paper patterns VS pdf patterns

There are 2 ways to get around your sewing patterns - let me lay out the pros and cons for ya - then pick your poison.

Posted: 26 September, 2022

Paper Patterns

The original way to buy patterns, and my personal favourite because I like sewing without using a computer.

Neatly packaged in an envelope with an illustration/image on the front and printed fabrics requirements suggestions and body measurements, sometimes even in colour.

These are compact and complete easy to store and are ready to use immediately. Because they are not digital – you can flick through like a library and get inspired without forgetting what you own.

On the downside, not all companies offer printed patterns, which is actually a good thing because sometimes the shipping fees and the air miles are just not worth it.

Vintage Patterns

Vintage sewing patterns were always printed, so thats always a nice thing to look back on.

Remember that the body of a lady of the 1930’s is very different to what you and I got today!  Don”t be personally upset with the measurement math. If the numbers match your body, go for it, but if you are a standard size 14 today, you’ll have to look for a bigger size that works for your 2023 body.

Thats just how it goes, it’s not a personal attack it’s just dated info.

Personally I love the tactile nature of the vintage paper pattern although I rarely use them as the techniques are old and basic and we can all do better.

PDF Patterns at home

PDF patterns that ping straight to your email instantly! Magic!

Just don’t forget to file them neatly in the cloud somewhere cause you only get to download it a limited number of times.

New modern independent pattern designers love this option, it gets the pattern to the people without the printing and packaging overheads.

You can use an at home printer (or lets be honest – the work printer), print out 20+ pieces and cellotape them all together which is extremely labour intensive and can be messy to use afterwards.

PDF’s are harder to store because the paper is much thicker, and if you remember from school, you can only fold a piece of paper 7 times.

PDF Patterns by a pro

Or, you can upload the AO sized PDF files to a printing place and save the sticky tape.

You get both options with most pattern purchases, but double check! Sometimes its cheaper to home print small projects.

Printing PDF files means you can cut to your size and reprint your pattern over and over again until you get your fit right.

And if you are a corrupt sewer you can even hand it on to someone else to use if your choose…. No judgement, sometimes we all get into a bit of strife and need a bit of charity.

PDF Instructions

Instructions can be printed out or read on your computer or phone, links can click through sometimes and you can blow up the text and quickly check out YouTube for tutorials if you get stuck, but then on the flipside you now have your phone in your hand and likely have lost 10 minutes to checking your emails and liking shit on instagram.

You can get PDF patterns and instructions from all over the world this way, which is a fucking cool concept.

I don’t get any joy opening files on my computer looking for inspiration. But ya know, swings and roundabouts.

Have a go with them both and find your happy middle ground.

Where to get the PDF's Printed?

My fave is Plan Printing Uk

  • Click to order your plans
  • Plans or line drawings black
  • Size AO
  • Lamination – NO
  • Upload files
  • Add to basket
  • Pay and checkout

Super straightforward, and to make the shipping worthwhile, defo do about 5 patterns at a time x

 The Fold Line

  • From £4 per page
  • 60gsm paper weight

Fabric Godmother

  • From £4 per page
  • 80gsm paper weight

Net Printer

  • From £2.10 per page
  • 80gsm paper weight


  • From £2.15 per page –
  • 60gsm  paper weight

Flamingo Prints

  • From £1.50 per page
  • 75gsm  paper weight

Paper weight

gsm – what? Thats just the paper weight – the higher the number the stronger the paper – as in, it will take up more space and thats on you cowgirl!

All of the paperweights will do the trick, some people prefer the heavy ones but I personally love tissue.

You will figure out what works for you as you experiment through your sewing journey.

Good luck!

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