I have used two downloadable patterns in my relatively short sewing career and vowed never again. Oh, sure, it's convenient -- for the pattern company! For the home sewer it's a waste of 1) time, 2) paper, 3) printer ink. I'm sure other things are wasted (tape!) and I depend on you to come up with them.
The download itself is practically instant, and it usually takes just a few minutes for the pattern to print. But the piecing and taping together of the many pages, only to cut the whole thing up again, can take hours. There's a lot of waste (of your paper). The instructions (if it's a pattern from you-know-where) might as well be written in _________ (indecipherable-language-of-your-choice).
And then when you're finished you have to fold up the paper pattern pieces and store the pattern...how exactly? There's obviously no identifying pattern envelope. And since it's taped together do you really think it's going to hold over the long term, or that someone, decades from now, will stumble upon your taped-up pile of paper at an estate sale and think, what a charming relic of yesteryear?
The second (and last) time I used a downloadable pattern, the result was nearly as thick as my paperback edition of Emma. OK, I exaggerate, but there were like 80 pieces to match. But first they had to be trimmed and taped!
Why does anybody do this to themselves?
And wouldn't you know the pattern lines didn't always match -- which I blame on my laser printer mainly, but if it could happen to me it could happen to you, too.
Which means the paper pattern doesn't lie entirely flat, and you can't iron it flat.
Even Willy expressed his frustration, in the only way he could think of at the time:
And then you also have to remember to put tape inside the pattern piece, or when you cut it, it will fall apart (if it comprises more than one piece of printer paper -- and it usually does).
I know what many of you are thinking to yourselves: you don't have a convenient place nearby to purchase patterns, so you depend on downloadable patterns. To which I respond: Do you have a mailbox?
Others are saying, downloadable patterns are usually cheaper and sometimes even free. To which I respond: check out the patterns for sale on Etsy by sorting by lowest price. There are tons of excellent patterns that cost next to nothing. I just checked and the vintage Advance pattern below is 20 cents. That's right, cents. OK, it's missing the instructions, but whatever, I just chose one example; most patterns for sale there (or on eBay) are complete, and they're not all straight out of a Bette Davis movie either.
Why does anyone purchase downloadable patterns? I can think of only one good reason: impulsiveness. You simply must have it NOW. And I get that, really I do.
Frankly, to me the whole downloadable pattern thing is a joke, and it's a joke being played on us. It's convenient for the pattern company because it saves them oodles of money by passing the printing costs along to us.
In closing readers, am I missing something? Do you just love, love, love downloadable patterns?
Do you keep an endless supply of Scotch tape on hand and have a fascination with jigsaw puzzles?
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!