How to Print PDF Sewing Patterns {with Video}


Printing Your PDF Patterns to Scale

Please note: This article was updated May 26, 2024. 

First, we suggest downloading the latest Adobe Reader. You can download it here for free!

Once the program is downloaded, open the pattern file you wish to print. For home printing you would want to use the US letter or the A4 file. 

Printing Only Your Size With Layers

Two lessons ago, we went over sizing yourself to find your correct size in any given sewing pattern. Now that you know what size you are, you can use a handy feature available in many PDF sewing patterns.

The layers feature is a newer trend in the sewing space, so it isn’t available in all PDF patterns. When shopping for PDF patterns look for things like, “print only your size” or “layers available” to know whether it is a part of that particular pattern. All this means is that the pattern maker has separated the different sizes onto different layers, and you, as the user, are able to choose which sizes you want to print.

Here is a comparison picture of the same pattern page printed with all the size layers, versus just one size. As you can see, you’ll be using a lot less ink and it’ll be a lot clearer where to cut.

Comparing layers in a PDF Sewing Pattern

This comes in major handy because most patterns have somewhere around 8 different sizes available. It’s easy to get lost in all of the lines when you print all of the sizes. You also can save some paper and ink by only printing the pages that have your size. If your pattern doesn’t have layers, skip this section. If your pattern does have layers this is how you’ll go about selecting yours!

When your PDF pattern file is opened in Adobe, please follow the steps in the photo below:
Steps for showing layers in Adobe.png
With layers enabled, you will see something like this on the left side of your screen. 
Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 8.44.00 AM.png
Click on the boxes next to each layer to remove the eye graphics. This will de-select the layers you DON'T want and will keep the layers you DO want. Let's say you only want layer 5, deselect everything but layer 5, the Labels Layer, and the No Trim Print Guide.
Your screen should now look like this:
Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 8.44.24 AM.png
That's it! You should now be able to print your pattern with only size 5!  If you wanted to keep other layers (if you are grading between sizes, for example) you would want to make sure those layers are selected. 

Print Settings

Now that you have your size layer selected, you’re ready to print! First, you’ll need to figure out which pages you’ll need to print. Some patterns will have a chart telling you which pages you’ll need to print for your size. Others you’ll just have to scroll through the pages and note which pages in the file have the pattern pieces on them.

Once you know what pages to print go ahead and go to File > Print. From there you need to pay attention to two of your printing options.

  1. First is your page selection space. In this section click the radio button for “Pages” (by default it will have “All” selected). Then next to pages, go ahead and specify which pages you want to print. If this is the first time you are printing a pattern and want to ensure you are printing at the correct scale, print the first page or whatever page has a tester square. 
  2. The second option you need to pay attention to is the Page Scaling. Make sure you have “None” selected. If you have any other option selected it will resize the page. And a resized page means a resized pattern.
  3. If you do not have a scaling option, you'll want to select "at actual size" or "100% scale." 

Then click Print!

Checking Your Printing

After you have printed your pattern pages, look for your sizing square. With U.S. patterns it is usually a 1″ x 1″ square. Size it up with your ruler and make sure it measures the dimensions it’s supposed to.

If you printed at actual size or 100% scale and your tester square is not measuring correctly, follow the steps below!

Checking your 1 inch print box

1. Check Printer Settings

1. Paper Size:

    • Ensure the printer is set to the correct paper size (e.g., A4, Letter) that matches the pattern file.

2. Scaling:

    • Make sure the printer is set to print at "100%" or "Actual Size". Avoid any options like "Fit to Page" or "Scale to Fit".

3. PDF Viewer Settings:

    • When printing from a PDF viewer (like Adobe Acrobat), check the print dialog settings. Ensure "Actual Size" or "Custom Scale: 100%" is selected.

2. Adjust for Margins and Handling

1. Page Margins:

    • Some printers have default margins that can affect the printed size. Check if there are settings to minimize margins or set them to zero.

2. Handling Paper and Alignment:

    • Ensure the paper is loaded correctly and flat. Misalignment can cause slight discrepancies.

3. Test and Calibrate

1. Print Test Pages:

    • Print a test page with test squares. Measure the printed squares to check for accuracy.

2. Adjust Print Settings:

    • If the test squares are slightly under, try adjusting the custom scale percentage in small increments. For example, if the test square measures 31/32 inch (or about 24.5 mm instead of 25 mm), you might try printing at 101% or 102%. If the test square is measuring slightly over, you might try printing at 98% or 97%. 

Additional Tips
1. Update Printer Drivers:

    • Ensure your printer drivers are up-to-date. Sometimes, outdated drivers can cause scaling issues.

2. Consult Printer Manual:

    • Check the printer’s manual for any specific settings related to scaling or printing accuracy.

By following these steps, you should be able to adjust your printer settings to achieve the exact measurements needed for your sewing pattern!

Now you're ready to print a pattern! Don’t have any PDF patterns yet? Hop on over to our free patterns and download one for free.

With all of your pattern pieces printed, now it’s time to tape, cut and organize those suckers! Learn how to do that here!

-- Archived by Holly Hetzner

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