What is a PDF sewing pattern? A PDF sewing pattern is a downloadable sewing pattern that you can print on your home printer, or at your local library or copy shop. It uses standard A4 size paper (or Letter sized paper if you’re in the US), which you then assemble using sellotape to piece together your sewing pattern.

If you’ve never used a PDF sewing pattern before it can look quite overwhelming at first glance, so here is a tutorial to guide you on how to put the pattern together. The tutorial uses the Zadie jumpsuit PDF sewing pattern as an example but it is the same process for any Paper Theory pattern.



Open the PDF pattern file and select the size/s you want

You can either print all sizes, or choose to print only the size/s you need. If you only want 1 or 2 sizes, then you will need to download Adobe Reader software (it’s free). When you open the file you will see the “layers” option on the left hand side menu. Click this and you will see the layers.
Each layer represents a size. Hide the layers/sizes you do not want by clicking on the eye symbol.
Important! Make sure the ‘PATTERN INFO’ remains selected at all times.
Note: this isn’t standard across ALL PDF sewing patterns, but it is standard for Paper Theory sewing patterns.

Here is an example of what needs to be clicked to print a size 14.

PDF Sewing Pattern how to select sizes

Check your printer settings and print off page 1 as a test

Make sure your printer is set to print at 100% with scaling turned off.

PDF Sewing Pattern printer settings to 100% scale
Print the first page and check that the square measures correctly. This is the most crucial step. If the scaling is not accurate your pattern will not be the correct size. If the test squares are not measuring correctly, re-adjust your scale and test again until it is correct. Often turning your printer on and off fixes any mysterious printing issues, or you may have to recalibrate your printer in its settings.
Once the square measures correctly you can print the rest of your pages.

PDF Sewing Pattern measuring the square to ensure it's the correct size


Included in the PDF pattern instructions is the paper pattern layout (on Zadie this is on page 6). This shows you the numerical sequence of the pages when the pattern is put together.

PDF Sewing Pattern layout


Each page has a border on all sides, with half a small diamond shape on the border. Cut off the excess outside of the borders where needed (this is usually the bottom and right hand side as shown) so you can be more accurate when you tape the pages together. There is no need to cut off the lower borders of the last row.

PDF Sewing Pattern cut off excess borders usually bottom and right sides


Tape the pages together according to the layout and numeric sequence. Make sure you match up the diamonds and the lines of the pattern pieces (example below). At the very least, make sure you tape along the pattern cutting lines and at the corners of the pages so your pieces don’t flap about. Don’t want to use tape? You could always use glue.

PDF Sewing Pattern tape together with pattern lines matching

First tape together the rows in numerical order (according to the layout in the instructions).

PDF Sewing Pattern tape together width way first

Then tape those rows together.

PDF Sewing Pattern taping rows together vertically

…. and keep going you have taped all the pages together and the PDF pattern is complete.
You are then ready to cut directly into the paper, or to trace the pattern onto pattern tracing paper if you prefer. Then follow the instructions to start sewing your garment.

If you’d like to share your projects and inspire others to get sewing, use the hashtag #papertheorypatterns.