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Sep 12, 2012

Things I Don't Get, Vol. 6: Downloadable Patterns



It's not like I haven't tried them. 

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 just don't get it.

Enlighten me, please!

109 comments:

  1. I don't get it either. I am just too lazy to go through the whole rigamorale.
    Mail order is so much easier and I love receiving ' interesting' mail

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  2. As far as downloadable patterns go, I think Willy's got it right.

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  3. Yes, they are totally a pain in the a**e!
    Also, when you're pinning the pattern to your fabric, it's difficult to get the pins through the parts that have been taped together..and then the pins get gunk on them, too.
    The only time it works is for small patterns, e.g. a Speedo swimming costume.
    Thanks for highlighting this phenomenon, Peter!
    Ciao
    Max

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  4. I do not do downloadable patterns from the big 4. However, I have done the Collete Sorbetto tank, which was free. I did it because the reviews from others were all glowing and I wanted to give it a shot. For me to do a downloadable pattern it has to meet 2 criteria.

    1) It has to be free from an independent designer.
    2) It has to be unique. If it is similar to a tissue pattern I will do the tissue pattern instead.

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    1. Also I don't mind all the time it takes to tape the pattern together because it will take almost, if not the same amount of time to cut out the tissue pieces.

      Delete
  5. I've tried downloadable patterns twice. so much work. so much tape. so much irritation. A bureaucrat's specific type of dream!

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  6. I've used packing tape on the one downloadable pattern I've used. The width of the tape means the pieces don't shift around and it doesn't tear easily. That was nearly a year ago and the pattern's held up well.
    I solved the no-envelope thing by putting the pieces in a labeled zip lock bag, with an illustration facing out.
    I definitely found it harder to work with than tissue, but 1. it was free, 2. it was mostly convenient (you have to cut out tissue patterns anyway, and I didn't have to get in my car or deal with a cranky checkout clerk) 3. it was immediate gratification: I stitched up the top that afternoon.

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  7. Well, I currently make my living designing and selling downloadable patterns. I think the indie patterns are sold that way because of the low production cost to the designer - you don't have to have the capital for a print run. My customers appreciate the very detailed photographs and instructions that I can put in because I'm not bearing the printing costs. I buy downloadable patterns from indie designers, because they can create very cool niche products since they're not having to worry about economies of scale that you have to worry about if you're adding in print costs. They don't have to sell to a wide audience like the big 4 pattern makers.
    However, I hate the taping too, so my next step is to offer hybrid patterns - the detailed and photographed instructions instantly downloadable but the actual pattern printed large scale (I've found a very economical small scale way to do this) and shipped.

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  8. The couple that I've tried, I've also traced my size onto yet another piece of paper after taping all the pages together.

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  9. ugh i agree. I just finished dowloading, printing, cutting & sticking togethe rthe tiny pocket tank pattern by grainline...by the time i was finished it didn't seem worth doing any sewing as i had wasted so much time sticking the bastard together!!

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    Replies
    1. it all together takes the fun out of sewing!

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  10. Oh I hear you. I've used a downloadable pattern once but only because I simply was not able to get the printed pattern and I really wanted that dress. It was from a sold out Burda magazine, but the dress pattern was avaliable online as a download. I HAD TO HAVE it and so I spent an entire afternoon taping the damn pattern. HATED IT. Never again! The dress turned out fabulous though:) but still.. what a pain

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  11. While I prefer tissue patterns, I don't despise downloadable ones.
    The taping can be a bit of a pain in the behind, but since I trace all my patterns, once that's done, the difference to tissue patterns is negligible.
    And I think it offers a great chance for many creative minds to share their patterns without having to finance a huge production cost up front.

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  12. Do I love them no but here are some reasons why I buy them.
    1) The pattern I want is out of print. Oliver and S has put several back in circulation as downloadables. Would I rather have the paper one well sort of but since they are kids patterns I trace anyways bc if I'm spending that much you better believe I'm going to use more then one size.

    2) I truly can't stand tracing from Burda Style magazine. It gives me a headache and I never can find the lines. I'll take the download any day.

    3) Um Gerties totally cool sewing classes.

    4) Indie patterns that are only downloadable.

    Now would I buy a big 3 this way Hell NO but in these cases it works. I also fold and tape like Gertie did in her video which helps and then I just trace. Yes its more wasted paper but at this point who's counting. Oh and I never print of the directions.

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  13. I don't do downloadable patterns mainly because I haven't seen any I want and, yes, I think assembling them looks like a royal pain in the nether regions. Personally, I'd rather scale up from a drawing, using large graph paper, but that's just me. Mostly, I don't trust my computer and printer to reproduce downloadables accurately.

    However . . . stop whining.

    I store my patterns in manila pocket folders, alphabetically by maker, and then numerically, so the "no pattern art" issue is solved. Even if I didn't do this, I could get a plain white mailing envelope and write the information on it, for goodness' sake!

    I wouldn't want to save a pieced-together pattern, either, which is why I would trace it onto a single large sheet, in exactly the same way I trace my vintage patterns to avoid damaging the originals.

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  14. I haven't bought a Big 4 pattern in ages. I do nothing except downloads.

    My best example, I wanted a pattern for a dirndl. Folkwear has an excellent on, but I'm a big girl, the FW pattern (around $25) would have to be sized up, something I'm not great at.

