Free Pattern Download Assembly 101
June 22, 2010
Assembling a pattern you have downloaded from the Internet can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before. We started offering our free pattern downloads about a year ago, and prior to that I had never even seen a pattern that you printed on a home printer, taped together and then cut out. Since then I have had to do several, but I can still appreciate how overwhelming it can be to sit down to make a cute top or dress and come face-to-face with a stack of 28 pages that don't seem to make any sense. To help offer some guidance, I've come up with a quick how-to for assembling our free pattern downloads, along with a few helpful tips I have picked up over the last few months.
First, I would like to address a couple of questions that we frequently hear from customers:
· "I tried to print the pattern, but it doesn't print the entire pattern pieces--some get lost into the borders, so they don't match up."
· "If I print the pattern to fit the page the pattern is way too small."
I think I can explain both of these in one go. The pattern pieces do indeed span across multiple (often several) pages. As pointed out, if they were to fit on one page they would be too small to be useful. However, nothing actually gets lost in the borders. The pattern is laid out in the correct scale, so it's 100% read to print. Since most printers will not print completely to the edge there has to be a slim margin around the border. The pattern layout takes this margin into account, and if you cut it off or just overlap the pages the pattern lines up (see below for more detail).
How to assemble your free download pattern:
1. Print the pattern as it is laid out. It is already the correct scale, so you do not need to adjust the scale settings. There will be a thin margin on all 4 sides of the page (See above for explanation).
2. Locate the instruction pages (usually 2-3 depending on the pattern). Read through them so that you are familiar with the shape of the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. Set them aside.
3. Examine the pattern pages. You'll notice at the corner of each page there is a symbol that looks like a quarter of a circle.
These symbols tell you where the page margins stop and also help you line corresponding pages up. At this stage you may choose to cut the margins off the pages to make it easier to line the symbols up and see where the pattern lines connect across pages. Instead of cutting off all the margins, I find that cutting only two sides of each page helpful (I cut the top and left hand side). That way the cut side rests on top of the uncut side of the corresponding page, and they are easier to tape. I have also chosen NOT to cut the margins in the past, and while it takes a little more effort to make sure everything lines up, it works as well. It's really a personal choice.
4. If you look at the bottom of each page you will also see a column and a row number notation. They won't start at "Column 1, Row 1," but the numbering does correspond with how the pattern is laid out. Also, the pages are already in order by column, which means the first page is the upper left-most corner once all the pages are taped together. The next page in the stack is the page directly below the first one, and etc. Once you get to the end of the column, you'll start the next column by taping the appropriate page to the right of the first page, then continue down until the end of the column. Most patterns will only have 3-4 columns, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
5. Lay out the pattern pieces in order without taping them so that you get an overview of how the pattern is laid out. Some patterns, like the Peachy Beachy Coverup, actually have an illustration on one of the pages to give you an idea what all the pages look like when laid out correctly.
6. Once you have your pattern pages in order, begin taping them together, using both the quarter circle symbols AND the pattern lines as guides. I have found the best method for doing this is to start with the upper left corner and work down. Once you have taped the whole column together, begin attaching pages from the next column to the adjacent pages of the first column, adding one page at a time from the top down. You could also work left to right. I do not recommend assembling full columns or rows first and then joining them. I have tried this a couple times, and it never lines up quite as well as if you do the whole thing in order, adding one page at a time. This method allows you to reposition pages better if something doesn't line up. It's also helpful to have your tape pieces already cut or have one of those tape-dispenser bracelet things.
7. Once you have the whole thing assembled, cut out your pattern as you normally would and go sew!
I hope I have taken away any apprehension you may have about trying out one of these downloads. It may look daunting, but the pattern assembly is really a cinch. Even the largest one really only takes about an hour to put together, even if you take the time to trim your page margins. Even more importantly, the patterns themselves are easy to sew together and produce great results. Try one (or all) out, and post your projects on our Facebook page for everyone to see!
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