PIY Pattern love

I know that some people aren't huge fans of print-it-yourself (PIY) patterns. I, for one, love them. Here's my attempt to sway you. ;) Or give you some tips if you are already a lover.
  • Instant gratification. You don't have to run out to a store or wait for it to arrive via snail mail. I want it, then it's on my computer, ready to go
  • Multiple prints. How many of you trace your clothing patterns so that you can make them in multiple sizes? I do that. It's extra work. With PIY patterns you just print it off for every size. Or, let's say you're not being careful and you accidentally cut the pattern or nick off a corner. No problem, print off another copy!
  • (Potentially) Less paper. I don't actually print off the instructions, I just read them from my computer or phone. If you feel the need to print, do it double sided (except for pattern pieces). For my printer that means printing odd pages, then feeding them back through and printing even pages.
  • Lower cost. Have you even seen how much professional pattern printing costs? Even for basic stuff, it gets pricey. With PIY patterns, you still save money (even with your own ink and paper costs). And the designer doesn't have to invest lots of $$ upfront, meaning they can keep working on fun new patterns!
  • Harder to lose, easier to store. Unless your computer crashes, you have that awesome digital copy that you can always go back to. And create organized folders to sort everything. Even better, you can burn your patterns to a CD, just to be sure that they aren't going anywhere. 
I have 4 tools that I think are imperative for PIY patterns:
PIY tools
  • straight edge - I just use my smallest rotary ruler. This is used for cutting straight edges of your pattern
  • paper scissors -  All my paper scissors have black handles; my fabric scissors have orange handles. There's no reason for confusion by others living with me. I use scissors for the curvy bits or for small patterns
  • paper rotary cutter - My paper rotary cutter is pink (and it was super cheap), my fabric rotary cutter is yellow. Again, no confusion. Save your old fabric blades to use on your paper rotary cutter. 
  • tape - I use whatever cheap tape I can find, it doesn't have to be super wide or fancy. I also don't tape all the way across unless I'm taping large distances. A piece of tape at either end that wraps around to the back is enough.
PIY supplies-2PIY supplies

  • MEASURE THE TEST SQUARE! Designers include it for a reason. Seriously, just print the first page and measure the test square. If it's not the right size (usually 1" x 1" or 2.5cm x 2.5cm) check the scaling options in your printer dialogue. I make this mistake more often than I wish to admit...
  • PIY supplies

  • Always leave an overhang to attach the next piece to. My rule is to leave the overhang on the bottom or right hand sides, that way you don't end up trying to tape two pieces of overhang together. I like to leave 1/2" inch overhang, or to the end of the page if there's less and 1"
  • Lay the tape along the edge of the piece without the overhang. Then line up the pieces and smoosh the tape in place. Since I use cheap tape, I can reposition it a little before it sticks really well. 
  • Wrap the tape around the edges. No need to tape the back side though. 
  • PIY tools-2PIY tools-3

  • Assemble the pattern pieces first, then cut out the pattern. (The photo above is wrong) This will ensure that your pieces match correctly and that you cut them all the same way. This is especially important for garments so that you cut out the right size or can make adjustments (like grading from one size to another).
I keep all of my patterns in folders in a binder. I use plastic sleeves for my printed patterns and pieces. This is also where I keep ideas for future projects. 
PIY supplies-4PIY supplies-3

Do you have any PIY tips? How do you feel about PIY patterns?


  1. There's one more essential piece of equipment for print your own patterns - a USB drive or some other back up device! I keep a separate USB drive for all my patterns, and back them up regularly. So if my pc does collapse, I've still got all my patterns.

  2. From a design point of view, I love PIY patterns. I can then use 'non pattern' design tools to create patterns, save them as PDFs and always be able to use them, plus I can then disseminate them as I wish.

    From a consumer point of view, I always trace the packet patterns that are on tissue paper, and it's a time consuming extra step, so PIY saves there too, plus printer paper is just that bit sturdier to cut round.

  3. Awesome Ali! I link back to this later when I release my pattern. Godd little tidbits here!

  4. I'm not sure why I never thought about putting my PIY patterns in a binder. Right now they are living in paperclipped madness. Thanks for the tip!

  5. These are all great tips! I also use an under the bed storage box for bigger pattern pieces (like some bags) that I want to leave flat once I've put together.

  6. love the binder idea! i have patterns all over the place and it's a big mess. thanks for the tip!

  7. I'm beginner in sewing & This will work for me. That's for sure.

  8. Great advice! I pinned this.

  9. Thanks for the turtorial. I have two note books with sleeves for all my projects,also going to label them so they will be right at my finger tips. Elaine

  10. I love that I can print out 2 copies of the PIY pattern, then stick duplicate pieces together (after turning one side over) so that I have the full pattern piece and do not need to "place on fold" - I find it saves a lot of fabric waste!

  11. I agree on the fabric waste (sometimes!), but instead of printing two pieces and turning, I trace the pattern piece on the fold of freezer paper. A whole pattern piece, and iron on the fabric -- no pins!

  12. I love your thoughts and ideas. I've just started using extra large ziplock bags to store my patterns with the fabrics and notions I bought to make them up. I often find I get some or all the materials needed and it won't get sewn for a while (2 toddlers) and if I don't keep it together I sometimes use the fabric in something else accidentally. When I finish the project I put the patterns into a folder and make sure to include the website I got it from if its not easily identified so I can recommend it to friends when they ask.


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