Monthly Archives: January 2015

Ode to a Digital Pattern

Assembling a Digital pattern | Inanorchard

This isn’t really an ode.  Strictly speaking it’s a PDF pattern review and instructional post, but that sounds really boring; hence the catchy but misleading title.

Let’s take a moment to just talk about PDF patterns, or as they are more frequently called these days; digital patterns.  In the 5 or 6 years that I have been seriously sewing, I have seen digital patterns advance and grow by leaps and bounds.  What started out as a cost-effective way for small independent pattern companies (most of them Esty sellers) to sell and distribute patterns, has become the wave of the future.  People who were brave enough to try these new PDF patterns, quickly realized the many benefits digital patterns had to offer.  Suddenly small independent pattern companies were sprouting up everywhere and growing rapidly. It opened up a whole new world of sewing techniques and pattern styles to a new generation of self-taught seamstresses.

So let’s take a minute to go over all the advantages a digital pattern has to offer.

1.  Instant gratification-  you find a pattern you like online, purchase it and instantly you are emailed a link that will download the pattern to your home computer.  INSTANT!  I don’t know about you, but that’s worth a lot to this busy mom, who no longer shops at any store that doesn’t sell disposable diapers.

2.  Superior instructions and photos- because these patterns are digital files, pattern companies no longer need to be stingy with written instructions and visual aids.  It costs real money to manufacture a paper pattern with lengthy instructions, which is why the patterns of our fore-mothers seemed so irritatingly cryptic.  With a digital pattern you not only get more detailed written instructions, but nearly all of them come with photographs.  Actual colored photographs showing exactly what each step looks like.

3. Re-printing-  at any time you can reprint your pattern.  Let that sink in for a moment.  NO MORE PATTERN TRACING!!  No longer do you have to spend an extra 20 to 30 minutes tracing an exact size in order to preserve all the sizes.  When you, or your child need a different size you simply reprint.  It also makes it easy to replace lost or damaged pattern pieces (which happens a lot when you have and 18-month-old living in your house).

4. Cost- Most digital patterns are less expensive than printed patterns.  Because there are no printing expenses, pattern companies are able to pass that savings on to the consumer.  This isn’t universally true, some of the more popular pattern companies (such as Oliver + S) charge as much for their digital patterns as they do their printed patterns.  Etsy is an amazing source for inexpensive, well written, stylish PDF patterns. 

Because there are so many compelling reasons to use digital patterns, I’m always surprised when I run into people who love to sew but have never used one. I ask myself “why?”.  What’s the hangup?  I think the big hurdle is the daunting thought of having to purchase, print, and assemble one’s own pattern.  Especially for people (like myself) who have a love/hate relationship with their computer.  Fear not!  Downloading and assembling digital patterns doesn’t have to be intimidating.  In fact the lovely people who produce digital patterns work really hard to make these steps as easy as possible.

And today is your lucky day, because I’m going to do a quick tutorial on how to assemble a digital pattern.

Once you have purchased and downloaded your pattern, you will print it on your home computer using regular computer paper.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

On every digital pattern there will be a “test square”.  Its a small 1″ by 1″ square (or in this case a 2″ by 2″ square).  BEFORE you print off the entire pattern, print just the page with the test square.Assembling PDF patterns | Inanorchard

Measure the square to make sure that it’s the right dimensions.  If your square is the right size, your pattern will print with the correct dimensions.  If the square is smaller or bigger than it should be, then you will need to adjust your printer settings.  I know that sounds terrifying, but all digital patterns include instructions for printer troubleshooting, which will walk you through the changes you need to make to your printer settings.  All that being said, I have never encountered a digital pattern that didn’t print correctly on the first try.

Once you’ve checked the test square and it checks out, go ahead and print the rest of the pattern.

Now that you’ve printed your pattern it’s time to assemble the pieces.Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Each pattern company has its own system for helping you match and assemble the pattern pieces, but all of them are very clear.  Some are color coded, some have a number matching system…

This pattern uses an alphabetical labeling system.  The first thing I do match up all the letters and then lay out the pieces on the kitchen table.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Next I trim half of the horizontal dotted lines, and leave half of them untrimmed.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Then I match all the trimmed edges up with the untrimmed edges and tape them together.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

When that step is done it looks like the picture below.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Next I trim half of the vertical dotted lines and leave half untrimmed.  Once all of the vertical lines are matched and taped the pattern piece is ready to be used.

At this point I flip over the paper and reinforce the back with a few more pieces of tape.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Just repeat those steps with each pattern piece until you have all the pieces needed for sewing.  Not all the pattern pieces will require assembly, only the ones that are too big to fit on a single sheet of paper.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Before I begin cutting out the pattern I like to use a yellow marker to mark the size I’m going to use.  This helps my eye stay on the right line as I’m cutting.

I store all of my printed patterns in Zip-lock bags and file them neatly in alphabetically order in a file box.  Not really.  They get tossed haphazardly in a cardboard box that is bursting at the seams. At least they’re all in Zip-lock bags and in one place now; which is a drastic improvement over my last filing system which bore a striking resemblance to a recycling bin.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

I hope this will give you the courage to give digital/PDF patterns a chance.  I think you’ll find that the benefits out-weigh any of drawbacks.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a message and I’ll do my best to answer!

Thanks and happy sewing!  ~April


The Serendipity Blouse Pattern

I’ve been toying with the idea of making Miss E some tunic shirts since the fall.  I did a pretty extensive pattern search trying to find the perfect tunic pattern, but hadn’t really hit on anything promising.

