PDF Sewing Pattern Printing - Letter Size vs A0

If you've downloaded PDF sewing patterns, you've probably noticed that there are several files available. For example, here are all the files available for Seamwork's Bo top:

computer file folder with several files for Seamwork's Bo Shirt

Most designers label these files in a descriptive way. You can see that Seamwork has labelled these files with the following (just treat the - marks as a space to read the file name):

  • Bo Contents - This file contains a list of everything included in the pattern files (so you can make sure you download exactly what you need). Not all designers include this as a separate file, and many will include it in the instructions.
  • Bo Instructions - This file contains all the instructions to sew the pattern. Sometimes, designers will combine the instructions with the pattern files themselves, but mostly they come as a separate file. 
  • Bo Misses Print at Home - This file contains the print-at-home pattern pieces for the Misses size range. This means it is a file with the pattern split up into pieces you can print on your home printer. North American files will be letter-sized and everywhere else will use A4-sized pages (see below for a breakdown on sizes). Once you have printed your pages, you will have to tape them together in a specific layout before cutting out your pattern.
  • Bo Curvy Print at Home - This file contains the print-at-home pattern pieces for the Curvy size range. Same as above, this file has letter-sized or A4 pages.
  • Bo Misses Copy Shop - This file contains the Copy Shop pattern pieces for the Misses size range. This means that the pattern pieces are on large-format paper, intended to be printed on a large-format printer, such as at a copy shop, like us! This may also be labelled as: Wide, Wide Format, Large Format, A0, Arch E, Print Shop, or Copyshop (See below of a breakdown of these terms).
  • Bo Curvy Copy Shop -  Same thing, this is the large-format version of the Curvy size range pattern pieces.

Print-at-Home Files vs Large Format

Print-at-home files are designed to be printed on a home printer. They are tiled, and once printed you must lay them out and assemble them by taping them together. By contrast, Large Format files are designed to be printed on a printer that can accommodate pages up to 3 feet (36") wide. 

 letter sized pages laid out on the floor beside an A0 sized sheet

Paper sizes

There are two main standards for paper sizes; the ISO standard (these are the sizes that start with an A or sometimes a B, like A0, A4, A5), which almost everyone in the world uses. However, in North America we use a different standard.

You don't need to know much more than a home printer in North America prints on Letter paper (8.5" x 11"), and a home printer everywhere else would use A4 (8.27" x 11.69"). If you are buying PDF patterns from overseas, you may need to make sure they include letter-sized files, or plan on getting them printed with us or a copy shop.

By contrast, A0 paper is 33.11" x 46.81". Since we are in North America, our printer uses North American Standards, and is technically an Arch E size printer. Arch E is 36" x 48". As you can see, the sizes are extremely close.

You may notice that there are a wide variety of terms used for the Large Format Files, such as: Wide, Wide Format, Large Format, A0, Arch E, Print Shop, or Copyshop. We can print any of these on our large format printer. In general, the only difference between the files is that Copyshop or Printshop files are often one long page, rather than being cut up into 36" x 48" pages. This is because the paper come on a roll, so we are able to print it to any length. We charge 1 page per 48" length, so longer files may incur an additional charge. 

Letter-sized Printing 

We absolutely can print letter-sized files; but they will be printed on a regular home printer, not on the large sheets. We can print print-at-home files, or instructions, if you don't have access to a printer yourself. Just e-mail us! Letter-sized pages are $0.20 per page. At this time, we can only print letter-sized pages in black and white, not colour.

Many customers have asked if we could turn their letter-sized files into large format files; unfortunately, this isn't a service we offer. For those who are technologically savvy, there are various tutorials on how to do this yourself. It's extremely time-consuming, and there is no guarantee that the resulting file is the right size to print. Frequently the print-at-home file is a different layout than the copyshop version, in order to print on the least number of pages possible. For example, once taped together, a print-at-home file might be 5 feet wide by 4 feet long, which is too large to be accommodated by our printer. As well, the borders on the print-at-home sheets need to be removed before tiling them, or else the pattern pieces are not the right size. It gets complicated! 

Edit: Since writing the original post, we have come across an open source program that you can use to combine these tiles into a large-format PDF! Here's what we have to say about it: PDF Stitcher: the Skinny.

Printing only specific sizes or size ranges

Some files have the different sizes split out into layers; for these files we can print the specific sizes you want by turning off the other layers. If you've ever used an old-school projector with transparent sheets you may be familiar with the way that you can layer multiple sheets to add or remove different information (or was it just my geography teacher who would have one sheet with the map and another sheet with the country names?). In files set up this way, each size would be a different projector transparency sheet.

However, not all files have this feature. If you want only a specific size, let us know and if possible we will do it!

Other than changing which layers to print, we cannot edit PDF files. So if the designer has helpfully put all the pattern pieces you want on one page, and all the ones you don't want on another page, that's great! Just let us know which pages you want. But otherwise, we can't pick and choose which pattern pieces to print.

Ready to get started? Upload your files and notes here!