Top tips on how to print, cut & tape a PDF Sewing Pattern

How to print, cut, and tape PDF sewing patterns.

Top Tips on how to print, cut, and tape a PDF sewing pattern!
Top Tips on how to print, cut, and tape a PDF sewing pattern!

If, like me, you spend your evenings surfing Instagram, Pinterest, and the other corners of the Interweb for inspiration of things to make, you’ve probably been struck by that impulse buy where a new digital sewing pattern just somehow falls into your inbox because you need to make it – like, now.   But then you’re faced with a 726 page document, that somehow you need to make into just 1 page, and somehow the inspiration fades slightly.

Is that just me?  Actually I’m much better at this now – I’ve done it often enough that the fear is more that my naughty dog will run away with one of the pages than problems putting it together.  So, just in case you need some tips too, here’s my top tips on how to put a PDF pattern together.

You will need:

Printer!
PDF File!
Tape (I like to use a cheap washi tape or masking tape)
Scissors and/ or rotary cutter
Ruler

Printing

The first thing to know is that you need to print your PDF to a certain size.  Now, don’t panic – the designer will have made their file just the right size, you just need to make sure your printer is set to print at ‘Actual Size’, or 100%.  Sometimes, you may have a little box on your print settings called something like ‘Scale to fit’ – and you need to make sure this box is NOT checked.

These days, digital sewing pattern designers sometimes throw in some fancy options, such as a layered version, where you can print only the size that you want, or a copyshop version.  We’re going to ignore all of these, and just go for the straight forward print option.

To save paper I quite often don’t print out the instructions – I can have these open on my ipad, so why waste paper?  I also, especially with children’s patterns where there’s a couple of different garment options, scroll down to the pages the precise garment I want to make is, and just select those to print.  This is easier with some patterns than others, but you do need to make sure you don’t miss any pieces.  I recently made the reversible jacket from the  Oliver + S Lullaby Layette, and from a document of 47 pages, I printed 9.

PDF Sewing Pattern

On one of the first pages of your document you’ll see a box with a size specified in it.  To save printing a bunch of scrap paper that’s all scaled to the wrong size, you might find it worth printing out that page and checking it’s the right size.  You want to measure that box, and check it’s the same size as it says it should be.

PDF Sewing Pattern
796 pages of pattern. Approximately.

So – if you’re all set up and ready to go, press print! You’ll probably end up with a chunk of paper that looks something like this.

Here, I’ve printed out the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Hunter Tank – check it, it’s totally cute.  I’m aiming to make it part of my summer wardrobe.

Cutting

This digital pattern has a border around the page, and page numbers, but you’ll find each designer uses a slightly different method, usually specifying a layout in the instructions, and/ or page numbers in the corners of the page.

If a pattern has a border around it, I usually trim 2 sides of the page.  I make sure it’s the same 2 sides on each page, so I can use the other non cut bit as a base for the overlap between pages.  You can see if you look closely, you can see the shadow below here where I’ve cut the right side and overlaid it on the left side of another.

PDF sewing patterns
Overlapping pattern pieces.

I do this to all of my pages to start off with, before laying them out.  It makes the process smoother later.

I use a quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter to cut these straight lines out – it speeds the process no end, although if you have a guillotine, that’d work too!

PDF Sewing Pattern
A rotary cutter is a good way to ensure you keep your lines straight!

Taping

Other people have favourite methods as to what sort of tape they use – my personal favourite is actually a washi tape.  The reason I like this, is that it’s fairly re-positionable.  If I stick wrong, I can just peel it up and start again.  It doesn’t hurt that it also looks pretty. You can pick up fairly cheap bulk packs on ebay.

You might find it useful to anchor your pages down with a weight – I use anything I have to hand – my phone, a mug, my rotary cutter.  It just stops me accidentally knocking one of the pages when I have my fingers covered in tape.

PDF Sewing Pattern
Use a weight to keep your pages from flapping!

Start taping your lines.  It’s best to look at the pattern lines and tape the actual pattern pieces rather than the blank space – that’s just a waste of tape! However you might need to sometimes tape blank space as an anchor for the whole. Concentrate on pattern piece edges, so you don’t have any loose flaps.

It’s wise to use your ruler – especially on trim pieces and grainlines to check they’re still straight

PDF Sewing Pattern
Use your ruler to make sure straight lines are still straight!

Try to stick your tape on straight.  See this tape below is a little wonky?  A bit of wonk like that can throw off lines massively a bit further up.  The reason I like the washi tape comes into play here – I can peel it off and stick it on straight.

