Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Printing my PDF Patterns - A Guide

If you've bought one of my patterns, you'll know that they can be fairly long. I illustrate pretty much every step, include tips and notes in the instructions, and often include a mini quilt and/or variations. I will happily use most digital patterns directly from my tablet, but I know that it can be nice to have a paper copy in front of you to make notes on or check things off. I do print all of my own patterns, to make notes when proof-reading, to test that they print well with no glitches, to make sure that the colours contrast in both colour and black and white, and to check that all the instructions, diagrams and labels are large enough to be read.

Printed Patterns

Given that one of the main reasons I only sell PDF patterns at present is to try to save paper (to help the environment), I thought I ought to share with you the way I recommend you print my patterns, and how I design my own patterns to be printed.

First of all, ask yourself a couple of questions:

1. What do I need? 

Always read through the pattern to see which pages you want to have printed, and which you don't think you need. For instance, I am comfortable with binding, basting and quilting without instruction, so I wouldn't print those pages. I might also choose not to print the colouring page, or the back cover. If I'm not interested in making different sizes or variations, I would skip pages about those too.

Make a note of the pages you actually want to print, making sure that if the pattern numbering does not correspond to the PDF page, that you note the PDF page numbers. (In my patterns, the page numbering matches the PDF page numbering. In some patterns though, the pattern numbering starts page 1 with the instructions and doesn't number the cover. So, if the cover is at the beginning of the PDF, the cover will be page 1 of the PDF, and the first page of instructions will be page 2, making the numbering a page off from the pattern.)

PDF vs Pattern Page Numbers


2. Do any pages need to be a special size?

Check to see if any of the pages need to be printed at full size or scaled up or down. For example, if there are applique templates, embroidery outlines or cutting templates, they will specify what scale to print at. Print these pages individually at the scale instructed.


Printing

Once the answers to those questions are determined, select 'Print' in your PDF reader (I use Foxit Reader, so that is where I have taken the screenshots from. Adobe Reader will have similar settings). In the dialogue box, type in the pages you want to print and make sure the scaling is set appropriately.

Here I'm printing my Wander Through the Woods pattern. I only want the front cover, materials list, the cutting and piecing instructions, the mini quilt, and the 'How to resize' page. So, I made a note of the page numbers I need and entered them in the Print Range section:

Print Dialogue Box

Print as a booklet

I like to select Booklet format when printing, so that I get a neat little book to flip through and four pages will print on one sheet of paper - two on each side. It does make the writing and illustrations smaller, but I find it large enough for comfortable reading.

I've underlined where to find the booklet option in the image above.

Double check it all looks ok

In my Printer Properties settings, I always choose to show a preview before printing, so I can make sure I've got everything I need:

Printer Properties Dialogue

Here is where I also tell it to print in 'Fast' or Draft quality.

Then, print.

Allow the pages to dry then fold each page up the middle to form your booklet.


About my Pattern Formatting and Design

Font & Illustration Size

I selected the font size in my patterns to be readable when printed in this booklet format. It is a comfortable size for me to read, and also passes the Mum test (my Mum's older eyes can happily read it at that size too!) The illustrations are also designed to be big enough to be readable when printed at this smaller scale.

If you want to print at full size, make sure to select the duplex setting on your printer so that you print on both sides of the paper, saving paper.

Ink

In order to save on ink, I have left the pattern pages simple and without adornment. I have also recently changed the font I use in my patterns to a finer one that uses less ink. My illustration colours are pale in order to use less ink too.

If you would like to save further ink, print in draft quality. If you find that something isn't clear enough printed in draft, you can refer to the digital file and make a note on your paper copy. My printer does a rather good draft print, but each printer will differ.

Colour or Black and White

I prefer to print my patterns in colour. I like the way it looks, and I figure that all the inks are there to be used, not just the black.

If you prefer to print in black and white though, you should find that there is sufficient contrast between the pieces in the illustrations to do so. I test this for each pattern, but different printers may handle greys differently, so perhaps check a single page first. Remember though, you can always mark you paper copy with notes or add coloured pencil marks, or refer to the digital pattern if you need to check something.


I hope this has helped you consider how you might save paper and ink when printing patterns. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips of your own.

Bye for now

Hope x

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