miscellaneous · patterns · sewing

How I manage my pdf patterns

A little while ago someone asked me how I manage my pdf patterns.  Nowadays, I buy many of my patterns in pdf format.  Some patterns are only available in pdf format.  Others are cheaper when bought in pdf format – especially if you add on the cost of postage for hard copies.  With others I want the ability to reprint different sizes.  I’m not a pattern tracer; I never have been.  I always cut into my patterns and generally make any alterations directly on the pattern pieces.  There are some patterns that I want to be able to sew for multiple people of different sizes, and a multisized pdf pattern is perfect for that.  If I am sewing a pattern that I know will only be used for me, or has large pattern pieces (a coat, for example) I prefer hard copy.

pdf pattern organisation

This is a multisized pdf pattern that I recently purchased. I printed it out on sheets of A4 paper on my home computer, and assembled the sheets. There are many, many youtube videos and blog tutorials that show you how to assemble a pdf patter – just google. I generally cut off the bottom and one side of each sheet along the guideline, then overlap and sticky tape them together. I cut out each piece as it is taped whenever possible, rather than wait until the entire pattern is taped into one ginormous sheet. I really appreciate it when pdf pattern makes lay out the pieces in a way that essentially assembles one pattern piece at a time, but the majority just divide up one huge sheet into lots of A4. Printing at home obviously costs in paper, sticky tape and ink, but I think it’s quite economical. The biggest downside is the time that it takes to tape the patterns.

pdf pattern organisation

There is often the option to have pdf patterns printed at a copy shop. I tend to use either Officeworks – I just take in the patterns on a USB memory stick, and ask for black and white plan printing – or else I go to a specialist copy centre/printing service (Ivanhoe Copy Centre is my local). This of course costs money – at Officeworks it’s about $4.10 per A0 sheet. I store these patterns rolled up and secured with a toilet roll core. It holds them securely and I can write the pattern name on it!

pdf pattern organisation

After use I fold up the pattern pieces and pop them into a large ziplock bag. I find that ziplock bags keep things secure during the sewing process, and the instructions fit into them nicely too. You may have noticed too that I do print pattern instructions. I often don’t print all the pages – some of the instructions for pdf patterns are designed to be read on a screen such as an ipad or laptop screen rather than printed and are incredibly long – but I always like to have the basics about the pattern kept with the pattern pieces. Pattern illustration, measurements, what the seam allowances are. Because the bags are clear I can see what pattern is in each one. Then I tend to store them by pattern company and then by pattern type.

pdf pattern organisation

As you can see I have a few methods of organisation. These have all developed and adapted as I have gone along, and they seem to work quite well for me. Patterns that I use for my daughters are in a couple of drawers in the wardrobe; the multi-coloured drawers beside my cutting table hold more ‘random’ patterns from a variety of companies. The expanding file holds Lekala patterns. Then we have my favourite piece of storage – the horizontal filing cabinet.  This one is from Officeworks.

pdf pattern organisation

This cabinet serves as a TV stand – yes, I have a TV in my sewing room – and also holds all my patterns from Style Arc (hard copies as well as the pdf patterns I have printed), Cashmerette, Liesl & Co, Pattern Fantastique, Jalie and patterns that I use for my mum. It’s excellent for patterns that are much larger in size than the standard envelope pattern. I don’t have any hanging files in it; I just stack the patterns on their side. It’s amazing how much fits in there.

pdf pattern organisation

I hope that give some of you some practical ideas on how to manage your pdf patterns. What works best for you will obviously depend on the space that you have available, and whether you prefer to trace patterns or whether you prefer to just cut into them (I still don’t really understand why anyone would take the additional step of tracing a pdf pattern that they have assembled and could easily reprint, but each to their own)! There is a myriad of pattern options available to us nowadays – don’t avoid pdf patterns; they open up a world of opportunity.

10 thoughts on “How I manage my pdf patterns

  1. It’s so easy to accumulate pdfs. I store mine in a similar manner to yours, but I’ve added a sticker with a unique number on each printed pattern and set up a database with their location so now I can find them quickly.

    1. Excellent informative view on PDF patterns must admit it has given me something to think about as I usually do not purchase PDF patterns although can’t always afford the original pattern. Thank you. Lesley

  2. Haha, I’m one of those people who trace everything! For one thing, the traced copy on pattern paper folds up much smaller than printer paper, so easier to store and get out again each time I use it, and the other is that if I need a different size I really don’t want to have to print and tape it all over again! But I mostly get mine printed straight on to thin pattern paper now anyway because I hate printing and taping so much.

  3. Thanks Lara for that. After a disastrous foray into PDF when I ended up with 70 plus pages for the Sorbetto I haven’t ventured back. I do have a couple of Itch to Stitch patterns downloaded that I am keen to try though. I see a New Year’s resolution forming!! I see McCalls now have some of their patterns as PDF and given we are so far behind in Australia getting their patterns maybe that will be an option. The pattern that I have been chasing since July was the same price as a hard copy or PDF.

  4. Oooh, I like the toilet roll core concept. I trace if I’ve made substantial changes and want a “clean” copy that isn’t full of darts and tape that could come loose, because that I can’t just reprint. I just note the changes on the tracings. Also my traced Pellon paper is ironable and folds down really neatly, unlike stiff paper.

  5. Thanks for the great post….especially when rolling PDF patterns up and using a TP roll to keep them together. I was lucky to score the purchase of a VOGUE pattern cabinet…it has 4 drawers, the bottom are 90% of my patterns. Love it, completed my room. Also have 1 wall which is actually is a design wall….I pin my pattern of the current make as I go along making it. Also put a sample of a fabric, with pattern to look at as I go about my sewing day….to let the idea of pattern/fabric marinate until I come to a decision. I’m in my room everyday……love retirement.
    Thanks again for this post!

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