How to Print PDF Sewing Patterns

Welcome to the eleventh lesson in the Beginner’s Guide to Sewing Knit Apparel! Download the ebook for free!

This lesson is part of the Introduction to PDF Sewing Patterns section in the guide, and we’re going to be going over how to properly print your PDF sewing patterns. While printing a file seems pretty straight forward, there are some special considerations you need to make for PDF sewing patterns.

Printing Your PDF Patterns to Scale

The first thing you’re going to need to print your PDF patterns is Adobe Acrobat. If you don’t have it installed on your computer, you can download it here for free.

Now you’re going to go ahead and open your pattern file in Acrobat.

Don’t worry if my pictures look a teensy bit different than your screen. I’m working on a Pro version of Acrobat Reader so it just has a few bells and whistles the free version may not have.

Editor’s Note: Enjoying this tutorial? It can also be used on the ABB Womens Tee!

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.

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:

First, you’re going to click on the layer option on the sidebar. You can also open this window by clicking on View > Navigation Panels > Layers

Then you are going to expand out the layers by clicking on the layer group at the top of the panel.

At this stage, you will see a list of different sizes with little eyeballs underneath each of them. Any size you see an eye under will be printed. So click on the eyeballs under the sizes you don’t want to print to make them disappear. Make sure you only deselect the unnecessary sizes. You don’t want to accidentally deselect layers holding your pattern markings, or cut lists.

In the picture below, I have deselected all of the sizes other than medium.

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.
  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. So it ain’t gonna fit like it’s supposed to.

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 it doesn’t, you likely forgot to change your page scaling settings and you’ll NEED to reprint.

Lesson assignment: Print a pattern! Don’t have any PDF patterns yet? Hop on over to my blog post, The Best Free Women’s PDF Sewing Patterns and download one for free.

With all of your pattern pieces printed, now it’s time to tape, cut and organize those suckers! Check out the next lesson in this series to see how.

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See How to Properly Print PDF Sewing Patterns

6 thoughts on “How to Print PDF Sewing Patterns”

  1. Hi, I just came across your instructions for printing PDF patterns. I’ve done this before but never knew about the option for printing one size. I have a MAC computer and maybe that’s why the side panel does not allow a view of the different sizes along with the “eyes”? What advice can you offer?

  2. Please explain the difference between printing “letter” or “A4″…Am I right that “letter” would be the pattern fits on an 8×11 sheet of paper(and won’t be sized) , but A4 would be where you match up the diamond shapes on each page to make a square if lined up properly? (I know that A0 is for taking to a printing place and not done at home, right?)

    I have purchased a few patterns now, but I am new to the procedure of printing terms of “letter” vs “A4”, as well as trying to select JUST my size.

    Thank you for your help.


    1. Hi there Anne! US Letter, A4 and A0 are sizes of paper. Most United States customers print with US Letter paper on hand. Most international customers have access to A4 size paper. The A0 paper size is oversized and can only be printed on a wide format printer. I hope that helps!

  3. To print on a wide format printer, I will have to go to my local copy shop. Just so that I am on the right track—I will save the pattern to my thumb drive and then have them print it off—but they will need to also scale for accuracy, correct? (Some print shops give you the option of sending the file to them for printing, but I am not sure they will know to measure.)

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