The Long and Short of It


24 Jun The Long and Short of It

During the last ten days I’ve been on a learning curve, the crux being:

Like it or not PDF patterns are here to stay, and I better get on board before I’m left behind!

IMG_0056No, I haven’t lost weight. I downloaded Grainline Studio’s Maritime’s Shorts pattern and this was my result. Β I’ve sewn four different PDF patterns with mediocre to moderately acceptableΒ success.

Being inept disturbs me, so instead of moving on I committed myself to addressing my ongoing PDF issues. I knew it was me not the PDFs πŸ˜‰ Fortunately, my commitment eventually led to a successful result.


To date I’ve learned:

  • Β It is absolutely essential that the size of the printed square on the pattern isΒ exact.Β  My iPad printed too small, my MacBook Pro too large….. Hub’s computer printed perfectly.Β Β Make sure your printer is set to print at 100% with scaling turned off.


On the first Maritime experience, the square printed between 3 1/8″ to 3 1/4″. Little did I know my pattern would print out three sizes too big!

  • Β Keep the unassembled printed pages in order!
  • Trim the paper as you piece the pattern together, as opposed to before.
  • Β Tape the squares first. If they don’t match, don’t use.
  • After all of the squares are taped, lightly tape the intersecting pieces on the cutting line in your size.

My favorite advantage of using the PDF pattern is the ability to reprint once it has been downloaded – great for experimenting with alterations.


Despite madly pursuing the Ready-to-Wear Fast for two out of the last four years, I had yet to sew jean style pants or a fly zipper. Shorts are an excellent introduction!

With theΒ PDF obstacles behind me I enjoyed focusing on sewing the Maritime shorts. Would you believe I made NO alterations other than adding 3″ to the length? Β The fly was a cinch and the fit is perfect πŸ™‚

IMG_0043My fabric is a wonderful quality cotton twill from Sawyer Brooks. I chose to underline the shorts with a very lightweight striped oxford cloth for added comfort and Β to prevent wrinkling. I like the inside of the shorts almost as much as the outside πŸ™‚


Due to the tricky print design, my biggest concern was cutting the pieces straight on the grain. I got it although the pattern doesn’t match at the sides. I was determined to match the back pockets to the fabric!

IMG_0048I already love these shorts!

IMG_0019They are ideal for a backyard cookout paired with the refashioned Sara Campbell top or for a casual night out!

IMG_0002The moral of this story is don’t be afraid to sew anything! You can do it! ….and Β it’s OK if it takes more than one time to get it right!

IMG_0040Until soon!



  • Vernelle Nelson
    Posted at 08:00h, 24 June Reply

    Hi, Sarah. The end result is great. I, too have had challenges with PDF patterns. My solution is to always make a muslin first. It’s time consuming, but well worth it in the long run.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:04h, 24 June Reply

      Me too, Vernelle! The white shorts were my muslin. I wanted a similar fabric to what would be used for the shorts and chose the heavier white cotton, but I couldn’t try them on for size until late in the process. At that point I decided to finish them to get the whole story! It took a while to figure out what had happened πŸ™‚
      Many thanks for your comment!

  • kathie Bennett
    Posted at 08:03h, 24 June Reply

    Love these all occasion “shorts”!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:04h, 24 June Reply

      Thanks, Kathie!

  • Eleanor Schreyer
    Posted at 08:09h, 24 June Reply

    Thank you for the tips about PDF patterns…and I especially liked how you matched the pockets at back. Very slimming idea..pockets don’t jump at the eye as they would mismatched. I will remember that tip! Look terrific on you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:04h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Eleanor! I thought about leaving off the pockets but decided to make the entire pattern first time around and am happy I did – the pockets are a definite bonus πŸ™‚

  • Cindy Aymes
    Posted at 08:15h, 24 June Reply

    Love your shorts! I too love doing something special on the inside. A non-sewing friend of mine thought I was insane to take the time to do a special facing on the inside of a skirt! I just smiled and said, “I’m special, I deserve it!” And so do you! Love the insides too! Cindy

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:05h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Cindy! Clothes feel and look better when you’ve taken the time to add a special touch πŸ™‚

  • Susan
    Posted at 08:17h, 24 June Reply

    Your shorts are fantastic; what a wonderful fit! Have you tried using glue stick rather than tape for your PDF’s? I find this much easier and you can iron if the paper becomes creased.

    • Jennifer
      Posted at 08:36h, 24 June Reply

      A glue stick! What a fabulous idea. I will have to try that next time!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:05h, 25 June Reply

      What a marvelous idea!! Thank you so much, Susan πŸ™‚

      • Elle C
        Posted at 08:49h, 10 July Reply

        I too, use a glue stick, and once I cut my size I add Micropore Β© medical tape to strategic spots. You can iron over Micropore tape. give it a try, you will love it.

