Save paper, time, and money by using projector patterns – Guest post by Cathleen from Cooking up FIRE

We are super excited to welcome back Cathleen for her second guest post with us! The first one on repurposing button-down shirts into shopping bags has been very popular, and this time she is sharing with us how you can use patterns easily without all the hassle and confusion of paper patterns! Please check out her blog Cooking up FIRE and her Etsy shop Sunny Mountain Patterns!

Sewing to make your own clothes can be a great way to save money and have the fit and style you want. Added bonus is you can up-cycle old clothes so you have zero waste and zero dollars in it.

The problem is using patterns. Modern patterns come digitally as a pdf that you print and the home and tile together. Super cool because you can get the pattern instantly, and some come with video tutorials so you can learn to sew along the way.

Bummer is that you have to print them all. It’s not unheard of to use 20 to 40 pages for a single pattern. Ouch, that is a lot of paper waste.

Not to mention the time and swearing from having to piece together the tiles and pin them to the fabric. Maybe it’s just me, but I anyways poke myself with pins trying to get the pattern on the fabric. 

Yesterday, I spent upwards of 45 minutes piecing together two patterns. For a toddler. This was *only* 15 pages. Sheesh. 

Tiling together pattern pages- huge waste of paper and time.

Stepping away from paper patterns

Recently,  there’s been a movement to using projectors to cast the pattern on the fabric. 

This cuts out all the paper. If the file is on an A0 size or optimized for projectors, no tiling is necessary. All you need is a mini projector or an ultra short throw projector and have it mounted high above your cutting space.

Side note:  A0 paper is huge. So the pattern normally either fits entirely on the paper or only a few pieces need to be tiled.

If you could cut out the time for sorting through all the sizes on those crappy tissue papers or piecing together home printed patterns, would you be able sew more?

Now, you can’t use the letter sized PDF patterns without some juujing on Inkscape or other vector editing software. But there is a growing number of pattern designers that are offering A0 sized pattern files or projector only patterns.

There’s a bit of a setup, but the Facebook group Projectors for Sewing has a nice free guide and calibration squares to use. Don’t get intimidated by the word “calibration “, it’s a one time deal unless you move your projector.

The YouTube channel Daily Sews & Stuff has a great set up tutorial:

The group recommends getting either a portable projector, short throw, or ultra-short throw second hand. This is the cheapest option- and most eco friendly. Brand new short-throw or ultra-short throw projectors can run a few thousand dollars! Second-hand keeps you from buying brand new and all the manufacturing resources involved.

The projectors are basically mounted on a stand, so they are pointing downwards onto a cutting table.

I’ve seen that many of the Projectors for Sewing group members are able to cut out their pattern pieces in minutes. This is very exciting for me, since my side hustle is designing sewing patterns for children’s clothes- and I’m converting patterns to use on projectors.

Does this mean that you can’t use the tiled PDF patterns you already have? Probably – there are tutorials on how to use Inkscape (a free vector editing program) to modify the PDF. This requires you to practice using Inkscape, though. The FB Projectors for Sewing group is working on putting together a series of tutorial videos specifically for patterns. I’m hoping to help out with that soon.

Bottom line:

If you haven’t considered projector sewing, you really should. 

This saves tons of paper, shipping costs, and time. Not to mention money!

Cooking Up FIRE
Sunny Mountain Patterns on Etsy

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