Like most sewists I have a love hate relationship with PDF patterns.

I love them because I get a wild hair to sew something at midnight I can purchase a pattern and be in the process of creating my chosen garment in a matter of moments. I don’t mind a printed pattern mind you—— it just generally takes more foresight than I have to purchase them! It’s a horse of a different color in the US when we can go to a big box store and load up on one of their pattern sales with the Big 4, like 5 for 5 bucks. Then I might purchase a lot of them not even really caring if I actually USE them!  {No lie}

To Copy Shop


Print at Home

However, many of my patterns the past year are from independent designers {YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY BUY INDIE!!!} and those patterns aren’t, for me, the ones I purchase 10 of at a whack uncaring if I do more than own them. Usually.

I purchase indie patterns because first off I love the style. And I usually love the designer, having followed them on Instagram I feel like a pal. And—- I hope Y’ALL FEEL LIKE MY BESTIES, because YOU ARE!  Yes, you totally are!!!

That leads me back to my always ongoing argument with PDF patterns. The Pro’s & The Con’s!


  • Purchase & Use Immediately if you print and assemble at home
  • Get to know your pattern as you bond with it up close and personal
  • Make any sizing/cutting adjustments on the fly


  • Maybe I don’t want to print at home
  • Takes more time than I want to spend, I’d rather use my time sewing!
  • Cost is in the paper and the ink which can add up!

Zam Hackstudio-tkb-copyshop-or-print-at-home-2




I told you! It’s complex, the rules change and to be perfectly honest I AM USUALLY THE RULES CHANGER!!!

Crazypants I tell you.

So, what’s a sewist to do?

Weigh your options, decide what is best for you as you sew THIS project. Like I said, the rules change and they may be different— or give you a different decision each time!


  • Immediate Gratification
  • Eats Paper, Ink & Tape
  • You have to put it together so consider the pattern pieces


  • You have to take it to a copy shop near you to have them print your file. Your PDF must have a Copy Shop option. While you CAN take it to the copy shop in your pajamas, consider this as a very real cost.
  • You will pay by the square foot but likely between $5 and $17 dollars US. Call ahead if you’re worried. Factor in your time and your gas to drive to the copy shop. Irritation saved might be priceless, it’s your call!

General Considerations:

Think final cost. Say your pattern runs you $12.00 US, add in $13.00 for printing, and $1.00 for gas. That brings the price of your pattern to $26.00, almost always more than it would be if you purchased an indie pattern in print (if available).

I like to print at home those patterns that I’m either hot to start making at a time when I don’t wanna hop in the car OR that I know I’m only going to be likely to sew once.

Archer (By Grainline Studio) for example is what I consider to be an exception to the rule. It’s a super basic pattern that I will sew lotsa lotsa times. That in and of itself to me brings down that printing at the copy shop price into the reasonable range.

The Don’t Matter Deal Breaker? For me it is SIZE!

For example my new pattern, the Avedon Skirt, prints at home on 15 sheets of paper. In the grand scheme of things, that is not a huge pattern at all! Not a lot invested in the paper, the ink, the tape and the time to assemble. That same pattern printed at the copy shop cost me $5.00. Still, not bad at all.  For the Avedon, to print or take to be printed might well be decided based on my current mood! The Archer is a BIG pattern, 46 pages to print at home. I had my Archer printed at my local copy shop and the price to do so was $12.76. To me, a dip dang bargain!

neenah       I printed Neenah from Seamwork Magazine at home and was perfectly happy with my choice!

If you’ve decided you’d like to have your local copy shop print for you:

  • Open the folder of files you got when you purchased your pattern online
  • Check to be sure there is a Copy Shop option!!
  • Place the Copy Shop file (usually a .pdf) onto a jump drive and take it to your printer

Tell The Copy Shop:

  • Don’t put it on fancy paper (they normally opt for a normal 20# grade)
  • Make SURE it is not distorted or resized (and check the 1″ square on the pattern itself after printing for size)
  • Make sure no part of the file will be printed cut off or incomplete. *Some printers will actually expand and open your .pdf file into PhotoShop so they can manipulate it further and insure that the file will not be cut or truncated, it depends on who is working that day as well as their level of experience.

Roll it up and bring that baby home to your sewing space!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on copy shop printing or printing at home!!



Thanks to Grainline Studio and Seamwork Magazine for appearing in the post. No compensation, all love. Just sayin.

I’ll be talking about STORING those bulky PDF patterns in an upcoming post!

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