2/8/2021 - I have updated this post to correspond with my collaboration with Brookyln Motif, a copyshop printing service here in the States. This is an unpaid collaboration on both sides - we have partnered together because we both have a firm commitment to sustainability and are dedicated to empowering each other as small businesses!
Working with Copyshop files is so simple! I can't believe it took me so long to realize what a magical option these were in the world of Digital Patterns!
For many (myself included sometimes), printing out a ton of pages at home and then spending loads of time taping them together to get a pattern to a state in which we can actually use said pattern is exhausting. Some days, you just want to be able to dive right in to a project without all the prep work.
That is where copyshop files bridge the gap!
Some designers don't sell pre-printed patterns, and I totally understand why. For Untitled Thoughts, I have tried on occasion to carry a small stock of printed patterns, but in the end, I found it just wasn't a good match for me. I don't have much space or capital to carry a large stock of patterns waiting for each to be sold. Plus, I am personally not a fan of the excess packaging and potentially wasted resources from carrying patterns with no guarantee to sell. It seems environmentally irresponsible to me. But this is purely based on my own set of circumstances at this point in time.
What copyshop patterns offer to designers like me and sewists like you is the opportunity to purchase a PDF pattern AND have it printed in a large scale format without any tedious work in between (i.e. printing, cutting, and taping stuff together). And because PDF patterns generally cost less that their printed counterparts, even accounting for the cost of printing a copyshop pattern yourself, generally the prices are comparable to one another!
But how do you go about actually getting a copyshop pattern printed? And more importantly, where?
Printing Your Pattern
Printing your copyshop pattern is as simple as uploading your PDF files to an online printing site or taking your files in to your local print shop to have printed for you!
If you are going the online route, what you would typically do is upload your files (I like to save up a few patterns to have them all printed for me at once!) via the website, pay for your purchase + shipping, and then sit back and await the arrival of your new patterns!
For example, here in the States, one of my favorite places to get patterns printed is Brookyln Motif. They offer their printed patterns on material that is somewhere between regular paper and tissue paper - sturdy, semi-transparent, and compact! Plus everything is shipped with environmentally-conscious supplies, which I love!
What is particularly great about Brooklyn Motif is that you don't need to know the size of your copyshop files to get them printed- you just need to know how many pages you have in your files. Karyn and Julie take care of the rest!
Every website is a little different, so their color options and uploading formats may vary slightly. For now, I will take you through how I typically place an order for patterns through PDF plotting so you can see how it might work!
First, I open my folder with my pattern files. For most of my patterns, I have a separate folder containing all copyshop files.
Locate the files that contain your size (if there are separate size groups). Once you have located the proper file, look at the file name. Many times, pattern companies will specify the size of the file IN the actual file name (which is so convenient!)
An A0 file is approximately 33" x 47" (841 X 1189 mm). Most copyshops offer prints in this size as it is pretty standard across multiple pattern companies.
You should also see in the file name how many pages there are for that particular file.
Some patterns will have multiple pages in one file. This is important to note when getting your files printed as you don't want to miss any pages (which would result in missing pattern pieces!)
Armed with this information, you can now head over to your pattern printing site of choice. Once there, you can choose whether you want your file printed in B&W or color (depending on the site) as well as how many copies of the pattern you wish to purchase. Let's look at printing 1 copy of the Fleur Pinafore at Brooklyn Motif for example. Once on the site, I would choose the 1-Page Pattern Option.
Next, I would upload the appropriate file to have printed off.
In the notes at checkout section, you could add something like "Print only layer G1" if your pattern happens to come with size layers. More on working with size layers below.
Make sure that your file isn't still in the original .zip folder otherwise you won't be able to access it! Simply drag the file you need from your .zip folder onto your desktop and then upload.
Finally, you for Brooklyn Motif in particular, you would upload a copy of the receipt you have for your pattern. This is a wonderful initiative put in place by Julie + Karyn to ensure that the pattern files you are printing have been obtained from a proper source and that indie designers have been compensated for their work.
"But what if I am the pattern designer? Or I have received this pattern as part of a pattern test?" If either of those is the case, you can simply email Karyn and Julie directly (they are very speedy in responding!) or if you received your files as part of a test, simply upload a screenshot of the email from the designer and write a little note at checkout explaining the situation. Easy-peasy!
You would continue this process with all the other patterns you wished to have printed before heading over to your cart and checking out! What's really great about small pattern printing shops like Brooklyn Motif and the ones I have listed below is that if you accidentally upload your files in the incorrect place, or don't request the same number of pages to print as in the files, many times the company will reach out to you before printing your order!
I can actually remember a handful of times when I uploaded the wrong files and instead of just printing them and sending them to me, Keith of PDF plotting (another shop I frequently order from) reached out to me via email to make sure I hadn't made a mistake. It was so amazing to know that there was someone else on the other side of the screen looking out for me!
Here are some really wonderful places online that you can send your patterns to be printed in copyshop format:
- Sew YCC (Canada)
- Brooklyn Motif Printing (USA)
- PDF Plotting (USA)
- The Fold Line (EU based, Worldwide Shipping)
- Netprinter (EU Based, Worldwide Shipping)
- The Printed Pattern Company (EU based, Worldwide Shipping)
- Patternsy (EU based, Worldwide Shipping)
- Savvy Sewist (UK)
If you opt to bring your files in to a local print shop, you may need to prep a bit more than if you were to simply purchase your prints online. You would want to find all the same information as stated above (I.e. Printing page size, Size layers you want seen/hidden, # of pages per file, and # of copies you want printed), but you will need to have this on hand with you when you physically walk into a print shop to work with an associate who will be printing your files.
You will also need to have your individual files taken from their .zip folders and placed on some sort of removeable drive, either an external hard drive or a flash drive. This way you can transfer your files in person at the print shop (Unless of course they have an online shop you can order ahead and then pick up!).
Lastly, if you are talking to someone in person at a print shop, be sure to ask them for the estimated cost of printing your files and if they can print them on large format blueprint paper. Printing at a local print shop can be a bit pricier than ordering from an online shop, but I have found that getting patterns printed on "blueprint" paper to be the most affordable. It's generally not something that is advertised, so asking before they print your pattern is best to avoid overpaying for your prints!
And before you leave the shop with your prints in hand, be sure to measure that the scale of your pattern is correct. Because you are getting your prints right then and there, it's easy to check and make sure everything is to scale! If it isn't you can quickly correct the mistake before heading home to print out your files :)
Generally, there is a little test square located in the top corner of your pattern near the legend that you can quickly measure to ensure everything has been printed to scale.
Size layers are wonderful in that you are able to choose exactly which size you want printed and which sizes you can hide. This is really great if you have trouble distinguishing between the various dotted lines of each size (I know I do!) or you plan to grade between only a handful of different sizes in a pattern (something else I find myself engaging in!) And luckily, it's super simple turning those layers "on" and "off" prior to printing.
If you open up your copyshop file in Adobe Reader/ Acrobat, on the left hand side there is a little icon that looks like three pages falling from the sky. Click on this icon.
It will reveal all of the layers set in your file.
Click on the little eye icon next to each layer you wish to turn "off" and it will hide that layer from view. Be sure to keep your TEXT layer on as that has all the important info for each of your pattern pieces!
You can now go ahead and have your file printed so that only the layers you wish to use are printed and all others are hidden!
I hope you found this brief explanation of working with Copyshop files helpful! If you found that I missed any important information, please feel free to pop it in the comments below :) And as always, if you have any questions regarding your patterns, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I am always here to help!