Pattern Frustrations

So, I did it, after a while of stalking Victory Pattern’s Lola Dress on the internet I finally went ahead and bought the pattern. I’m still not sure that I’m going to use my precious fabric on it, but I decided I would definitely like to make it in some other fabric, and then after that, we’ll see.

So, the pattern cost $12.95 CAD, which cost me £7.45 on the day I bought it (I’m guessing that will vary with exchange rates). I noticed it had a Copy Shop version as well as print at home. Now, I’ve been having awful trouble with PDF’s, which I have moaned about lots on the blog, and how once printed out on my printer it is technically impossible to get all the lines to meet up. And that hassle only starts once I get the whole thing printed out, which is usually not so easy as it should be.

I remembered reading ages ago in a post from Toni at Sew Jereli that she’d had a pattern printed cheaply and I’d been meaning to try this. I double checked just now, it was $3 AUS she paid – I don’t know the exchange rate but that’s definitely in the “not much” category. Anwyay, I decided a few pounds for a pattern piece was surely worth the lack of hassle sticking it together and deciding which lines to match and which to fudge, plus I dread to think how much of my horrendously expensive ink cartridge it would use.

So I phoned my local copy shop and asked if they could do it. Yeah, no problem, email it through and we’ll ring when it’s ready to collect, but our minimum price is £5.77. That seemed a bit steep, but as there are 30 tiled pages in the print at home version I decided it was worth it to have it all on one piece of paper, after all, that must be the advantage of getting it printed at the copy shop, right?

Well, they phoned back a little later (nice quick service) and said it was ready to collect. I asked the price and was shocked to discover it was over £9! (I didn’t write it down, I think they may have said £9.57). I went to collect it the next day when the rain had abated (I didn’t fancy carrying my paper pattern home in a heavy downpour, and no, I don’t have a car) and got distracted discussing the pattern with them, I clearly wasn’t paying attention as I checked when I got home and I actually paid £10.18 (50p card cost maybe?) – meaning that between purchase and printing my pattern cost a whopping £17.63 – surely I could’ve bought a whole pattern book for that! (As a comparison, the fabric I just picked up to make my first version with is £3.99/m, admitedly that’s cheap, but I’ve bought 2 1/2 m which I hope will do the whole thing so that cost me £9.98 plus some thread).

So, what was I discussing at the copy shop to distract me so? (In my defense I was paying assistant A who started serving me whilst at the same time chatting to assistant B who wandered over to talk to me as it was she that had done the work). Well, they hadn’t printed a sewing pattern before (the bloke seemed a little confused as to why I’d even want to but he politely didn’t say anything). Because this one was Canadian it was in inches, not cm (technically we’re metric here in the UK, but most sewer’s I know still use inches). I assume that was why it didn’t quite quite fit on one page, because she said it didn’t so she had to do some jigging about. She said she could’ve shrunk it to fit – luckily she didn’t! (I guess even I, in true British-Cannot-Complain-Just-Sulk-Later Mode would have put my foot down and refused to pay for a shrunken pattern). Instead she ended up tiling the image – which was quite complicated for her to do as Victory had quite reasonably password protected the document. So I’ve ended up with 4 (huge) sheets of paper.

Looking at the pattern, I think I understand. I’ll try and explain verbally since I don’t think I should post a photo of pattern details online! The pattern seems to be just a couple of inches too wide for the paper (presumably this is the Canada/UK paper size difference akin to the Letter/A4 one I’m sure everyone is familiar is), so she’s rotated it 90 degrees so it going cross the grain (so to speak). Obviously it is too long to then fit on the width of the paper, so it actually fits on 3 pages, with a bit of overlap as on a normal pdf. Then she’s printed a 4th piece from the middle – I think this was to get some of the pattern pieces in whole rather than across a join. I will still have to do some taping together, but no where near as much as with a normal print at home, although without the “cut off here” lines. I think it’ll be ok.

I think the lesson I learnt from this is that I should’ve emailed them the document and asked for a quote to print it. And then maybe I would’ve been able to discuss options when they realised it wasn’t going to be straightforward rather than have them guess what would be best. Possibly just getting them to concentrate on printing the bigger pattern pieces and doing the smaller bits at home. Or maybe just deciding to call it quits.