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 08:23h, 24 June Reply

    These look fantastic! Love everything about your final pair!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:06h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Carolyn!

  • Desert Morning
    Posted at 08:25h, 24 June Reply

    I am so impressed. Brava!!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:06h, 25 June Reply

      Ah……many thanks, Desert Morning πŸ™‚

  • Sew, Jean Margaret
    Posted at 08:26h, 24 June Reply

    Lovely shorts and fantastic that you didn’t need to do any fit alterations. The extra length looks great.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:07h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Jean! The lack of fitting issues was such a nice surprise πŸ™‚

  • Cissie Wellons
    Posted at 08:42h, 24 June Reply

    those shorts are just adorable on you. I’ve been meaning to make this pattern again (with the added length) but haven’t found fabric as cute as yours! You’re right, too. The inside is almost as cute as the outside! I’m feeling the urge to copy you.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:08h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Cissie! I hope you will copy – can’t wait to see yours πŸ™‚

  • Laura Casey
    Posted at 09:22h, 24 June Reply

    Lots of good information….have a PDF I want to try…..will take your info and try. Your finished shorts are CUTE and love the idea of underlining them….Good Job, should never expect anything less!


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:09h, 25 June Reply

      Many thanks, Laura! Who knows – paper patterns may be obsolete one day πŸ™‚ Good luck with your PDF!

  • Barbara Carlon
    Posted at 09:36h, 24 June Reply

    I agree with you, making sure the size of the square is exact is super important. If it’s off by a smidgen, then you’ll make the wrong size. After carefully lining up all those squares and taping them together,who needs a disappointing end result. I have another tip for everyone, instead of taping the squares together, tape the pattern lines together where they chose over.

    Love your shorts! What a cute color and pattern. Underlining them was a great addition.

    • Barbara Carlon
      Posted at 09:38h, 24 June Reply

      *cross over

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:10h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Barbara! I agree with your tip πŸ™‚

  • Pat Corcoran
    Posted at 09:54h, 24 June Reply

    Your shorts are just as fabulous on the outside as on the inside. Great job.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:10h, 25 June Reply

      Many thanks, Pat! The second pair were actually fun to make πŸ™‚

  • Art Attack
    Posted at 10:11h, 24 June Reply

    Glad you’re on the PDF bandwagon! They are instant gratification to your inbox. Just wish they’d tape themselves together! REALLY cute shorts. I have this pattern and need to get cracking!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:11h, 25 June Reply

      It took a while but I’m here πŸ˜‰ Many thanks, Dorcas – look forward to seeing your Maritime shorts!

  • Sandra
    Posted at 11:02h, 24 June Reply

    I love your shorts!!
    I always use a paper cutter (I don’t know the proper English word sorry but in Holland we call them paper cutters) and cut of the right side of the paper and the top, it is so much easier to put the pdf pattern together then it fits like a puzzle. (I read this on a pattern by True Bias website, works great).

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:12h, 25 June Reply

      Hi Sandra! Many thanks for your comment. We use the term paper cutter and I need one if I’m going to continue using PDF patterns πŸ™‚

  • Beth (SunnyGalStudio)
    Posted at 11:33h, 24 June Reply

    I made that pattern as well and it is the only one from Grainline that I would probably make. Very cute summer shorts. and did you notice that the instructions specify 1/2 inch seam allowance. I didn’t until I had sewn them up at 5/8 inch and perhaps that is why they fit pretty well πŸ™‚ But as for taping – I can live without it, tissue paper patterns are soooo much easier to work with.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:16h, 25 June Reply

      Hi Beth!
      Nice to hear from you πŸ™‚ Fortunately I did notice the instructions for 1/2 inch seam allowances. I too prefer tissue patterns, but I’m trying to stay current. Who knows………….. if the printed White Pages can become obsolete so can printed patterns! I’ve learned in this thread of comments that the patterns can be sent to a print shop which eliminates taping.

  • CarolinasCallin
    Posted at 11:36h, 24 June Reply

    UGH…not a fan of the downloaded patterns…does that make me a very lazy sewist? πŸ™‚ I find the process so very tedious, although I know it’s here to stay.

    Your shorts turned out really cute! Love that fabric!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:17h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Cheryl! No your not lazy – you (and I) just prefer the traditional method πŸ™‚

  • Joan
    Posted at 12:15h, 24 June Reply

    Great shorts!!

