for a while. No nearly new patterns staring at me from the stash, making me wonder when I’ll get round to selling them on Ebay!

  3. Very useful, especially cutting off the overhang on a whole section at a time. I use tape but glue looks better. And I agree that there are worse jobs in sewing (such as tracing from those coloured spaghetti magazines). And tailor’s tacks aren’t that much really. I agree with your general point that the instant availability and the no need to store is a great advantage. I saw great big printers in the fashion company I visited where they actually lay out the pattern pieces of the computer, then print, so that it goes on top of the fabric and you just cut out (attached by a warm iron rather than pinned too).

  4. Eureka moment!
    Jeez, how simple you make it look and I was still messing about with tape. Tomorrow morning I’m getting Pritt Sticks ’cause I’ve a new Alabama Chanin pattern to tile.
    Thank you so much Marianna.

  5. Well there you go, we have the same method. The glue stick seems better to me because the pieces don’t pop apart so easily. I have to say storage is still a huge bugbear for me. They don’t fold that easily and rolling them is tricky. Any storage tips are greatly appreciated.

    • With self-drafted patterns which like PDFs are bulky, I fold, press, then put them in ‘punched pockets’ then a Lever Archer type file. Then they go on a shelf with other A4 folders.

  6. I use sellotape, but I can see that your method is perhaps better. Although I much prefer PDFs to tracing from a Burda magazine ( something I promised myself I will never ever do again) give me an old-fashioned envelope pattern any day. When one of my non-sewing friends saw me taping together a PDF she was shocked. She said – you have to do all that before you even start to cut out your fabric? and don’t they make patterns like they used to anymore?
    I saw her point.

  7. I used to go through a lot of sticky tape. I ran out half way through a pattern once and had to switch to masking/painters tape. It made my pattern pieces look ugly. I am going to switch to glue sticks. I always leave one side and the bottom side on so attaching with glue sticks won’t be a problem. And my pattern piece will look better too. Some of them I roll up or hang and keep, so I would like them to look nice too. Besides I have a lot of glue sticks left over from the kid’s younger school years. They will never use them up, so I might as well! Also, even though I line up the pages row after row on the table, if I see one pattern piece appearing, I tape it and cut it out right away. It gives me more room on the table to work on the rest of the pieces.

  8. I use sellotape but I in general dislike paper PDFs because :
    a) of the waste of good quality A4 paper ( last pattern used 30 pieces of A4)
    b) I don’t like pinning the thicker paper to fine materials ( and forcing pins through thick paper and two layers of thick fabric is grim.
    c) The a4 paper is less prone to tear , doesn’t move with the fabric and is less sympathetic to pattern adjustments and “on-body” quick checks .
    d) cutting out the paper pattern wrecks my lovely scissors.

    I like the Named pattern system ( and the Great British Sewing Bee Vol 3) which uses a simplified Burda magazine system of superimposing several pattern pieces on to a smaller number of pages which you then trace off onto tissue paper ( simple satisfying puzzle) .

  9. PDFs can be purchased and printed in the middle of the night from a company on the other side of the friggin’ world and i can reprint them if I should screw up, or need a different size for my sis when she wants one, too.
    I can’t glue – it does not allow for my inevitable “oh dang, the first two rows of pieces are slightly curving up” rearrangement. Or frankly, when I misread them and attach them in the wrong order. Try one of the ShowStudio freebies and you will know what I mean.

  10. I did have a problem one time with a pdf pattern and that was a Vanessa Pouzet pattern. It just would not print out correctly. There was some issue getting it from A4 to a standard paper size here in the US. I’m waiting for a friend to go to Europe and then I’m mailing the download so I can get it printed out correctly. Silly but worth it.

    • That’s another good point; the lack of standardization in printer paper sizes.

      I’d not even heard of all these PDF companies like Vanessa Pouzet and Showcase till you guys started commenting so more places to shop for me!

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