    Burdastyle however, had one. I downloaded it and took it to Staples. Cost me all of $12 in total, buying the pattern and printing and now I have a multi sized dirndl pattern I can make for anyone who needs a dirndl.

    I don't fuss much with the mapping, I take it to Staples and save money, Big 4 can cost twice as much as the free Burdastyle, or low cost with a print at copy shop option.

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  15. As far as it's free and less than 20 pages I download, if not forget it!

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  16. I like that I am buying from indie designers and that I get unique looking things that I am looking for. A lot of these designers would not be able to make it if they had the extra printing, shipping, and other costs.

    I am also an impulse buyer and like to buy print out and start right away.

    I also like the idea that I can reprint a part if I screwed it up, spilt something on it, etc.
    And I don't feel the need to trace these patterns, so I don't have that time.

    But all of the patterns that I have done this way have been small (a simple blouse, bra, tap panties) so it didn't take that much time to tape and cut them.

    I also stored them in a ziplock with the pattern instruction with picture on top so that it is easily visible.

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  17. I second most of the above "pro" reasons. Think of Victory patterns - she can do on trend, niche patterns becasue she doesn't have to deal with the headaches of manufacturing and overhead. I think it would probably be easier to print, light tape and trace anyway. Easier to store, easier to work with. Then you keep a couple of manilla envelopes around (they make them in the same size as regular pattern envelopes) and keep them in there with a photo taped to the outside.

    Having said this, I have a sneaky advantage. We have an amazing plot printer in my office which prints out 36 x 48 sheets of paper (for architectural drawings). I use photoshop to assemble all the pdf pages and then print them here (once everyone has gone home and can't see me being naughty) which means they are easier to cut - no tape, no tracing. However, if someone was so inclined they could do the photoshop thing and send them to a copy shop with a plotter. I don't think it would cost more than a $1-2 per sheet. Sometimes you just gotta have a particular pattern!

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    1. Heather, you are just genius! I can also print on a plotter, but somehow never thought of assembling the PDF in photoshop.... I'm feeling a bit dumb now, but it just made PDF patterns a bit more appealing!

      Delete
  18. I'll buy PDF patterns if the pattern is too good not to have, but only if it's fairly simple! I can't be doing with how long the whole process can take if there are too many pattern pieces. The worst kind of PDF patterns though are definitely the ones that don't even include seam allowances!?! As if PDFs aren't annoying enough!!!

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  19. I agree -- but for me, it's not about the inconvenience. Tissue patterns are just more fun. It's like opening a present. (I feel the same way about real vs. digital books.)

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  20. The selfish seamstress has a marvellous kvetch about this very subject

    http://selfishseamstress.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/polka-dot-skirt-new-love-and-a-grumble/

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  21. I use downloadable patterns because (1) I can buy the pattern without spending money on the whole magazine or subscription, i.e. Burda, 2) they take up no space in my sewing room, and (3) family members never see the purchase. >:)

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  22. Nope. I hate PDF patterns. I'll deal with them on occasion (mainly if I'm pattern testing for a designer, which doesn't happen very often either haha), but I prefer the actual hard copy in all it's tissue-paper glory. To me, it's kind of the same thing as buying the physical album instead of downloading it - I want all the artwork, I want the case (or envelope), I want it exactly as the artist (pattern designers are artists, yeah) intended. PDFs seem like a cheap copy. Well, they are a cheap copy.

    I know a lot of people prefer to buy the downloadable ones due to shipping costs - shipping that shizz out of country can sometimes cost more than the actual pattern. I think Colette Patterns has a good balance of offering both.

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  23. I should add that I use Mono Aqua glue and use pattern making software. It takes very little time for me to glue and cut a pattern. I buy the very cheapest paper I can find and print on very light.

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  24. I do the occasional download but it has to be either free or really, really special to make it worth the paper and my time.

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  25. 4) the inevitable paper cuts. Much less of a risk with tissue patterns!

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  26. Confession time - I used to download, print, trim and sometimes even assemble them at work, letting my company pick up the tab for the supplies (and my time.) Bad, BAD corporate drone!

    But even with that advantage, I gave up on them quite quickly. They were a pain to keep in one piece (laminating the finished pattern was not the good idea it seemed like at the time) and storing them was a nightmare.

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  27. I think Willy has the right idea. I have mostly used downloaded patterns if they are part of an online class or free. I haven't found any indi patterns that I have liked enough to spend more than $5 and have to do all that work.

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  28. I hate downloadable patterns, I will never use them again. There is so much extra work and sheer inconvenience involved.

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  29. I'm not a huge fan of pattern downloads. I love them if they're free or really cheap. Also, they have to be under 30 pages. If they cost more than $10 (and that's pushing it), then I get annoyed. "You mean I have to pay $14 for a pattern, print it out and then tape it together?" I don't care how unique the pattern is or that they instructions are really great; that just seems a bit outrageous to me.

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  30. Sounds like a good way to get a major migraine.
    So you need a printer, lots of paper, ink, tape, scissors, etc. and you call that "FREE"?
    It wouldn't be a pretty picture over here if I ran out of ink before I printed out the full pattern.

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  31. I'm on the fence about downloads. Part of me loves the instantaneous nature of a downloadable pattern, and the fact that it's so much easier for indie companies to market and distribute their patterns this way. (Having looked into having patterns commercially produced, it's pretty expensive if you don't have some serious capital.) I've like the Sorbetto top pattern, and a few other smaller/free patterns I've downloaded.

