Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

Putting together PDF patterns

Sometimes it’s just not worth getting paper patterns. As beautiful as the packaging usually is, once you account for the extra costs and time of delivery etc. it’s often better just to print it out yourself at home.

It can be a bit daunting though, especially when you realise you’ve just printed out 47 A4 sheets that you now have to painstakingly put together!

But don’t fret, you can do it! Here are a few of my tips to help you out!

1. Triple check your printer settings! You don’t want to print out a ton of pages then realise it’s not set to 100% on the scale.

2. Check out the diagram showing the layout! This’ll give you an idea of the final product.

3. Only trim two edges per sheet! Pick 2 sides and only trim those for all the sheets. I always trim the right side and bottom edge. This means you can overlap the sheets to make it easier to line up and stick down.

4. Use tape sparingly! At least to start of with whilst you make sure everything is lined up. You can always add more later.

5. Trace off your size! Don’t cut it out as this gives you flexibility to make multiple sizes so you don’t feel like you’ve put in all that effort for just one!

It’s a time consuming process but worth it in the end (mostly)! 


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  1. I’ve been looking for tips for dealing with these beastly print-at-homes and it seems like you and I are on the same page. I guess there’s really not a magical solution to make assembly NOT take hours, ha!

    I will say that I don’t trace out my garment patterns — I’ve been cutting the print-offs. This is mostly because I’m usually on the larger end of pattern sizes so if, in the magical case, I have to go down a size while making or have to do so at a later date, I still can.

    That being said… have you tried the freezer paper option? Apparently freezer paper will iron on and peel off clean (most) fabrics eliminating the need for painstakingly pinning everything!

    1. Yeah, there’s no easy way around this chore! I’ve not tried with freezer paper though I always see lots of crafty things involving the stuff. Definitely something to try out in future! Does that mean having to cut out A4 sheets of freezer paper to then print out and cobble together? Maybe I’ll try it on a very small project…

      1. Unfortunately I imagine you’ll still have to piece together the PDF’s and then use the freezer paper from there — but I think you should be able to role out big pieces. Depending on the width, I bet you could fit whole pieces on one long piece of freezer paper (like pant legs or on the fold skirt pieces).

  2. I don’t think I’m ready for print-it-yourself patterns for another 10 years….unless I have an industrial A0 size printer at my disposal :p

    1. Haha! It’s doable if you have the time and patience. If not most of them come with a copy shop ready pdf so you can always find a local shop to print it out for you. Though really if you’re going to that much effort you might as well just buy the paper pattern…

  3. Do you find that most patterns are formatted for Letter size (8.5″x11″) and don’t convert to A4 easily? This is a major complaint I received in my survey. I wasn’t aware that the rest of the world used A4 paper.

    1. Really? All the patterns I’ve printed off so far have all been made for A4. Or they’ve used letter size and A4 as interchangeable figures at least. Sizing wise I’ve not really had any issues with any so far!

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