I tried it: large printing PDF patterns

20171014_0843131060656346.jpgI hate PDF patterns. This is not a secret. I tried, and failed, to make one Burda Magazine pattern work. I find printing and taping and tracing PDF patterns incredibly tedious and cannot wrap my head around why anyone would ever opt to print out their own patterns when perfectly good, pre-printed patterns are available.

20171106_091424251203562.jpgWhen I started preparing to make my Kelly anorak, I called my local fabric shop to confirm that the lining expansion did indeed only exist as a PDF. Not only did they confirm this, but also that they were temporarily out of the print edition of the jacket pattern itself.

img_20171019_115031_0161235535988.jpgThe very helpful woman on the phone suggested that I look into getting the pattern printed professionally instead of cutting and pasting it on my living room floor myself. I immediately set to investigating. If, like me, you hate PDF patterns, but know you can’t completely avoid them, read on to find out what I learned.

  • If you are printing with Staples, you want to order “engineering prints” (not a poster – they are ridiculously expensive). On the website, engineering prints come in standard sizes, but you can get custom sizes at a price per foot. In order to get them custom printed, you either need to go in to place your order, or you can select one of the standard sizes when ordering and call in to the store to tell them verbally what you would like.
  • The paper is fairly flexible and doesn’t need to be re-traced on pattern paper. Part of the reason I never had success with PDF patterns was I never took the time to trace the pieces on pattern paper and attempted to use the stiff, taped together pieces that refused to lay flat or were impossible to pin.
  • Tons of people get this done (according to the young gentleman who served me), so they know what they are doing. You don’t need to worry about your pattern being printed at the wrong size.
  • Invest in a mailing tube if you plan to do this often. Check first that it’s the right size before you buy it.
  • If you don’t live near a printer, this isn’t terribly convenient. Especially if you need to go in twice (once to place the order and again to pick up). Consider planning ahead and getting a couple of patterns printed at once.
  • This isn’t terribly cheap. I spent about $40 getting my jacket pattern printed. Keep in mind that jacket patterns are massive and I also got the lining printed, too.
  • Printed paper patterns are not as easily folded in a teeny envelope like their tissue counterparts, so plan to stuff this one is a larger, probably 8 1/2 x 11, manila envelope.

If you hate PDF patterns, but have no other way to get going on your make, this is absolutely something to try.

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