    However, I'm often hesitant to purchase and download patterns for very voluminous garments. I've done it a few times, but am often frustrated by how long it takes to print and assemble the patterns. Often by the time I'm done with all that (and usually having run out of tape!), I've started to loose steam over that project. So for really big garments, I tend to prefer an already-printed pattern just because I get impatient. ;)

    I, however, don't think downloadable patterns are inherently "wrong" in comparison to printed patterns. I think it really depends on the sewer's disposition (and whether they have enough tape on hand... I never seem to!). ;)

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  32. Everything you say is true.I have downloaded and printed precisely two patterns, but YEARs before that had pattern making software. While the pieces did indeed line up, the useable pattern seems to be only on the center of the paper. I was so appalled that I never used the pattern, and have no idea it is a good product or not.

    Only screaming frustration with pants patterns led me to try pattern making software again. Thirty pieces of paper mostly lined up and the pattern did need alteration, but it came closer to fitting than anything commercially produced. But I loathe crawling and taping, Cannot imagine walking into Staples with a USB drive or a chip and asking them to print for me.

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  33. Ah, Willy the Wise! Dogs have a saying, you know (oh, YES they do): If you can't eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away... ;-)

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    1. Hah, that's totally what my 8 month old thinks too.

      -anne

      Delete
  34. But thats the thing! you should know which patterns to buy when downloading a PDF pattern! I never download a really long complicated pattern unless it's really unique.
    but if it a nice blouse, it really shouldn't take up too much paper or time! I am also going to launch a VERY special pattern and I'm going to use the PDF format, as printing it out and sending it is just too much! (and it'll be only 8 pages!)

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  35. Willy in 2016!!!

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  36. Man, I am so with you. That's 5 hours you're not going to get back. And the pieces never perfectly align without paper bubbling - so true! Mind you, I've done it on occasion and now I have rules: the pattern needs to be unavail in any other version, compelling, and comprised of no more than 3 pieces / 12 pieces of paper taped together. Just in terms of tape, these things end up costing an extra 2 dollars.

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  37. Okay....I have to admit, I have been known to download patterns, but in my defense they're always stuffed toy patterns. That being said I would never download a garment pattern. The thought of piecing it together sickens me!

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  38. I don't mind it for a small, easy pattern with few pieces--like the Colette Sorbetto or So Zo's vest pattern. It's not a big deal when you have 10 or fewer pages and only a couple pattern pieces.

    I did it once for a full robe, and that was a PAIN!

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  39. willy willy willy won't go home

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  40. I have only used downloadable patterns for a few designs I could not get otherwise (mostly Neue Mode). It was a pain in the rear to have to assemble, tape, trace and store the patterns. I would much rather pay the money. I think Willie was spot on with his input. Or should that be output? :)

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  41. I have downloaded a few patterns, Sorbetto, a few Lekala. I've saved a lot of Lekala, but only printed a few. Taping them together is tv work to me. It's annoying but if there is something else going on and I'm not in a rush, it's okay. I'm a tracer of patterns anyhow so there is always some prep involved.

    Still, I prefer tissue. I am fine with paying Colette or Sewaholic patterns to get the tissue version.

    As for storage, because I trace things, then retrace after a FBA etc, they rarely fit nicely in the pattern envelope anyhow. I have snagged a few of my husbands clear comic book bags and they work well for me.

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  42. I don't do downloadable patterns. Patternmaking and instruction writing is like engineering, so you have to work from accurate pieces and instructions to get an accurate result. I would liken it to using a computer language translation service... kinda sorta what you want, but not exactly. Almost anything you ever wanted probably exists in a full-sized pattern that comes with an envelope, anyway. So, basically, no downloadable patterns for me.

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  43. I did a download, once. It was awful. Never again. I would rather suffer a thousand paper cuts then jump in a tub of lemon juice than piece-tape-cut- tape more-store etc a pattern.

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  44. I love downloadable patterns! I can buy them without thinking too hard about the cost or about choosing the right pattern compared to modern print patterns (which is a fairer comparison than cheap vintage patterns I think?) And since I realised you only have to trim off two sides, I haven't found the taping too bad... actually I had a trimming and taping session the other day and did four patterns and found it quite... dare I say... soothing?

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    Replies
    1. I agree, I love them, and prefer them to flimsy tissue patterns. I don't find them a pain to tape either. I can even match up the pieces I only want to use for now and fold the rest away. I make a lot of crafts so for me down loading on sturdy paper is
      more ideal.

      Delete
  45. I may have better bladder control, but I'm with Willy on that one...

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  46. I actually printed them out at a local print shop, which was about $2~3? ANd it was a free pattern so yes it was cheaper, and nicely printed out. BUT, wouldn't you know, that was 2 years ago and I haven't even attempted at taping them together because, I have TONS of other commercial patterns I can just cut and sew. During sales at JoAnn, I can get them for $1~4 ish which is about the same price as those downloadable patterns.

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  47. I don't like them either but I have purchased a few in a "I need this right now" frenzy. If I go for downloadable patterns I try to stick to really simple patterns.

