How to print and assemble your PDF pattern

Hello, my sparkling storytellers! If you’re new to digital sewing patterns and templates, getting all the pages to fit together can feel a bit overwhelming at first. But don’t worry, because in this quick tutorial, I’m going to show you all the tricks to get your Palm Patterns PDF pages pieced together and ready to sew. You can read along below, or watch this helpful video for the full audio-visual extravaganza:

Downloading your pattern

The first step, of course, is to get yourself a pattern – when you purchase a pattern from my Etsy shop [THANK YOU], you should see a link to View Your Files immediately after completing your checkout steps. This will take you to the Downloads section of your Etsy account. Keep in mind that you can’t download your files via the Etsy app; you will need to sign in through a regular browser, and if possible I recommend downloading at a computer rather than onto a tablet or mobile device. You’ll also receive a link to download your files in your confirmation email, and you can always find your digital purchases later in the Purchases and Reviews section of your account.

Printing your pattern pages from your home or office

One of the most important steps to a successful project is making sure that your pattern prints out at the right size! For the most reliable results, I recommend opening your PDF files in either Preview (on a Mac) or Adobe Reader (on other operating systems). When you’re ready to print, pay careful attention to the printer settings box that pops up on your screen. You should see options to scale or resize the document, and most printer settings will try to shrink or expand the document by default, to make the most efficient use of the page. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS. DO NOT LET THE PRINTER BOSS YOU AROUND. You’ll want to find and check the box that says something like:

  • SCALE: 100%

…and so on.

If the printer shrinks or enlarges the pattern, you may end up with pieces that don’t fit together correctly and won’t fit your body as expected, which would be very disappointing.

You can print on either LETTER SIZE or A4 SIZE paper. The file is designed to fit comfortably on both types of paper, and the only difference should be how much margin you end up trimming away.

Each Palm pattern has a test square on the first one pattern tile – it’s a good idea to print this page first, measure the test square to confirm the scale is correct, and then print the rest of your pages.

UPDATE: Light or fine lines and sybmols may not print clearly at lower print quality settings. For best results, choose normal or high print quality, and avoid “economy”, “draft”, or other ink-saving settings.

Printing from a copy shop, public printer, or email-to-print services

If you don’t have a printer at home, don’t let that discourage you! I often print my patterns at print shops and my local library. You’ll want to be very cautious about printing methods that don’t give you much insight into the final print settings – I’ve had mixed results with my library’s email-to-print service and with printing directly from a USB drive at a touch-screen kiosk. If you’re working with a new system, it’s an especially good idea to print your test page before committing to a dozen pages that might come out at the wrong scale.

Assembling your pattern tiles

Phew, OK, we’ve got our pattern printed and we measured the test square and everything is groovy! Now it’s time to put the pieces together.

Some patterns will have pieces that fit entirely on one page, but most will have pages that need to be trimmed, aligned, and fit together. It’s a bit like doing a really simple puzzle. All Palm Patterns are designed to be assembled by trimming the bottom and right margins along the dotted grey lines. You can use scissors to trim, or a ruler and a knife, or a guillotine if you’re fancy. Regardless of what kind of blade is doing the work, you want to cut as precisely on the dotted line as you can manage.

After you’ve trimmed the margins, take a peek at the bottom left corner of each page. The pages are labeled a bit like a map or a spreadsheet, with both a letter and a number, eg. A1, B3, etc. The letters are the rows, running across grid. The numbers are columns, running up and down the grid.

Line up each pattern tile with its neighbour, and carefully tape the trimmed edge to the dotted line on the other page. Check that your pattern markings are lining up nicely and your pages are laying flat and smooth. The more precise you are at this stage, the more accurate your pattern will be!

When your whole grid is assembled, you can trace or cut out your size and start sewing!