How to download and print PDF sewing patterns at home

To download and print a PDF sewing pattern, you'll need to download Adobe Acrobat (you can download it for free here) a printer that can print on A4 or letter size paper and a desktop/laptop.

Make sure you are using the latest version of Adobe and that your printer software/driver is up to date.

I've made a video showing the steps for the Elskan dress / top pattern, which covers the most important basics, but I wanted to elaborate on a few topics and common questions on how to print and download PDF sewing Patterns at home.

1. Download the files to your computer or desktop, don't print from a browser preview.

Printing from an online preview might cause the pattern to print incorrectly. ​​​​​​​Download your file from the order confirmation page directly after purchase or from the email with the subject "your downloads are ready". If you buy my pattern on Etsy you can download it from your account.

2. Before you print, check the instructions:

Determine the size based on your body measurements. Then scroll to the page that has printing instructions, and choose the version you want to print.​​​


3. Open the home print file in Adobe Acrobat Reader and open up the layers palette you can toggle the layers on and off.

This will allow you to show or hide layers by clicking on the eye icon. You'll save ink and it's less confusing because there are fewer lines to worry about. If you see a lock it means the layer is always visible because it has important information like grainlines.

You can find the layers panel here:
View -> Show/Hide -> Navigation Panes -> Layers
How to use the layer option in PDF sewing patterns

Or by clicking the little triangle:
how to use the layers option in PDF sewing patterns
then clicking the layer icon:
how to use the layers option in PDF sewing patterns

click the eyes to turn layers on and off
how to use the layers option in PDF sewing patterns

4. Once you’ve checked the layers you need, open the print options. 

The pattern fits both A4 + letter size paper, and you can print all pages or fill in the range you need. Separate single pages and ranges with commas, for example, 23,24, 27 – 44. 

  • Check that the scale is set to 100% or actual size
  • Check that the paper size is correct, A4 or letter.
  • Check that orientation is set to auto portrait/landscape

setting the right printer settings when printing a PDF sewig pattern at home
then you can print all the pages:

setting the right printer settings when printing a PDF sewig pattern at home
or specific pages and or a range:
setting the right printer settings when printing a PDF sewig pattern at home

5. After printing measure the test square to check the scale.


Most patterns will have a test square for you to measure and check the scale. The square can be in inches and in centimeters. I've seen test squares that are 1", 2", 4", 1cm, 5 cm and 10 cm. Sometimes it's just in inches sometimes just in centimeters and sometimes there is a combination. I prefer the combination because not everyone will own a centimeter ruler or an inches ruler. All my sewing patterns have a little square on the edge for you to match up. Those squares are 1” and 1cm. (I have a printable ruler with inches and centimeters you can download for free)

If the scale is correct you can start taping!

    What else to consider when working with PDF sewing patterns?  

    How are PDF sewing patterns delivered?
    If you buy a pattern at you can download directly after purchase and from an email sent to you after the payment has been processed. This process is pretty much instant.

    Here are a few different ways I've seen pdf sewing patterns delivered: 

    • E-mail: Often you'll receive an email with a download link.
    • Account: You'll need to register on the sellers' website to create an account where you can download from.
    • Confirmation / thank you page download: sometimes you can download a pattern directly after purchase, but this is likely isn't the only way to download as these pages are personal.

    How many times can I download my PDF sewing pattern?
    You can download Charlotte Kan patterns as many times as you like, but you need to save the email with the download link to do so.

    Other pattern companies sometimes have different policies, some will limit the number of times you can use the download link. Sometimes you can use the link for a limited time only, and the link will expire after 24h. Check this before you buy, but I recommend saving and backing up the file as soon as you buy it. 

    How to back up and save your PDF sewing Patterns?
    I use Dropbox* to back up and save my PDF sewing patterns, the free option has plenty of space for PDF sewing patterns.

    Other options to save and organize your PDF sewing patterns could be:

    • Evernote*, the free plan has an upload limit of 60MB per month
    • Email the pattern to yourself as an attachment and save them in a designated folder​​​​​​​
    • Google Drive, the first 15GB is free​​​​​​​
    • Dropbox*

    What program do I need to open the pattern files?
    The best program out there (and the only one I've used) is Adobe Acrobat (you can download it for free here)

    What files are included in the PDF sewing pattern?
    Charlotte Kan PDF sewing patterns include and instructions booklet, a home print file, and one or more copy shop files. I separate all the elements into separate files, but other companies sometimes combine the instructions and the home print pattern in a single file. Although copy shop files are common, not every pattern company has them.

    Can I enlarge or reduce the size by printing my PDF sewing pattern at a different scale? 
    You should always print PDF sewing patterns like garments at a 100% scale. If you want to make alterations you need to do them after you print the pattern. If you adjust the scale, you are also adjusting the scale of the seam allowances, the size of details like straps and you might end up with a garment that doesn't fit properly of with proportions that look off. 

    For patterns other than clothing, like simple accessories or toys, it might work but I would make a sample first to check the proportions and the pattern and don't forget to adjust the seam allowances.

    Is there something you'd like to add or do you have a question, let me know in the comments :)

    * Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or create an account after clicking through the link. Please understand that I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.


    Happy sewing!



    PS: looking for a fun and free sewing project? Sign up to the newsletter for a free copy of the smallest Tsuno Tie Bag and sew up some scraps. If you ​​​​​​​sign up you also get access to the free printable swatch library, sewing project planner and a few other handy templates. You'll receive the files in your welcome mail :)

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