I recently got a query from a customer about the size of my patterns. She was confused as she had bought a 12" pattern and after printing the pattern and sewing it she sent me a message asking if it should be 12" with the seam allowance or 12 ½" inches.
After I replied telling her that it should be 12 ½ with the seam allowance, she sent me a message stating that she had finished her pattern and it was only 12" and where was the extra ½" allowance?
This was a tricky one for me. I like to have happy customers and she was clearly not happy about how her pattern had turned out too small. Which I can fully understand, as having taken the time to sew a pattern, only to discover it was smaller than you thought would be very disappointing. However, on the other hand, I knew this was not a problem with the pattern, but the way it had been printed. I printed it out myself to double check. Plus I've made this mistake myself in the past.
I asked her to check her printer settings and ensure she had printed to "actual size". It turns out this can be difficult to find on some printers and can also be called "scaling", but it is very important. There can be a very significant difference between the size a pattern should print at and the size the printer decides to print, especially if you are printing on A4 paper.
Here's an example: The picture behind is the pattern printed at actual size and the piece in front is where the printer decided to "fit" the pattern to the page.
You can see there is a quite significant difference in the size of the pattern, which quite easily translates to a loss of ½" or more across the entire 12" pattern.
Believe it or not – I sell more patterns to the United States of America than anywhere else in the world. Therefore when I format my patterns, for the most part, I format them to a "Letter" sized document. Why?
1. It makes it easier for the majority of my buyers whose printers are formatted to Letter sized paper.
2. It still works for those printing on A4 provided they print actual size.
I have tried my best both within my listings before you purchase and within the pattern itself, it is clear you need to check your printer settings before you print, but in this case – my messages failed.
How can you avoid making the same mistake?
Download your pattern to your computer rather than printing from a web browser. It is possible to print to actual size from a web browser, but it's more complicated, for example in Chrome you need to select Scale, Customized "100", such as the picture below:
Check your printer settings every time you print. You never know when those cheeky little gremlins have gone in and had a fiddle with your printer settings (Or in my case – it was me and I just forgot about it).
Measure your test box! Most designers include them - and they are there for a reason.