a Serious Opinion about PDF Sewing Patterns

I was emailing Karen back and forth today and it prompted me to weigh in on everyone’s opinion about PDF sewing patterns. Let me be totally upfront with you for a minute. I hate PDF sewing patterns. Hate‘s a pretty strong word too. PDF sewing patterns….the kind you download from the internet, print out on paper (don’t forget to make sure that square on page 25 is 4 inches square), cut the rectangular boxes from paper, tape together (perfectly, I might add) and then finally! from there you can cut your size out – if only you knew what your size was because the size chart is on page 34 and you can’t seem to locate that page after cutting and taping and downloading…..

Now, fellow sewists, this is not to say that I don’t use PDF sewing patterns, because I do admittedly. And for patterns that are free (that’s right, I said FREE – bite me!!!) and for patterns that don’t cost more than say, $5 (OK, ok, $5.40 if you’re Burda) and for patterns that are less than 50 pages (OK, ok you pulled my arm, let me cap that off at 75….it’s only my time here) and for patterns that are smallish projects like a shirt or skirt (Oh, alright, I’ll do the dance for a good jacket, but you are going WAY TOO FAR for a coat) —- they’re OK. For me to print off a PDF sewing pattern, it has to meet at least 2 of the above criteria. But boy, if you want to loose my trust and quite frankly my business real fast, you’ll conveniently purposefully forget to add seam and hem allowances! I mean, tracing off a pattern and adding seam allowances is one thing, but to do the above ditty plus trace off and add seam allowances after all that garbage, you. have. got. to. be. KIDDING. me. Right?

Oh alright, if I had this tape dispenser I might like the process a bit more. Just a bit.

Ok, ok, I’ll level with you. I think that PDF patterns are good for mass production. I do. Everyone can have instant access – but I’ll still pay good more money for all of that jazz to be done for me, like say regular old printed patterns. I also think that for indie pattern companies just starting out, it’s not always possible financially to start out with the standard pattern printed on tissue. That takes some serious cash flow and I get it. I totally understand. And even for sweet little numbers like this and this, I totally don’t mind the PDF thing.

For me though, there’s this certain point in sewing that I’ve come to. That point includes some serious long, time consuming projects. I don’t mind long, time consuming projects either, but I don’t like it when the time consuming part is made longer by an even more time consuming project. I want to sew, not scrapbook. Cutting, printing and taping suuuure seems like scrapbooking to me, just foregoing the creatively cute part. Am I right, or am I right?

Now, is it just me or have these PDF things really started taking off even more in the last few years? Like they’re becoming even more popular? So I have to ask – be honest now, that’s important – what do you think about PDF sewing patterns? Look, I’ve given you my upfront, brutally honest opinion sprinkled with a bit of dark sarcasm (can you blame me?) so I want to hear what you guys really think. Spill your guts. Give me the lowdown dirty truth. And look, I don’t love PDF sewing patterns, but you might and I want to hear that too!

PDF sewing patterns. Yea or Nay?

could you spare a fellow sewist some tape and paper?

  • Lyric - Honestly, I haven’t tried one yet. Why just the other day while at Sense & Sensibility I actually attempted to consider it and came up with a big “Naaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh; I don’t think so!” I’ve got enough to contend with in remaking my entire wardrobe to 18/19th century/1950′s dresses and skirts without adding the project of stick and glue.

    This is a way cool, funny discussion. Good job ladies. Keep ‘em coming.


    P.S. Also, I’m old school; taught to sew in the 60′s. Thus, ain’t nothing wrong with tissue paper to me. Old habits sometimes die hard.ReplyCancel

  • Knitmo - I live in the middle no where. Getting access to sewing patterns is difficult. I like the instant-ness of pdf for a handful of patterns, and especially nice for me to try out a new pattern company. I find the cutting and taping tedious, especially considering that I will also need to do extensive pattern modifications. So, generally speaking I prefer regular patterns. But, I will try out a new one here or there. Sometimes you just get a gem. I tried out the Sorbetto pattern from Colette Patterns. I’ve made the blouse (about three times now) and have purchased several patterns from her now. I love her style, her instructions and the packaging of her patterns. I wouldn’t have just ordered a pattern online to test out, but after testing a free one line, I was sold — many times over.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I am a young mum of two little ones and I love sewing for them. However I also have hip problems and experience a lot of pain and am often unable to drive or get out to the shops so PDF patterns help me feel a bit more useful when I’m physically restricted.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Hello Sunni,
    I love your site — just found it.
    I make and sell PDF patterns —-I know what you are saying because when I first found out that they existed I just laughed and laughed. I have been a designer and patternmaker all my life, 40+ years in the rag trade. I just opened my little Etsy shop to see how it goes and plan a web site later. Yes it’s a bit fidely sticking it together BUT the upside is it’s really cheap and instantly available to everyone with a computer and a desk top printer. People who sew for fun usually don’t mind the sticky tape biz and once you’ve assembled one you usually get the idea and just do it automatically.
    Only spare a thought for all the work that goes into producing these little gems — it is a huge amount of work to get a pattern file ready for sale. I definitely agree with you that small is best when it comes to PDF patterns, that’s why I don’t do wedding dresses. I think if PDF patterns reach more people and encourage more poeple to sew that’s just great, it’s good for the soul to be able to say “I made it”. Steph.ReplyCancel