Recently Laura Nash questioned the perceived value of a PDF pattern vs a printed pattern on The American Sewing Guild’s LinkedIn site.

Here is a new comment that has just been posted  on the website.
Note that Celeste states at the end of her comment that For a dress this does not seem to be a good idea, much too large.

There is also the flip side to that argument. I just worked with my friend who put out a book on embellishing fleece. She included patterns for many of the items in the book. After going back and forth it was decided that offering the patterns on a CD in the book was much more cost effective for both her and the customer. The customer only has to print out the pieces they want. They don’t have to pay for all the paper that would have the other patterns.
When designing the pattern pieces she included symbols to match up so the pieces were the proper size. There is the possibility that you have an older printer that doesn’t print properly but that usually is not a problem. I would rather print out my pattern and tape together than trace out the correct one from multi-size pattern. Easier to make mistakes there.
There is the technology to have patterns printed to your size which I have tried. It is costly and I still had to make alterations for it to fit me properly.
I have found that most of the items using PDF files for printing are for smaller items, such as purses, hats, etc. For a dress this does not seem to be a good idea, much too large.

By Celeste Breen

Here are the three comments that were posted about this issue

This is the comment I posted:

1. Since the PDF would need to be printed, and most people using the PDF would be using a printer that prints 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, the entire pattern would need to be taped together. This is a recipe for disaster as lining up the edges of the sheets of paper, unless done with extreme care, could easily throw the pattern’s grain, seam alignments and fit way off.

2. If the grade-rule measurements used to develop the pattern are very similar to the basic grade-rule measurements used to develop the big four pattern companies: McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, and Simplicity, then the fit corrections needed to correct a PDF should be very similar to those needed to correct the big four companies. However, if the pattern maker is using a different grade-rule entirely, one could find the PDF requires extensive pattern work that is quite different than usually needed.

Laura NashLaurel, I do believe that there is a big risk with quality when printing and taping a PDF. It seems to be a very popular option though, and I continue to wonder why. Thanks for your thoughts.

Theresa Metevia-KrentI agree with Laura. Printers can distort dimensions and then your pattern will be a bit off. If pieces are then taped together a bit inaccurately you introduce yet another distortion. Depending on how many pieces you need to put together, the difference between what the pattern is supposed to be, and what you end up with, could be quite significant. It would depend on how important accuracy is in what you are making. In the world of mechanical engineering it is called tolerance build up. I personally feel like this is one more way industry is trying to boost their own profits by offloading more work to the customer, which will ultimately cost the customer much more in time (to assemble the pattern) and material (paper & ink). Not fair, in my opinion. With the technology available today, what the pattern companies should be doing is using our measurements to create a custom fit full size patterns on tissue paper which they mail to us once printed. That is something I would pay more for because I would know it has a better chance of fitting me accurately than some splice job I do with my home printer. And I don’t have to waste my time being frustrated. I can get down to doing what I enjoy which is sewing.

Link for Laurel’s books on Amazon
P:215 884 7065, F:215 884 3727, C:610 908 7222

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