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PDF Pattern Making

Monday, February 15, 2016

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PDF pattern making is not something most people would think of as a career.  It probably sounds more like a hobby to those that don’t sew, or don’t sew much.  Pattern making is a very tedious process that can be very time consuming.  Creating patterns to sell includes time to compile instructions, also.  The upside to this is that it is done one time and can be used an infinite amount of times.   Although I have been making my own patterns for several years, I didn’t have them in a format for selling.12039310_1226466094035456_8847034282532255784_n

  I used them to make custom children’s clothing, but I can no longer sew for hours at a time.  Because I love sewing, I went in search of another way to make a living at my craft.  In this endeavor, I found the world of PDF pattern making.   PDF stands for portable document format and is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems, according to Adobe Systems Incorporated.  I had to do a lot of research to learn how to get patterns from paper into the computer, then put them in a format that other people could download and print from their home computers.  12209436_10153192284002217_1887541650_oThis research led me to an old friend that I was in a group with back when we sold our children’s clothing on Ebay.  Her name is Lisa Williams of Functional Threads, and she also dabbles in pattern making.  At the time of her interview, she had released a half dozen or so patterns of her own while still taking custom orders for her gorgeous, freehand applique work on children’s clothes.  Her first pattern was a huge hit, and that made me think that maybe I could do this also.  Lisa gave me advice on what program to use to draw the patterns in, and which other PDF pattern makers I should look up for more information.  She was no expert, as she was fairly new to the process as well, but Lisa sent me in the right direction.  12049540_1240340465981352_801823404335621054_nShe told me about Carla Crim, Melissa Mora, and Kymy Johnson.  Lisa also gave me some wonderful advice on having different options in a particular pattern.  “I think many people who use PDF patterns are fairly new to sewing and just not confident enough to make changes themselves.  I’ve been surprised how even some things I think are simple changes would make people willing to buy it as a new pattern. ” Lisa wrote.  Lisa also gave me advice on how to choose testers for my patterns. 10515206_1251091018239630_6497629076550342145_oKymy Johnson of Everything Your Mama Made and More is a PDF pattern maker, and a pattern drafter.  While working on my first pattern, I was stressed and struggling to learn to draft it by a deadline, and Kymy had a drafting service.  She charged $10 a page, so I sent my hand drawn pattern to her to be put into PDF format while I wrote the instructions.  She then put the pattern pieces with the instructions into one file.  I recently found a YouTube video that Kymy has made to help people learn how to measure lines in Adobe Illustrator.  That video blog was a huge help in getting my second pattern ready to sell. 12188142_1240588772623188_8041098824234974559_o  Carla Crim is a PDF pattern maker that was a scientist before she became a mom.  She then decided to stay home with her son, and began sewing.  That quickly turned into a profitable business as The Scientific Seamstress and Sis Boom.  She posted a three part tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew web blog.  In that series, she teaches you how to draft and grade your patterns, how to format them for PDF downloads, and how to write the instructions and market your patterns. Her tutorial was a key in boosting my confidence in my ability to sell my own patterns. Melissa Mora of Blank Slate Patterns has a couple of paid video courses that are wonderful for new pattern makers.  She explains in deta il how to get your patterns from paper into the computer, then into PDF so that it can be accurately shared with others. cropped-picmonkey-collage2.jpg Melissa also details how to measure a child and use those measurements to make blocks, or slopers, which can be used to draft a pattern for any style of clothing.  Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear by Winifred Aldrich is highly recommended by Melissa in her video course.  Melissa says that Winifred’s book has all the measurements a pattern maker needs for drafting children’s clothing.  These are the measurements Melissa uses in her personal pattern making business. 12187872_1240085002673565_6236526558720851255_nPDF pattern making is not just a hobby for stay-at-home mothers.  It is a lucrative career choice for those willing to work hard.  Drafting a pattern takes hours, sometimes days, to finish.  Then, the pattern has to be tested out by the designer, taking pictures at each step for compiling instructions. It then goes to volunteer testers that sew the pattern, reading over every word and checking for errors or areas that IMG_0028.jpgmay need improvement.  This whole process takes two to four weeks for a fast pattern maker, who then sells her pattern for around $10.  It doesn’t sound like much at all, but that pattern can sell multiple times a day for many, many years.  It is an investment in time, but the work only needs to be done once.  For someone that loves to sew, can make their own patterns, and has patience using a computer for hours at a time, PDF pattern making is a wonderful career choice. Photos courtesy of Pickle Toes Patterns' testers.    

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