Digital Patterns - Pros and Cons


Pink Hollybush Patterns can be purchased as either printed paper patterns or as digital downloads. Both have their pros and cons, so let's dive in and think this through! Since the newest kid on the block are digital patterns, let's start there.


Digital Patterns Pros:

  1. Instant gratification through immediate delivery. You can't beat the convenience of deciding at dinner you want to start a new project, and with a few clicks you have the pattern and can get started that night without a last minute run to the store.

  2. Bonus material. As a designer, I am not limited by the economics and practicalities of printed page restrictions. That means that I can offer additional hints, photos, and smocking stitches guides as part of the digital pattern. It also means that a pattern can be offered digitally that it may not be economically feasible to offer in a professionally printed format because it is too niche, or won't sell enough copies to justify professionally printing.

  3. Ability to view the pattern on a digital device. By viewing the pattern on a computer or tablet screen, you can enlarge it to better see the photo or drawing to better understand the instructions.

  4. Print only the size or sizes needed. This isn't the case for all digital patterns, but Pink Hollybush Patterns are delivered with the sizes in different layers. This means you can turn off the layers that you don't need and only print the size or sizes that are needed.

  5. The pattern doesn't wear out. If you have a favorite pattern that you make repeatedly, a pattern that is printed on tissue paper will wear out quickly, but the digital pattern can be reprinted if needed.

Digital Patterns Cons:

  1. We all know this first one - cutting and taping! When I put my first digital pattern together and it was over 40 pages, I thought this will never catch on, but I was wrong and they have. Cutting and taping can go quicker than you think, especially if you cut in front of the TV or listen to a podcast. Also, I only cut off 1 side and overlap the edges.

Overlapping the edges on a digital pattern

By comparison, standard patterns are often nested, so to save the different sizes, we trace off the size we want. There isn't much difference timewise between tracing off and cutting and taping. You can have the pattern printed at a local copy shop to overcome the need to cut and tape, but then there is the additional expense, lose of convenience, and lose of printing only the sizes needed.

2. The paper digital patterns are printed on. Digital patterns that are printed at home or at the copy shop are printed on all purpose paper that is practically too heavy for a pattern. In addition, if the pattern is taped together, the pattern pieces flop around in a way that is difficult to work with. A professionally printed pattern is printed on lighter weight paper or tissue paper that is better suited to being pinned and used for cutting out fabric.

3. Storing the Patterns. Because of that heavy paper, digital patterns that have been printed out and taped together are difficult to store. A paper pattern that is printed on a lighter weight paper folds back up and fits into the envelope. (I have tried many different ways to store digital patterns that have been printed out and haven't found a good one yet!) Of course, you can choose to just store the patterns digitally but that means cutting and taping again should you wish to make the pattern over again!

4. Losing the pattern. We all tend to think that if we have something stored digitally we have it forever, but in some ways it's much easier to loose something in the digital world than it is in the sewing closet. You can always pull everything out of the closet and sort through it. Finding where the digital pattern is stored can be difficult, and heaven forbid, the computer can crash, or the pattern can be deleted without you realizing it!

5. Inability to see the pattern before purchasing. If purchasing a printed pattern at a shop, you can often see a sample, open up the pattern t0 read the directions, and just have a better sense if this pattern is what you are looking for. This is the primary reason that I have Pink Hollybush Patterns professionally printed and that you can find them at your local shop!


I hope that I have given you some food for thought on digital vs. paper patterns. I will be back next week with some thoughts with how I sort through my preferences for any given pattern.


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