Posted by: michelenel | 15 June, 2013

How to piece a downloaded sewing pattern together…..

Having purchased quite a number of downloadable sewing patterns from various websites, I thought it was probably worthwhile doing a quick tutorial for anyone unfamiliar with the process as well as give my feedback on how I find working with this type of pattern.

What you will need:

A printer – either A4 or A3

Paper – to match the printing you have selected (mine is A4)

Scissors (paper scissors only please!)

Sellotape, glue or a double-sided tape dispenser (narrow, permanent adhesion).  I used the ones from the hobby shop for pasting my photos into albums.

A nice big space to work in.

A cup of tea – for when you need to give your knees a rest in between!

Finally, your selected pattern you have purchased (you can get some free ones as well so look out on the websites).  Here are two that I have used… (links to

Burda Click the little box to see all their free patterns to try one before you buy.  (They also have a very handy guide to piecing your pattern together)

One of the websites sent me the download to my PC and I used Adobe Acrobat or Reader to open and print from – in this case you could of course take the file to a printing shop and get them to do this on A3 for you but bear in mind the cost of the pattern and then the cost of printing as well.  The other company ( does not allow downloads but rather you print directly from their website.

How To:

Once you have your pattern select the paper size you have available at home (the A3 will use less paper if you have this option).  Mine are done on an A4 page size using a standard home printer.

Load your printer with plenty of paper – my toddler patterns took between 36 and 74 pages.

Change your printer settings to either print on Draft or Normal otherwise you will be there forever and use all your printer ink!

CAUTION:  Follow the instructions carefully as you do NOT want to change the size of the printout in any way – you MUST print to ACTUAL size on your printer settings otherwise you will be resizing the pattern.

TEST A SINGLE PAGE – some of the patterns have a 1 inch square on the front to make sure your printer is set up correctly – USE IT!

Once your test page is working the way you want, set it off printing the rest of your pattern.

Now the fun begins!

Piecing your Puzzle together:

1) Keep your pattern in the order they were printed.

2) Prepare your pages by cutting off the bottom and right side margins on all the pages – DO NOT cut off the top and left sides as you need these to glue the pages together.  All the patterns I have used have a box or triangular indicator along the margins to show where the pieces will be joined.


3) Using your preferred adhesive method (I am using the double-sided tape and will refer to this in future) join your first column of pieces together on the short sides of the paper – like this…..


4)  Column 2 – apply tape along the top and left margin (not inside the pattern pieces or you will land up with glue on the pattern pieces which will cause you problems when they are cut out).  Make sure that the tape is located anywhere the pattern pieces will be joined together otherwise they will not be secure when you cut them apart.  I have given you an indication of the locations by the red ‘Xs’.


5) Slide your glued piece underneath the long side of the previous row, matching up the squares.  Make sure the pattern pieces are nicely lined up and stick down the long edge.  Repeat this for the short side of the page.  Don’t worry too much if you get a little bubbling in the corners – the most important thing is that your squares match and the pattern pieces are lined up properly.


6) Continue in this way until the pages are all joined together and you have a completed pattern sheet (just like you get in a purchased packet)- you may have more than one sheet depending on the size of the pattern you have selected.


Note:  often the last row of pattern only has a tiny piece of pattern printed on it.  In this case I don’t waste my tape but rather just join it where there is printing that needs to be joined (see below).


You finished pattern sheet.  The gaps are pages that were blank and I did not need to use and therefore did not want to waste tape on.


7)  Begin by roughly cutting around your pattern pieces to separate them from the page and make them easier to handle.


8)  What you have is a pile of pattern pieces to cut neatly along the cutting lines and a big pile of scrap paper for the recycling.



If you live far from a shop or have accessibility problems then this is a wonderful method.

If you need a pattern NOW and cannot wait and you have everything to print it then this method is excellent for you.

If you re-use your patterns a lot, the paper is sturdier than tissue paper on manufacturer printed patterns.

Once you have pieced it together it is much quicker to cut out the individual pattern pieces.

If you need to use multiple sizes you can print multiple versions rather than retrace the pattern.

The tend to be cheaper – but bear in mind the cost of the paper and ink.

The pattern lies better on the fabric as the paper is sturdier.

Have you noticed how cats seem to adore tissue paper patterns and cannot keep away?  Well these fare a lot better in the battle!!


The printed instructions are smaller – especially if you are using A4.  I would take these to get printed larger if possible.

The amount of paper you use – but if you re-use the pattern this is not an issue.

You need patience to piece together but luckily I like puzzles!

If you are working on the floor piecing this together then you need to use a cushion under your knees.  I also use my handy assistants (Daughters)! 🙂


I have found this method very convenient for me and I will definitely continue to use the downloads.  I love the weight of the paper and the clarity of the printed pieces.  Unless you are going out to purchase the fabric anyway, and you can buy the pattern at the same place then this method is ideal as it saves time and money – because I don’t have to be tempted to buy more fabric that I don’t really need – not right now anyway!

Happy piecing and sewing 🙂



  1. Huge thanks for a wonderful tutorial!! I’ve purchased a couple of downloadable patterns, but haven’t had the courage yet to try them. This sounds like something I can do.

    • Wow, I am so pleased that I you think it will help you get to grips with something new. Please let me know how you get on and if you believe anything might need to be changed to help others as well. Good luck – I can’t wait to see the finished articles! Michele 🙂

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