My First PDF Pattern

Well it certainly took me long enough, but I finally finished my first PDF pattern!

Making PDF patterns is something that I have been thinking of doing for a long time now, but I just never got around to taking action. After listening to Episode 09 of The Wild Stitch’s ever inspiring Maker Style Podcasts a few months ago, in which she interviews Indie Pattern maker Helen from Helen’s Closet , I decided right there and then that it was something that I wanted to accomplish before the end of the year.

There is a wealth of brilliant information in that Podcast, Rachel’s questions covered all the things that I was wondering about, and Helen’s answers are super informative! She offered so much great advice, some of which I seemed to follow better than others.

I wanted to make a simple style for my first pattern, following her wise words of not biting off more than you can chew in the beginning. This makes a lot of sense, because making a PDF pattern actually is quite a mammoth task, and pretty overwhelming initially! (and I didn’t even include photos/ illustrations with my instructions!… sorry guys, next time)

It’s a REALLY old pattern (I think almost 1o years old), but simplicity aside, there are a few other reasons why I chose this dress. I actually had completely forgotten about the existence of this pattern until a few months ago when one of my longtime friends asked me about a dress that I had given her many years ago that she had loved to death (literally, it was threadbare). She dropped it off and asked if I could make her another one like it as she loved the fit and style so much.

So I doubtfully trawled my pattern archives to see if I could find it, and was amazed when I actually was able to. Lindsey (that’s her name) loves the comfort and versatility of the dress (it can be styled up or down), but says she also finds the cut of the raised waist to be very flattering. My thinking, while sewing her a replacement dress from this pattern, was that a style that has such longevity (she has been wearing it for almost a decade), yet is simple and versatile and suits various body types would be a good starting point for my first PDF pattern.

I haven’t had time to take photos of the new dresses that I have made from this pattern yet, but I have posted one Instagram in the past if you want to see the finished dress. I will upload some as soon as I do take them.

I only realised after fully completing my pattern, grading and all, that I had included a 1cm seam allowance when the majority of home sewers use a 1.5cm allowance (Damn!). We were trained to make patterns with a 1cm allowance at fashion school, and its a habit that I’ve never gotten out of because I so seldom use commercial patterns. I will definitely make sure that my next pattern has a 1.5cm allowance, but please remember to add on an extra 5mm seam allowance if you are not comfortable sewing with 1cm.

It was a big learning experience for me and I would love to know your thoughts (and see your dress) if you do use this pattern, as I still have a lot to learn and improve.

I’d better be off to go set the table, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Update: Its March already and I’ve still not found the time to take photos of my Orla’s…however I never anticipated so many people making the dress and sharing their beautiful creations. You can check these out by searching #theorladress on Instagram. Please use the same tag to share yours if you make one!

orla-illustration

 Orla Dress A0 Pattern Download

Orla Dress A4 Pattern Download

Orla US Letter & A4 Pattern Download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

93 thoughts on “My First PDF Pattern

  1. Olga says:

    Thank you for making and giving away this pattern. I am looking forward to sewing it up — I agree that this style is timeless and will be perfect for summer. Btw, I love the 1cm allowance, so thanks for that too!
    Happy Holidays!

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      It’such a pleasure, it was a really enjoyable process, and probably the best way to learn how to do it I think. I would love to see your dress if and when you make it!
      Happy to hear that I’m not the only one who uses a 1cm allowance 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Yulia. Hmm I would have to create a template for that size. Which I will do if necessary, does your printer not print A4? I thought it was a pretty standard size for home printers internationally

      Like

      • Yulia Shikhova says:

        I’m not sure if the printer would print A4, it’s more that I don’t have access to a4 paper to print on…

        Like

      • Sarah-May says:

        Ok that’s strange. I’m sorry I didn’t realize it was so difficult to print A4 in the states, as this seems to be the standard format for PDF patterns. I will definitely do extensive homework before my next pattern and come up with a solution for this problem.

        Like

    • maddiemadethis says:

      Hi Yulia! I printed on US letter paper. My printer cut off the left hand margins and portions of the triangles that you use to match the pages. I figured out that the left edge of the paper was where the right edge was supposed to meet, and aligned them that way. I penned in the left triangles to match them up to the right ones. Does that make sense?

      Like

      • Sarah-May says:

        Wow I’m so clueless on this, I didn’t even know you got printers that printed to US letter paper size.. so weird it’s not standardized. Thanks for sharing your technique, I think I need to educate myself a bit more on these things

        Like

      • maddiemadethis says:

        A4 is close to US letter, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped it would work! The US is such a problem child because they never buy into things standardized in the rest of the world…

        Like

      • Sarah-May says:

        It just occurred to me that maybe that’s why you can resize those little sliding arms on the printer tray, is it more of a paper size issue than a printer issue? Can you buy A4 paper in the US ?

        Like

  2. Shelley says:

    Love it! I must say too, that of the hundreds of pdf patterns that I have purchased, I can think of only a couple that has 1.5cm seam allowance. All the rest are 1cm.

