How to Buy & Use PDF Patterns (ePatterns, eBooks)

on April 3 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 12 Comments

Benita from Bettsy Kingston is here today to walk you, step-by-step, through the purchase of PDF patterns (also known as ePatterns or eBooks). She tells you everything you need to know about PDF patterns so you can feel confident in your purchase, and tomorrow she’ll be back to show you how to print and assemble ePatterns. Benita joined us in the fall with her beautiful Baby Kimono Wrap Tutorial, and we’re thrilled to have her back today.

Today we’re offering 20% off all Bettsy Kingston PDF Patterns in the shop! Benita has a great variety of patterns, from the perfect project for a special little one (like this great Reversible Girls Jacket sized for 3-9 Years– there’s a smaller version too) to the Women’s Far Away Tunic (sizes 4-10 & sizes 12-18). Check out the full collection of patterns!

So you’re thinking of venturing into the world of ePatterns? If you are a bit daunted by ePatterns, you shouldn’t be. Once you’ve mastered some of the fundamentals there is a wonderful and inspiring world awaiting you. By far some of the greatest benefits of an ePattern are that you can print it as many times as you like and it stores on your computer for whenever you need it (leaving more space for fabric of course!).

Over the next couple of days I will lead you through an introduction to ePatterns. Today’s post is about what to consider before you purchase a pattern and why you should take the plunge.

For the Love of ePatterns
ePatterns can represent great value for your money, provide inspiration and give you access to boutique designers who couldn’t otherwise provide their work without access to a specialty printer. ePatterns are a new and growing option. ePatterns are sold in various ways:

Format #1: Print at Home
ePatterns are often sold as a ‘jigsaw’ of images you put together yourself to produce a large pattern, sometimes called “Print at Home.”

The most common format is “Print at Home” ePatterns. The large pattern is chopped into pieces that can be printed on a standard printer and joined back together much like a jigsaw puzzle. These are the easiest way to receive the pattern but can be frustrating if you don’t understand the designer’s method of chopping up the pattern. Once you understand it, it’s usually very easy. I’ll devote some time to this tomorrow, but this Bettsy Kingston pattern above shows you what they may look like.

Format #2: Print at Copy Shop
ePatterns can also come as a full image that requires printing using large paper format, sometimes called “Print at Copy Shop.”

The “Print at Copy Shop” is the closest ePattern form to the traditional paper pattern. The designer or retailer will provide you an electronic file, usually a JPG or PDF image that can only be printed on large paper. You will need to take this file to your local copy shop (or ePrinter on the web) to print on a specialty large-format printer. It is an easy process, and the primary drawback is the price involved in printing the pattern at a print store.

Format #3: Instructions for Drafting a Pattern
The format may also be primarily instructions, possibly with a diagram on how to draft the pattern yourself.

In this type of pattern instructions are provided to recreate/draft the pattern at home. This is the most common form for simple patterns such as shoes or accessories (like bags). It is ideal for quilt and craft patterns.

It is also an older method of pattern retailing– before the age of pre-printed patterns that is! The instructions will provide you with a series of lines and curves you will draw on paper and, when combined, you create the pattern. When it comes to clothing, it’s great for people who can draft or understand basic pattern making and want to improve their skills. It can be the most time consuming if you haven’t ventured into drafting before.

What to Consider
When considering patterns, take the time to find out information on both the designer and the pattern itself. You should firstly understand what type of pattern from the list above you will receive, whether it is computer- or hand-drawn and what types of instructions come with the pattern.

Instructions can be a mix of both technical drawings, which are easier to understand, and photos for any technical or complex steps. My preference is for technical drawings as these are universally easy to understand.

How You Receive the Pattern
Once you have purchased a pattern, you will receive it either via email or download. An email form will be sent by the retailer, usually within 24 hours of receiving payment.

The download method is instantaneous, with either an automatic email with a link to the files or redirection to the files after purchase. For downloadable patterns, you will have a specific time period or an access limit on how many times you can download the pattern.

What You Receive
What you receive as an ePattern can vary. Usually, you will either receive an eBook or zip folder of files. An eBook is a bound, electronic book containing all files into one file. A zip folder will contain separate files for the instructions, the pattern and possibly a cover to keep anything you have printed together.

Below is what an eBook looks like (a Sis Boom Pattern). It is one file with everything you need-– Cover, specifications, instructions and the pattern itself.

ePatterns are received using a file format called PDF (Portable Document Format) which is a special file format designed for digital documents by Adobe. You can access the software to read PDF documents from Adobe; the software is called Adobe Reader and it’s free. If you don’t have it, download it here.

Welcome to the world of ePatterns! Go and have a browse at what is available, and tomorrow’s post I will show you how to put the most common type ePattern together (the “Print at Home” ePattern).

A note from Sew,Mama,Sew!: Most of the digital delivery patterns we carry are Print at Home. When you place an order, our shopping cart automatically generates a copy of the PDF and places it on our server. An email is instantly sent to you with a link to download the pattern. Because we don’t want hundreds of copies of the files piling up on the server, the link will expire after two weeks. For this reason you should download the pattern right away even if you don’t intend to use it immediately. (If you do let it expire, we can help you. It just isn’t as convenient as having it at your fingertips!)

It’s Digital Delivery Sewing Month!

Today we’re offering 20% off all Bettsy Kingston PDF Patterns in the shop! (Discount available until 12 p.m. Eastern.)

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12 Responses to How to Buy & Use PDF Patterns (ePatterns, eBooks)

  1. Seanna Lea says:

    This is so handy. I don’t mind buying traditional patterns, but there is an allure to buying ePatterns and it would greatly widen what I could expect to make!

  2. javagrrrl says:

    Here here Elisa. I’ve been searching everywhere for cute plus size sundress patterns and have only found stuff that I sort of like, but nothing that I love.

  3. Alana says:

    Thank you for the Digital Delivery Pattern (Pinny and Nappy Cover by B. Kingston) and the sewing level was just my speed: beginner. The instructions were clear, the pattern was on mark and the finished product looks fab!!! I would like to see more beginner PDF patterns :) How and where do I post my finished piece?

  4. melanie says:

    great tips!

  5. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. I have a couple of e-patterns and love the quick availability.

  6. Elisa says:

    Too bad you don’t take into consideration the market for plus sized patterns. Everyone keeps talking about how the weight of the population is going up but the boutique pattern makers don’t seem to see that. Since the average size is a 14 and the largest in the collection is a 16, that leaves out a large portion of the population.

    Larger sized people like to look good too.

  7. Heidi says:

    I’ve only ordered small PDF patterns. Someday I’ll venture into larger patterns. They are wonderful. You get that instant gratification of a pattern!!

  8. Corvus says:

    What does it typically cost to “print at copy shop”? I suppose it must vary greatly, depending on your copy shop- maybe that’s something to call around on.

  9. Suzanne says:

    I’m so glad there are so many ePatterns available. It’s an indication that sewing is meeting the signs of the internet times.

  10. Sonja says:

    This is very helpful! I am looking forward to the follow up posts!
    Sonja

  11. thanks. very informative!

  12. great tutorial for the professional ePattern. This will help many people!

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