How To Print Up a PDF Pattern

Most of us have printed up a PDF before.  It’s easy, you just click on ‘print’!  Unfortunately, most of us who have tried to print up a PDF pattern have found that if we just click on ‘print’ we get a printed PDF but it’s not the right size.  Most PDF patterns have something on them such as a shaded square that you can measure to see if yours has printed up correctly.  It is very tempting to measure this and think ‘Well, it’s almost right, it’ll be fine.’  With PDF patterns it won’t be fine.  A small discrepancy in that measurement will multiply over the whole pattern and you will end up with a garment that is totally the wrong size.  Very disappointing!

In the past I have spent hours getting advice about this online and altering all the settings on my printer and computer (like the incredibly clever IT geeks told me to do).  So frustrating.  Their advice would be fine for most things but every time it printed up just slightly off, only slightly, but over a whole pattern…  PDF patterns really do need to be accurate.

Finally I stumbled across the way to do it and it is so simple.  I mean really simple:

Do not alter the settings on your printer, do not alter the settings on your computer, do not even view the PDF through your browser or ANY programme that comes with your system (not even Adobe Reader if it came with your computer).

Download Adobe Reader for free.  View the PDF pattern with your downloaded version of Adobe Reader.  Set the size of your paper on Adobe Reader.  Set Adobe Reader to print up your pattern (only the front sheet initially so you can measure to make sure it is accurate before printing the whole pattern) with ‘no scaling’, ‘100%’, ‘no re-sizing’.  Each system varies as to which setting of fit and scale you require, so make a note of what works for you, but it will work.  Viewing your PDF through your browser and trying to get the correct scale will not work.  I know, I’ve tried it and wasted lots of time, paper and ink.

If you are conscious of the cost to yourself or the environment in ink and paper, you could choose to only print the pattern pieces and to view the instructions on your computer.  Again this is really easy to do.  View the whole pattern on your computer to see which pages are pattern pieces and when you go to print just type in the page number range with a hyphen in between or individual page numbers separated by a comma eg. ‘4-9’ or ‘2, 6-8’.  There are advantages to this other than saving money and the environment.  PDF pattern instructions are often much clearer on a computer and you can enlarge any pictures you need to.   Which brings me onto the last thing you need to know.  Most PDF pattern instructions consist of written text, diagrams and photographs.  The vast majority of these photos will have been taken with a digital camera and will be very detailed.  Most people, me included, have their printer set on a low resolution to print text and drawings/ diagrams (not photos) for speed and to save on ink.  So if you try to print without changing your settings your printer will only receive half the information it needs to print a clear picture.  If you were unaware of this you might think the designer has sold you a pattern with poor quality images which is frustrating when you’ve handed over your hard earned money.  (Also slightly embarrassing if you only discover this after complaining or leaving them a bad review.)   My printer does have several settings for this (again, I alter these settings through Adobe Reader not the actual printer) and it is worth spending a few minutes checking yours.  I set mine to ‘photo quality’ printing and I also set it to the type of paper I am using eg. ‘glossy’ or ‘plain’.  But in all honesty, mine prints up adequately on a low resolution setting (not perfectly, but good enough).

Hopefully, this saves you hours of experimentation leaving you time to make your beautiful creations!



Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.