Downloadable Patterns Are Doable

Downloadable patterns are as close to instant gratification as a sewist can get. You never know when creativity will hit. It could be midnight or 5 a.m. The beauty of the downloadable is that when you’re itching to sew, you can find a pattern, buy it, download it and start sewing within a matter of minutes. No trip to the store. No waiting for the mail. You don’t even need to get out of your jammies. Just print and sew!

The technical machinations of purchasing, downloading, printing and creating a downloadable pattern for the first time can be a bit intimidating. All steps you’ll be able to accomplish with ease once you understand what each entails.

Step 1: Purchasing

PDF patterns contain the words ‘Downloadable Pattern’ in their product listing titles. To make browsing for a project easy, we’ve created categories that contain PDF patterns by project type including areas like Aprons, Clothing, and Quilts. To purchase a PDF pattern, add the item to your shopping cart just like any other product and checkout.

Step 2: Downloading

First off, you’ll need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (available for free) to view and print the PDF file on your computer. Just about any document download requires this software so chances are a copy is already installed on your machine.

Immediately after checkout, you’ll be greeted by our order confirmation page. The page includes a download button to copy the PDF file you just purchased to your computer. You can also download the purchase later by logging back into your Pink Chalk Fabrics account and following our download instructions. You never need to worry about ‘losing’ the pattern file. It is permanently associated with your Pink Chalk Fabrics account.

Step 3: Printing

You’ll need to decide if you want to print out the pattern or work off a computer screen. Alicia and I like to print the pattern pieces only, then work off the laptop or iPad for instructions. With the laptop/iPad placed next to the cutting mat it’s easy to scroll up and down the pattern as needed. Carrie and Jacqui prefer to print the whole file and work off the printed page.

All downloadable patterns at Pink Chalk Fabrics can be printed on your home printer using 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Easy peasy, right? Be careful here. When you select Print there is a window that comes up for the printer. On that page there will be a box that says shrink to fit or no scalingMake sure none or no scaling is selected. You may have to look under the properties button to find this setting. The goal is to print the pattern at 100%, also called actual size. Some designers place a 1″ square box on the pattern pieces to check your scale. Be sure to check the scale before cutting your fabric!

Step 4: Creating

Once you have the pattern pages printed, align the tabs that indicate how the pages go together, tape it, and cut it out. You’re ready to start sewing!

Now to share a personal story of forgetting to check the ‘do not scale’ box when printing the pattern. Above are two Modern Vintage Designs Crazy Daisy Aprons I made with the same pattern. One was printed without checking the printer settings. Notice how much smaller the front apron is? By not checking the scaling the apron was at least 2 inches smaller than it should be. When a pattern piece is off by even 1/2 inch, by the time that 1/2 inch is multiplied by 4 pattern pieces sewn together the shortage starts to add up quickly. A great lesson! One I’m sure I will never forget and hopefully you won’t need to experience!

Happy downloadable pattern sewing!


23 Responses to Downloadable Patterns Are Doable
  1. Stephanie Dunphy
    December 20, 2011 | 4:06 am

    Great tips! Most of my patterns are available PDF as well as hard copy. The scaling thing is vital information. :o)

  2. Katy
    December 20, 2011 | 5:12 am

    I tend to print the entire PDF once, and then the pattern pieces multiple times (as I have a both a desk top, and an occasional urge to make multiples, or to screw up…)

    I’ll have to admit to not being hung up by the scaling (unless it’s clothing) as unless you’re printing one sheet at a time of the pattern and turn it on/off part way through, it will still be a uniform size (unless of course there are non pattern bits you are also expected to cut) Possibly it’s because I design and make teddy bears, and it makes no odds whatseover if a pattern is a little big or a little small, but I do know some people that get irrationally hung up on it! Perhaps I shouldn’t admit to deliberatley blowing up/shrinking either…

  3. Lynnet
    December 20, 2011 | 5:57 am

    I LOVE the adorable apron!!! I’ve been using downloadable patterns for a while and love the instant access of shopping at home and getting it then. I’ve actually never thought about the “do not scale” box, but I will pay attention to it from now on. Great tip!

  4. Melanie
    December 20, 2011 | 6:29 am

    Very practical review and the aprons turned out so well. Thanks!

  5. Gina S.
    December 20, 2011 | 7:24 am

    Good tute! I too learned this the hard way. :)

  6. krystina
    December 20, 2011 | 7:56 am

    I love how the apron with the crabs turned out. So adorable!

  7. wendy
    December 20, 2011 | 8:14 am

    what is the fabric with the crabs on it? these aprons are super cute.

  8. Lorrie
    December 20, 2011 | 9:11 am

    Great explanation! I love the apron.

  9. wendy
    December 20, 2011 | 3:36 pm

    thanks diana! going to head over and order some now!

  10. Mary on Lake Pulaski
    December 20, 2011 | 6:48 pm

    I sure like the downloadable patterns and haven’t had any issue printing them.

  11. Beth T.
    December 20, 2011 | 8:26 pm

    One benefit of purchasing downloadable patterns is that I don’t panic when I’m in the middle of creating a quilt and can’t find my directions. (Which happens almost every time I make a quilt…) It’s right there, on my computer (and in my computer back-up).

  12. toni-anne
    December 20, 2011 | 9:17 pm

    In desperation and needing help I resorted to buying a pattern on line instead of waiting the usual weeks to order one..just didn’t have the liberty of time to use waiting. It paid off with my project getting done and the pattern was just~the~ticket, which took my tension right back to down to ‘normal’ again, I’m so pleased with being able to have access lovely things this way.

  13. Jennifer G. Miller
    December 21, 2011 | 6:01 am

    Sometimes it takes longer to learn the new tricks, but I agree, downloadable patterns is such a blessing!

  14. Heartsdesire
    December 21, 2011 | 7:04 am

    I love downloadable patterns because they are so instant. I live in Canada and when I order patterns from the US, it can take up to three weeks to get here. And who wants to wait that long when you are in sewing mode?

  15. JoAnn
    December 21, 2011 | 7:28 am

    good tips here, I also learned the hard way about scaling……

  16. Terri Hauge
    December 21, 2011 | 7:38 am

    Thanks for the info – great tips.

  17. Tamara
    December 21, 2011 | 8:32 am

    downloadable patterns are awesome! very convenient, I wish all patterns came that way… that dang tissue paper is so annoying and my cats are always trying to jump in and play with it lol.

  18. Mariana Galvagno
    December 21, 2011 | 1:14 pm

    I love those!!!!!!