Until the end of last week.  Somewhere in my searching I stumbled upon the Serendipity Blouse pattern by Sewlosophy Pattern Co.    It was a pattern company I had never heard of but I loved the style of the shirt so I took a gamble and purchased the PDF pattern.  It comes in sizes 2T-12years. Which is great because I can very soon make tunics for both Miss E and Miss P.  It also has a sleeveless version that would be great for the summer.

In no time at all I had two sewn up.  I tried it on Miss E and it fit just like I hoped it would.  The tunic has a breezy casual look to it, but the shoulders and neckline are nice and tailored which makes it fit beautifully! Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

There really was no hitch in the pattern.  At no point did I scratch my head, or pound the desk in frustration, or pull the seam-ripper from it’s case.  The directions were so clear at every point and the photos left nothing to guess at.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Miss E typically likes her clothing to be very girly and I wasn’t sure how she would like this slightly boxy tunic pattern.  So I hedged my bets and made them out of very feminine, whimsical fabric.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Both prints are from Heather Ross’ Far, Far Away II line.  I was delighted to find them in our local fabric store (which doesn’t typically carry brand new fabric lines by hip well-known fabric designers).

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

My favorite little detail (and the part that sold me on the pattern) was the little shoulder button flap.  It complimented the style of the tunic so well.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

If there was a tricky part to the pattern (and I’m not saying there is), the shoulder buttons would be it.  But really the directions are so clear, that even that part went together without any trouble. Sometimes, I find that I run into trouble when I am adding buttons to a small area.  If there are any bulky seams nearby it can really jam up my buttonhole maker.  Happily that didn’t happen.  The space for the buttonholes was wide enough even for my finicky buttonhole maker.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

And here is Miss E wearing one of her Serendipity Blouses. I hastily snapped this photo as she was headed out the door for school.  I’m trying to be better about including pictures of the girls actually wearing the clothes that I have made them.  When I am pattern shopping I always pay very close attention to how a pattern fits.  Any garment can look darling on a hanger, the proof is in the way it wears.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

I’d love to make Miss E a few more.  I keep picturing a summer tunic made up in white linen with subtle lace accents, or a small Liberty of London floral print.  I’ve also thought about turning it into a longer dress version, something she could wear with leggings or tights.

In other words… you might be seeing a lot more of this pattern :)

The Week that Was

Pictures from our week and a few words to go with them:

InanorchardThe week started off perfectly when the cousins called and invited us to a picnic and hike in the foothills


It’s January, but it felt like a spring day.  The children did what they do best; run and scamper over boulders, laughing an hollering at each other.Inanorchard

Cousin-friends; born only 11 days apartInanorchard

The “peace-fingers” just never get old.  Oh wait. It does get old.  Real old.Inanorchard


We had Nerf gun wars in the back yard complete with trenches and enemy linesInanorchard

There were baby ticklesInanorchard

And art projectsInanorchard

After dinner electronic projects with DadInanorchard

In the span of 24 hours we went from this…Inanorchard

…to this {can you believe this is the exact same view?}

The fog is so thick and it hasn’t burned off in days.

I some how managed to squeeze in quite a bit of sewing time this week {more on that later}Inanorchard


No weekly thought to leave you with at the end of this post, only an excerpt from Stuart Little (which I am currently reading to Miss E in the evenings).

This quote is from the chapter where Stuart Little becomes a substitute teacher for a day, and decides to teach the students what is really important in life:

“Very good,” said Stuart, cocking one leg across the other and shoving his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Henry Rackmeyer, you tell us what is important”

“A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smell if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry.

“Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things…”

I like the way Stuart thinks

Wrapping up the year

InanorchardChristmas was everything it should be.  Excited children, freezing nights, family gatherings, and our little family hunkered down together.  No school, no week night obligations, Justin was home with us the entire Christmas break.



This marks the first year the children actually got up early on Christmas morning.  Christmas Eve night is always spent at Grandpa and Grandma W’s house, with the aunts, uncles and cousins.  It is usually a late night so the children typically sleep in on Christmas morning.  Not this time…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA They were still plenty sleepy, but not too sleepy to open presents at the crack of dawn.inanorchard Dexter wasn’t so sure about this getting-up-early-business OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The gifts were opened in rapid fashion.  They were all so genuinely pleased with their presents!  The boys one-and-only gift from us was an Xbox and a Minecraft game. Somehow we managed to completely surprise them.  It was so fun to see the dawning realization slide over their faces, and the excited hopping up and down in the living room.Inanorchard

Breakfast was our traditional braided black berry coffee cake with bacon.Inanorchard

After all the clutter had been cleared away and the kitchen cleaned up, I stood by the sink finishing the last of the breakfast dishes.  Christmas carols drifted through the house, the girls played happily with their new dolls, all my fellas were all in the living room trying out the Xbox; it was one of those rare moments when you recognize exactly how sweet a moment is before it becomes a memory. Inanorchard


This guy celebrated his 8th birthday the day after Christmas.  We had a pirate birthday party complete with a treasure hunt!

We decked the kitchen out with streamers and party fans (party fans are pirate-y, right?).  Inanorchard

They made their own small treasure chests and filled them with gold pieces.inanorchard

Justin organized a series of Nerf gun challenges.  Inanorchard

Miss E watcher from her perch on the back porch.Inanorchard


And this is what birthday party after-math looks likeInanorchard

And these two right here, they kind of melt me…Inanorchard

The year finished up quietly at our house.

Our New Year’s celebrations included a home-made Carnitas taco feast at home, playing Yahtzee, starting a jigsaw puzzles, eating Pizookies that Daddy made from scratch, and watching movies until midnight.  We ran out onto the porch in the freezing air, set off our party poppers, whooped and hollered, and quickly ushered the kiddos to bed.

Hope your new year is looking lovely my friends,   April