Do you ever wonder how sewing pattern designers have their patterns turned from words and images into the documents that you download?

Here I give you some tips for creating your next PDF sewing pattern

PDF and print patterns are easier to read and understand if there has been some thought put into how the information is laid out on the pages. So while you are sewing along you know exactly where you are up to in the pattern and the images reflect what the steps are telling you.

Below I will discuss some tips on how to make the process easier when you design your next sewing pattern, to either design them yourself or have someone like me do it for you.


All sewing patterns need images to help explain what you mean, these can be as photos or simple illustrations (created from your photos). Or a bit of a mix as sometimes the markings you show in the photos aren’t easily seen when you put them into a pattern, so those markings can be drawn on using the computer to make them more obvious.

Using illustrations will make the overall file size smaller, they will cost more initially to design the pattern. However, if you use the same or similar steps in subsequent patterns then the images are able to be more easily reused as the fabrics you have used in the photos will be irrelevant.

When using photos:

  • Try and use simpler/plain fabrics so any markings can be easily seen on the images.
  • If there are different fabrics used in the pattern ensure there is adequate contrast between the two so that the different pieces can be identified.
  • Ensure they are print quality (300dpi), or in simpler terms if the files are bigger than 1MB then they should be fine for use at the size you will need them in the pattern.
  • Where possible take the photos on a lighter background, as then your fabric/steps will stand out more.
  • When naming the files, name them in order that they appear in the pattern as that will make it easier to ensure the images are in the correct places in the final file.

Written content

Pattern testing is common to ensure that your pattern makes sense to everyone, where possible make the changes from your testers feedback/edits before the file is formatted. As this ensures your images and the steps they are talking about stay where they are supposed to and don’t get jumbled.

When I am working on patterns its easiest if the written content for the pattern is a word document. This can be with or without the images, if they aren’t included make it obvious where they need to be inserted. For example: writing ‘pic 1’ in red.

Pattern Pieces

If you have hand-drawn pattern pieces that need to be turned into digital formats to be inserted into the pattern, I can do that as well. All I need is the scanned in files to then create them as a digital file and add any information that you might like included on them.

Page Setup

Some things to consider if you have both print and PDF download versions. If the page sizes are different design to suit the smaller page size, then you can enlarge the pages for the alternate version. For example: if your pattern will be printed at A5 size, I would design this then I can use the same file to create the PDF download version. This ensures that the font size is suitable in both formats of the pattern, or your customers can print the instructions pages with 2 per page and save on some paper.

If your pattern is to be sold worldwide, I would create the PDF version to suit US Letter size pages using margins that will print A4 when printed at 100%. This ensures any pattern pieces will print at the correct size.

What else

I can sew and I can read a pattern which I think helps when designing the pattern layouts as I can understand where the images need to fit with the text. I’m not very good at following patterns (that is another story) but if I read something and it’s not obvious what you mean I will let you know.

Here is a PDF of the information above so you can save it and have it on hand for the next time you design a pattern. It also has a few more tips and information specific to working with me if you decide you would like me to design your next PDF sewing pattern layout.

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