To Print or Not to Print – Q. #1

This is the first in a series of posts concerning a survey that I conducted among some digital sewing pattern testers a few weeks ago. The initial post is here: There was another post that prefaced this whole journey here:

As I embark on this research about digital .pfd patterns, my first thought is about printing.  My first question was “How do you use .pdf patterns?”. It was a multiple choice question, as were most of my questions.  The possible answers to this question were “print the pattern”, “view the pattern completely on a device”, or “a combination of both print and view on a device”.

I personally do not own a home printer.  It has been an exercise in futility to maintain an inkjet printer in my house.  The ink never lasts longer than the few days after it is put in and that cost is much too steep for the few pages that I would print.  I’ve spent many hours working on aligning the print head, etc.  No. I do not own a home printer. When I purchase a pattern, I instantly print the pattern in its entirety at the library and take it home to peruse.  I was curious if I was the only one who does that sort of thing.  Lately, I’ve been saving my knitting patterns to a cloud storage area and viewing them when I need to use them.  So does that behavior carry over to sewing, I wondered.



Only 32% of respondents print the pattern.  A whopping 60% or respondents use the pattern by both printing and viewing the pattern on some form of technology.

It appears that not everyone is like me.  A majority of pattern users are not printing the entire pattern.  Almost no one is viewing the pattern completely online. Sewists are viewing the patterns on a device or pc of some sort with selected printed pages in hand.  So why are pattern designers not keeping that in mind when they design patterns?

Points to ponder: I know in my day job, many hours and dollars have been spent in the world to make all webpages mobile-friendly.  So why aren’t we?  Has anyone thought of designing for mobile or pc screens. Screens display differently.  It is different than designing for print.  The aspect ratios are different. The screen format is different. Has anyone thought of that?

Knitting hobbyists have an app that stores .pdf patterns and allows a user to view and annotate them.  Why have sewists not thought of this yet?







2 responses to “To Print or Not to Print – Q. #1”

  1. I ask this almost daily. Why is Ravelry for pdf patterns not a thing?


  2. There are a number of apps that allow you to view and annotate pdfs. Not specifically for sewists, but they’re out there. I don’t see how anyone can use a pattern to sew a garment simply by viewing it on a device. You need to print it to get the actual dimensions. There are a few things I would love to see more pattern companies do with their pdf patterns. I would love to see a separate file for all versions so there’s no need to print unnecessary pages. I would love to see a layout directing you to which pages you need to print for specific pattern pieces. I would also love to see not only comprehensive finished garment measurements given, but also the dimensions of each pattern piece (length of sleeve, etc) for all sizes. It would also be great if there was a layout where you could print out each pattern piece separately. That would cause some paper wastage, but sometimes it would be useful to print out, for example, just the front bodice, just the pocket, or just the sleeve – especially for people who like to mix and match patterns.


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