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  48. I hate dealing with downloadable patterns! I also have problems with all the lines matching up, and the waste of time and tape is really annoying. I have used one because it was ONLY available as download. Since it was for my sister I forced her to put the pages together and then trace the pattern off of them. I didn't want to deal with it. She only did because she really wanted that skirt. I won't say I am never using a downloadable pattern again, because sometimes they are available only as downloads, or sometimes it is hard to find specific issues of Burda on Ebay, but if I have the option to use a normal pattern, I will.

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  49. Children’s patterns.

    The pieces are small so the hassle is less. Then if you have accidentally gotten the wrong size range, or you got the pattern so long ago that by the time you sit down to cut the thing out it is no longer the right size range, you can just download the next one and go on.

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  50. I kinda like them, but ONLY because I have a 36" wide plotter printer that I bought used (and cheap) from an architectural firm that was upgrading. I also draft a lot of my own patterns on my computer, and taping would be a total PITA.
    I also like that I have a permanent digital copy that I can print out as often as I like (handy if you're making multiples in different sizes).
    If you don't have room, $$$ our the desire to own a large plotter printer, many print shops like Kinkos and Office Max have larger printers and will print a digital file for you, and it's generally pretty cheap. Yes, it adds to the cost, but still less than all that paper, tape, time and frustration.
    Of the "tape together patterns", I usually only buy hats, accessories and children's patterns. those I can handle taping!

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  51. I've got a few that I've taped together and keep rolled up in a bin in the corner (not elegant, but handy enough). I only do it when there aren't too many pattern pieces and if it's free or inexpensive. Generally also only from independent designers - mainly because I have had much more success sewing their patterns, but also because I like to feel I'm supporting them. And then I trace out my size anyway and usually re-use them more than once. It's useful to have a 'solid' pattern to trace over again and again and I'm much more relaxed about adjusting patterns that way.

    However, the far and away biggest reason I do it is price. I'm in Belgium and it is just not possible to get patterns as cheap as it seems you can in the US (it seems there are regular sales where you can pick commercial patterns up for around 2 bucks, is that right? Totally unimaginable on my side of the Atlantic/Channel! Almost always 12 euros or more). If I do find a cheap pattern on etsy or ebay, the shipping costs send it out of my range. Mostly it's pdf or not at all.

    That said, I do still also absolutely hate the taping. Massive pain in the you-know-what, there's no way round it.

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  52. This post made me think, Peter! I download a lot of patterns for kids' clothing (baby and toddler sized) and I can see how the small pieces I'm dealing with are bearable while adult clothing would not be.

    It got me thinking about my whole pattern storage system, which I wrote about here: http://www.thevelvetaubergine.com/2012/09/12/ocd-tendencies-pattern-storing-edition/

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  53. I don't get the appeal either. People kvetch about tracing, but this is far worse and a whole lot more trees and whatever they make ink out of. More tape too. Burda has been selling some of their patterns from the magazine as downloads and really $5.99 for something you then have to print, match and tape together? It's not a bargain, even if you don't sew from every magazine, it's still a good deal to subscribe. Buy just one download a month from them, include the cost of paper and ink and tax and it's more than the $90 the magazine costs. As someone else mentioned, you can't put pins through copy paper either. I don't think it's easier than finding the patterns on the pattern sheet either. Well, you can certainly tell that I don't get it. I live in fear that Burda will stop producing the magazine in favor of downloads.

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  54. I do NOT like trimming and paper waste, so I will say that I strongly prefer Angela Kane's patterns because they are extremely conservative in the paper department and they do not have those stupid borders that need trimming.

    That said, I like downloadable patterns because they are reprintable. I don't have to worry about ruining them by cutting them.

    I like that they usually do no include seam allowances because it is easier to alter them.

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  55. Brian at brian@BrianSews.com has a very big printer that uses a wide roll of paper that looks white butcher paper. He prints out patterns that do not require taping. Brian is a marvel.

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  56. From my heart, I hate the downloading, printing, taping....
    When Burda went the route of downloadable, printable patterns I was afraid it would be the end of the magazine. Happy that is not the case till now. I think I will stop sewing if I have to work with downloads only.

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  57. I really like downloadable patterns. I did the math and, including printer paper, ink and tape, they're comparable in price to a pattern I would buy in-store (not during a 5 for $5 sale, obviously), and considerably cheaper than one I would have shipped.

    Everything takes practice. I've used many downloadable patterns and I can put one together in about 10 minutes these days (assuming it has about 30 sheets). You don't need to trim them first. You can see the notches through the paper. It takes me just as long to find, cut and iron tissue patterns, and it takes me WAYYYY longer to trace off patterns from a magazine. I hate pattern magazines. They should have a "Can Cause Blindness" warning.

    If I like the pattern once it's made up, I trace it onto pattern tissue, make a 6"x9" envelope for it and file it with my others. If I don't, I cut the bits of tape off of the paper and recycle it.

    Are there downsides to downloadable patterns? Sure there are. They're useless if you need to see the fabric pattern underneath. They dull your pins. They need a large space with which to work which, for most, means crawling around on the floor.

    I think the trick is not to view them as an "instead of" but an "as well as". To me, they're simply another resource, another way to bring the joy of sewing into my home. They allow indie companies to produce more for less and they make patterns accessible to folks who don't live by a store, don't have reliable mail, or just don't feel like waiting. And that last one is a-ok by me. Sometimes the sewing spirit is upon us and nothing in our stash looks like fun.

    Now if they just started making tissue printer paper. I'd be all over that.

