the age of the digital pattern

Growing up and watching my mom sew, I watched her trim so many tissue patterns. We’d sit down to watch a show, and she’d often have a new sewing pattern open and the scissors out. When I started sewing (far later than is acceptable given my seamstress mother) I started seeing bloggers and indie pattern designers offering patterns in PDF format. This was a new concept for me; digital patterns offer a whole new option for the 21st-century seamstress.

printed-digital graphic


Digital pattern pros

It’s not hard to find pros to the digital pattern.

:: For the consumers, you get instant delivery and a less expensive alternative to buying printed patterns. (Printed indie patterns can run anywhere from $14 to $20, plus shipping if you order online.)

:: For designers, they can produce and distribute designs for practically nothing. PDFs make it way easier to reach the consumer.

:: You can also have as many clean slates as you like. If you need to make a pattern in a different size or if you make a huge alteration mistake, you can always just go back to your computer to print out a new one.

:: Digital patterns require virtually zero storage space (unless you save your printed pattern pieces like I do). If you have space on your computer, you can have the pattern forever and avoid visible pattern hoarding. So basically digital patterns help keep your pattern hoarding a secret.


 {prepping my newest digital pattern purchase last week}


I guess it depends on how you like to manage your sewing experience.

:: Prepping a digital pattern may take some more time. You have to print the pages, trim the excess from the pages, tape those pages together using the provided assembly guides, and then trim the actual pattern pieces. It’s kind of a process. For most of the printed patterns I use, I use the original tissue paper, though not every seamstress feels comfortable with that. So if you’re the sewist who likes to trace the printed patterns instead of cutting into the original, maybe those extra steps involved in digital pattern prep aren’t a big deal. (I have a couple of patterns that I trace to different paper to preserve the originals–just in case I missed the mark on the sizing or plan on making it in different sizes for different people.)

:: Assembled digital patterns can be cumbersome. Computer paper doesn’t fold as neatly as tissue paper (or even tracing paper), and it can get bulky, especially when you start factoring in the tape you need to keep the pieces all together. PDF patterns aren’t as neat and tidy as their tissue-paper counterparts.

:: Indie pattern designers who offer their patterns in printed form usually have killer packaging and designing. The booklets are easy to hold and flip through, and the packaging aesthetics are attractive and pleasing to organize. If you are a sucker for pretty colors and classy fonts (ahem, I don’t know anyone like that…) digital patterns likely won’t fill that need as effectively for you.

In some upcoming posts I’ll be showing you some of my projects sewn using digital patterns, and I’ll let you know more of my preferences. Where do you stand when it comes to printed versus digital patterns? Are you an old-school seamstress who likes to unfold the tissue paper sheets, or do you fall in the progressive PDF pattern camp?

Pssst! Stay tuned later this week for the first-ever giveaway on The Creative Domestic!

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