    Ugh, I hate PDF patterns. Some companies now offer printshop versions instead of the PDF. I just forward the pattern to my printshop and for $6 – $8 you have a super lovely patten without printing or taping!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:19h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you for this comment, Joan! What a wonderful tip – I’m going to be all over the printshop method πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Gerhild
    Posted at 12:26h, 24 June Reply

    Love the shorts and great information on the pdf issues.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:19h, 25 June Reply

      Many thanks, Gerhild πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Lisa C in Dalals
    Posted at 13:28h, 24 June Reply

    Being able to make cute shorts (vs. just solid ones in the store) in any length would be magical to a wardrobe. Lucky girl!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:21h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Lisa! I so agree with you about the choice of RTW shorts. Very rarely do I see any I have to buy πŸ˜‰

  • Sharon Eisen
    Posted at 13:56h, 24 June Reply

    Your shorts look marvelous and your tips are very useful.

    But I have to admit that I HATE Pdf patterns. I think they are a pain to assemble. And they are cumbersome. I prefer to buy a printed pattern on light paper – no assembly required). I can just get right to sewing without having to solve a puzzle first!
    The pattern companies are smart. The consumer pays for the paper and the ink and usually pays the same price as a printed pattern. Whenever possible I try to bypass the pdf patterns.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:23h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Sharon!
      You are not alone and I prefer patterns printed on tissue too, but I want to be current. I believe we will be seeing many more PDF patterns. I love Joan’s tip about sending the pattern to the print shop!

  • Amy Thompson
    Posted at 13:59h, 24 June Reply

    I love everything about those wonderful shorts with the bursting design!!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:24h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Amy! I find them very cheerful πŸ™‚

  • Jennifer Miller
    Posted at 14:12h, 24 June Reply

    Oh, I had been wondering about the downloaded pdf patterns. Sticking to tissue for now…but those shorts are adorable.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:25h, 25 June Reply

      Many thanks, Jennifer! Hang on as long as you can, but I get the feeling things are changing πŸ˜‰

  • Lori
    Posted at 14:18h, 24 June Reply

    You will love all the pdf patterns out there. I just keep buying and printing away. The Maritime shorts took a couple of times to tweak the fit but like you I love them. I really need to make more of them but first my machine has to come back from the repair shop.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:26h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Lori! It’s good to know you’re such a fan of PDFs since your clothes always turn out so nicely πŸ˜‰

  • Barbara
    Posted at 16:29h, 24 June Reply

    These look fabulous inside and out. And the fly was a cinch? I must try, even if just to master a fly.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:27h, 25 June Reply

      Many thanks, Barbara! Yes, the fly was a cinch. There are more steps and moving parts involved, but it is not difficult at all. Good luck πŸ˜‰

  • Rachel
    Posted at 17:48h, 24 June Reply

    I made the Maritime shorts pattern last year whilst my daughter at the same time followed me making her own. I agree it is an excellent patten but like you I added to the length. I think the website had some handy hints for the fly zip. Dd now thinks sewing is easy, hurrah how good was that result.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:29h, 25 June Reply

      You are so smart to sew along with your daughter, Rachel! ‘Teach your children well……’ as the song states πŸ˜‰
      Many thanks for your comment.

  • Margo
    Posted at 20:36h, 24 June Reply

    Fantastic shorts! The inside really is quite lovely. I haven’t jumped on the PDF bandwagon very much but I just bought the Ginger jeans to try for the fall. Fingers crossed they turn out as well as your shorts! Thanks for the tips.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:29h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Margo! Jeans are on my fall list too πŸ˜‰

  • Julie Starr
    Posted at 22:52h, 24 June Reply

    What a darling fabric and underlining combo! I’ve fallen hard for this pattern. The RTW results of the fly front and pockets are reason enough alone! I still can’t get over how the square being off by only a tiny bit could throw off the size that much. This was a VERY helpful post.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:31h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Julie! Your cute shorts were my inspiration. I learned so much during this project beginning with respecting the square!

  • Beckyjopdx
    Posted at 00:53h, 25 June Reply

    okokok. You’re always soooo good and skilled, I kinda love to see that there was something new for you to learn. You’re still amazing, I don’t mean anything disrespectful, I just love how we all perfect our niches, and sometimes ignore something seemingly simple.
    Anywho. PDFs. Adobe will override your print driver, and you will need to check each time you boot back up. Adobe, more so lately, isn’t so hot about updating its ability to play with either OS (ignoring Linux here.) when your print driver window pops up, just be sure to hit the box for “Actual Size” and you should be fine. I, too, have had to learn to love PDFs as I find I prefer indie patterns, and I’m an ex-graphic designer!
    Your shorts (and fly) are lovely, as you do. πŸ™‚

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:32h, 25 June Reply

      Such a helpful comment, Becky and I need it as I learn this new method of pattern downloads!
      Many thanks πŸ˜‰

  • Myra
    Posted at 05:08h, 25 June Reply

    Very nice shorts Sarah! I don’t think I’ve ever underline any shorts, you’ve taught me something new! I love all three looks

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:33h, 25 June Reply

      Hi Myra!
      My white shorts did not need underlining but the cotton twill was a little rough even after washing. The underlining was just the right touch πŸ™‚

  • Becky Bagwell
    Posted at 07:24h, 25 June Reply

    You look good in everything!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:34h, 25 June Reply

      Not really but I think I’ve finally learned what looks good and what doesn’t on me.
      Thank you, Becky!