PDF Sewing PAttern
If your tape gets wonky…

PDF sewing pattern

I like to put a tab of tape on the back of each place in a pattern piece where 4 pages intersect.

Once all your papers are stuck together, you can cut out the actual pattern.  Figure out your size – not from the size number, but from your measurements! – and either trace or go straight to cut out the size.

PDF sewing pattern
Cutting a PDF sewing pattern

Again I use a rotary cutter to cut out the pattern. The smaller the cutter the easier it is to get around the tight curves.  I’m using a 45mm blade here, but I often use a 28mm and it’s just so much easier!

pdf sewing pattern
Cutting a PDF sewing pattern

Once you’re done, you’re ready to go.  If I’m putting it away for a later use, I like to fold all the small pieces and tuck them into a bigger piece, store them in an envelope, and write the name of the pattern and size on the envelope.  I also write on the envelope how many pieces the sewing pattern has, so I don’t lose one along the way.  pdf sewing patternI’d like to know how you guys store your sewing patterns?  What’s your preferred method?

New Deliveries! And A Babygrow Play-Cube Tutorial

Well a lot of things have been happening at The Eternal Maker since we last spoke, as always we’ve had lots of lovely new deliveries of fabric but we’ve also had some bigger events going on in our lives too, like planning a new roof for our shop and one very special new delivery – our first Eternal Maker baby!
Yes, we are pleased to announce that our shop manager Rachael had a baby boy shortly after Christmas last year, so in his honour, here’s a simple make, for all new arrivals. It can be made with cotton jersey fabric or upcycled babygrows – a lovely way to get more use from those first favourite outfits!

You will need:

At least three babygrows or vests (we used four, first size, vests)
Or….. a selection of any other fabrics. Cotton jerseys give you a lovely soft finish and organic options are great for chewing too! (One long quarter will be enough for your cube but it will look nicer if you use a variety of fabrics) Brushed cottons or minky-type “cuddles” fabric will give you fun textures for feeling.
One long quarter of Vilene
Some toy stuffing
Needles and thread and/or sewing machine
Scraps of “Bondaweb” if doing any applique
Jingle bells and child proof pot, or teddy squeakers, are optional

1) If you are using fabric by the metre skip to next instruction.
If you are using babygrows or vests, start by cutting away any seams and poppers, leaving the largest pieces of flat fabric you can. From vests you will get one piece from the front and one from the back. From babygrows you may get two pieces from the front or back.

 

2) Measure your fabric pieces to work out the largest size square you can cut from them. We managed to get 6″ squares. Cut six 6″ squares (or your required size) from your Vilene and mark 1/2″ seam allowance guides on all edges with a pencil on the side that ISN’T iron-on (as shown in the picture below). Iron these Vilene squares onto the reverse of your vest or fabric pieces. We have placed some diagonally because we wanted the stripes on the finished cube to be diagonal.

3) Iron the Vilene squares down on the reverse of your fabric and cut out the fabric following the edges of the Vilene. You will need 6 squares to make your cube.

4) We wanted to be a bit fancy and add some applique – if you don’t want to do this skip to instruction number 8.
These vests had little animal pictures on that we wanted to use. We cut a heart shape from “bondaweb” that matched the size of the applique we wanted to attach. Then we ironed this on the reverse of the picture – making sure to centre the picture as best as possible.

5)Then we cut out the heart shape from the fabric following the edge of the ironed-on “bondaweb” heart. Removed the paper backing and then ironed on the hearts onto the centre of a couple of the cube squares.

6) So you should now have 6 Vilene-backed squares with any applique on you fancy.

7) Use a small zig-zag stitch to sew on any applique.

8) Start stitching the squares together. Lay them with right sides facing each other and stitch together, following the 1/2″ seam allowance guide. Make sure you begin and finish you stitching where the two seam allowance guides cross (otherwise your cube’s corners won’t work).

 

 

9) Continue joining squares to form a cross shape.

 

10) When you join the squares next door to other squares make sure to stop where the seam allowance guides cross – this will give you a nice sharp corner.

 
 
 

11) Keep working – stitching all the seams together – pulling your work up into a cube as you go. Be careful to only ever sew through two layers of fabric – it’s easy to catch another layer in your stitching near the corners so make sure extra layers are pulled out of the way as you go.

12) Make sure you leave a gap in the final seam you join for turning. To keep your corners sharp – leave this gap in the centre of one seam and stitch together the final corners as before.

13) Tie off any threads and turn your cube the right way out.

14) We wanted our cube to rattle so we placed jingle bells inside a child-proof pot and put this inside the cube, well surrounded by stuffing. This is entirely optional, if you are not happy using a child-proof pot you could add teddy squeakers or just stuff the cube normally. Make sure you push stuffing hard into the corners of the cube to help it keep it’s shape.

