Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!

The Ins and Outs of PDF Patterns



Today’s post is a feature on using PDF patterns meant to eliminate the fear that some sewers have of them.  I realize that they aren’t the most convenient way to receive a pattern because they must be pieced together but I think they are not as much work as someone who has never used one would think!  Actually, compared to printed tissue patterns, the taping process is really the only extra step because it is necessary to cut out tissue patterns just as you would a PDF pattern.

Another interesting comparison was pointed out to me by my co-worker, a professional seamstress.  She has never used PDF patterns before but when I explained them to her she laughed and said that even though sewers are embracing new technology, to her it just seems like history is repeating itself!  She explained that her grandmother used to lay out pieces of paper on the kitchen floor to assemble her quilt patterns.  Instead of printing them off of the computer she would spend weeks and weeks collecting them from her local newspaper which offered one quilt square an issue.  Each square contain a pattern for piecing or embroidery which could be completed each week while the sewer anticipated the next square.  Now that’s devotion!


A sample of a vintage newspaper quilt square. I wish this was still a feature of modern newspapers!

My tips for using PDF patterns are probably pretty self explanatory to some but I thought I might as well share them in case they will help someone save some time and create a stronger and easier to store pattern.

Tape thoroughly: Our patterns print so that the top left corner ends up on the top of your stack of papers.  Simply lay out the sheets in rows from left to right.  We include a layout sheet and instructions to help you out.  I like to cut off one of the margins and tape and overlap all the columns and then piece the four columns together as the last step.

For added strength, tape the back of the sheets as well.  When taping, you only need to tape areas where a pattern piece extends to the next page – no point wasting tape on blank areas!


You will end up with a single sheet of pattern pieces (which our cat thought would make a perfect bed):




I simply fold them up crisply in a ziploc bag labelled with the pattern name and size and when I go to use them again I iron them out using an iron with no steam and a press cloth to ensure that I don’t melt the tape.


If you prefer, you could always tape the sheets together and, instead of cutting out the pieces, you could trace them using tracing paper (I find white tissue paper works well enough for this but you could also buy the paper designed for this which is available at most fabric stores) and a pencil. Then you can cut out your tissue paper pieces and use those just like a normal pattern.


If you are really worried about preserving the pattern you could roll up your un-cut paper pattern after tracing and store it as a tube to re-trace a different size at a later point.


Also (though this next option isn’t very tree-friendly), once downloaded you could simply save our pattern and re-print it to use when needed. This would work especially well if you need to use a different size next time.

We are considering offering a version of our pattern for download that is a single sheet fit for printing professionally.  Would you like this option made available to you?  Let us know by leaving a comment and we will prepare it to add to the store!

15 thoughts on “The Ins and Outs of PDF Patterns

  1. Pingback: Day 1 – Cutting out Your Fabric (Jedediah Shorts Sew-along) | Thread Theory

  2. Hi!
    I just bought your pattern! What size paper should the copy at shop file be printed on?

    My options at the copy shop are:
    A2 (420mm x 594mm)
    A1 (594mm x 841mm)
    B1 (707mm x 1000mm)
    A0 (841mm x 1189mm)

    I love having a copy at shop option; much preferable to cutting, taping etc, and it helps me buy a PDF pattern without hesitation.

    Looking forward to the Strathcona Henley pattern, too. Both these trousers and the Strathcona are exactly my partner’s style!

    • Thanks for the comment, Oanh!

      You might have to check with your copy shop to see if they have a plotter-style printer that prints onto a roll of paper as opposed to a cut sheet (the Jedediah Pants pattern is 1016mm wide on the shorter edge (40″) and 1600mm (63″) on the long edge). I would probably just pop the pattern onto a USB drive, take it to the shop, and ask them how they would go about printing it.

      Hope this helps!

      • Thanks for that info. It helped! I did a workaround: as the width is slightly less than the length of A0 paper, I split the file into 2, & printed two pages at the copy shop (Officeworks in Aus, in case anyone else wants to. $3.70 per page). So, I just have to tape 2 bits of paper together! Yay!

  3. Would love to have a ‘copy at shop’ file – but I don’t mind cutting and taping, but thinking of paper wastage. Do you get a choice when purchasing or is this something you have to ask for i.e.. can you have both options, in case I change my mind. Many thanks.

    • Hi Evelyne! When you purchase the pattern, it comes with the multi-page PDF and a ‘copy at shop’ file – so now you’re set to change your mind if you’d like 🙂

  4. Pingback: Here is what I’ve been busy with! | Thread Theory

  5. Update! Your pattern sheets print fine on my old printer. Yay! Such a relief. I now only have a couple of teensy quibbles. Your 3″ square actually turns out to be p13 of the PDF not 12 as it states on p1’s printing instructions. I had to hunt for it! Shouldn’t it really be 4″ so you can use metric rulers easily too? (4″ = 10cm) And the lines on it should be thin enough so you don’t have to guess whether you should measure the inside or the outside of the square. On the other hand, on the layout diagrams the lines are sooooo fine that I can barely see them – either on screen or when printed out at full resolution. Nothing earth-shattering but thought you might want to know for future reference.

    Got the fabric and buttons now (DH picked them out himself) and will start in on this very soon. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Hi Louisa,
      We’re so glad that the printer handled our margins fine! You should be a pattern tester for us! You’re suggestions are REALLY appreciated! Thank you so much for letting us know about the page number error. And you are totally right, I hate when I don’t know whether to measure from the inside or outside of a line and can’t believe I didn’t think about that when creating the test square box.
      Good luck with your sewing! Would you be interested in being added to our test sewer list for future pattern releases? I look forward to hearing any more suggestions you come up with 🙂

  6. I’d love to have single sheet pattern. Simply plotting it would be way easier then piecing everything togethter! I like pdf’s too, because of the quick options they deliver. I can start making at 10 pm and simple pick a pattern from my computer library. Lovely!

    • I agree! PDFs are super handy for late-night sewers (especially if you have a big fabric stash to ‘shop’ for fabric at)! We’ll email you your single page Newcastle pattern as soon as we have it ready (by tomorrow evening!) 🙂

  7. My only problem with PDF patterns is when they don’t have sufficient blank margins. My old inkjet has quite a wide no-print zone (especially on the bottom where it’s more than 1/2″) so sometimes the whole page doesn’t get printed. I often have to guess where pages should align and even sometimes fill in the missing pattern lines. I haven’t tried printing yours out yet to see how well it works. Soon though!

    Also I prefer to use a glue stick than tape. It’s faster and sticks the whole area together so you don’t have to do the back separately. It occasionally comes unstuck (particularly if you are slow at attaching the next piece so it dries too much first!) but you can always slap on a little extra glue where needed. It’s easier to iron it flat later too. Tape shrinks.

    • Good idea to use glue! I haven’t had a problem with tape shrinking yet but I can imagine that would be really annoying! Thank you for sharing your technique 🙂 When you go to print your pattern, just try one page first and if the bottom margin isn’t big enough for your printer give us an email at and we can work out a solution to provide you with bigger margins.

  8. YES!!! A PDF version of the pattern for printing on one sheet of paper would definitely be great!……….. and preferable.
    Will this be available to those of us who just recently purchased the multi-page version?

    • Yes it will! We will send you your one page version once it is ready (by tomorrow evening) by email. Anyone else who has purchased the multi-page pattern and would like the single page version to print professionally can email us at to receive it. Thank you for your comment!

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