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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.