15) Sew up the hole you stuffed your cube through and you’re finished!

All you need now is to find a small person to enjoy it!
 

 

New shop samples!

The girls are busy making up new samples for the shop and I thought I’d write about this one on the blog quickly! This tote is so simple to make and we’ve got a free DIY tutorial for it here! The outer, lining and straps fabric all came from the same single 80cm cut of fabric and because the fabric used is so fantastically different across the whole width, it makes the perfect reversible bag! The fabric used is Echino Decoro 2013 Rhythm, which you can find here amongst some other great options!

Little House Playmat Sew Along – Week One

Welcome to the first instalment of our brand new sew-along series! For the next 5 weeks we will be showing you how to complete this super cool playmat – complete with
front-opening panels, window pockets and felt animals to ignite your child’s imagination and make playtime extra fun!!

This 100% totally cute play mat measures 80cm X 80cm when closed up, and opens out to approximately 160cm wide! Below you’ll find all the requirements you will need for each
week. We’ll be posting each stage of making every Monday for five whole weeks and you’ll have this project finished well in time for Christmas!
Each week be sure to have on hand general sewing tools and thread in a variety of colours. Outlined below I have added a list of materials you’ll need each week so you can be prepared!

WEEK ONE – CUTTING OUT
For the first week we will be prepping and cutting out our fabrics ready to sew. This week you will need the following items:
  • One House panel piece Or create your own! (Ours measures 60cm x 80cm approximately.) If you  do create your own you will also need two pieces of fabric for the sky measuring approximately 60cm x 12cm. And don’t forget if you are making your own panel you could scale up or down if you wish.
  • 25cm x 110cm dark brown fabric for inside of roof.
  • 90cm x 110cm fabric for backing – we used this brick type fabric but you can use anything, you’re not going to see it most of the time it’s being played with as
    it will be facing the floor!
  • 90cm x 110cm fabric for the outside of your door panels –
    again we used the brick type fabric.
  • 45cm x 110cm of fabric for inside door panels  x 2 – these can match or be different  – it’s up to you.
  • 90cm x 90cm squares x 2 of wadding – we used “insul-fleece
    because it makes a nice rustling sound inside the mat but you can use any wadding you like.

General instructions – when sewing pieces together, unless
otherwise stated,  always stitch with
right sides facing, using a 1cm seam allowance, and then open out and iron
seams flat. Keep hold of all your scraps as they will come in handy later on!

OK, let’s begin! First of all, cut out your house
panel as shown in picture one  – removing the sky pieces from the sides and saving for later.
Picture One
Fold your cut out panel in half vertically and lay out on your cutting
surface. Take your 25cm roof fabric and also fold this in half as shown in
Picture two.  The folded edges of the
panel and of the roof should be on the same side. Now using the top corners of
the panel as a guide, cut down diagonally from the top of the folded edge of
the roof piece, to the top corners of the panel – making a triangular roof
shape when the fabric is opened out again.
Picture Two
Open out your roof piece and your house panel – now sew
these together, joining the long bottom edge of the roof piece to the top edge
of the house panel.
Now use these joined roof and panel pieces as a template to
cut out your backing fabric ( we used the same brick type print that we will
use for the front of the house as well.) These two stages are shown in Picture three below.
Picture Three
Take one of your inside door fabrics and lay it out on your cutting surface. Now take
your house and roof panel again and fold it in half vertically down the middle from the
point of the roof to the centre bottom edge. Lay this onto of your inside door
panel fabric. (You will use the folded roof and house panel as a template to
cut your inside door panels, and your outside door panels.) Cut your inside
door panel following the line of the roof exactly, and the line of the bottom
of the house exactly, BUT add  an extra
1cm to the longest vertical seam allowance – as shown with the arrow in Picture Four below – this is necessary so that the doors meet in the middle when the playmat
is closed up.
Picture Four
Repeat this process to cut your other inside door panel –
REMEMBER this must be the mirror image of the inside door panel you have just
cut  – as shown in picture five below. (Remember to keep
the scraps of  fabric you have cut off as
you will need these next week.)
Picture Five
Now repeat this process again to cut out two mirror image
pieces from your front door panel fabric (remembering to again add the extra
1cm to the vertical cut line) – we used the brick pattern fabric.
Now cut out your wadding pieces – you need to cut out one
large piece the same size as your roof and house panel and two smaller pieces
the same size as you door panels.
Now you are all cut out and ready to go.
To summarise, you should now have cut out……
  • 1 x house and roof panel
  • 2 x mirror image inside door panels
  • 2 x mirror image outside door panels
  • 1 x backing piece (the same size as the house and roof
    piece)
  • 1 x wadding piece (the same size as the house and roof
    piece)
  • 2 x wadding pieces (the same size as the door panels)
Make sure you save all your scraps as you will need these to complete your playmat. If you have any questions, please use the comments section or you can tweet us @eternalmaker! See you next  Monday when we begin the appliqué decoration!

