Posted in Sewing

How to Assemble pdf Sewing Patterns

I love a pdf sewing pattern, the joy is so instant. Browse, click, buy, download.

So, so simple, super quick and efficient, but expensive at times (impulse purchasing ahoy!)

The only frustrating thing of course, is that you may have pattern pages to assemble before you can start sewing. Particularly when dealing with larger, more complicated patterns it can take some time.

In the USA there is the wonderful option of printing out your large format patterns at the ‘local copy shop’ all on one big piece of paper but it’s not quite so commonplace here in the UK. We can’t even pop to the local Staples as they are sadly not around anymore!

So, if you are printing at home, here is my guide for printing and assembling pdf pattern pieces yourself.

A guide to printing pdf Sewing Patterns


So, first up you’ll need access to a printer. Depending on the pattern you are using you might be ok with a mono (just black ink) printer, a laser is best as it’s the cheapest option by a long shot. Some patterns however may have coloured lines for each of the sizes (dressmaking) or different coloured sections (Foundation Paper Piecing) so in this case a colour printer is much more handy.

In either case consider printing in draft mode, it uses a lot less ink and prints a lot faster.


Make sure that you open your pdf file via Adobe Acrobat Reader. It’s a free piece of software so there are no there are no expenses involved in using the most up to date version.

Don’t open and print pdf documents from an internet browser window. For some reason some browsers can do funny things to pattern pieces. Don’t ask me how, it’s trickery! You are best to download the file and open it from your ‘File Manager’.


Make sure that you print your pattern pages in ‘Actual Size’….don’t ‘fit to page‘ or ‘scale‘ your pages to anything other than 100%.

Print pdf patterns actual size


Any pattern worth the salt should have a test square. What’s a test square? I hear you ask….well, a test square is a square that helps you check that you are printing out your pattern correctly. The square is most commonly a 1″ or 4″ square placed somewhere (ideally) on the first page of the document.

Before you steam ahead printing out all of your pattern pages, run that test square page through your printer first and then check it against a ruler (not a tape measure…you did know that they can stretch didn’t you?).

If your test square measures up, then you are good to go! You can then go ahead and print the rest of the pages in the file.


In order to stick the pattern pages together there’s some trimming that needs to take place.

Cutting equipment for assembling pdf sewing patterns

You have a few options when it comes to trimming. You can use

  • Paper trimmer/guillotine – fastest option by far as you can normally trim more than one page at a time
  • Pair of scissors – the slowest option, but if that’s all you’ve got to hand then go for it!
  • Craft knife and a metal ruler (and a cutting mat) – don’t use a plastic quilting ruler as you might just trim a little off the edges (I may or may not be speaking from experience). I would also not advise using a craft knife on your self healing cutting mat.

Option 4 is to fold under the excess paper along the trimming line. It’s a relatively quick/lazy option but it does add a load of bulk that you can do without.

Particularly when dealing with files that have multiple pages that need joining together, my best advice is to be consistent with your trimming. By that I mean trim each page in the same way. I tend to trim the tops and the left hand edges of each page. Trim pages

Remember the test square I mentioned? That’s it there in the top left hand corner of page 1.


Sticking equipment for assembling pdf sewing patterns

You have two choices when it comes to sticking your pages together. You can get out the glue stick or roll out the tape. I love to use scotch tape, but to be honest normal sticky tape is a lot cheaper! You must remember though not to iron over any tape. It will melt under the heat of the iron and make a mess.


Your pdf pattern should contain a diagram or layout diagram to help you figure out which order to put the pages together. Here’s the layout diagram that I designed for my Royal Cape pattern

Royal Cape Tiled Pattern Pieces Layout

As you can see I have page numbers in the background on each page. There are also little diamonds (but they may also be circles or any other shape). These diamonds help you align the pages together, match them up and you are good to go.

The best way of assembling the pages is to stick together the top row…..


Then stick the second row together. Once you have stuck the second row together, align it over the first row and secure in place


Continue in this manner until all of your pages are in place and your pattern matches any layout provided with the instructions.

Once all of your pages are stuck together you can cut out your pattern pieces and you are good to go!


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