Review and Giveaway: Creating PDF Patterns by Lauren Dahl

Editor’s note:  I received free access to this course so I could write this review.  All opinions in this review are 100% mine.

Review and Giveaway: Creating PDF Patterns by Lauren Dahl

I recently had the opportunity to review the Lauren Dahl’s Pattern Workshop course, Creating PDF Patterns: From Sketch to Sale.  Her course is designed to teach aspiring pattern designers how to take their designs from inspiration to production to sale.  Be sure to read through my whole review – I’ve got a surprise at the end!!

Print-at-home PDF patterns have opened up a world of opportunity for independent designers, and a world of options for home sewists.  No longer does producing a pattern for sale mean investing large amounts of time and money in printing large runs of a single pattern.  And on the customer’s side of things, the ability to purchase a pattern as a downloadable PDF eliminates shipping the need to pay or wait for shipping.

But how do aspiring pattern designers take advantage of this new means of delivery?  That’s where the Pattern Workshop and Creating PDF Patterns comes in.  Through a series of video tutorials, written lessons, and checklists, Lauren shows you how to use Adobe Creative Cloud – specifically Illustrator and InDesign – to create your own PDF patterns.

But it’s not just for those hoping to someday release a pattern; this course has something for EVERYONE including the experienced designer with a dozen patterns in her shop! Using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to do the heavy lifting, Lauren teaches how to make the block-making, grading and tiling a breeze (yes, you can do them ALL right on the screen!). And in case you’re wondering, YES, the course teaches every. single. step. of the PDF pattern process – including marketing and setting up shop and an affiliate program.

She breaks it down

I’ve been drawn to the idea of creating my own PDF patterns for a while now, but before starting her course, the whole process seemed entirely too big for me to take on.  I didn’t know where to start.

There was like a giant black box of skills I needed to learn to make that happen.  Sure, I could draft up a basic pattern for myself or my daughter, but how to tackle bringing that paper pattern into a digital file that I could edit on my computer?  How to grade it? How to break it apart so it can print on letter sized paper?  How to make the illustrations?  The instructions?  And so I just put that whole pattern design thing to the back of my head.

And then I took Lauren’s course and saw she had broken it all down for me.  She organized Creating PDF Patterns so you can work your way through the list sequentially and by the end of the course you’ll have a finished PDF pattern ready for sale.  At the end of each lesson, she gives a list of concrete action steps to take.  As you complete each lesson, you can mark them “complete” and Pattern Workshop will track your progress.  (Right now it says I am 32% done with the course.)

You can also jump around and use the course more as a reference if that works better for you.  And, of course, you can work through it at your own pace.

She keeps it focused

Adobe applications are packed with features and functions, most of which you won’t need to use when digitizing your patterns.  In Creating PDF Patterns, Lauren keeps the focus on what you need to know about Illustrator and InDesign to create your own PDF patterns.  And, when she’s explaining about this setting or that function, it’s from the standpoint of how you’ll need to use it when working with your patterns.

I should also mention here that her attention to detail is amazing.  I’m OCD by nature, and sloppy shortcuts are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.  But what she shows is how to use your computer to simplify the pattern drafting process while at the same time improving your accuracy.

It’s the whole process

This course shows the complete pattern design process, from inspiration to drafting to sale.  Included are two ways of creating your PDF pattern – digitizing a pattern you’ve drafted on paper, or drafting your pattern straight up in Illustrator.  She shows first how to digitize an existing pattern in Illustrator, just because many of us already have some self-drafted paper patterns.  After you’re comfortable with using Illustrator’s tools, she shows how to skip the paper design step and draft everything directly on the computer.

From there, she shows how to modify your blocks, add seam allowances, tile them so they can be printed on letter-sized paper, grade them to fit different sizes, add notches and other markings, and create cutting diagrams.  She doesn’t just leave you there, though.  She keeps going, showing how you easy it is to create professional illustrations (seriously! You don’t even have to know how to draw.) and how to use InDesign to create instructions to accompany your pattern.  Oh, and there are also lessons on the testing process, pricing your patterns, and marketing your patterns.  You also get support from other classmates, in the form of a Facebook group and help forums.

It’s allllll there, folks.

I feel like she just opened a door wide open for me.  This nagging thought that keeps pulling at me, the idea that I could actually produce sewing patterns for others to use, is on its way to becoming a reality.  Creating PDF Patterns: From Sketch to Sale has given me the tools, the confidence, and the road map to do it.

To read what others have said about it, read some recent reviews from students or this post on Lauren’s blog.

I know that for most of us, $149 spent on any one item is considered a large purchase.  But honestly, after taking just the first few lessons I found myself shaking my head thinking, “She’s ONLY charging $149 for this?”

Check back on Wednesday to read about how I took one of my go-to shirt patterns (my Slouchy Shirt) and turned it into a printable PDF pattern.  And come back again on Friday and I’ll share that pattern with you.  Cause I love you that much.


Are you sitting down?  Cause I have awesome awesome news.

Lauren is generously giving away a registration to Creating PDF Patterns to one very lucky Craft Gossip reader!!!


Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.  We’re giving you lots of ways to enter.  If you really, really want to win this, be sure to use all methods of entry to up your chances.

Enter the giveaway for Creating PDF Patterns!

Deadline for entry is 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.


  1. says

    Sounds like I am in the same boat you were in. Interested but it seems overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. This sounds great! Thanks for bringing this course to my attention and for the chance to win it.

  2. says

    I’d like to learn how to grade and cut the pages so that they are printer friendly. I feel like I know SOME of what I need, but not enough to keep pushing through!


  3. says

    I am taking this course right now also, and I too found myself shaking my head how she is only charging $149. for this class. It is PACKED full of info. Its amazing!

  4. says

    Right now I draft by hand and only use Illustrator to clean up my drawings. I’d love to understand the drafting “in Illustrator” process better.

  5. Mae Conatser says

    What a great course! I am grateful for the opportunity to win it. Sounds like it is very thorough and tailored to both the beginning pattern drafter as well as those with more experience. I am in the former category and ,again, appreciate the chance to win. Thank you.

  6. Janet Pierce says

    This is so exciting. I have been wanting to do this for a really long time, and like you, was feeling lost on how to even start it. I do hope that I win it, but wish everyone the best of luck. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. Callie says

    Honestly I’d love just to see someone else do all the little things that go into it… I learn best that way!

  8. Lorinda says

    Wow! What a great opportunity, I would love to win this give away! Finally, a directive to see through the maze of confusion and learn how to create and distribute patterns in an organized fashion. Currently, I have sketches and thumbnails that I use for myself and friends, but I would love to have the ability to share these with others in viable, structured format. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to win this class.

  9. says

    I’d really love to be able to draft up a pattern right in Illustrator the first time instead of going thorough the paper process!

  10. says

    I’ve recently started making my own patterns again and would love to turn them into pdf to be able to sell them. This course sounds like something that would be very helpful to me.

  11. Leslie Ainscough says

    I am a pattern drafting student, and having the knowledge to draft digitally would be a great addition to my skills! Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway!

  12. Dani hart says

    I really need this course! Thank goodness for people generous enough to share their knowledge. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything crossed I win! Xx


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