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A Guide to Successfully Printing and Assembling PDF Patterns

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Technology can be a wonderful thing. The ability to have immediate access to a sewing pattern is one of those wonderful things... unless you run into trouble with printing. We've answered countless emails from users who have fairly simple issues – an old version of Adobe Reader, or failure to set Page Scaling properly. We can't solve every issue, but this guide summarizes how to print our PDF patterns, as well as how to assemble patterns that require more than one page.

Printing PDF Patterns

To begin, be sure you have the latest version of Adobe Reader, and that you don't have "Internet Downloading" disabled in your browser preferences. If the tutorial you are using requires that you print a pattern piece(s), you'll find the links in the Getting Started section of our tutorial, as shown in the example below:

Click on one of the links and the PDF will appear in the same window once it is fully downloaded. Be patient, this may take a few moments.

To print the PDF, you can either go up to the File menu and scroll down to Print, or drag your mouse to the bottom of the image and in some (not all) browsers you will see a toolbar. Some systems may require you use the toolbar to print. In these cases, when you attempt to print from the File > Print menu, a blank page will appear. If this happens to you, as we mentioned above, try dragging your mouse to the bottom of the page, and print directly from the tool bar.

Once you have the Print window open, you need to check a couple of things prior to printing.

1) Change to Portrait or Landscape if necessary.

2) Be sure you are printing at 100%. DO NOT SHRINK TO FIT, or FIT TO PAGE (terminology is dependent on your browser).

Now you're ready to click the Print button.

It's critical to confirm your pattern piece is the correct size. On your printed pattern, look for the double arrow line labeled "Confirm your printer output is correct." On the example pattern piece shown in the diagram below, the line is 8" long. Use a ruler to measure the arrow on your printout. If it's not 8", go back and confirm you don't have "Fit to Page" enabled. Your pattern must be the correct size in order for you to successfully complete the tutorial. Once you have an accurate pattern piece, you can click on the back arrow to return to the tutorial and print any additional pattern pieces required.

NOTE: Our older patterns use a one-inch-square box for sizing confirmation. If you encounter one of these, use a ruler to measure the printed box to confirm it is exactly one inch.

Assembling Patterns

Some patterns will fit on one 8½" x 11" page. Other patterns must be assembled from several printed PDF pages. In the example below, there are two pattern pieces that need to be assembled into one finished pattern. The two images on the right show the pages as they come out of the printer. After confirming your pattern is the correct size, cut along the outside solid black line. Butt the two pieces together as shown on the left; do not overlap the pieces. Align the arrows and tape the pieces together.

Sew4Home tests all patterns prior to posting. Most problems can be resolved by installing the latest version of Adobe Reader and/or adjusting your print window to print at 100%.


Comments (10)

Stephanie Porter said:
Stephanie Porter's picture

Is there a picture to show the retro vintage apron pattern put together?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Stephanie Porter - no there isn't a picture of all the entire thing as it was really too big to shoot. However, all the pages are numbered, and by looking at the photos of the finished apron, you should be able to tape it all together in the correct page order. Also, in the ingredients photo, you can see most of the pattern. And in the Getting Started section, there is this explanation: Pages 2-5 are the Apron Body pattern pieces (page 2 is row one all by itself, pages 3 and 4 are row two, and pages 5 and 6 are row three). Butt the pages together, matching the lines, to create the full pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together.

Rhea said:
Rhea 's picture

I am printing this pattern at home, as the pattern is all on one page how do i get the printer to print each section ?

Please help

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Rhea - your comment is posted on our general article about printing. Which pattern are you having trouble with? If a pattern is designed to print as one page, that is what you should do. 

Sharon DeGraaf said:
Sharon DeGraaf's picture

I am having trouble confirming  an 8 inch line  like the pattern asks for.  I am only getting a 6 inch line when I measure.

I always allow updates to my adobe reader.  Other patterns have printed fine but the one I am having trouble with is the pleated apron. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You

anne.adams said:
anne.adams's picture

@Sharon DeGraaf: I just checked the three pattern pieces for the Vintage Modern Pleated Apron to be sure we hadn't made an error. But the confirmation lines are all 8" long. If you have the latest version of Acrobat Reader - check here to be sure:


... and you are printing at 100% or Actual Size (do not Shrink to Fit or Fit to Page), then it must be another set up issue at your end -- no problem printing it accurately on any of our printers here. Beyond that, it's difficult to troubleshoot printer issues long distance. Those are the most likely culprits. 

Nuella said:
Nuella's picture

At first i was having soo many problems when sewing.But as 4 now am able 2 sew as much as i can.I have also been

able to do my project work. thanx 2 PDF patterns!!!!

GloriaLaVonne said:
GloriaLaVonne's picture

I add some space above the cut and tape line, so that the pattern can be taped together on the top on the heavy lines.  Only one of the pieces needs the extra and it is put on the back side.  It is easier for me.  My pattern then comes out just like the one that you have on the tutorial.  Thanks for this handy guide.  I can now explain this to the girl I'm trying to teach to sew.  

Brenda Spadaro said:
Brenda Spadaro's picture

Often PDF patterns won't have the handy arrows designed for matching.  I place pieces which need to be joined over my light box and am able to match them perfectly, overlapping as necessary and then taping pieces together to secure.

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