Sewing enthusiasts often rely on digital PDF sewing patterns to create their own garments. However, printing these patterns can be a challenge, especially for those who create their own sewing patterns with an online sewing pattern generator.  In this blog post, we’ll cover the most important steps to print PDF sewing patterns at home using a regular printer.

Maybe, you as my pattern making students are often facing different printing issues, and it can be frustrating. There are a few things you need to know in order to print your PDF sewing patterns successfully.

First, make sure that you have the correct page size selected in your printer settings. Most online sewing pattern makers offer A4 and Letter size options, so be sure to choose the correct size for your printer. 

How to print PDF sewing patterns 

Step 1: Download and open the PDF pattern in Adobe Acrobat Reader

The first step is to download the pattern file onto your computer and open it with a PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader is free so make sure you have it installed on your computer before you open your file. This is the most common problem I see, that people are quick to hit the download button and print directly from wherever their computer is opening the PDF pattern file.

Make sure you download your file to your computer, and not open your PDF file in your browser because printing from your browser might cause some unwanted matching issues when taping your pages. 

Here’s how you can open a downloaded PDF file in Adobe Acrobat instead of opening it in your browser:

  1. First, navigate to the downloads folder where the PDF file is located on your computer.
  2. Find the PDF file you want to open.
  3. Right-click on the PDF file. A menu will appear.
  4. In the menu, select “Open With” and then select “Adobe Acrobat” or “Adobe Acrobat Reader” from the list of programs.

Note: If you don’t see Adobe Acrobat in the list, you may need to install it on your computer. You can download it from the Adobe website.

  1. The PDF file will now open in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Acrobat Reader, depending on which program you selected in step 4.

Here’s an example. I printed out the same pattern that I created and downloaded using The first screenshot below shows the document that was automatically opened in my browser (Chrome). As you can see, the complete box with the pattern detail is shifted to the top and left edges of the paper.

print browser
PDF sewing pattern printed from browser

However, in the second screenshot, the downloaded document opened in Adobe Acrobat is completely centred.

print Adobe Acrobat
PDF sewing pattern printed from Adobe Acrobat

If you check the third picture, you can see that they are printed exactly as they look in the print preview. The problem is that we cannot know if some parts are missing from the document printed from the browser until we start to tape the pages. In fact, there were a few millimetres missing in this case, and I had to estimate how much to leave off when I was taping.

browser vs adobe acrobat printing
Left document printed from Adobe Acrobat, the right one from browser

Step 2: Check the printer settings before you print PDF sewing patterns

Before printing, it’s important to check the printer settings to make sure that the pattern will be printed at the correct size. In the printer settings, look for options such as “Actual size” or “100% scaling” to ensure that the pattern will be printed at its original size.

Step 3: Use the “Print as Image” option

Using the “Print as Image” option will print the pattern as an image instead of a vector document so that you can avoid unwanted surprises when printing out your pattern. If you have ever experienced that your printed file had lines that went mad you know what I mean.

To print as an image, open the PDF pattern in Adobe Acrobat and select “Print as Image” from the “Advanced ” menu as shown below.

print as image

Step 4: Check the print scaling of your PDF sewing patterns

Use a “test square” to check the print scaling. Most online sewing pattern makers include a test square on their patterns. To use the test square, simply print out the first page of your pattern as explained above and measure the square. If your square says 10 cm or 3 inches the measurements should measure exactly 10 cm, 3 inches for instance. If  it doesn’t, then you’ll need to adjust the print scaling in your printer settings to  “Actual size” or “100% scaling” as mentioned in Step 2.

Once you have your printer settings worked out, printing your PDF sewing patterns will be a breeze!

check the print scaling of pdf patterns
Check the Test Square

Step 5: Print and assemble the pattern

Finally, print the pattern onto multiple sheets of paper and trim off any excess margins. Align the pages using the marks on the pattern and tape them together to create the complete pattern. If you want to save time, cut one from the short and one from the long side and not all the margins around.

What to do if your PDF sewing pattern is not matching up? 

correctly printed pdf sewing patterns
Correctly printed PDF sewing pattern
incorrectly printed pdf sewing patterns
Incorrectly printed PDF sewing pattern

There can be several reasons why a PDF document is not centered when printing or a part of it is missing when printed out. Some of the common reasons are:

  1. Margins and borders: Some printers have preset margins or borders that cannot be changed. If the PDF document has margins or borders that exceed the printer’s limits, it may cause the document to be cut off or not centered. In such cases, you may need to adjust the margins or borders of the PDF document before printing. If you can’t change the margin settings, make sure you don’t download the “Trimles” files. A4 Trimles PDF files are designed to save us time on cutting around the edges. However if you can’t print to the edges of the file, your printer could cut some parts. If you are using online pattern generators such as Sewist or Tailornova to make your own made to measure patterns make sure you download A4, US Letter, or Universal A4/Letter PDF files. If you want to know more about online sewing pattern makers to create your own patterns read my post: The Best Online Sewing Pattern Maker Websites To Create Your Own Patterns.
  2. Incorrect paper size or orientation: Make sure that the paper size and orientation selected in the printer settings match the size and orientation of the PDF sewing pattern document. If the paper size is smaller than the document size, it will cause the document to be cut off or not centered.
  3. Incorrect scaling: Ensure that the scaling option in the printer settings is set to “Actual size” or “100%”. If the document is scaled up or down, it will affect its alignment and cause it to be cut off or not centered.
  4. Printer driver issue: An outdated or corrupted printer driver can cause issues with printing PDF documents. Try updating the printer driver or reinstalling it to see if it resolves the problem.
  5. Corrupted PDF file: If the PDF document is corrupted or damaged, it may cause issues with printing. Try opening the PDF document on a different computer or device to see if it prints correctly.

In summary, not printing from Adobe Acrobat, incorrect paper size or orientation, incorrect scaling, printer driver issues, margins and borders, and corrupted PDF files are some of the common reasons why a PDF document is not centered when printing or a part of it is missing when printed out. By addressing these issues, you can ensure that your PDF documents are printed correctly and accurately.

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