I remember being very intimidated the first time I bought a printable pattern. Printing and cutting and assembling all those pages sounded so daunting!
As it turned out, I actually enjoyed the process of assembling a printable pattern. It’s not much different than putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, which I find kind of relaxing.
One of my favorite things about printable patterns is being able to print a new pattern for each size or variation, versus all the tracing and transferring you’d have to do with a standard commercial “all-in-one” pattern. So if a WhatTheCraft pattern is your first printable, have no fear!
The most important part of printing any paper pattern is that you double-check to make sure the pattern is not being resized during printing. Any setting that will “resize” or “scale” the pages should be turned off.
Your printer interface might look different than what is shown below, but I’ve included a few different screenshots to hopefully give you an idea of what you need to look for.
1. If you don’t see any resize/scale settings on your printer dialog box, look for a button or tab that says “More Settings” or “Advanced.”
2. In this case, the printer dialog box has a “Scale” box that I have set to “Custom” and “100” which means the pages will print at 100%.
3. Here is a different printer dialog box where the setting is called “Page Scaling.” Again, we do not want any scaling, so it is set to “None.”
4. Once you’ve printed the pattern, find the page that has a box labelled “TEST SQUARE.” Measure this square and compare it to the listed measurements to be certain your pattern has indeed printed at the correct size.
5. Among the actual tiled pieces of the pattern, there is one page that is a layout guide for the pages. It has the pattern layout in miniature with each page labeled in large numbers.
When it comes time to start cutting and taping the pattern together, I like to lay out all of the pages in the order they will be assembled in.
I had a difficult time getting the whole pattern in one shot, so I ended up assembling it one row at a time. Shown below are the first three pages on top and the layout guide on the bottom.
6. Each pattern “tile” is surrounded by a rectangle border of extra space that needs to be trimmed off. You could cut the entire rectangle out and then tape the pieces together, but I prefer to trim off just the righthand side and bottom of each page.
Above, I’ve removed the “extra margin” from the right side of Page 1.
7. If you have an old rotary cutter (or even an old rotary blade) and a cutting mat, you can save yourself a lot of time (and a hand workout) by trimming the pages with the rotary.
(Tip: The reason I say to use an old rotary blade is that the paper will dull the rotary the same way it will dull fabric scissors. It’s always best to keep your paper-cutting instruments separate from your fabric-cutting instruments.)
8. Some people prefer to glue their pages together. Others prefer tape. I like both! The glue keeps those extra margins from flapping around, and the tape keeps everything together while the glue dries.
Apply glue to the left margin of page 2.
9. Align the two pages of the pattern using the lines and guide marks.
The pages above have been aligned using one of the pattern lines and also the “boxed letter” guides. Along with the layout guide mentioned earlier in this tutorial, each page has these lettered guides. When the pattern is fully assembled, all of the “A” boxes will align with one another, and all of the “B” boxes, and so on. So if you find yourself trying to assemble a “B” corner with a “C” corner, you’ve probably mixed up your pages.
10. Here are the first three pages of this pattern assembled.
Note that I haven’t trimmed the right margin of Page 3. Since this is the edge of the pattern, it would be unnecessary. This is one reason I like to lay out the entire pattern – it saves me from a bit of unnecessary trimming.
11. Here you can see where I’ve added masking tape to the back side of the pattern. Again, this is mostly to keep the pages from sliding around before the glue has dried.
You can use scotch tape or packing tape if you’d prefer, and you could also tape the front side of the pattern. It’s all up to your own preference.
12. Now that we’ve got Pages 1, 2, and 3 assembled, we can move on to 4, 5, and 6.
Repeat the steps of trimming and gluing/taping until these three pages are assembled in one piece.
13. Trim the bottom margin of the 1-2-3 piece.
14. Glue/tape the 1-2-3 piece to the 4-5-6 piece, making sure to align the “letter boxes.”
15. Note how all the “A” corners and “B” corners align.
16. Again, I like to tape along the horizontal seams as well.
17. Repeat this process with the remaining pages until you’ve assembled the whole pattern.
18. Now we’ll cut out the individual pattern pieces. Each piece has a thick black border and is labeled with the name of the pattern and the piece itself.
19. Continue until you’ve cut out all of the pattern pieces, and then you’re ready to start cutting your fabric!
20. I use a binder clip to keep all of the pieces together and organized while I work.
21. For long term pattern storage, I like to use file folders or large zipper-top bags (the one pictured below is 2.5 gallons). You can store these in a basket, drawer, or filing cabinet. If you attach a clothing hanger with clips, you can hang your patterns in a closet or on a tension rod for easy access and organization.