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Oh really? Wow that’s interesting Shelley. I was under the impression most didn’t come with seam allowances (this seems to be a common complaint), and those that did had 1.5cm. Thank you for educating me, I don’t have much experience with any kind of purchased patterns, but I think I should do some research into what people want/ expect.

      Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Thanks so much Kathy! I really hope you like the dress (should you make one), and I would love to see it! I will appreciate all feedback as I’m trying to learn from this experience!

      Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Awesome! Thanks Rachel, I totally love your podcasts! I’m glad you are happy with the sizing because I’ve had a few people say the sizing is one the small size. I’m not too familiar with sizing in general, as I don’t buy clothes and seldom use patterns that aren’t my own. I am quite small, but I’m not tiny so I figured my size would be a “small”, but there are definitely smaller girls out there than me, so I graded down to the “extra small”. Maybe the XS should be called XXS and my small should be an XS, but I will figure it out with time I guess.

      Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Oh my goodness!! This is just too beautiful, you’ve actually made me want to make one with inseam pockets now too (and I was convinced that I would never feel compelled to make this dress again after all the pattern testing). Looks so good on you. I can totally relate to the agonizing about the length, I’m constantly putting my hems up then taking them down again only to put them up again later. I love this length, you really look amazing, great fabric choice too!

      Like

  3. OneStitchForward says:

    It’s very generous of you to gift us this pattern, thank you! It looks a sweet little dress and will try when the weather turns warmer in a few
    months. Also great to discover a new
    Podcast, I’m a big fan!

    Like

  4. susan roberts says:

    Thank you so much for sharing and creating this pattern. Thanks to handmadecarolyn I found your blog, pattern and instagram feed, so I look forward to following you. S

    Like

  5. Cat says:

    I just found your blog this morning and I love it! So lovely to see some photos of Cape Town too that I have been lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. Love this pattern and looking forward to downloading it and giving it a go!

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Cat! Thank you for your super sweet words about my blog. Cape Town is pretty special (I may be a little biased). Hope you like the dress (if you make it), and would love to see the result!

      Like

  6. Brynna says:

    Thank you so, so much for this pattern! It is absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait to make one for myself! (Or probably more than one, hmmm…)
    I just wondered if you have any table with measurements to find out you size? Mine differs a bit from brand to brand so I always tend to double check 😉

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Brynna. I’m so glad you like the dress! There is a size table in the pattern download, is there something different that you’re referring to from what is in the download pack? I’m super happy to provide any additional information, just let me know what you need 😊

      Like

  7. Debra says:

    . Love the style and the simplicity of this dress. Perfect for all seasons. Since the skirt of the patten is totally straight you could save 1/2 of the paper download by just printing out pages 1-12. Itis very kind of you to offer this patter for free. U.S stock printer paper (what is in most homes ) is 21 1/2 cm x 28 cm. Happy New Year and best of luck on your new adventure!
    Debra

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Thanks Debra! Yes I’ve been wondering about that, seems the US has their whole own printing size that I wasn’t really aware of. I would probably have to create a new template for it so that it fits US letter paper. I did think of just giving dimensions for the skirt instead of the pattern pieces, but wasn’t sure if that would be preferred by most people or not, especially for beginners who were unsure of ruching and zip placement. Thanks for the information and the kind words!

      Like

      • thingsforboys says:

        Thanks for such a great pattern. Would it be possible to get the dimensions for the skirt pieces? I’d much rather that than printing out the big squares. Thank you!

        Like

      • Sarah-May says:

        Hi! Sorry for delayed response. The measurement for the smallest size is 57.5cm x 30.5cm and for the largest size 57.5cm x 35cm. The back skirt is a cm wider due to seam allowance for zip. Will you be fine working out from there, or do you want to send me your specific size and I will give you the specs 🙂

        Like

  8. Lily F. says:

    Hi, for people in north-america (i’m from Canada) you can print on legal size paper and it works. A4 is longuer then letter size paper, but the letter size and the legal size papers are wider. So printing on legal (11.5 x 14 inches) will have enough space for the A4 paper. Just make sur to print actual size and do not scale for the paper size. Hope this help 🙂

    Like

  9. ingridmueller8 says:

    Hello

    I would like to make this, however, have no idea how to get started with this pattern.
    Would you please send steps to get started?

    Thank you

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Ingrid. Where about do you live? A standard home printer is all you need for A4 printing. If you live in the USA then you will have to buy some A4 paper (apparently you can buy it on amazon) and then print it on your home printer. A0 is much larger, and you can have it done at a copy shop. It’s much easier for you because you don’t have to paste together the pattern pieces. Does that help? Let me know if you need some more info 😊

      Like

  10. primulascotica says:

    I am going to attempt to make this for my daughter. I don’t think she will fit even the XL as the sizing seems to be tiny! She has wide shoulders, a small bust, thin waist and sway back with large hips…..I will let you know how we progress………

    Like

  11. Suzanne says:

    I really like this pattern, it looks so comfortable! As I’m a more mature person I will have to probably make the skirt longer. Could you give me a rough idea of how much fabric is needed please? Also, is it best made in a woven fabric or a knit?

