Elizabeth Street

PDF Patterns vs. Paper Patterns

MakingLiz Tubman2 Comments

 With spring sewing happening in my little maker world, I've been working with and purchasing some new patterns in different formats.  I spent time mentally debating the merits of PDF vs. paper patterns in my own sewing, and thought it might be a helpful post for other sewers out there, especially newer ones.  Here's my pro/con list for each format:

PDF Patterns:

  • you can print off as many as you want - if you cut out the wrong size, just re-print it
  • instant gratification
  • easier to store (digital!)
  • more work to put together
  • tend to be less expensive

Verdict: PDF patterns work best for simple garments with only a few pattern pieces, like the Scout Tee from Grainline Studio

Paper Patterns:

  • easier to cut out
  • you have to trace pieces rather than cut them out if you want to make multiple sizes of a garment
  • beauty of ephemera; I love having the physical envelope + pattern booklet in my hands
  • tend to be more expensive

Verdict: paper patterns work best for more complicated garments; anything that has lots of pieces like the Minoru Jacket from Sewaholic

In the end, the garment itself usually dictates which format I'll purchase.  I've used both and I'm sure I'll continue buying both print and PDF versions.  I've got a few tricks when it comes to putting PDF patterns together that I'll share later this week as well!