How To Assemble A PDF Sewing Pattern

When you want a pattern right this minute and can’t wait to have it shipped, pdf sewing patterns are a great way to get started asap. While they are a timesaver, they do take some time to assemble a PDF sewing pattern correctly so you get all the benefit of your new pattern.

PDF Sewing Patterns And Printing

Assemble a pdf sewing pattern

Before you print out your entire pattern, which can be upwards of 40 pages or more, print out the test square. Typically, a pdf pattern will have a 4″ x 4″ square block on the first or second page to print out and measure. This allows you to test your printer/pattern ratio to ensure you are printing the pattern to the correct size.

The free sewing pattern I used from McCall’s offered no test block, so my measuring options were limited. I used the registration mark for the finished garment bust measurement to make sure my pattern fit. The + in a circle will give your the finished garment measurements for that section of the garment. In the photo above you can see that the bust measurement for the size 14 is 40.5 inches. I can measure the paper pattern to make sure it measures 40.5 inches plus all the required seam allowances. This way I am confident my pattern will fit correctly.

Free Sewing Patterns

Free sewing patterns can be a big money saver, however they should be approached with caution. Downloadable free sewing patterns are not all created equal. The free McCall’s 7948 pattern I downloaded from Minerva is no longer available for free. I knew I would get a well drafted pattern from McCall’s. Downloading from an independent brand, you are taking your chances that the pattern is well drafted and easy to assemble.

Pro Tip: To keep up-t0-date on free pattern offerings, sign up for the Sewing With Sandi and my free 21 Tips To Take Your DIY Garment From Homemade To High End email newsletter. I send out links to quality free sewing patterns when they are available. And, like this McCall’s pattern, I often produce a sew-along to go with the free pattern.

Note: McCall’s 7948 Sew Along coming soon in a summery 1/8″ yellow gingham fabric.

Now You Have Your Pattern

assemble a pdf sewing pattern

Once you have printed your pattern, You have a stack of printer paper with odd hash marks, dots, lines, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming.

First, there should be a map of how to tape the pieces together, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are all the same size.

I like to trim the left edge and top edge, I feel it is easier to tape the pieces together and I get a crisper lineup.

Second, you need a large surface to hold the final taped pattern — even the floor if that works for you.

Begin with the top row and tape across lining up edges and hash marks. When you begin the second row, you need to take care to line up the top and side edges as you move across the pattern. Then simply follow the pieces along in straight rows.

Pro Tip: Once you feel comfortable taping patterns together, you can tape them piecemeal and cut out pattern pieces as you complete them. This will allow you to finish cutting out the pattern without needing a large surface space.

Pitfalls When Taping PDF Patterns

assembly a pdf sewing pattern

When printing so many pages, my little home printer frequently skips a page or two and I need to go back and reprint one — not ideal, but an easy fix.

Also, occasionally, the pdf pattern is missing some of the draft lines for here and there. Just like the orange lines in the photo above, you need to use your sewing prowess to assess what lines are missing and fill them in for yourself.

You will also need to download the instructions for the pattern and print or use digitally as you sew the designer style together.

Sewing With PDF Patterns

You can save time and money using pdf and free pdf patterns in your sewing room. They are typically easy sewing projects you can add to your sewing pattern collection. While they are a timesaver, they do take some time to assemble a PDF sewing pattern correctly so you get all the benefit of your new pattern.

Happy Sewing



Start on the best sewing path, all you need are the best tools. Here is a list of my favorite sewing tools — The Ultimate List of My Favorite Sewing Supplies.

Make your garments better with my free 21 Tips To Take Your DIY Garment From Homemade To High End

Do you love Sew Alongs and Sewing Tips and Tricks? My Youtube channel Barrett’s Custom Design is filled with great sewing techniques served up with a few laughs. 

My Sewing With Sandi Etsy Shop has over 500 hard to find women’s, men’s, and children’s patterns. You will find little girls’ bows, a few sewing notions, sewing kits, but mostly lots and lots of patterns. 

Enjoy personalized sewing instruction, one-to-one zoom time, and exclusive patterning and sewing videos with a membership at Sewing With Sandi. We will make beautiful clothes together.

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