Digital versus printed patterns: which is your favourite format?

Tilly's Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

Tilly’s Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

As the dress project I’m working on is on hold at the moment (eh, I did finally buy a zip but I’ve gotten distracted from it all!), I’ve been turning my attention to sewing separates and am currently working on both the Beignet skirt (by Colette) and the Mathilde blouse (by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons). I’m working with the ready-printed copy of the Beignet, but the Mathilde is the first print-at-home pattern I’ve used.

Working with these two patterns has started me wondering about which format is more practical: digital or print?

The Beignet pattern directions come as a booklet, which is great for propping up in front of the sewing machine and makes a welcome change from those huge and unwieldy paper guides I’m used to. But having the Mathilde directions online (Tilly has a great step-by-step guide on her site), has allowed me to read over the next steps on my iphone whenever I have a few spare moments so I feel better prepared when I sit down to sew.

Then last night I came across the ebooks for the incredible vintage knitting collections by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford, on Susan’s website (vol 1 here and vol 2 here. And, yes, both are going on my Christmas list). Brilliantly, Susan provides a photo gallery of all of the projects featured in the ‘Stitch in Time’ books. (It’s so frustrating when you want to order a book online, but don’t really know what’s in it!)

I’m not sure it would make much difference to me to be able to work from a digital copy while knitting: I tend to write out my own pattern version anyway as I go along, to make sure that if I end up knitting it again, I have all my amendments easily to hand (and without completely defacing the original with numerous revisions). However, it could be quite useful to be able to reference a range of knitting patterns while out and about. Also, importantly, Susan notes that anyone who buys the ‘Stitch in Time’ ebooks now will automatically get the updated version when it’s ready to go.

In the case of sewing, I can see pros and cons to digital patterns. On the one hand, fumbling around with dozens of printed pattern pages can be tricky (and I personally only have limited access to a printer), but on the other hand, downloading the pattern means instant access instead of waiting for delivery – wahey! Price is also clearly a factor – digital copies are much cheaper for designers to produce and so tend to be a bit cheaper than the printed version, even before adding postage costs.

Do you have a preference for the format of your knitting or sewing patterns? How has your experience been so far of pdfs and digital copies?

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