How to Print your PDF Sewing Patterns: Are you doing it right?

4/25/2013 08:17:00 PM

Over the last year or so, I've had one or two bag makers ask me why their pattern pieces weren't matching up properly, and it turns out they hadn't printed their pattern pieces the right size.  Also, looking at some recent (gorgeous) wallets that were made from my Necessary Clutch Wallet ePattern, I noticed that some of the zipper pockets are sticking up out of the wallet too high.  They should actually be slightly recessed.  I figured out that the only thing that could cause this was that the wallet exterior was too small, and this is because the pattern pieces weren't printed properly.   I know because I did the same thing myself ;)

On page one of all of my pattern instructions, there are printing instructions, but I don't think we all read these - because we all know how to click print right?  I think when you download a pattern, you open the PDF and you hit print, and THEN you read the instructions, skipping the printing instructions.

Source: The Graphics Fairy

Why we need to change print settings:
Many PDF patterns or downloads have pictures or words that are outside of the "printing area" or in the margins of the page.  Adobe Acrobat has default print setting that scales the page down to fit to the boundaries of the paper size, it's otherwise known as "shrink to fit".  We don't want this!! This will reduce your pattern pieces.

How to change print settings:
When you open your download sewing pattern in Adobe Acrobat, you will use your mouse to click the printer icon or go to "File" and then "Print".  A box will open so you can change your settings.  In the older version of Adobe Acrobat, you will change your print scaling to "None".  In some versions of adobe, you will change it to "no scaling".

And... in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat on a Mac, you make sure your have selected "Actual Size".

Remember, there is a 1" x 1" test square with your pattern pieces, and it is exactly the right size.  If it is even 1/8th" of an inch too small, your pattern pieces will be too small.

I've just updated all of my patterns, giving the printing instructions on the front page above the bag photo.  It will now be the first thing you see.  I'll also update my pattern details on my website and Etsy and make sure the printing instructions are there too.

I hope this helps, and happy sewing!


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  1. Awesome instructions, Janelle! Pretty spiffy! Lisa

  2. I just want to share a tool I've discovered to type on PDFs, just in case you need it one day. allows you to upload word forms and PDFs, fill them out neatly online, and then print, eFax, and email the forms. You can also use the tool to get docs digitally signed by third parties for free.

  3. Thanks soon much.I'm defective when it comes to computers

  4. Thanks soon much.I'm defective when it comes to computers

  5. Janelle I am new at this and have the nc mini in my order box but can't find where it shows me what hardware I need to order with it. Thank you in advance.
    Pearl Goyett

  6. I love your patterns. I just watched the video for the wallet and am anxious to receive pattern to make it. I am also a member of month club. You are very talented.

  7. bonjour serait'il possible d'avoir la traduction des patrons en français svp

  8. comment faire pour traduire les patrons en français svp

  9. For me, the bottom cuts off of many patterns. Do you know how to fix this?
    I've tried messing with margins but it makes it worse

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