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  58. For me now, at my current age and valuing my limited sewing time, I'm with those that say it has to be free or cheap, small pieces, and available no other way in order to be worth it compared to pre-printed patterns. My 14 year-old self, however, would have LOVED downloadable pdf's of the free variety (at least if internet speed had been then what it is now). Yes, there would have been the inevitable "mom, you need to buy more paper/ink/tape" but I think I could've tricked her (for a while) into replacing those generic supplies for me. At least it would've been easier than wheedling for her to buy me new patterns (which I usually had to save up my allowance and talk someone into driving me to a store to get).

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  59. I'm of two minds about them. I go to PDF patterns if that's the only way I can find what I want. If I've spend hours searching for what I have in mind and can't get it pre-printed but can as a PDF, that's what I do. But I'd much rather have the paper pattern, even though I'm sort of running out of space to store patterns! (I tend to store them in manilla envelopes with a picture of the finished product glued to the front.

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  60. The first time I used a downloadable I had the print ratio wrong and it came out too small. I then upgraded it myself. Then I found the 10cm test square, fixed the ratio and printed (taped, cut, sewed, blah blah) again.
    Guess which version fitted me better? MY altered one. If nothing else it gave me confidence in my emerging draft/altering abilities
    BTW I am fairly sure some of the lines don't meet on anyones print outs..it is the nature of having a pattern in that many sections.

    The only time I will ever bother to print out again is to get my hands on some of the free 'amateur' patterns on Burdastyle.

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  61. first time I did a downloadable pattern was because the dance studio needed an Alice in Wonderland costume and one of the big brands had just released one, which meant it wasn't available in Oz for another 6 months. If I'd ordered online it would have taken three weeks to get here, and then the make-up time, but they needed it for a competition in two weeks. The teacher downloaded it and emailed it to me and I printed it out and taped it together.... then I realised there was a part two she had forgotten to email to me. Oh joy.
    The costume turned out well enough I guess.
    A month or two ago, I discovered a few printed out downloaded patterns in my sewing room - I spent a couple of days taping them together and putting them away; not sure if I'll ever use them though!

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  62. By the way, I also meant to comment that if we have to spend money on the paper and the printer ink and the time to put them together, why when the big companies have specials on (or at sewingpatterns.com) do the specials not reduce the price of the downloadable versions of the patterns too? (for example, you'll see a pattern that's reduced to $3.99, but the downloadable version is $5.99.)

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  63. I use downloadable patterns because I live in New Zealand, so I either have to buy big 4 at Spotlight (sort of like Joanns)at $10-$12 each (yes I get very jealous when I see bloggers who get them for 99c) or ship them, which usually means paying at least as much for the pattern again in shipping, plus it can take up to two weeks to get here! so for me the taping etc is worth it, I've gotten good at it, and zip lock bags are a handy way to store them

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  64. I love pdf patterns because I don't want to pay shipping to the Philippines and risk getting the patterns lost in the mail, too. I don't even mind the effort of trimming and taping (I end up using glue most of the time, though) but maybe I just like repetitious brainless tasks like that.

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  65. I quite like downloadable patterns. Living in rural Australia where there is nowhere to buy patterns meant that I had to travel two hours to a store where I could buy them and then pay $25 each! Ordering from the internet is great (and I do it a lot) but it can take two weeks for patterns to get here from the US. The inconvenience of taping is small for me. I do it while I'm watching television at night. I agree about the paper storage situation, so I now trace off the pattern and disassemble the original in case I need it again. I store my traced patterns in plastic sleeves in an expanding file, so this is no different for me.

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  66. I have bought the majority of my patterns from the big 4 when they were on sale for $1.99 to 3.99. Even when I factor in the cost of shipping ( I do not live in U.S.) I still consider myself better off than getting down loads and printing them out etc. It is a lot better than crawling around on the floor ( no table big enough)matching and taping tons of paper and trying to ignore my screaming joints. Besides I can can cut and/or trace out a commercial pattern a lot quicker than printing and taping a download.
    That being said, I do agree that there is some use for them. Independent pattern designers for example who just don't have the budget for printing etc. Another case is where downloading patterns is the only affordable way to get them because of shipping costs or the nearest pattern store is to far away. Small items like Dolls patterns is the only thing I will use them.
    On a slightly different topic, any one borrowed sewing books and patterns from the Library? It is a great way to check things out before buying them. Depending on your library, you can get hard copy or e-copy.

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  67. I have bought 2 download patterns, but haven''t assembled either one yet. I blame Marina of Frabjous Couture. As soon as I saw her post about the Godet Pencil Skirt, I downloaded the pattern. The same thing happened when I saw the yellow and white shift dress she made- "must download now!"

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  68. Hmmm. Downloadable patterns can be rather irritating to work with, but if a)the pattern is gratis, b) there is no option to buy paper pattern, c) if I cannot buy the paper pattern in the UK, or d) to have the pattern posted to the UK is too expensive - then I'll go along with the downloadable option. However, whenever I do purchase them from the US, I have to print them on the European/UK A4 paper, as I understand the US letter paper is wider and shorter. So to reduce the likelihood of printing mismatched edges, I tend to just print out the 4" test page, check the measurements and if they are not correct, then when I print out the PDF, I make sure that the "fit to border" option is unticked and choose "none" instead. That tends to do the trick. Having said that , I dislike intensely the idea of so much paper and tape wastage, accumulated during the whole process. A cumbersome activity.

