Digital VS Printed Sewing Patterns

Hello! We hope you are enjoying our series that will arm you will all the knowledge and confidence to embark on your sewing journey or learn a few new things if you are already sewing!

In our last post we touched on sewing patterns and gave you a guide on what to look for when buying a sewing pattern and all the important elements to look out for! If you missed it, have a read here

This week we are covering printed vs digital sewing patterns:


It used to be that your only option was to buy a pre-printed sewing pattern. On purchasing a pre-printed pattern you will receive, in the post, an envelope which has the printed pattern sheet plus the instructions. Printed pattern sheets usually come in multiple sizes that you then cut down to the size you want. Nowadays, you have a second option; a Digital/PDF pattern which you print out at home and stick the pieces together to form the pattern sheet that you then cut out.

If you’re unsure as to which type of product is better suited to you here are a few things to consider:

Printed – As mentioned, when you buy a printed sewing pattern you will receive an envelope which includes the pattern sheet and the instructions.  The pattern sheet will be folded down to fit in to the envelope. On unfolding the pattern sheet you will see that all the garment pieces are printed on to the sheet. Each garment piece will have many sizes (eg UK8 – UK16) which you cut out to the size you need. By printing all the sizes “on top of each other” gives you the option to grade between sizes if you need to.

The paper is usually a type of tissue paper which is soft and easy to pin to your fabric. Cheaper sewing patterns will have much thinner paper which can tear easily and is tricky to work with! We use beautiful, high quality white paper that you can iron and doesn’t tear easily – a true case of you get what you pay for – quality!

When you buy a printed sewing pattern from us, not only do we have lovely sewing pattern paper, our instructions are printed in a pretty booklet that includes clear and precise instructions and illustrations, plus our envelopes are big and can be opened and closed easily so that you can keep all your pieces together once cut out. We also include helpful cards on taking measurements, sewing basics, sewing terms demystified and a checklist before you start.

In other words, when you are buying a printed sewing pattern you are buying a complete product, ready to use.

Digital – Digital/PDF patterns are becoming more and more popular.  This is mainly because, once you purchase a digital pattern, you have it instantly as it is sent as an PDF download. This is perfect for those that don’t want to pay postage costs (especially if you live far away from us) or simply don’t want to wait for the postman!

A digital pattern is basically the pattern sheet “broken down” into a4 (or equivalent size) pages, plus the instruction book both in PDF format – usually sent to you via email with a link that you then download. The important thing to note is that you then need to print the pattern sheet out as individual pages and then stick them together! Where you may save on the time getting the post to you, you then need to allow for the time to put them together.

It is critical that your digital pattern is printed correctly. You are basically printing the pattern sheet and a few mm’s out means that your pattern sheet won’t be the correct size – resulting in an ill-fitting garment! Most pattern companies will give you very clear instructions on how to put these together – please just don’t take any short cuts!

Your print settings need to be adjusted to print the document a specific way which affects the size it come out of the printer. You will also find a square (usually 10cm x 10cm) on one of the first pages of the printed pattern that, when printed, needs to measure exactly 10cm x 10cm – otherwise your pattern pieces aren’t going to be correct. Ensure you follow the instructions given to you by the pattern company.


Once you have downloaded your digital pattern and have printed that page to check the square size is correct, you then stick the individual sheets together to get the full-sized pattern sheet. Some pattern companies will make it easier by adding a little half circle or triangle that matches up perfectly to the corresponding page. You will work your way from left to right, sticking each page to each other – therefore creating a very large piece which is essentially your pattern sheet.

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A lot of people really enjoy putting digital patterns together! As long as you don’t rush this part you will be fine! Digital patterns will also come with instructions that you can either print out or follow the instructions on your screen. As well as being instantaneous, digital patterns are a great option if you want to make the garment in a few sizes as you can just reprint the pattern sheet!

The big plus of digital patterns are that they are a fraction of the price  – for example our printed sewing patterns are £16 and our digital patterns will cost £9.50. We are working on launching our full range of digital patterns very soon and can’t wait to share them with you!

We’re sure this has given you a lot of food for thought and we’d love to hear you comments and experiences with digital patterns and what you love about printed / digital patterns.

Next week  we will cover “To Toile or Not To Toile” – why making up a garment first in scrap fabric is a really good idea if you want to get the fit perfect.

Happy Sewing!

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