The first PDF pattern I bought was from Burda Style, and I’ll admit, it threw me off in a huge way. I had to cut it and tape it and cut it again, and then trace it with pattern paper, and oh my god, never again I said. It was so much work for what I felt was no return. Three years later, I curse and kick and scream when I can’t find a PDF pattern available for a project I want to work on (like my Halloween project last year).
The basics of a PDF pattern are simple. Print the test square, make sure it measures up. Print the rest of your pattern to size. Cut out each individual page to the ‘pattern size’. Line up your triangles. Tape. Cut out the pattern pieces, or leave intact for tracing.
Personally, I don’t trace my printed patterns, though it’s recommended. I cut the pattern down to the size I’m using, cut, and pin the printed pattern to my fabric as necessary. I’m also notorious for destroying beautiful patterns because I’m not careful enough while pinning and cutting. I also can never get them back in the same shape and size they were to be repackaged (can anyone though??).
The biggest challenge with PDF patterns is their size. The Kochi Kimono pattern from Paper Cuts comes in three files, 4, 9 and 23 pages respectively. I feel like this is pretty average for a pattern, and it’s lovely that the pieces are separated, which makes putting the pattern pieces together a little easier. The largest pattern I’ve ever put together so far was 56 pages, and it was just a skirt. Large patterns can be quite daunting, especially if you have space restrictions, so I was grateful for the pattern sizes of the Kimono.
Genuinely, the worst part is cutting each page to size. To make the pattern work on a variety of printing platforms, the ‘outline’ for the pattern doesn’t go right to the edges of the page, so before you can even begin, you need to cut it all down to size. For the neck piece above, it was easy to do a little aimlessly, because it’s straight, and only has three connections, so I didn’t have to be super exact while cutting out the outline. As you get deep into a pattern, you’re attaching pieces on all four sides so you need to cut the outline as exact as possible, or you risk slicing your pattern. If I start sewing again with more consistency, I will be investing in a single sheet paper cutter, just to avoid the hand cramp from the scissors.
Those little triangles, with their alpha numeric code are a blessing in disguise. You line up the matching codes, as close to together as you can. It’s helpful if the pattern has extra lines (darts, grain direction, etc.) to also help line things up. My absolute favourite part of these triangles, is no matter what happens during the cut to size process, you will always be able to find your place. Admittedly, I’m not the most organized person, and I have ended up with pattern pieces everywhere. Even if you pages end up out of order, you’ll always be able to find your place with the codes.
As you can see, I’m slowly, but surely getting the pattern put together. I still haven’t decided what I’m pulling out of my stash to make the Kimono out of, and with the crazy weather we’ve been having, I’m almost considering wool, or my stash of faux fur. Hopefully once I’m done assembling the pattern to know how much fabric I’ll want, the weather will cooperate. I have a lot of lovely floral chiffon just waiting for new life.
Excited for the next step! Until next!