Printed pattern

Paper vs. Digital

Sewing patterns typically come in a digital format or a paper format: a downloadable PDF where you print the pattern yourself, or a paper A5-sized envelope containing the instructions and the pattern sheets. In our experience, customers’ preference is usually divided pretty much 50-50 between the two. Let’s take a look at how they compare to each other. We will also recommend the easiest way to get your digital pattern printed. Digital patterns no longer involve sticking A4 sheets together if you know what to do! Of course if you enjoy some tape action, the choice is entirely yours.

Paper Patterns


  • No extra effort on the customer’s behalf: everything is right there and no further action is required.
  • The ability to sell in brick and mortar shops around the world for the business owner.
  • You get the full experience of the company’s branding.
  • The envelope is handy to store your pattern in for future use.
  • The joy of receiving and having a physical product.


  • A paper pattern works out slightly more expensive for the customer.
  • From an environmental viewpoint, it takes more paper to print the instruction booklet and the envelope, plus there is the packaging and the transport miles.
  • The customer has to wait for the product to arrive (although anticipation isn’t always a bad thing!)
  • Once you have cut into the pattern, that’s it: you have no digital back up.
  • There are bigger costs involved in the production of a paper pattern for the business owner.

Digital Patterns


  • As a customer you receive your purchase instantly!
  • You will always have a digital copy, so you could have another copy of your pattern printed if you wanted to.
  • From an environmental viewpoint, you will only print the sewing pattern so there is less paper involve, plus there is no packaging and no transport miles.
  • As a business owner, there is no fulfilment aspect to a digital product, which frees up your time.
  • A digital pattern works out slightly cheaper for the customer.
  • The production costs for the business owner are smaller than with a paper pattern.


  • As a business owner, there are more problems and questions with customers’ downloadable files than with physical pattern products.
  • As a customer, there is some action required on your behalf before you can start sewing, which is to get your pattern printed. This can put you off or delay a project.
  • To get your pattern printed, you will have to involve another company.
  • There is no obvious way to store your pattern after you have used it.
  • You miss out on some of the branding of the company that you have bought from.


There is no obvious winner between the two, as they each have their own set of qualities. From an environmental standpoint, then digital is the way to go. For lower overheads as a business owner, digital wins too. But for the customer there are lots of clear advantages to having a physical product too, and the price difference after printing your digital sewing patterns is minimal. You cannot go into a shop and buy a digital product, so the visual branding aspect of a physical product weighs heavy too.

How to print your digital patterns

If you have purchased a digital pattern, you only have one thing left to do: print the sewing pattern and start sewing! We have a handy guide to PDF patterns which will tell you what comes with your purchase and how to take it from there. You can choose to print it at home in which case you will need to assemble the A4 sheets yourself. You can however also save yourself that hassle and have them printed A0 size. We recommend Netprinter, who specialise in printing sewing patterns. You upload your file, pay for your order (about £1.50 per A0 sheet), and they will send it to you wherever you live. A unique service!



Team Selkie

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