Saturday, March 31, 2018

PDF Play

After I managed to sort out a few of my patterns and fabrics (the ones set out in my last post) I realised that my problem had been one of Too Many Choices. I’m usually pretty good at honing in on my preferences, even in a sea of options. But this time I felt a little overwhelmed. I obviously need to curb my fabric and pattern collections until I sew my way through some of this stuff!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sorry that I have it all. Not really. Potential making opportunities are exciting! Who doesn’t like new clothes? If I want ‘em, I’ve gotta make ‘em. There is nothing in the shops for me. Nothing at all. I actually can’t remember when was the last time I bought a garment ready-made, other than cotton socks and a few pairs of panties. (Panties that I was very disappointed with, I might add.) Five years? More? Oh wait. There was that very cool grey jacket from a Japanese designer and a crinkled linen jacket from a local designer going out of business. But that was several years ago and I don’t wear either of them often. (Hmmm...why not?) Anyway, most of my new clothes in the past mumble-number of years are me-made. Which means that I, ahem, need to actually make them. You know, instead of piling them up all over my studio. Urp.

So today, in between housekeeping and cooking, I put together some of my recent PDFs, all from independant pattern designers. Have I mentioned that I’m kind of off the Big 4? Especially now that McCall’s parent company has bought out Simplicity. Just one big happy family. Shall we start calling it the Big One? Only Burda, which is distributed by Simplicity, is still otherwise independant. I think. Even new patterns from the Tilton sisters are not attracting me right now. Plus I have lots already that I haven’t even made yet. Instead I have felt the siren song of the indies! Yeah, I know everyone else was probably singing in the choir already. Of course not all of the indie patterns are my style and they also still need some adjustments to fit me. However, there have been a few recently that I wanted to try. And they are all PDFs.

To PDF or not to PDF? I’m sure they have their detractors as well as their fans. I find there are several advantages to PDF over paper:

1. You can hang on to every one you’ve ever had, whether or not you print them out. Files don’t take up any physical space or even very much electronic storage space. No need to find a new home for them to clear the overflowing pattern boxes. Unless of course you print them out. More on that later. You can also keep your instructions digital if you want to save paper. I usually print them though, in booklet format.

2. Most designers include all sizes in one file. If you’re like me and find yourself on the cusp of the usual Big 4’s two size groupings, you don’t have to fork out for both pattern sizes or dither about which one to choose when purchasing.

3. You can print out a PDF just once or as many times as you need. For instance, I once had a really expensive tissue paper Vogue that my dear cat shredded. Grrr! It would have been nice to have printed out a cheap replacement copy instead of using up an entire roll of tape putting it back together. Or you might want to sew it again in a different size. Easy-peasy.

4. Printer paper is recyclable. Tissue paper is not, at least where I live. Use glue sticks instead of tape too if you want it to eventually go in the Blue Bin. More on glue sticks later.

5. PDFs are quicker than waiting for the mail to show up. Or travelling to your local shop only to find they don’t have what you want. You pays your money (usually by PayPal) and you gets your files immediately. No muss no fuss.

6. Buying independent designers patterns (whether PDF or paper) supports small usually women-owned businesses, instead of some faceless corporation. The designer can usually be contacted and given feedback, errors rectified or help solicited. They often have multi-page illustrated sewing instructions or even online tutorials for their designs. Friendly hand-holding.

PDF points you might not have thought of:

1. This might not affect very many but my printer is an HP and is connected to the Internet. I pay a monthly fee per number of pages printed (in my case I’m allowed up to 50) and the ink is provided “free”. The printer even orders its own cartridges! It’s kind of weird but it’s actually cheaper than the old way of just buying the expensive cartridges whenever they ran out. If you need more pages you can get them for an extra add-on fee (or change your plan) but I always try to print my PDF patterns when I have sufficient pages left in my month’s allotment.

2. Most PDF patterns come with copy shop options that can be printed on one large sheet so you don’t have to tile them. Here in Canada at least, copyshop printing is possible but really expensive. Like more-than-the-pattern-cost expensive. Prohibitive at least for me. There are apparently more cost-effective printing options in the US. Lucky you.

3. How to store the darn things! Lots of options but I just try to keep them more or less flat until I use them. Then they get folded up as neatly as possible and popped in a large manilla envelope. If you use glue stick, you can iron them flat(ter) to be used again. Tape doesn’t usually like being ironed over. Alternatively, you can clip them together and hang them up or roll them up to store.

4. To trace or not to trace. There are opinions on both sides of this one. I tend to flit back and forth between them. Sometimes I like the transparency of tissue. Or I don’t want to cut up my printouts. I don’t pin through my patterns. I always use my pattern weights (aka rocks).

So today I assembled 3 different patterns. Here’s my set-up:

I love my paper cutter. It saves a ton of time and effort. I usually cut off the right side and the bottom of each tile. Other people like the left and top. Doesn’t matter which but be consistent! I also like my extra rotary cutter with a blunt “paper only” blade. Since I work on my cutting table, I can chop pieces apart easily. I rarely use scissors these days if I can use a rotary cutter instead.

This pattern is the Grainline Alder Shirtdress. It’s been tiled to fit on either letter or A4-sized paper so there’s actually quite a lot of overlap to stick together. It’s probably not the most efficient use of paper but it works for most people. I remember back in the day when PDF patterns were first being issued and there were a lot of issues with printing, especially when my old printer wouldn’t print too close to the edges of the paper. Designers have gotten much better at tiling and marking their patterns for reassembling.

I got a new glue stick from the dollar store and was testing it. They are all different and some are better than others. This one is extra-strong and I like it! I ran out of glue just as I finished the 3rd pattern. Not bad coverage either. Ilike to chop off pieces when I’ve assembled the whole pattern piece. It keeps the size of the page I’m dealing with down and is actually more accurate because you’re dealing with shorter “seams”. It’s also easier to glue a short seam and get it put together before the glue dries too much. Neatness and accuracy counts here!

This one is Sew Liberated’s Metamorphic Dress:

It’s similar to the Grainline one but she adds page numbers to one seam of each page. It’s helpful to make sure you have all the pages and are putting them together correctly. Just like a big puzzle. I love puzzles.

The last one that I did today is quite a bit different:

This is Love Notions Trendy Tunic. This PDF needs to be printed from a computer using something like Acrobat Reader to take full advantage of all the features. You can turn on or off each size so you can print just the size or sizes you want. You can turn on or off the lines for letter or A4 paper sizes. And best of all, you don’t have to trim anything off the pages! The left and top sides neatly overlap as you line them up with the placement lines. I did make one mistake though. Apparently you need to leave the rather broad line showing so you’re supposed to overlap up to, but not over it. I finally noticed that when I was nearly done but I don’t think it’s going to make very much difference. Maybe 1/8” or so per pattern piece. No biggie. Anyway, this pattern company has thought everything through pretty darn carefully. But you do have to understand how to take advange of the benefits.

Next I have to figure out what size(s) are closest to mine and then do my usual adjustments to the patterns before I can cut anything out. Obviously lots more to talk about, eh?

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