Thursday, 29 October 2015

Paper or PDF: The Great Pattern Debate

Paper or PDF: The Great Pattern Debate

A question that is often raised in the sewing world these days is, "Which is better? PDF or paper patterns?". A legitimate question, but one that strikes me as rather odd because PDF and paper are simply the delivery mechanism for the pattern. It's a bit like asking "Is an apple tastier in a bowl or on a plate?". Surely it depends on the apple itself and not the way in which it arrives at your table. This debate doesn't extend to sandwiches though, which everyone knows taste better cut into triangles than squares.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are definite differences in the delivery modes of patterns, as discussed below, but the quality of a pattern should come down to the individual designer and not the way in which they are presenting their wares. If their designs appeal and they write clear and concise instructions, with correct and accurate pattern pieces, then load up your cart and buy away. If you limit yourself to only one type of pattern, you're missing out on an entire world of sewing knowledge and experience.

What are the pros and cons of PDF and paper patterns? I've put together a brief list based on my personal experience with both types.

Before we begin, let's avoid confusion by using the following definitions:

'PDF' refers to a digital file that you download on your own device and print personally, either at home or at your local printers.

'Paper' refers to the older style of pattern printed on tissue-type paper and sold in an envelope. It does not mean a paper print out of a PDF pattern, which is yet another option.

Pros and Cons of Paper and PDF
Please remember that these are not directed at any particular designer or company. They are nothing more than my opinion based on my own experiences. You may have a completely different opinion and that's absolutely fine.

As far as I'm concerned, there really is no way of saying that a particular type of pattern is better than another. It all comes down to the design, instructions, and what you, personally, are expecting.

What are your Pros and Cons for Paper and PDF patterns?

8 comments:

  1. I don't like patterns on tissue paper. With my clumsiness, I always manage to tear it up before I get to actually finish the cutting. So you get only one shot - one copy ;)

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    1. Oooo that is a very good point. You definitely only get the one shot with a paper pattern :)

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    2. Well, you could always trace them before you cut them out. I know some people do that, make alterations to the copy, and leave the original intact. Helpful if, say, your weight goes up and down and you might need another size later.

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    3. True, true! That's a good advice.
      My point was though, that if you somehow damage the original tissue paper there is no option to print it again. And this is what happens to me too often. There is no cure for me ;)

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  2. I find with the PDF patterns they have better step by step instructions and corresponding photos/diagrams

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    1. And that's actually the topic for my next post ;)

      You're right though. The PDF format has a lot less restrictions in that aspect. No page limits or printing costs.

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  3. I haven't used PDF patterns,only tissue patterns or my own. From my experience, most sewers need to learn how to handle the tissue paper patterns, as well as how to read the instructions given inside the envelope. There is a wealth of knowledge in these envelopes, if people take the time to read.

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  4. I prefer to cut and paste in front of the TV to tracing off leaning over the table (Iwas always told to trace off never cut into the pattern), I have PDF versions of a few big pattern company patterns, as well as a few indie pattern makers and the not so big companies,
    I prefer PDF that have a page range for each size, though this makes it slightly less convenient for blending sizes it wastes less paper, one day I would like to try out a print service, im told officeworks is an option but its a long drive to get there so maybe one day

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