How to Print and Tape Sewing Patterns at Home

scattered pages of a sewing pattern on a wood floor with scotch tape and scissors

You’re super excited to start a Creativebug sewing class. You’ve purchased all your fabric and notions, and you’re ready to print out your sewing pattern. You download the class PDF, but there’s a lot in that PDF, and you’re not quite sure what to print or what to do with all the pages. Don’t panic!

With all of Creativebug’s amazing sewing classes, we sometimes get questions about how to print and assemble a digital sewing pattern at home. Generally, when you shop for patterns, you might have a few options for receiving them:

  1. Purchasing an already printed pattern from a designer or store
  2. Purchasing a digital pattern and sending the copyshop/A0 version to a printer
  3. Purchasing a digital pattern and printing the “print at home” version yourself on regular 8 ½ x 11” or A4 paper and taping all the sheets together

The third option – while the least expensive – can seem overwhelming, so here is a quick guide to printing and taping your sewing patterns at home.

Step 1: Download the Pattern

In this post, we’ll be using the pattern for Tabitha Sewer’s Ella Blouse, since that’s where the comment pictured above originated.

To download the pattern, click on the “PDF Download” icon underneath the video player.

This will actually take you to the bottom of the Materials tab. Click on the pattern link and the class PDF will download to your computer’s “Downloads” folder.

2. Print the Pattern

When you open up the PDF, you’ll notice pages and pages of instructions and patterns. On page 2, you’ll see that we’ve included a little table of contents. For printing at home, you only need to print out pages 10-30, since those contain the pattern for at-home printing.

However, before you start printing out all those pages, let’s print out a test page first. All computers and printers are set up a bit differently, and you want to be sure your print-outs are the right size, so that your sewing project will be the right size. Most patterns will include a test square so that you know you’re on the right track. For this pattern, you’ll see a 2 inch x 2 inch square on page 13, so print only page 13 for now.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure your printer is not making any of its own adjustments in the size of what you’re printing, for instance, “scale to fit.” You want to make sure the scale of the print is 100%. This particular printer wanted to default to “scale to fit” at “106%” and that would have given us too large of a print. Again, these settings will look different from computer to computer, but they should be easy to find and toggle.

Note four important points above: 1) Only print page 13 with the test square, 2) Make sure the paper size is correct, 3) Select “scale” and NOT “scale to fit”, 4) Make sure the scale is 100%. Your view will probably look different than this, but be sure you’re properly setting those four points. Then click “print.”

Grab a ruler and make sure the square on your printed page is actually 2 inches x 2 inches (or whatever measurement the test square indicates). If the square is off, you’ll want to double check the above settings and try again, especially the scale and the paper size. For instance, if you choose an 8.5 x 11 inch BORDERLESS print, your print and square may also turn out too large.

When your square measures correctly, go ahead and print out the whole print-at-home pattern, pages 10-30.

Step 3. Trim the Border

There is a border line around each page of the pattern. You need to trim each page at this line. A paper cutter comes in handy for this task, but you can use scissors as well. Get as close to the black border line as possible, as extra slivers of white will make assembly a bit more fussy. Instead of cutting, you can also fold one edge of one page on the black line, and then tape it to the next page. Everyone has their own favorite method.

Step 4: Tape the Pages

Here’s where all the pages come together! The class PDF comes with a guide on page 3 that shows you how all the pattern pages will lay out. So you have 7 pages across and 3 rows down. Each page is boldly numbered to make this assembly very clear. The small black diamonds will help you align all the pages correctly. Whether you lay everything out first and then tape, or whether you assemble and tape together one page after the other, or whether you tape together pages that are part of one piece of the pattern at a time (e.g. taping up the front of the shirt first and then taping up the back of the shirt) is entirely up to you.

When matching up the first two pages, make sure the little triangles on both pages align to create a diamond. On other patterns, this can also be a circle or any other shape. Keep an eye on the lines in the pattern, since they need to flow smoothly from one page to the next without disconnecting.

It may be difficult to see in the photo, but there is a piece of clear tape over the black diamond between pages 1 and 2. Two more small pieces of tape at the top and bottom where the pages intersect will ensure that your pages don’t shift as you keep adding more pages.

Keep remembering that the black diamond is a good initial guide but that you also have to keep an eye on any of those lines intersecting from one page to the next. You don’t want any shifting in those, or you will have a time tough tracing or cutting your pattern.

The puzzle gets really fun when you start the 2nd row. Take your time, go slowly, and trim off or fold away any extra remaining white edges around your borders. If you take shortcuts on removing the border, the taping part will be more work.

And, you’re finished!

If you’re not sure how to get from this pattern to cutting your fabric, check out Liesl Gibson’s class on “How to Read a Sewing Pattern.” Begin with the chapter named “Understanding the pattern tissue.” Liesl guides you through tracing your paper pattern onto tissue paper and cutting out your fabric pieces.

What if I really don’t want to tape all these pages together?

Taping the pattern yourself only requires your home printer, regular printer paper, clear tape, and maybe scissors. This is why it’s such a popular option. However, when you’re taping together a pattern with over 30 pieces of paper, you might start thinking about your time/patience vs. cost.

You can call up your local copy shop like Kinkos or Staples and ask if they have a large format printer to print on A0 or  36″ x 48″ (copyshop) paper. If so, you can send them just page 31 or 32. Pricing will vary depending on the shop.

Some popular websites that will print and ship your large format print-outs are:

U.S.A. –  PDFPlotting.com, PatternPrintingCo.Com, StitchSewShop.com

Canada – SewYYC.com, TheBusinessBox.com, TheFabricSnob.com

U.K. – PrintingAndPlotting.co.uk, FlamingoPrints.co.uk, PrintEasyUk

Happy sewing!

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