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  69. Down-loadable seem too much trouble, except for panties, and bras. I did have a terrific library book, with a CD with printable patterns, vintage-like. So much fun, we did print them. And I also printed a really interesting skirt from a Russian site, and some more panties....Now, to sit and sew.... Cathie, in Quebec.

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  70. Yeah, downloadables have their moments. I have beaucoup of them, but have found them useful and I really only have those I can store and reprint at will. But I agree, they are a pain to assemble, but I think of it as part of the process. I always did like puzzles and this is just one big puzzle. I haven't tried any from that other place (insert name) whose instructions could be printed in (insert language). I think that might give me apaplexy!

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  71. I now download patterns only if they are: very simple, few pieces, small craft items & not available as a regular pattern elsewhere. Once downloaded a Butterick jacket pattern - while the price was inexpensive, the amount of paper and ink used (an entire ink cartridge), plus the time to assemble it cost far more than if I had gone to the local Joann's and purchased the same pattern at full retail there!

    Micky

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  72. Tried once. Hated. Hated. Hated.

    I don't care if the pattern is free, unique or comes with two free tickets to the moon. I would rather do without.

    Listen to Willy. Dogs can sense bad things.

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  73. I did download a free sleeve variation which I was really happy to be able to get with out starting from scratch. It took I think 6 sheets. I think if the patterns go to downloads I will just use all the ones I never got around to or buy some oop ones on ebay. I can do without all that printing and taping stuff. I'd retrace those anyway. mssewcrazy

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  74. I've never purchased a downloadable pattern, but I use pattern drafting software and have my own computer printouts to assemble. However, I can move them around so they print to better advantage and when assembling them I use glue in a fine tip dispenser and assemble in strips--faster, easier than tape.

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  75. I also use computer software to design custom fit patterns which are then printed out on regular printer paper. I use glue sticks to assemble the pattern. The amount of tme and trouble involved is less than I needed to prepare the tissue patterns. They fold and store just fine in ziplock bags. I



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  76. I don't love print-at-home, but it works when I must have *that* pattern and it's only available that way. I do all the trimming & taping, and then I trace the pieces onto tissue paper and use those for all my work. And then I roll up the bit taped-together pattern, put a rubberband around it to keep it from unrolling, and stick it in a bin in my sewing closet. The tissue pieces & instructions go in an envelope in my pattern drawer. Done.

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  77. Nope, not for me! Way too much trouble, paper etc, etc. I'm with Willie on this one.

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  78. I hate it. Really. The first time, I didn't know. The second time, it was free. The third, it was quick. But I still hated the process every time. And everytime I swear it'll be the last. And now there are 48 pages waiting to be cut, taped, and re-cut on my sewing table.

    Nonetheless, I've made a flowchart to help myself consider the pertinence of using a downloadable pattern.

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  79. I found a print shop that will do a printout for me on large format paper like architects use for plans. About $5.00-$10.00 AUD.

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  80. I've fantasized that finding a Craigslist large format printer (used by architects and engineering firms) would solve *that* problem but then realized the paper and ink requirements would add cost and the files are not calibrated for that paper size anyway. BTW - did you know that McCall's owns the only tissue printing presses in North America? Yep - they print every tissue pattern out there, even the independent brands. One reason why some independent pattern lines don't print on tissue is because they can't meet the minimum print run requirements.

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  81. I totally agree with you, they suck. I have bought two in my life, and I will never willingly buy them again. I also find that I don't like to make up the Ottobre magazine ones either, with all the crazy intersecting colored lines of patterns for 20 items overlaid on two sheets of paper.

    When it comes down to "what to sew next?" - I always reach for a tissue pattern from the stash, and never the non-tissue ones. In fact, I also prefer the vintage one-size patterns that are unprinted to the modern printed pattern. Holes in the pattern to do my markings & tailor's tacks through? One page of concise directions? Sold. Etsy pattern shops can have all my spare dollars, I love the selection and the ease of working with vintage patterns!!

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  82. I'm a professional designer ( mainly costume ) and I use downloadable patterns for several reasons:

    I. Quicker than drafting from scratch, especially for standard items.
    2. You can print several copies and cut several different sizes without having to fold edges in.
    3. Printer paper is so much stronger that tissue, and if it tears, it can easily be replaced.

    To speed up the piecing together, get a paper cutter or guillotine, and piece together with a stick glue rather than tape. The whole process becomes much quicker.....

    Love your blog. Good to see men sewing :-)

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  83. Willy has got it right! bahaha!! Just the other night I tried to piece together a free Burdastyle pattern. Well first off I layed my pieces of paper out on the floor and instead of paying attention to the numbers on each piece and actually reading the instructions on how to lay the numbers out I decided I'd just put it together like a puzzle! NOT FUN! Amist all the cutting, taping, and trying to keep my dog from walking all over the paper I was dizzy with visions of x's and o's. (for some reason they had marked the entire pattern with this). I ended up running out of tape and by this time if my Pug would of urinated on it I would of patted his head and told him what a good boy he was. LOL!

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  84. You should see the modern quilting and baby kids blogs..... People make "original" patterns, scan them in as PDF and try to sell them or 6-15 dollars, and they're about as novel as a peasant dress and the quilt patterns can be found on countless sites and books for free.

