How to use a PDF pattern: a quick way to enjoy slow sewing

We’d love to help shed some light on PDF patterns - read on to learn more about what they are, how to use them, and see just how simple they can be.

Ever heard of a PDF pattern? Likely you have, if you have wandered here into Twig + Tale - but you may find yourself a bit mystified by just what that means.

Perhaps a Google search for sewing patterns has brought you here, either way, we are glad you are here - you’re welcome in the Twig + Tale creative community!

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What is a PDF pattern?

At its essence, a PDF pattern is just the same as the traditional paper patterns you may be accustomed to, but rather than a physical item to order, PDF patterns can be purchased instantly online and downloaded for use immediately, all in the comfort of one’s own home. No waiting for the post!

Left: a screenshot of a PDF pattern  - Right: a finished Pixie Pea Coat

From computer to closet - in the comfort and convenience of home

This highly versatile file format is easily accessed by programs such as Adobe Reader, and viewable on computer or mobile, PC or Mac, Apple or Android, from anywhere! 

Once assembled, your PDF pattern pieces will look similar to the paper patterns you may be accustomed to. Pattern pieces, notches, grainlines are all there, however, digital pattern files contain other benefits.


PDF patterns can be printed as many times as you need. Once purchased, you own that digital file for your own personal use - so if you want to sew for multiple growing children, have accidentally cut an incorrect size, or any other reason, you can simply reprint without having to purchase again.

Children grow quickly - PDF patterns allow your collection to keep up
(pictured: Rainhaven Overalls and Sou'Wester Hat)


Twig + Tale PDF patterns include a "Layers" function making cutting a pattern to-size is easier than ever before. Layers allow you to select and print a single size, or specific combination of sizes.

No more deciphering between 10 sets of lines with confusing junctions, or having to trace off your patterns to preserve them - simply use Layers to select only the sizes you need!

The Layers function as shown in Adobe Reader - the "eye" icons are clicked next to each layer to leave only size J showing

Interactive Tutorials

Twig + Tale tutorials are an interactive experience, featuring a clickable Table of Contents for easy navigation, full-colour photo tutorials, convenient links to pertinent blog posts, and access to handy video classes, making it easier to sew your garment than ever before. 

BONUS - Video classes!

Currently complementary with your Twig + Tale pattern are video classes.  Step by step, they take you through constructing your item in greater detail, showing you the process in action.  Great for visual learners, the video classes provide a different experience.  We are here to help you every step of the way.


What is included in my Twig + Tale PDF pattern purchase?

When you purchase a Twig + Tale pattern, you will receive an instant download link via email.

You can also log into your account (created at purchase), and view your Pattern Library at any time to access any of your Twig + Tale patterns at a glance.

When downloading your pattern, you will find a few different files included in your download list:

  • A READ FIRST file, which will contain instructions for using your digital pattern files
  • A TUTORIAL file, which will include all the instructions for measuring, cutting, and sewing your garment
  • The PATTERN PIECES themselves, in three different formats
    • Print At Home format - designed for home printing, on either A4 or US Letter size paper
    • A0/Copyshop format - an alternative to home printing, for printing in large-scale at your local copyshop
    • Projector format - paper-free sewing, for use with a Projector to display the pattern directly onto a cutting surface. Read more about this alternative sewing technology here 

With your pattern purchase, you receive the full support of Twig + Tale’s dedicated customer support staff, resource-full blog, and creative community - sewers from all over the world gather in our Twig + Tale Chat group and are always happy to lend a helping hand, or just cheer you on.

Using your Print At Home pattern file

Getting started with your Twig + Tale can be as easy as:

  1. Download
  2. Print
  3. Assemble
  4. Cut

That’s it! Let's walk through the steps of using your new Twig + Tale PDF Pattern.

1. Download

As above, your pattern files can be downloaded at any time, via your email download link or your Pattern Library here at Simply click on the Print At Home file, along with the tutorial, to download a copy to your computer. 

(Note: we do NOT recommend printing via a mobile device or tablet. These devices are unreliable in achieving accurate sizing scale, and unable to access Layers for selecting a single size. We DO recommend them for viewing your tutorial/sewing instructions file instead of printing - save a tree!)

2. Print

Your Print At Home pattern file is all ready to print on either A4 or US Letter paper - no modifications, tiling, or anything else required.

Use Adobe Reader to open your Print At Home pattern file, in order to take advantage of the Layers function within the pattern.

To only print certain sizes:  Click on the Layers icon, and a pane will appear showing the available Layers in the pattern.  Each size on a separate layer. Clicking on the "eye" next to each layer will hide it or show it, so uncheck all except the size you would like to sew.

An arrow points to the Layers icon - which looks like three papers stacked atop another

The Layers pane shows, with the "eye" icons circled to toggle layer visibility

To print all the sizes:  Leave the "eye" icons turned on all the layers and print as usual.

Some patterns will provide you with print charts (as shown below), which help indicate which pages may not require printing for your desired options. Otherwise, you will want to print all pages in the file, or use the layout chart to determine any pages you may not need.

The Meadow Skirt pattern assembly guide and print chart shows

Ensure your orientation is set to “auto” and your scale to “actual size” or “custom scale > 100%”, and you are ready to print.

Print the first page and measure the scale box for accuracy, before printing the remainder of the pattern, especially when verifying your settings for the first time.

A Print dialog shows, with examples of proper print settings

A ruler measures the 2cm printed scale box for accuracy

The pattern will print with a border + margin around the pattern area, and is ready to assemble.

3. Assemble

Once printed, your PDF pattern will assemble like a giant, very simple jigsaw puzzle. There are alignment diamonds on each straight side, and circles in each corner.  The layout chart included in each pattern shows you the order in which to place the pages.

A pattern piece being assembled - page b has been trimmed to begin assembly

Trim the right and bottom edges off of each page.  Aline the right-hand edge of the page to the left guideline of the next page. Repeat this across the width of your pattern, and then do the same on the next row, lining up the bottom of the previous row with the top of the next one. 

Pages b, c, g, h have been assembled

4. Cut

Just like that, your pattern is ready! Cut each pattern piece out, and you are ready to sew.

A complete pattern piece is ready to go!

What about the other pattern formats?

A0/Copyshop and Projector files offer the modern sewer alternative options for using their PDF patterns as desired. 

A0/Copyshop files are sized for A0 paper, a common large-scale printing option around the world. You can send the file to your local copyshop for printing, or use any one of a variety of online print shops to have them posted to you. Some facilities may even select only your desired layers, if you wish, just like printing at home.

Projector sewing is one of the newer technological updates in the sewing world - enterprising creatives discovered they could use home projectors to display a digital pattern directly on a cutting surface to cut their fabric, no paper required! You can read here if you’d like to learn more.

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Discover the magic of the world of Twig + Tale, and start your PDF pattern journey today!

Visit our collection of FREE patterns here

An image of the free Petal Wrap pattern on a young child with blond curls, sewn in rainbow fabric. The child is against a backdrop of mountains and meadow.