Superfast PDF Pattern Assembly

I love digital patterns. I mean, the nostalgia of going to the store to look through the pattern books and then tiptoe hopefully to the enormous file cabinet with tightly crossed fingers p-r-a-y-i-n-g that the pattern that you’ve chosen is actually THERE in the size you need? Classic. (Also, if it’s on sale that week for 99 cents OF COURSE the crazy pattern hoarders have already stolen them all.) But there are a lot of reasons to love digital patterns too, aside from pdf pattern assembly, and we’re about to make that waaaay faster.

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So much to love about PDFs patterns. They’re always in stock. They rarely become unavailable. It’s easier to take your time and read reviews and have a good idea of what you’re buying. You can print them as many times as you’d like to use them yourself. They don’t come in a tiny pattern envelope that they are bound and determined never to return to except in an annoying lumpy mass. You can pick the paper you print your patterns on and avoid that tissue-paper-made-by-the-devil. If you save your PDFs in the cloud and your house burns down you’ll lose your fabric but not your patterns. So that’s something right there.

What I don’t love is the assembly time. Some folks go to print shops to print them in one giant sheet, but now that I live in nowhere-ville (it’s so lovely here in nowhere-ville, there’s just no print shop!) that’s not an option.

But yesterday. YESTERDAY. I was cutting and taping. And my paper trimmer was next to me. And A-HA! Let me show you what I did! And if you tell me “Susan, I’ve been doing it that way for like, ever” I’ll say “High five for your cleverness, but WHY didn’t you tell me sooner, _____ <— variable unkind name for people who don’t share helpful tips that save me hours of my life.”

So. You’ve got your neat little pattern you’ve just printed. I’m assuming you’re using a digitally tiled pattern, as many are these days. This one just as an example, because pattern designers can get a little peeved (okay, a lot peeved) when their entire pattern shows up in a blog post.

Grab a paper trimmer and a glue stick. Take that neat little stack. Turn it and trim the border from the top.

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So easy.crafterhours superfast PDF pattern assembly03

Then trim the right side. Really you can trim the top OR the bottom, and the right OR the left, as long as all of the borders in your PDF line up the same way and you cut the whole stack the same way.

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Then, using a glue stick, lay them out and start sticking them together!

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These 9 pages took about 3 minutes to trim and glue.crafterhours superfast PDF pattern assembly09

Alternately, you can do this with scissors and clear tape. Or an X-acto knife and washi tape. Or some combination of cutter plus adhesive. Whatever you choose, you’ll save a boatload of time by first trimming the top and one side. Way easier than folding or cutting as you go and trying to figure out which bits to trim.

Here are two affiliate links that you’re welcome to use if you like. The trimmer I’ve used in this tutorial is an X-acto. I also love this one for precision work, if you’re nerdy over precision cuts and a quick switch for a perforation blade! The blades aren’t replaceable in that one, but they’ve lasted a long time. I avoid “bypass” or “guillotine” trimmers because they’re much more likely to cause injury. X-acto knives are enough danger for me. The little portable trimmers don’t cut many pages at a time.

Use those hours you’ve just reclaimed for sewing! So much funner than pattern assembly. (Funner. Still a word in my book.) Less time assembling, more time sewing!


  1. says

    Clever! I have a paper cutter, but it’s not great… the paper always slips away from the blade and I can’t cut more than 4 sheets at a time. Maybe it’s time for a new one!
    And the cutting pattern… that is kind of how I do it. I cut the bottom off all of the pattern pieces with scissors except for the very lowest row and the left margins off of all but the left-hand column. I should definitely be cutting more than one page a time though!

  2. says

    Oh good grief. How did you know that I spent and hour and a half tonight cutting and taping a PDF pattern with 36 pages? Ugh. I just bought the X-acto through your affiliate link. Thank you so much for the hours of my life I’m not going to lose in the future!

  3. DonnaRae says

    AYE AYE AYE, Can’t believe I have been messing with clumsy patterns, tape and more. How easy is this!

    For those that don’t have a paper trimmer but do have a rotary cutter (quilters know about this) that will work too. Then use the glue stick just like in the instructions above and walla. Yes, Thanks bunches for such an easy fix to a big pain in the behind.

  4. Jenny says

    Your writing is so funny. You are right on about the tissue paper made by the devil! I spent my first 30 years convinced i hated sewing when really it is that awful paper and everything that goes with working with patterns. I like your suggestion -and a glue stick is waaaay more economical than 6yards of scotch tape. Thanks for the post!

  5. mcmom says

    I don’t have a paper cutter but I keep my dull rotary cutter blades to use on paper. I use it for pdf patterns, coupons or any paper crafts I might be doing.

  6. Kathy Laird says

    I have a bunch of patterns to print and cut, I will remember this. I hope to get a bunch of things made for myself before vacation! Wish me luck!

  7. Amelia says

    Once I get my patterns assembled (old way), I trace with wax paper so that I don’t cut into my paper pattern that took “forever” to put together.

  8. says

    I just discovered the top and side cutting a few weeks ago. Never thought about glue though. That would be much better than tape. Also I only have that nasty guillotine cutter that always manages to go sideways if not closely supervised.


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