Here’s what you’ll need for the following four weeks:

WEEK TWO and THREE – APPLIQUE DECORATION
You will need:

  • Fusible web “Bondaweb” or “WonderUnder” – approximately 1
    metre.
  • Medium iron-on interfacing – approximately 1 metre.
  • Scraps of fabric for door, curtains, boxes in the roof  and other decorative appliqués in a variety of
    colours. The largest size piece will be for the appliqué door which is 17cm x
    25cm.
  • 3 x grey fabric pieces 20cm x 16cm
  • 12mm bias binding in white for the sash windows –
    approximately 5 metres
  • 25mm bias binding white for the sash windows – approximately
    6 metres
  • 12mm bias binding for the door appliqué in a colour of your
    choice – approximately 2 metres
  • 12mm bias binding in brown for the beams in roof –
    approximately 1 metre
  • 25mm bias binding in brown for the inside door – approximately
    1 metre
  • 25mm bias binding in beige for the boxes in the roof –
    approximately 2 metres
  • (You will also need the fabric scraps that you saved from cutting
    your house panel pieces last week)
  • And a removable (either wash or fade away) fabric marker
    would also be very useful if you have one.
WEEK FOUR – CONSTRUCTION
You will need:
  • Webbing tape – 1 metre
  • Sew on “Velcro” 1/2 metre

WEEK FIVE – INHABITANTS OF YOUR DOLLS HOUSE

You will need:

  • Scraps of woolfelt and embroidery thread
  • Toy stuffing

Felt Heart Garland – Valentine’s Tutorial

I’ve whipped up a quick tutorial to share with you all, This garland is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t made one before! I know I’ve left it a bit late what with Valentine’s day only two days away but I promise you, this will only take you around an hour or two at most and the result is SO PRETTY!

 Materials:

  • Strips of felt in your chosen colours, I used 10cm strips of our lovely woolfelt in Driftwood, Mediterranean Mist and Ruby Red Slipper and still had leftovers for other projects! 
  • Thread to match
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors / Rotary Cutter/ Cutting mat
  • Beading thread (or any heavy weight thread)
  • Needle

Ok so first things first, we’re going to chop down some of that felt. I started off with Ruby Red Slipper, I halved it to get a 10cm x 45cm strip (discard one half for now), then halved again so I was left with two strips of 5cm x 45cm, again discard one of these and halve your remaining strip so you’re left with two 5cm x 22.5cm strips.

Next up we’re going to do some sewing! Thread your machine with a thread that matches your felt and with one strip on top of the other, sew one of the long sides around 3/16ths of an inch from the edge. Because we’re going to be cutting through this later you’ll want to sew a second row of stitches so it’s extra secure.

Now, this is where the magic happens! Remove your strip from the machine, open the strips and fold them back on themselves so you’ve got a long heart shaped tube!

Cool huh? Next up you need to sew the bottom of your heart in the same way around 3/16ths of an inch from the edge remembering to stitch a second row.

Snip all your loose ends and lay your heart tube flat on a cutting mat. Using a ruler, cut your tube into 2cm slices.

Repeat with your remaining colours! I varied the sizes of mine, for Driftwood I used 4cm x 22.5cm strips and for Mediterranean Mist I used 7cm x 22.5cm strips. I also made another strip in Ruby Red Slipper this time 10cm x 22.5cm.


For the larger hearts I stitched a second row where the top of the heart forms at 5/15ths of an inch from the edge to give them a bit more shape.

Next you have two choices, to have a vertical or horizontal garland. I’ve shown both variations both here for comparison! For the horizontal Garland, arrange your hearts in a fashion you’re happy with.

Cut around 1.5m of beading thread, knot a loop in one end and thread your needle on the other, begin threading your felt hearts onto your needle and thread making sure to stay relatively close to the top of each heart otherwise they’ll want to hang upside down!

Continue until you’ve got as many hearts on there as you like, tie a loop at the end of your thread and there you have it, one cute Valentine’s Garland!

For the Vertical garland, loop one end of your thread as before and simply thread your hearts from top to bottom instead! You could finish these off with buttons, beads or anything you like!

 Have fun! If you make one of these we would love to see it!
Louise ♥