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How to sew with e-patterns

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Online e-patterns are a great alternative to traditional patterns

Online e-patterns are a great alternative to traditional patterns

E-patterns are all the rage. These online sewing patterns are less expensive than traditional paper patterns, and some are even free!

Probably the greatest advantage of e-patterns is that you get instant gratification. No need to make a trip to the sewing store. With e-patterns you can sit at your computer any day, any hour, browse for the type of pattern you?re looking for ? clothing, accessories, crafts ? and click on the download button. Voila! There?s your pattern on your hard drive.

You?ll be amazed at the wide variety of e-patterns available online. From clothing to accessories to quilts to crochet, more online merchants are offering e-patterns every day.

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Sizing Your E-pattern

If you?re sewing a piece of clothing, make sure you get the right size e-pattern. Know the measurements of the person for whom you?re making the garment.


Check an online sizing chart to find out what measurements to take and how to convert them into a pattern size.

Accessing Your E-pattern

Depending on the site from which you?re getting your e-pattern, there will be a link for you to click on to:

  • add it to your cart and/or proceed to checkout (even if it?s free),
  • immediately download it, or
  • provide your email address so they can email it to you.
No matter which way you receive your e-pattern, you?ll need the free Adobe reader downloaded and installed on your computer in order to see it since it will be in PDF format.

Downloading and Saving Your E-pattern

If you?re downloading your e-pattern direct from the site selling it or giving it away for free, you?ll need to click on the download button. At that point, depending on the browser you?re using, one of two things will happen. It may automatically appear in the Adobe reader or it may be saved to your computer?s downloads folder where you?ll need to open it in the reader.

Once you?re looking at your e-pattern, you need to save it to your hard drive so it will be available for use whenever you want. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is to choose Save As from the reader?s File menu. Name the file whatever you wish and save it to your desktop.

If you?re receiving your e-pattern by email from the vendor, you?ll need to wait until it arrives in your inbox and then open it in the reader and save it to your desktop.

Printing Your E-pattern

Most e-patterns come as a multi-page ?print from home? pattern that you print page by page on regular 8-1/2″x11″ paper and then put together like a jigsaw puzzle. Some e-patterns, however, come as a single large ?print at copy shop? pattern, usually a JPG or PDF image, that you will need to take to a copy shop to be printed on a large-format printer.

Assuming yours is a ?print from home? e-pattern, look at its pages to see if one of them has a 1″x1″ test square. Usually it?s in the page that contains the upper left portion of the pattern, but sometimes it?s in the middle of the pattern. Print this page first and measure the square with a ruler to make sure your printed square actually is 1″x1″ square. If it is, great! You?re ready to go.

If it isn?t, you may need to adjust your print options. Depending on your printer, when you click Print, the Print Dialogue box will have options for layout and/or printer properties where you can make any needed adjustments.

Putting Your E-pattern Together

Once you have all your pattern pages printed, it?s time to put the pattern together. E-patterns usually have an assembly guide with numbers to indicate which page goes where. For instance, a page numbered 1,1 would mean that this page is the leftmost page of the top row; a page numbered 5,4 would mean that this page is the fifth page on the fourth row.

Each page also will have cut marks, little Ts showing where this page needs to overlap its neighbor(s). Lay out the pattern, properly overlaying each page, and tape everything together with invisible tape.

If you wish, trace onto the pattern paper of your choice, such as Swedish tracing paper, before cutting out your pattern.

Now you?re ready to choose your fabric, trim, etc. and make your latest beautiful creation for yourself, your child, or to give as a special gift.


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