An e-pattern or online sewing pattern may be the answer to many a sewer's dream for its no or low cost time-saving convenience. Or maybe not. The e-pattern may actually be more than one web link with one containing instructions and one (or usually more) for the actual pattern. Deciphering how to correctly download and save a file on the computer’s hard drive may be the first and easiest hurdle on the way to actually possessing a free or low-cost online sewing pattern.
Some websites may require you place the free pattern you want in an online shopping cart and proceed through a checkout where it appears you "pay" for the pattern; rest assure if it says free it really is and no cost will be charged. Sometimes the pattern will be emailed to you as a link to click on as well.
Another hurdle to possessing the e-pattern is printing it. The e-pattern is usually in a PDF file format and software, such as the well-known Adobe Reader (free to download) will be needed to display the pattern on your computer screen. PDF reader software does not adjust the scale of your pattern during printing so be sure and identify in the Print Dialog Box "print at 100%", or "actual size" or "no scale" are options selected in the print dialog box. An option in the print dialog box may indicate "Fit-to-page" however this will alter the intended design’s dimensions. Often an e-pattern has a test square that is 1"x 1" that can be printed to confirm that your printout will match the scale of the original pattern. Note: Be sure to always save the pattern in a file on your computer.
The e-pattern’s instructions will indicate how to assemble each printed page and are usually numbered. It is easiest to first tape together full printed pages as indicated, lining up the pattern’s indicated lines, then using scissors (of course, not the scissors used to cut fabric!) cut out the pattern piece. Alternatively, to save having to lay out multiple 8.5 by 11 inch printer pages on a large work surface, each printed pattern piece can be first cut out on the pattern cutting lines then assembled in the specific order that may be provided on a chart. This can be a challenge to make sure the pattern lines continue seamlessly and correctly one pattern line into another.
Assembled and cut pattern pieces can be transferred onto translucent pattern or soft tracing paper if desired although it is not necessary to do so. Consider though that the printer paper pattern is somewhat unwieldy to fold and store neatly as printer paper is decidedly stiffer than the translucent pattern or tracing paper.
Alternatively if printer paper, printer ink and an unpredictable home or office printer may be an issue, download and save the e-pattern on to a portable flash drive and take it to your local print shop or FedEx or Staples (or email the document to them if this service is provided) where it can be printed on standard 8.5 by 11 inch printer paper in simple black and white - high value color not needed. You then take home the multiple printed pages, assemble the pattern and cut out on the pattern’s cutting lines.
Notable caution though, if opting for a print shop’s enticing large format printing services. It is understandably tedious to have to assemble multiple standard size computer printed pages just to reproduce a traditional sewing pattern. However, it can be costly to have the e-pattern printed using the large format printing service as it will negate any savings gained from a free or low cost e-pattern. Not having to over burden your home or office printer with printing out multiple pages, better print quality and convenience of having a print shop’s large format printer do the work of printing your online sewing pattern for you are however some of the reasons to use a print shop for printing. Research to find out what an estimate or probable cost will be though.
Consider that the front side of a pair of slacks may take eight or more printer pages to tape together, the back side another eight or more pages, any waistband belt another one or two pages, perhaps a page for any pockets, the printing guide if one is provided and perhaps several pages of sewing instructions. Twenty plus, often significantly more, of your home or office printer’s paper and valuable ink may be involved to print one simple slacks pattern. It is not unusual for a modest adult-size cardigan to have 45 or more printer pages needed for the complete pattern.
At times, a simple hand-drafted non-digitized online pattern will have a sketch that is offered as a pattern guide only. It is usually only one page to print and simplest and easiest to use to hand draw your own full-size pattern on newsprint or art drawing paper applying your own desired measurements and following the pattern sketch’s directions. Your printer may thank you.
Sew happy, sew inspired.