    People create them do their own ego! Look, I'm a grown up sewer. Sorry, sewist.

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  85. "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."

    Hours?? Peter, Peter ... I'm sorry to say, you're doing something wrong if it's taking you hours. No wonder you hate assembling the downloadables.

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    Replies
    1. I should have been clearer: after I tape, I STITCH the pattern together -- by hand.

      Delete
  86. I personally don't like them, especially for big items but quite some of my sewing friends do....

    For the Burda Download pattern: those who are download only are normally pattern from the burdastyle mag. Over years it has made quite a lot of work at least for the German Burda team (I friend of mine worked for them, so I know a bit about the background) to handle all the request for back issues. Even if there are no copies left of an issue you have to answer the mail. And there were quite some request on the old )no longer existing) German burda forum to offer single pattern, because people did not want to buy the whole magazine for only one pattern.

    Internet did not make it better, because people from countries where burda is not available saw the pattern and wanted them. And there are quite a lot of countries and states on this planet, including those where postal systems are not reliable, certain pattern will be taken out by customs because they are considered undecent and where delivery simply takes weeks.

    The other way round: If I want a Vogue pattern in Germany I can go to the local shop, can order it from the catalogue in my size and can go back to the shop 3-5 days later to fetch the pattern.

    Or I am ordering from the US (which will be cheaper, even though the shipping is horrendous) but I think it never took less than three weeks to arrive. More likely four or five.

    And if I want to sew a summer dress in July (because we finally get summer weather) I do not want to wait for the pattern until end of August when summer is over again. Not to talk about the problem that then it might take another month until my work schedule allows me the time to sew again.

    I think it is less of a problem if you life in a city and if you sew more vintage than latest fashion and if you don't sew for growing children. Then it usually is no problem to buy a pattern when you need it.

    But if you want patterns that are not available locally, live at a remote place where the next fabric store is a several hour drive away and you maybe have to do the trip with two little children who will be very bored by the trip... downloadable patterns gain in attractivity.

    So I understand why some people feel a need for them.

    (Not for me, I can get most things locally, the rest at my about every six weeks trips to Paris and I have no children in tow. But that is only me. ;-) )

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  87. I love them. I hate tissue pattern paper. You have to cut it, iron it and it is too fiddly.
    I store them on my computer so they don't take up any space, and I can print them off over and over again. I don't think they are a big deal to tape together. For me needs I like the sturdy paper.
    I also find that you can re-size them if you want. I think it all depends on what you like, what is easier for you, and what is more economical.

    Josette

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  88. The purse pattern I recently downloaded was 32 pages.
    That's a lot of ink and time to figure out what goes where. Especially since most of the pieces were rectangles which could have been listed as dimensions only instead of as a pattern piece printed out as four pages to glue together.
    You also to need to make sure of your printer settings before you push print so it prints to the correct size as intended by the designer. I had to do some of my print job over because I neglected to make sure print scaling was turned off.
    For a shirt/blouse, I estimate there would be more than 32 pages. I don't want to do it.
    I'm fine with printed patterns.
    I like my swedish tracing paper for pattern pieces I need to alter or re-design because it's drapable. Printer paper is cumbersome.


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  89. I.... have a fascination with jigsaw puzzles. xD

    The storebought patterns I tend to get have that thin icky tracing paper that I'm too afraid I will tear.

    I mainly use the free patterns because I'm learning about pattern drafting, it is cheap, I have tons of printer paper and tape, and I often have a printer that uses toner and can print thousands of sheets of paper before it runs out of toner. I don't really mind the endless cutting out.
    When it comes to storebought patterns, I can never seem to shove the pattern back into the tiny package without tearing something. I fold them up nicely but they're never as small and neat as they first were.

    The printed patterns... you can omit what you don't want or need, like say, if something is supposed to be 10 inches square, just fold and cut a piece of printer paper. Or, if they have a page where there's like ONE tiny corner, I omit that in the printing. Usually saves space.

    But yeah, burdastyle has some pretty... UGH free and paid patterns. But I consider that part of the fun challenge. And the ugh patterns allow me to modify them and learn more about pattern drafting properly, what with being self taught. (don't get me wrong, the people that made the free patterns are generous enough to make them. Its just that patterns on burdastyle don't have my size so I have to scale them up ANYWAY.)

    Oh yeah. Using printer paper allows me to add on premeasured bits where needed. So the pattern might look like giant pixel art by the time I'm done with it. Or something, yeah.

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    Replies
    1. "When it comes to storebought patterns, I can never seem to shove the pattern back into the tiny package without tearing something. I fold them up nicely but they're never as small and neat as they first were."

      No one can.

      Delete
  90. I have only tried one downloadable pattern and it was a bit of a disaster. It was an independent pattern downloaded from etsy. The problem started when i went to print it out. The pattern was from the US and the pdf was formatted for US Letter size pattern. Now dont get me wrong, Im not American bashing here, but why cant the US use metric size paper like the rest of the world! Tried so many ways to print it out on A4 paper but gave up trying to match the layout. I asked the seller/creator of the pattern if he could re-generate the pdf for A4 paper so anyone outside of the US could print it out without all the problems but unfortunately he just didnt care. He basically said he was only interested in the US customers. Very disappointed in his attitude. So after trying for weeks to find someone in Australia that might stock US letter size paper, I ended up going to a local printer and getting a ream of paper cut to US Letter size. The whole episode ended up costing me more than I was willing to spend on the project both in time and money (and I didnt finished the project as the sizing was all wrong!). Oh well, you live and learn I suppose.

