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Tutorial: how to print and use pdf sewing patterns

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Hey everyone! If you’ve landed yourself here, you are probably looking to dive into the world of print-at-home sewing patterns. And I’m here to help you! All of the Megan Nielsen Patterns are available as digital PDF downloads (psssst – there are even a few free ones!), and it may be the best option for you for a number of reasons:

  • instant availability – no waiting for a paper pattern to arrive in the mail
  • lower cost
  • ability to re-print the pattern as many times as you want

Sounds good, right? Well while you’re here, I’ll walk you through every step of printing, assembling, and cutting those PDF patterns right from your home computer and printer.

Ok, let’s get started.


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Some Megan Nielsen Patterns have two available options – printed pattern or PDF pattern. If you’re looking to print your pattern at home, make sure you purchase the PDF pattern option.

After completing your purchase, a link will be provided immediately to the downloadable patterns. You will find it right under where it says ‘Thank You!”. It will say “click here to download your digital goods”.

Don’t worry if you miss it or close out of this page before clicking this link, you will also receive an email containing the link.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

When you click the link to your downloadable files, you will land yourself at this page. Two different print-at-home sizes are available : A4 or US letter. Both of these are for home printer printing, so determine which one you’ll need and click ‘download’. Also download the instructions in the same size. You can print the instruction also, if you’d like. Or just download and save the instructions digitally on your computer for reference.

You may also see an A0 and 36×48 size options. These are for copyshop printing and not meant to be printed at home.

So download all files, or whichever ones pertain to you! Just make sure you at least download one pattern file, and one instruction file.


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Once downloaded to your computer, when you click on your file, it should automatically open in a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.

This is the first page you will see – an overview of the pattern pieces, pattern variations, size indicators, and printer calibration square. (If you are working with an older pattern, it may not have this page, but the first page should have a calibration square, which is the important part here).

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Ok, so now is the most important part of printing your PDF pattern. You need to check the calibration of your printer. We are going to do this by printing only that first page with the calibration square.

After hitting ‘print’, change ‘pages to print’ from ‘all pages’ to ‘pages : 1’ (as shown above).

Next, make sure that your page sizing is at 100%. It may be that you have to set page scaling to “none”, or page scaling is “turned off”, or set your size option to “actual size” (as mine is shown above).

Computers/printers/programs have different settings and wordings, and yours might look different than mine. But the important part is making sure your sizing is at 100% and not shrunken. The point of this is to make sure your pattern pieces print at the correct size.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns
how to print and assemble PDF patterns

When you print that first page with the calibration square, measure said square to make sure it is indeed exactly 2” / 5cm (or whatever measurement is stated). It should be perfect if printed at actual size. But if it is not, double check your page scaling again. Play around with the scaling if you have to.


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Ok now back to the pdf file on your computer. Before we move on to printing the rest of your pattern, I want to talk about a feature available on some of the new and updated Megan Nielsen patterns – Size Layering. Layering is a feature which allows you to print only the size that you are making rather than the entire pattern nest (all sizes). Not all patterns currently have this feature, but Meg is slowly working on adding it to all patterns in the catolog.

So to access the size layers, you will see a small icon with layers on the left hand side (shown at the arrow, above). Again, your PDF reader program may be different, so do your research to find where you might find this.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

When you click the layer icon, you will see that all the pattern sizes are listed.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Simply uncheck all sizes except for the size(s) you want to print. For me, I wanted to print a size 2, and you can see how it leaves only the cutting line for my size 2 after unchecking the other sizes.

It is up to you if you take advantage of this feature before printing the rest of your pattern. You can choose to print just your size, just a few sizes, or all of them.


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Now we can get to printing the rest of or pattern pages.

On the newer/updated patterns, you will also see another set of info on that first page. Under ‘variations’, you will see what pattern pieces are needed for your chosen variation, as well as what pages you need to print for those pieces. I’m going to make View B, so I only need to print pages 1-14 (or 2-14, since I already printed page 1 for calibration). This is nice because it saves paper from unnecessary printing.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

So click ‘print’ again. Change ‘pages to print’, if needed, to print only the pages you need. And then again, make sure your page sizing/scaling is 100% or “actual size”. Whatever setting was needed in the calibration step, make sure it is the same here.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

And get those pages printed!


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Time to put all those pages together! Let’s take a look at what we see on the pages. Each page has triangles on each side that are labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 3B, etc. How we put these together is by matching up the appropriate triangles (1B with 1B, etc).

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

So to start, I’m going to line up my first set of triangles here, which is 1B. Using paper scissors, trim one side of one page along the thick black frame line. I always trim the left sides when matching horizontally, and trim the top side when matching vertically.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

After trimming, overlap with the other side, so that the triangles match up perfectly.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Tape together using clear tape.

You can also choose to use a glue stick, other tape, etc. As long as you are lining everything up correctly and keeping it all together, you do whichever works for you!

how to print and assemble PDF patterns
how to print and assemble PDF patterns

When lining up pages vertically, here 2B with 2B, cut along the top of the frame line and overlap in the same manner.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Keep going with every page, carefully matching and lining up the triangles, taping or gluing, until the entire pattern piece(s) are together.


how to print and assemble PDF patterns

Once you have every page assembled, you should have one big paper that resembles any other pattern out of an envelope. You can now cut out your pattern pieces along your size line as you normally would.

As you can see, I printed just my size from the layers in the pdf file, making it really easy to cut out.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns

If you are unable to access layers and print just your size, or choose to just print all nested sizes, a tip I have is to highlight your size before cutting. This can be helpful in more complicated patterns where size lines may overlap.

how to print and assemble PDF patterns


  • Reminder: not all features seen in this post will be available on all patterns
  • Files should be downloaded and opened on a computer, not a phone or tablet.
  • As mentioned, you can use clear tape, glue stick, or any method that works or is available to you. As long as it sticks!
  • If you don’t want to take the time to trim off the sides before matching triangles, you could also try just folding along the frame lines instead of cutting.
  • Go ahead and cut that pattern out! Don’t worry about tracing to keep the pattern in tact, because you can always re-print later on!
  • Check out the tutorial in video format here if you need more help.

About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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Catherine Pennington
Catherine Pennington
6 years ago

Hi, I’ve just bought and downloaded one of your patterns & am planning on going to a copy shop to have the A0 pages printed – should I ask them to print the calibration square to check the measurements as well? Or should it be fine in A0 (FYI I’m in the UK, not sure if that is likely to make a difference),