The winner’s guide to PDF patterns

By Elaine- Lainee Makes

Hello, It’s Elaine from LaineeMakes here, delighted to be doing a guest post for Seen and Sewn.  I feel like I’m always hearing people lamenting prepping PDF patterns as something that makes them want to gouge their own eyes with their paper scissors. While it has to be said it is work there are a few things you can do to make your life easier when you’re getting ready to sew a PDF pattern.

When it comes to PDF assembly, believe me, It’s all about the gear.

Yeah I know – bad workmen and tools etc, but I’ve found that with the right tools you can change your experience of PDF assembly. Here’s how I improved my PDF life.

Here’s my list of things that I use when I’m about to prepare a PDF pattern

  1. a pair of paper scissors
  2. a metal ruler
  3. a handheld craft blade
  4. an A3 paper trimmer 
  5. the incredible EZ Runner hand-held tape roller (aka game-changer)

I’ve been on team rotary cutter and cutting board for a long time for cutting fabric but you can use your cutting board with a blade and a trimmer to help you get your pages ready for assembly much more easily. I’ve had this trimmer for about 25 years and in teaching and crafting it’s been invaluable. You need a pattern with pages that overlap. (Sorry if its a butt together pattern you’re out of luck with this method). 

OK here goes – print off your pages, you’ll find that they’ve got markers to show you where to trim. Trim one side and the top OR bottom of the page to give you an overlapping edge to join your pages. Then using the markers as a guide overlap your sheets. There are usually enough reference points for you to get a really good match. 

If I have any odd bits I use the metal ruler and scalpel blade just to trim off any small pieces and small sheets of paper.

Once your paper is trimmed it’s time for the magical tape roller. On the untrimmed side of your paper roll this double-sided tape then lineup and attach the corresponding trimmed sheet of paper. Laying the glue down means you have both hands free to line up and you can even reposition if you are slightly off.

This beats hands down, any sticky tape, sellotape, PVA, glue stick or any other kind of adhesive that I’ve tried for assembling PDF papers in the past. It will reduce the time taken and eliminates a lot of the frustration experienced with those other methods. I can’t believe how good and how much easier it makes this task.

Next-level tips: Look carefully at your pattern, if some of your whole pieces are one sheet of paper you might not even need to assemble all the sheets before you can start cutting out your individual pattern pieces – it’s a little shortcut that will again save you a bit of time and emotional energy sticking and lining up those lines. Also don’t sweat the small stuff, if you are 1 or two mm out it really does not matter overall – honestly😏

Ok so now all of your pieces are all stuck together, you’re ready to start cutting out your shapes using those PAPER scissors!

I hope these tips help you take some of the drag out of using PDFs.

Happy PDFprepping!


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