    Anyway, I prefer "real" patterns, especially vintage ones and have amassed a good collection in the last six months.

    cheers from downunder...

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  91. Actually I'm with you -- several years ago I used a program called Pattern Master that gave you items based on your measurements, but you were also the designer (which I found I'm not good at!). The idea though was after I designed my garment I printed it on my home printer! I got so sick of the time putting the patterns together, ugh, and all the other issues that I quit! I have learned to alter regular patterns, someone else does the design work, and generally I look for the JoAnn sales on patterns, (I mean $0.99) is lots cheaper than my printer, ink, paper, & time! I am definitely a real pattern girl - no downloads!

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  92. Completely agree. Someone mentioned the Sorbetto, which was a simple pattern. But even that was no walk in the park. The instructions didn't mention the scale setting on the printer. I ended up printing it out and gluing it together twice, and after two muslins it still didn't fit and I gave up.

    I've thought it would be an interesting project to learn how to to put together the pieces using a computer and then, I guess, taking it to a print shop and having them print it out on a large-scale printer.

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  93. Call me weird if you must but I really don't mind putting together the odd downloadable pattern.
    I wouldn't bother for the Big 4, even thought downloads are considerably cheaper than patterns here in the UK, and we don't have the fabulous sales that you guys in the USA do.
    But for independent pattern companies...yep! I'm ok with downloading and a quiet hour with the tape and a glass of wine.
    With a limited budget I'd much rather do that than spend $15 - $20 on top of the cost of the pattern just to get it shipped to me.

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  94. I'm not a english speaking so be kind for the eventual mistakes.

    Using downloaded patterns is not a problem for me. My main concern when I decide to buy a pattern is what it will cost and actually is a savvy solution for me. I agree with you that it is a pain to patch all the pieces of a pattern especiially when you just need some parts of it.
    I print my patterns on 60g papers and whether to cut the paper at one size or not depends on the type of pattern. If I have to sew the model many times for me or for different sizes, I end up copying the pattern.
    I store my patterns in kraft enveloppes with an image of the model sticked on it. Actually, it don't take more place than a Burda magazine that I would have bought only for one model.

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  95. The issue here is what does one spend his time doing. There are good things and bad things. Sometimes good things appear like bad things, but that's a bit rich for my my mental equipment.
    Printing out a downloaded pattern and piecing it together on the floor like a school-girl is a bad thing. But it is sometimes a good thing if it is the only way to use a pattern you can't find any other way. I have never found myself in such a situation, and if I did I'd most likely pass, but the option is open to the intrepid.
    The more pressing problem for those who wish to sew for men is the dearth of patterns for men. This I can't understand. I've looked through 90 years of patterns and those for men would fit in a duffel bag. Patterns for women would require several stadiums. How can that be? Didn't men dress during the past century? In any case, enter the fact that I weigh 300 pounds and the available patters sink to "0". The poor fat guy--mocked, blamed for skyrocketing medical costs, and left with belly skin hanging down to his knees when he loses the weight everybody told his he should lose, and. I suppose, naked as a jaybird for lack of suitable sewing patterns.
    Enter the solution: take back the wasted time formerly used to scrutinize other peoples' patterns and learn to design patterns yourself. Admittedly, my attempts so far have been laughable, but that is merely as passing phase.

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  96. Stumbled upon your blog (clever name!)while at work... and not actually working... oops
    Found myself laughing out loud when I got to the part where your dog peed on the pattern haha! I look forward to checking back here and reading your other posts!

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  97. I'm waiting for when you can download to a 3-D printer, so it just prints out the fabric pieces ready to go. THEN we'll be talking.

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  98. I'm late to this conversation but I am very much pro downloadable patterns and I live in LA so access to patterns isn't an issue. At least not commerical ones

    Reasons I love them?

    I hate paying postage.

    I hate losing pattern pieces.

    I hate tissue patterns.

    I hate tracing.

    I love being able to store them electronically and printing on demand

    They are often several dollars cheaper by downloading.

    More sturdy so you can chalk around them and they are easier to do pattern manipulations on.

    Assembling them fills in some dead unproductive time.

    I use a lot of Leko Mail patterns which are 50c-$1 each depending on whether you want seam allowances or not.

    Some things that makes things easier for me

    I have a workhorse laser printer that I bought for my business about 10 years ago. Still going strong. Paper and even tape can be acquired free with mail in rebates.

    I cut off only the bottom and right margin. I sort and divide the pages so I am only assembling one piece at a time. If your trying to assemble the whole pattern and then subdividing them the your opening up yourself to heart ache. This also reduces a lot of misalignement. I concentrate on lining up the edges of the pieces. If the middle of a piece is misaligned no biggie.

    I store them by punching a hole with a rabbit punch and then hanging them on a pattern hook.I also hang a manila folder which has been stapled to form a envelope and staple a copy of the line drawing/picture and if the pattern has a printout of the piece layout so you can see which pieces it uses. The envelope holds the smaller pieces and instructions if you care about such things.

    If you don't have a rabbit punch then you can use a bulldog clip and then thread the hook or ribbon through the clip.

    I really could not care less about vintage patterns. Sure I like the styles but I'd much rather draft from one of the period's drafting books.

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