How to Tape, Cut and Organize Your PDF Sewing Patterns

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

In our last lesson, we had a little introduction to PDF sewing patterns and learned how to print them correctly. In this lesson, I’m going to show you how to tape and cut them plus my super, awesomesauce way of storing them. So to start you’ll be needing a few things:

  • Your pattern pieces printed at full scale in your size (as we learned how to do in the last lesson). Note: Save some chedda and print these in black and white
  • The cover page printed to fit the page in color
  • The page with your size chart and fabric requirements
  • The page with your cut list
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 10″ x 13″ Manila Envelope

P.S. the pattern I’m using in this tutorial is the Dreamy Drape Top by Mummykins and Me. It’s kind of amazing so you should totally get it if you’re into that kinda thing or whatever…

Prepping Your Pattern Storage

The first thing you’re going to do is take your cover page and tape it to the front of the envelope. I used to just write the name of the pattern on it, but after my first dozen patterns, it became sooooo much easier to locate what I wanted with a picture I can identify the pattern by at a glance.

Next, you’re going to take the page that has your sizing chart and fabric requirements and tape it to the back of the envelope. The pattern I’m using in this example had the two bits of information on separate pages, so I just cut out the fabric requirements and stuck it to the bottom of the page with my sizing chart.

I love having this information close at hand so that when I’m going through my stack of fabric deciding what I want to sew up, I can quickly see whether I have enough of the right fabric to get the job done. Or if I know I want to sew up a particular pattern I can quickly see how much I need to go shopping for.


Editor’s Note: Enjoying this lesson on patterns? Check out the Claiborne Ruffle Top!


Taping and Cutting Your Pattern Pieces

Now that our envelope is ready to take on these gorgeous pattern pieces, we need to double check that we have printed them correctly. Find your measuring square and make sure it was printed out at the right size. The pattern in my example uses a 1″ tester square, but I have seen some patterns with 4″, 2.5cm or other dimensions. All that matters is that they measure what they say they should measure. If they don’t, you NEED to reprint.

Now when it comes to aligning your pattern pages, this is going to vary a decent amount between PDF pattern makers. Most of the PDF patterns these days are “no trim” patterns. This means you don’t need to trim around the edges of the pages to line up your alignment markers. The few that do require trimming will specify where you need to trim.

TIP: You can totally use your fabric scissors to cut out your paper patterns. JUST KIDDING! Please don’t do that! Cutting paper with fabric scissors blunts the blades, which will give you the sads when it’s time to use them on your fabric.

Do your best to align your alignment markings as you tape your pages together. Inkjet printers are known for not always printing completely straight so don’t stress out if it takes a teensy bit of adjusting to make them line up (e.g. Notice how my pages in my example picture aren’t perfectly flush at the bottom when I align my markers) Just go slowly and be as precise as possible.

If you are having a hard time seeing the lines to line up, you can use a large window as a make-shift lightbox, and tape them together on the window in the daylight. The sun will shine through your pages and make it really easy to locate your alignment markings.

As you are taping, make sure you tape over the lines of your size on the pattern piece. That way when you cut out your pieces they are taped together at all of the joining ends.

And if any of your pieces are extra large, put some tape throughout the middles of the pages to help stabilize the pattern piece.

Once you have completely taped your pages together, cut out your pattern pieces then flip them over to tape in a few places along the backside for extra stabilization. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but it sure makes your pieces stay in better condition throughout their use.

The places I like to tape on the back are:

Any place that has a group of smaller paper cuts overlapping one another…

The joining edges of the pages…

Anywhere that I have an overlapping four corners.

TIPS FROM THE PROS:

When I’m sewing for myself, I tend to just print my size if the pattern has layers. But if you sew to sell, or are sewing for growing children, you can save time & money by printing all the sizes and just tracing off the size you need.

Tracing is a great technique to use if you need to blend between sizes too. For example if you’ve got a tall, skinny child who straddles two sizes, you can trace just the sections of each you need. It makes for much more accurate cutting. When blending sizes, make sure to adjust all areas for height, like the armholes, not just the hemline.

– Rebecca Page, Rebecca Page Sewing Patterns

 

Storing the Pattern Pieces

Now that you have your pieces cut, it’s time to store them! I have tried many different methods of pattern storage before I settled on this one. I’ve hung them, rolled them, stored them flat. None of it sung to me like this has for a few reasons:

  • You can identify your patterns at a glance
  • It keeps all of the pattern pieces together
  • It is super compact
  • It doesn’t look cluttered

First, write the size you have cut out on each of the pattern pieces if it’s not clear. Then fold them up small enough to fit inside of your 10″ x 13″ envelope. Once they are all folded I like to nest my smaller pieces inside of a big piece so it easy to pull them out of the envelope all together.

Then all you have left to do is tuck those pattern pieces into your envelope along with your cut list.

I have all of my envelopes stored in a cute little crate box that I don’t mind keeping out in plain sight for me to rummage through whenever I feel like.

Pin this for later!

Up next in this series is an introduction to add-on pdf patterns!

13 thoughts on “How to Tape, Cut and Organize Your PDF Sewing Patterns”

  1. Very nice organisation technique! I especially admire how you added as much detail to the label so that anyone who doesn’t read patterns can quickly catch on from the label printed at front.

  2. Great post, thank you. I Also suggest writing the digital file name somewhere on the pieces/tutorial pages/Envelope. The way that the publisher (or you, when you download) nameS the file Can differ To its print name. This step can help you find The original file more easily, should you need to check or reprint anything.

    1. Great suggestion Caroline! I have all of my pattern files organized in folders by adult/child/women’s/mens then by pattern maker. Anything to help make it more organized is helpful!

  3. This technique looks much better than using the transparent sleeves in a binder. Another thing on my reorganization list!

  4. L Diane Johnson

    Very nice feature article on storing my now overwhelming wealth of printed online patterns! Been storing on hangers but rifling through those to find the one I want has become troublesome. Gonna take your advice for ease in storing!

  5. Martha Nicholson

    love the size rang and the styles, so pleased to have found you by accident. easy to put together and easy to understand, looking forward to doing more business with your company. thanks, and keep up the good work.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. My only problem with taped pdf patterns is when you go back to reuse the pattern that has been folded, I need to iron it to make it lay flat and the clear tape becomes a problem if the iron touches it or any heat for that matter. Is there a tape that is ok to briefly iron?

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