When you purchase a PDF pattern from Seamwork, the final page will include a link to your account’s download page where you can download the file. You will also receive an email with the same link.
If you’d like to download your pattern later, you can always navigate back to it by clicking the “Downloads” tab on the top of the web site. If you don’t see that downloads link, make sure you’re signed into your account.
Once you click “download now” to download the pattern, it’s a good idea to immediately locate the file—depending on your computer settings it usually goes either to your Downloads folder or your Desktop—and move it to a designated place in your Documents folder.
Our pattern downloads contain several PDF files, including a PDF for the instructions and one or more PDFs for the pattern pieces. If a pattern has different versions, there may be separate PDFs for each version.
These pattern files will be formatted as tiles across a number of printer-paper-sized sheets. The best way to imagine it is to think about a large piece of pattern tissue unfolded and cut into small rectangles. The PDF will be printed on your home printer and the pages will be taped together to reconstruct the pattern tissue-sized layout.
All Seamwork also come bundled with copy shop files that can be printed on a plotter.
Working with layers
Our print at home digital patterns feature layers! This means you can toggle sizes on and off in the PDF to print size lines individually. Please note that this feature only works with Adobe Reader.
All Seamwork print at home PDFs have layers. Check to see if your digital pattern pieces feature large grey numbers in the middle of each page like this:
If so, then you are working with a layered PDF file. If not, you are using one of our older PDF layouts. You can redownload the pattern to your library to use layers or just skip the section for layers.
Open the tiled version of your file in Adobe Reader (look for the file ending in “-all.pdf” or "-print-at-home.pdf"). To turn on the layers, go to View>Show/Hide>Navigation Panes>Layers.
You can then click to toggle each layer on or off, isolating the size or sizes you need. Once you have the correct layers selected, you can print the pattern.
Printing at Home
Printing a PDF pattern at home is pretty much like printing any document. Open the PDF, making sure you are opening the correct one if your purchase came with multiple files.
After you choose File>Print and your print dialogue box opens, set the print scale at "Actual size" and do not check “Scale to Fit.”
Before printing the entire pattern, locate the page in your pattern that has the test square. Always print this page first on its own to check that the scale is 100% correct. Measure the test square, and if it does not measure correctly, check your print scaling options.
Another factor you can control is the printing quality. Choosing an option like “draft” or “fast” will use less ink.
It has recently come to our attention that windows users with newer HP printers are having trouble printing "non-standard" fonts from Adobe. This causes pages to only partially print. If this is happening to your printer, you will need to check "print as image" under the advanced settings. Note that the print settings require color printing, if grayscale is selected you will not be able to print as image.
If the borders on the page do not print, check your printer settings one more time. If you are using Adobe, make sure that the box next to “choose paper source by PDF size” is NOT checked. Make sure that the option for “Auto portrait/landscape” is checked.
If you continue to experience trouble with the borders or triangles, and you have access to a Mac, you can try printing directly from Preview. This will often bypass any issues with Adobe.
Printing at a Copy Shop
If you do not want to print and assemble at home, all our digital patterns include a wide format version and an A0 format version. This is a really great option! Just look for the PDF ending in “-wide” or “-copy-shop-a0” or "-copy-shop-us" in the zip file you download. The copy shop format files are designed to print on 33.1-inch wide paper rolls, but can also be printed on wider rolls with no problems.
Email or bring the PDF file to the copy shop. Make sure that the copy shop prints the file at 100%, and measure your test square before leaving the shop, to be sure that it is printed at the correct size.
The first step of PDF pattern assembly is trimming. This will allow us to overlap the edges accurately.
From every page, trim off the top and right margins. If you’d like, you can skip the top along the first row of pages, and the right on the last page in each row.
You can use paper scissors and cut each page one at a time, or you can use a paper cutter and trim a few together. Just make sure that when you stack them up, all the cutting lines are aligned.
Another option is to fold the margins back rather than trimming them off. This can be a bit faster than trimming.
Once the pages are all trimmed you can start assembling them. Line up the gray triangles and all pattern lines and use clear tape to tape the pages together. If you do not see gray numbers, you are using one of our older PDF files. Just match the alphanumeric symbols on the edge of each page. Make sure you are lining up the edges super straight and that the pages are laying flat.
As you’re taping, try to put tape through any cutting lines that go across the page edges, as well as where the four corners of the pages meet. This will ensure that your pattern pieces don’t have any flapping parts. Everywhere else, put your tape pieces a few inches apart at most.
Alternatively, you can use a glue stick to assemble the pages, which makes for a very neat pattern. The only drawback is that you must wait for the glue to dry completely before you cut out the pattern pieces.
Once all of your pages are taped together, cut out your pattern pieces just as you would pattern tissue.
One of the things people seem to dislike the most about PDF patterns is the assembly. It can be a bit cumbersome to tape the entire thing together at once, especially if you are working in a confined space.
If this is the case, you can assemble and cut out each pattern piece as you go. This is a little trickier because the pattern pieces are laid out a bit like a Tetris game to fit the most efficiently on the smallest amount of paper. This means that one PDF page might have little bits of multiple pattern pieces on it. But as long as you are careful, it’s doable.
After trimming, start assembling the pattern, and find all the pages that are involved in the first piece. This may involve going out of sequence in your stack of pages. Tape them together and cut out the pattern piece. Then move on to the next one.
Save all your paper scraps until you are sure you have assembled and cut out all the pieces, because you might not realize that something you thought was trash actually has part of one of your pattern pieces on it. Also double check with your pattern instructions and cutting layouts that you didn’t miss any of the pieces.
Tracing the pattern
If you prefer, you can assemble all of the pieces and then trace your size off so that if you need a different size you don’t have to reassemble the pattern.
Sewing with PDF patterns
Once you have all your pattern pieces cut, using them is exactly the same as using a tissue pattern. Refer to the sewing instructions to get started.
Want some more tips?
If you’re having trouble downloading your digital files, please read Troubleshooting Digital Pattern FAQ.
If you’d like more tips on working with digital sewing patterns, you can find an expanded version of this article here on the Colette blog.