All About E-Patterns
Not all downloadable patterns are created equal. Read on to learn how to find the ones that are worth the printer paper.
Pros & Cons
Consumers are shopping online more and more, and sewists are no exception. We roam the Internet constantly to support and enhance our stitching hobby, reading blogs, participating in chat rooms and online sewing lessons, and buying supplies. So why not use that same channel to buy downloadable sewing patterns?
The discussion of offering patterns online has been on the table for a long time, but there were some technical hurdles. Finally, companies large and small are dipping their toes into this new era of downloadable patterns, from garments to crafts.
There are advantages and disadvantages to consider before downloading a sewing pattern. The cost of a pattern download is less than buying a printed pattern. But the best part is the instant gratification: Buy it now and wear it tomorrow.
The downsides are that the current selections are limited, the styles are often simple without a lot of details, and some patterns require numerous 8 1/2"x11" pieces of paper and time to tape them together.
Despite some drawbacks, downloading patterns is fun and easy, and definitely a trend that's here to stay.
There are two ways to obtain patterns that require downloading and printing. Some patterns are only available on a CD, generally along with a book illustrating the construction techniques and photos of the garments. Others are only available online as a download.
A CD with a book is typically more expensive, but many sewists prefer books because they like to study the projects in depth. Online downloads are very reasonably priced, usually anywhere from $4 to $10. Many free downloadable patterns are offered, too, but they tend to lack in style and appeal. Try downloading a free pattern to become familiar with the process.
Purchase the Pattern
Visit the website of your choice and click on the category that offers online patterns.
Choose the desired pattern and click on the "Buy It" or "Add to Cart" link. For most companies, the pattern details are presented here, allowing you to determine if the style is available in your size, assess the appropriate and recommended fabrics, and read an in-depth description. Most companies also offer more detailed instructions for how to download the particular pattern.
Review your purchase in the Shopping Cart. Most companies will ask you to register as a new customer or to submit a previously registered username and password in order to access the shopping cart.
Provide payment information, shipping address, etc., and then "Place the Order." You'll receive an instant order confirmation and an email with order details, including an order number, which you'll want to record.
How to Download
The order fulfillment is provided in a separate email, which contains underlined numbers and code information that link you to a page where you'll click on "Start Download."
When the download begins, click on "Save File." The file is in a .pdf format, a format that's readable by most printers. The file is now on your computer, generally in a folder named "Downloads," although the location may vary by computer operating system.
Find the file on the computer and open it. You'll find some photos of the finished project, construction instructions, and a series of schematics that make up the actual pattern pieces.
Print the Pattern
Print out all instruction pages and read through them if this is your first pattern download. Check the printer to make sure it's set to print each page at 100%. This is very important! There's usually a scale indicator test square on the pattern to check the printer accuracy. Use removable clear tape when taping the pages together. If you make a mistake, the tape is easily removed without shredding the pages.
Tape the letter-sized sheets together and use them as is, or tape them together and trace the pattern onto larger paper. The pages are numbered, indicating the order. There may also be a schematic illustrating how the paper pattern pieces will look after assembly. Clip a small corner from the upper and lower right-hand edges of each page to aid in alignment. Work systematically. For instance, place page 1 over 2, page 2 over 3, page 3 over 4, and so on. Tape the rows together.
If the pattern contains larger pieces, the taping is a bit tedious. Sometimes the download offers a copy center option. If available, select that option before purchasing. Download the file and save it. The pages are set up as a single document with the final page size noted at the top. Put the file on a flash drive and head to a local copy shop. The printing price may vary, but it ranges between $6 and $10. Make sure that the copyright release is evident to avoid questions.
Some pattern downloads don't include actual pattern pieces, but rather are meant to be inspirational. For instance, a download may illustrate how to add fabric to a tank-top lower edge to make a dress. The download may include a simple schematic for cutting and a few how-to photos to construct the finished piece. Or a download might teach how to embellish a plain crew-neck sweater by recutting and adding embroidery and a vintage button or two. These downloads tend to be less expensive, but no less fun.
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