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Suzanne, its recommended for wovens, unless it’s a stable knit like ponte or similar. 1.5m of fabric that is 150wide will be enough fabric for a dress of the original length, but more will be required if yours is longer and if your fabric has a print that requires pattern matching. Hope that helps? Glad you like the dress! 😃

      Like

  12. eclipsegeek says:

    I just saw your blog for the first time and read all your posts. I love it! So much fun! I’m going to try this dress because I have some voile that I need to do something with and this needs doing and being worn on me. I love your music videos. They’re fabulous!

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Ah thanks so much! So nice to hear that you enjoyed reading my blog 😄. I always feel like nobody is ever gonna actually read my nonsensical drivel! Please show me your dress if you make it, would be great in voile I think. Thanks so much for such kind words!!

      Like

  13. Lizz FK says:

    Very excited to make this cute dress! I just printed it out in the US so I thought I’d share in case anyone else in the states finds it useful.
    I started by printing only page 14 (with the test square) to be sure it was going to come out the correct size. I ended up having to scale it to 100% because my printer defaulted to 106% based on the A4 size. Hopefully that proves to be useful for someone else.
    Thanks for the lovely pattern!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi! Thanks so much for your comments, I definitely have a lot to learn!! (I probably should have purchased a PDF pattern before posting my pattern, as I’ve actually never used one🙈, they’re just so expensive with the exchange rate).
      Someone else mentioned to me today that the rest square should be on the first page. Makes perfect sense! Will definitely implement this next time.
      Thank you for your clarity on the letter paper/A4 scenario, I will refer to this in future- very helpful!!!
      Glad you like the pattern, hope you like the dress 😊

      Like

    • theunknownsummit says:

      Thank you for the super cute dress pattern! And thank you to Lizz FK for the help, I’m also in the US and haven’t printed the pattern yet because I wasn’t sure how to manipulate the A4 size into letter size. I’m going to give it a try tomorrow!

      Like

  14. Marian Engelbrecht says:

    Hi! Thanks for the pattern! Made my first one last weekend. I really enjoyed making it because I did not have to alter it. It fits me well and is very comfortable to wear. So exciting to find a South African pdf pattern. Can’t wait to make more. ☺

    Like

  15. Janet Rodgers says:

    Thank you so much for your generosity. Despite being ‘mature’ I just love this style as its simple, but really pretty. If I can fit this in between granddaughter sewing I’ll be a very happy woman as I’ve a couple of Liberty Voiles would do justice to your pattern, although summer in Northern Ireland is a while away!!…..x

    Like

  16. Pat R in Ottawa says:

    Hi, thanks so much for the pattern – I’m going to try to make a couple so that I am ready for spring here in Canada; it’s so cute 🙂 What I did to get around the North American printing issue – print the AO, actual size, choose tile large pages. My printer will ask me what margins I want. Typically I ended up cutting 1/4″ or so off of nesting pages to make them line up – sometimes it is easier to use this method with the ‘copyshop’ version of a pdf. My test square is fine. I have a question about your measurement chart though – are you giving finished measurements? Cheers!

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Pat. Thank you for your brilliant advice on printing the pattern on letter paper! I think I must give it a try that way so that I can give (first hand) instruction to people who ask me about it! I am planning on making a letter paper template for my next pattern too, so that it is more accessible to everyone.
      The measurements given just correspond to the sizing. So the one that is closest to your measurements would be your size. They are not the garment measurements. I do find the whole international sizing thing quite confusing, i hope that answers your question 😁

      Like

  17. Michelle says:

    I had a question about what lines to cut for the bodice and skirt on the pdf pattern. Do you have an email that I could send a picture for you see my question? Thanks for the free pattern! I was able to print the pattern on US letter paper by choosing the portrait/landsape option on my brother printer.

    Like

  18. claysue says:

    Glad that I have found your blog (thanks to Claire Galpin on FB) and have just downloaded the pattern. Planning to make it tomorrow but so excited to try it that I might start tonight. Loved the inseam pockets (Handmade by Carolyn) so will be adding those. Think I will have to start tonight or I won’t sleep! Sewing skills not always as good as my expectations so wish me luck and thank you so much for the free PDF and giving me new blogs to read.

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Ah thanks so much! Hope you like it!! Would love if you share it on instagram so that I can see. Good luck, it’s an easy pattern so you should be good. The instructions are maybe a little lacking, but I’m sure you can find online tutorials for anything you’re battling with. Or you can just drop me a message and I will try to respond ASAP 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Gillian Young says:

    Thanks for the pattern, really looking forward to making it. Can I ask a question on sizing – taking into account bust & hips I should make a small but my waist suggests a medium. I am thinking I am safe making the small because of the shape of the dress. Do you agree or should I grade it out? Thank you

    Like

    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Gillian!
      I think you would be safe making the small, you can always let the waist darts out a little bit to suit your size/comfort level. I think it’s better to make the smaller size if that’s what corresponds to your measurements. Let me know if that makes sense or if I should explain in more detail how to let darts out 😊

      Like

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