I wondered afterwards how my costs compared to buying a paper copy. On the Victory website I could’ve bought and paid for posting to the UK on the pattern for $27.30 CAD, at the exchange rate I had the other day that would’ve been £15.69 which would’ve been cheaper although not as speedy (I’ve no idea on timescales for post from Canada to the UK). A quick (but not thorough) internet search also showed me that I could have bought the paper copy in the UK and had it delivered from Trixie Lixie for £17.50 + £2.75 for standard delivery equalling £20.25 – so at least I was cheaper than that!

I just wondered if anyone else has tried printing patterns at copy shops. Were you successful? What was the price like? Did you encounter problems with paper size? Do you think it’s worth it?

As for me, as this really is the most convenient copy shop available, I will certainly think twice before trying it again. So, for me, it’s back to figuring out how to get my printer to print a pdf “properly” – or maybe I should stop getting pattern idea’s from blogs and start looking at what’s available in my local shops (which is almost all Big 4 stuff).

10 thoughts on “Pattern Frustrations

  1. I’ve used the copy shop versions too, but I am lucky in that I email them to the other half to print on the plotter in his architectural office! Although it prints on A0, the machine insists on cutting each A0, so the peacoat I bought from Thread Theory arrived on 3 large pages. This wasn’t a problem but the printer stopped printing about 5mm from the edges of the paper when it should have continued. I didn’t realise the first time I traced the pattern & thought that’s where the lines should have stopped! I found my mistake once trying to line up other non-chopped pattern pieces. Anyway, any time I can do a copy shop print, i will because I hate cutting & sticking millions of A4s together!

    • That sounds like a sneaky getaround! We have lots of large obselete flood maps at home for the kids to draw on the back of that I sometimes purloin for drawing patterns on. However, as hubby is a public servant, I won’t be able to get him to print sewing patterns at work!

  2. I read your post detailing your printing pdf issues. Wow! Printing pdf’s are a pain to me, but I’ve never had issues to the scale you did. I also print on an HP printer, setting scale to “actual size”. I really don’t know about the “auto rotate / center box” thing. Not sure I’ve heard about that or really paid attention on my settings. I am American and had to deal with the A4 settings. Since A4 is the same width as our Letter sized but a tad longer, I use our Legal sized paper (and set printer to Legal) to print A4 patterns. That has worked well. I get a lot of blank space at the top of the page from unused space, but as long as the pattern is there properly, I’m good.

    I go through a lot of ink and have wondered if having them printed would be worth it.

    Honestly I don’t think so in my case unless there are loads of pieces and I can save enough time to justify it. I printed a pattern instruction (12 pages and a cover sheet) and a pattern which took up two long wide-paper sheets and paid almost $30 US. Definitely worth buying paper pattern and paying shipping for me. It sure is convenient to have it printed, though.

    They also had to divide the pattern between two long sheets and tiled just enough of the pattern so I could lay over and match, cutting off the excess.

    Interesting posts. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Ramona. I haven’t tried the centring thing yet, I reckon it’s worth a go.

      I always like the idea of taping pattern pieces together, it’s kind of like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but I get frustrated by the sheer impossibility of matching the lines up and I was beginning to think it was just me.

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  4. I have often wondered about getting a pattern printed at a copy shop and you haven’t reassured me it’s a good idea! I can print pdf’s at home ok on my Epson printer setting size to ‘actual’ size but I think the test square is a millimetre longer than it should be. However I’ve made a couple of PDF things and they seemed to turn out true to size. I only print out the simplest of shapes and patterns this way. I love the instantaneous ‘I want the pattern oh it’s in my inbox’ and the choice it gives me but they are quite a pain to store once printed.

    • I think it would’ve been easier with a European pattern that used the paper size they were expecting. I have to admit the pieces were a lot easier to fold up and put away afterwards than my taped together ones. (In the end I just needed to tape 1 rectangular piece plus I have an uncut huge piece of paper leftover).

      I think the key is to give them the doc and ask for a quote before deciding whether to go ahead or not.

  5. I also hate cutting and taping PDFs together and always seem to get bulges in the paper, regardless of how careful I am. Sooo, I have twice taken patterns to copy shops to get them printed. The first time the quote was AUD125! $125!! Er, no thanks. Then I tried another place, and waited, and waited, and in the end left the copy with them and then got a call to say that it had crashed their machine and caused all sorts of mayhem. I am back to cutting and taping and having dodgy bulges in my patterns…

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