Back in the day when I started sewing the only option available to me was Burda patterns, bought locally plus the occasional sewing magazine. I remember using the instructions to teach me a number of techniques such as inserting a zipper, sew a welt pocket and so on. Not bad for an 80’s teenager! I used to store the patterns in large paper envelopes. The picture was taped to the outside, making it simple to identify the pattern inside.
Now, I have a number of other choices available, too. Anything from purchasing a pattern on paper, download a pdf and print it at home to letting a third party print it for me on a large scale printer. Everything is available at the touch of a screen. I buy most of my patterns as pdf’s these days. Recently I bought a new printer solely to be able to print the pdf-files at home. It is very instant and convenient, but there are drawbacks, too. If it’s a large number of sheets it can be tedious to tape them together. Trying to fold taped pieces of paper in a neat manner is difficult, and they take a lot of room in storage. To avoid this I often order my patterns printed from a third party, and so far this has been Patternsy. Since trying their service a couple of years ago, I haven’t felt any need to try any other – they offer everything I could ask for.
Patternsy is UK based and run by two lovely people, Mark and Su. I’ve never met them, it just feels like I know them well through our communication about my orders. They print pdf-files on a sturdy but lightweight paper at a very reasonable price. The service is so quick that you have your sheets of patterns before you know it. They have partnered up with a few pattern designers, too, so it you want to have one of those printed, or want to purchase one, you can see the final printing expense on the Patternsy website. You have to purchase the actual pattern in addition.
So – why not buy a printed pattern directly from the designer in the first place? Of course you can. You will have to wait for it to arrive in your mailbox either way. There are a few differences, though. To buy one pattern on paper and have it sent to me, I’ll have to pay postage per pattern. When it arrives, I don’t have the pdf as a backup if anything goes wrong with the paper pattern. Normally I cut out the pattern in my size, so making it in a different size later can be difficult. If I go the third party print route, I have more control over my resources. The postage is less because I can order in bulk, and I have the pdf as backup to make another print if I want to. Finally, a lot of designers don’t offer paper patterns at all, so you have find a way to get them printed anyway.
I still store my patterns in large envelopes with a picture of it glued to the outside. It’s a great system, developed when I fell in love with making clothes. Unfortunately I don’t have my old patterns anymore. Life has taken me to many new houses and places, and a lot of stuff had to go. But now I have a new collection again, and it is growing.
Of course there are other services available. What you prefer depends on where you live and many other factors. I know of a few, but if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. I am always interested and others might be, too.
Update: Recently our new library acquired a large scale printer for their maker space, so I’m going to test printing my patterns there next time. It might be a good alternative if the paper quality is ok for patterns.
I have really embraced the download, print at home process. It feels like art class even though I’m too old for it. I try to buy the thinest paper that has more flexibility and less structure. I also use a paper trimmer to cut the edges off the pieces before I connect them. And for the majority of the seams I use glue instead of tape. I live when I get one of those layered PDF patterns that let you print the specific size you need.
Thanks for your post on this!
Hi Karen, thank you for commenting on this. Please excuse my delayed response, but life got in the way of blogging:) I completely understand why you find the download process favorable. It offers completely freedom and versatility. I like it and use it a lot, too. What I really do appreciate is the flexibility in having so many opportunities at hand. It’s amazing compared to how it was when I started sewing a long time ago.