PDF sewing patterns – copyshop or print at home?

PDF sewing patterns – people either love them or hate them, but whichever camp you’re in then if you sew indie patterns it’s hard to escape them.

Why not just use a printed pattern?

Many indie designers only offer pdfs, with some patterns starting life as pdfs and then going into print later if they’re financially successful. (Morgan from Thread Theory explained her decision-making process for this on the Thread Theory blog.) Likewise, some indie patterns that were available in print can now only be bought as pdfs – as set out in this poignant blog post from By Hand London.

I love the instant fix of a pdf pattern – you can start sewing the same day without waiting for the post. That counts for more if you’re ordering from overseas. They’re great for patterns you might want to sew in multiple sizes: you don’t have to trace, you can just print them again and cut out another size. Great if you sew for ever-growing children.

Go large, or cut and paste?

But do you print and stick at home, or do you prefer to use the copyshop files?

Until recently I’d always printed out the pattern on A4 paper, and then laboriously stuck it together myself. It is a pain but you can finish it in an hour and get started straight away. And for childrenswear , the pieces aren’t that large so I didn’t use up all our ink or printer paper.

But last month I ordered 3 pdfs at once – the Sallie jumpsuit, the Ginger jeans and the Fairfield button-up shirt – so I started to look into the copyshop option because I couldn’t face so much cutting and sticking. After a few phone emails and calls, I found a local business that would print my patterns onto A0 paper for £3 per sheet (Each of these patterns has three A0 sheets.)

Admittedly, this made the total cost comparable with the printed version, even given the favourable CAD/GBP exchange rate. But it has saved time overall, and made the whole experience more like buying a printed pattern. Plus I get to keep the files and I can always re-print them at any time if I need to. So on balance, I’ll probably do it again for larger garments.

Which option do you prefer, and have you found a great UK copyshop you’d recommend to others?

And does anyone know why the Big 4 pattern companies (except Burda) don’t offer pdfs?

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