Over the past couple of months I’ve watched and asked how other sewists assemble PDF patterns. For years I’ve been trimming and taping and had no idea there was multiple ways to assemble PDF patterns until I started asking. It turns out everyone has their own way of assembling patterns, and each way has two steps no matter what you choose.

You can try a different way to see which is easiest and fastest for you! Which way do you assemble PDF patterns?

There are affiliate links in this post. All opinions are my own. 

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

The tools I used in this post are:

Trim and Tape

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

The way I thought there was to assemble patterns and the way I’ve been assembling patterns since I started using PDF patterns was to trim off the edges first and them tape them together. After awhile I just skipped trimming and would tape them with the overlap still on.

It would make it hard to cut, but I hating trimming! I think it’s the slowest for me and the way I work. This is very accurate though and looks the nicest.

Tape and Trace Using a Window

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

I saw this way to assemble on Instagram from Hey June Handmade and was blown away. You tape the pattern onto a window which lets you see through the overlapped edges. Then you draw all the lines obscured by the overlaps so that you can see them.

It’s a smart and efficient way to assemble your patterns, but it only works during the day when it’s light outside. You also need to have a large window to work with. This is my largest window without a separator, so it’s not a very good option for me. It’s very fast though!

Tape and Trace Using a Bright Pad

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

I almost always assemble my PDF patterns at night when my kids are sleeping so I needed a non-trimming + tracing option I could use at night. Enter the Bright Pad*.

You do the same as a window by not cutting off the edges and taping the pattern together. The light helps you line up the lines correctly and trace the obscured lines onto the overlap. It’s not as big as a window so you do have to do some moving and shuffling, but it’s great to use at night.

Also, the pad makes papers stick to it. It’s easier to tape because however the Bright Pad is designed, the papers don’t move when you place tape on the paper. (We’ve all been taping and had the papers move just slightly when you place the tape making you have to rip it off and do it again!)

Print using PDF Plotting

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

The last way to assemble a PDF pattern is my recent favorite. I’ve tried printing a A0 size pattern at a copyshop only to have it cost more than the digital copy of the pattern, and the copyshop got the scale all wrong! You can still use the A0 pdf file to print a pattern without it costing too much.

Use PDF Plotting to print your patterns. You send all your A0 files in and mark what size they are and how many sheets you have, they print it for you, and ship it to your house. It arrives as a giant roll of all your patterns!

It does cost money, but it’s really cheap compared to a copyshop. I love the time it saves me. Print multiple patterns at a time so that you can save on shipping, or even share the cost with a sewing friend and both get your patterns printed.

Once your patterns arrive you can trace or cut depending on who it’s for and how you want to save the patterns.

If you make something using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns // heatherhandmade.com

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Author: Heather Handmade

I'm a seamstress and mother. I sew, blog, thrift, upcycle, design fabric, and teach sewing classes. I'm also a self-proclaimed fabric fondler.

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