I am a bit old school with my sewing. I learnt to use paper patterns, mostly New Look and Simplicity, Vogue if it was something fancy, at my mum's knee. Cutting out the pieces from the brown wafery paper on our brown carpet. Pinning the pieces to the folded over fabric (right sides together) with the small victory of squeezing the pieces on less fabric than the pattern recommended. Following the instructions, codes and symbols for 'cut on fold' and little triangle matching notches. Later, I studied Textiles and Design through high school, and learned more again from my Home-Ec teacher mother-in-law-to-be. Like cheaty nifty ways to put pants together.
Now back to sewing garments years later, and I wondered what all the excitement was about PDF patterns, which you purchase online and download for instant sewing gratification. I couldn't see the point in paying almost the same amount for a pattern which I then had to print myself. So I stuck to my old school ways.
Then I answered a pattern tester call, on a whim, from the amazing PDF pattern designer, Heidi & Finn. And I got picked! Which was very nice indeed. Here is how I found the process of using a Heidi & Finn PDF pattern, as an experienced sewer, but a PDF pattern novice...
Firstly, when using a PDF pattern, you need the ability to download, view and print it. You may get an instant download upon purchase (like if you buy from Heidi and Finn's new Craftsy store), or you may receive your download via email fairly quickly (remembering that designers may be sleeping when you purchase if you live in different hemispheres). Set up a folder on your hard drive where you keep you patterns, and 'save as' to download. You will need Adobe Reader to view your pattern. I was a little nervous printing, as there is a difference between standard US paper and Australian, but no worries, it printed perfectly. Before you print, check to make sure that your printer scaling setting is set to 'none'. Check the little one inch square on the first page to make sure the print size is correct.
Summer Maxi Dress went together very easily. As with all Heidi & Finn patterns, you don't need fancy equipment, and you will have a gorgeous, individual piece.
stuff and nonsense hints for sewing with PDF patterns:
1. Buy quality, especially if you are learning. The instructions will be clearer, the size gradings will be more accurate. You will be more likely to have success and come back for more!
2. Take your time printing to get the settings right. Check and double check before you cut into your fabric.
3. Save your patterns somewhere central by choosing 'save as' rather than sending them into a random downloads folder in the bowels of your hard drive.
4. Read through all the instructions before launching a sewing assault.
5. Trace each size onto tracing paper, keeping the printed pattern as a master. I find the lighter paper much easier to pin to my fabric, and I like knowing I don't have to print each new size.