  • alexa
    Posted at 07:58h, 25 June Reply

    I’m glad you liked the shorts as I just bought them yesterday. They look wonderful on you- I hope I’m in luck too. I loved both of the white shirts you had. Did you make the one in the last picture as well? I really need to make a few classics like a well fitting white tank to fill out my wardrobe.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:58h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Alexa! The second top is from Kate Spade. Look forward to seeing your Maritime shorts πŸ™‚

  • Kathy
    Posted at 08:21h, 25 June Reply

    Another winner, great fit and great fabric.. So cute and youthful looking. You have a really good eye for picking out prints, not an easy task.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 09:00h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you for this nice compliment, Kathy. I always try to imagine every detail of the finished project before starting. That’s not to say that the fabrics I buy online are always what I expect πŸ˜‰

  • Mary Lynn
    Posted at 10:24h, 25 June Reply

    Such cute, well fitting shorts! The one PDF pattern I tried was Grainline Archer and it took over my dining room (some pages
    printed twice, some only half) I should have had a party – Pin The Tail On the Archer! When I finally made the muslin I looked like one of “I Love Lucy’s” maternity tops! I am a committed Luddite! I’ve had 3 washing machines since January and just want a plain ole no frills non HE one with an agitator and soak cycle! Help! Sorry for the moment of whining. Anyhoooo, Imperial batiste (a wonderful smocking fabric) is a great underlining for cotton – feels great and is wonderful to work with and gives enough body for cotton shorts, skirts,etc. I stray…. love the shorts!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:18h, 25 June Reply

      LOL! Sounds like one of my former PDF experiences! Yes, I love Imperial batiste as a lining. Adore it. I didn’t have any on hand and have to order it or drive 60 miles, so I went with the stripe πŸ˜‰
      Many thanks, Mary Lynn!

  • lynne
    Posted at 18:18h, 25 June Reply

    I really enjoy your blog and enthusiasm. The hardest thing for me in my area is purchasing quality fabric. Online purchases elude me. I just love to touch the fabric before i purchase

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:42h, 25 June Reply

      Thank you, Lynne!
      I order all of my fabric unless I happen to be traveling. It’s hard and it takes practice to get it. I recommend ordering samples because even fabrics you may be familiar with might vary in color and weight.
      I too like to touch the fabric but thank goodness great fabric can be bought online!
      Good luck πŸ™‚

    Posted at 20:15h, 25 June Reply

    SCREEEEEE. Now THAT is your single most flattering neckline ever!!!!!!! SLap that baby on a simple 3/4 sleeve fitted dress, drop the hem below the knees, and make fifteen versions in all the colors of the rainbow! Oh yes, the shorts are fabulous, too. πŸ™‚

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:21h, 26 June Reply

      The top is a Kate Spade that I bought in May. Made of a heavy knit, it is the most flattering top I’ve ever owned and is on my list to copy πŸ™‚

    Posted at 20:20h, 25 June Reply

    Oops, I meant the neckline of the top in the last two pictures. The stars all snap into alignment with that one. πŸ™‚

  • Linda Galante
    Posted at 00:42h, 26 June Reply

    Great shorts! The inside is definitely as beautiful as the outside! I’ve made quite a few PDF patterns and love how easy it is to ‘get’ them. The downside for me is how long it takes to put them together. I was into them for awhile, then found myself gravitating back to paper to avoid the ‘some assembly required’ issue. But those shorts are super cute. Just might have to break my PDF fast and order that pattern :).

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:18h, 26 June Reply

      Thank you so much, Linda!
      I agree that they take forever to put together! I l really appreciate Joan’s comment regarding sending the patterns to the print shop.
      The shorts did not require a marathon assembly session – this pattern my be worth breaking the PDF fast πŸ™‚

  • Kathryn
    Posted at 02:12h, 29 June Reply

    thede look great! Well done on confronting your sewing fears! I’ve still never done a fly front & am going to try on some shorts soon too. I’ve used a lot ofPDF patterns but just printed one off where I could not get the test square the right size. It’s only a tiny bit bigger but your experience makes me think I should try & get it right rather than go ahead as is, in case it ends up huge!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:15h, 29 June Reply

      Thank you, Kathryn!
      The fly was surprising easy – lots of moving parts, but Grainline provides excellent instructions for this portion of the pattern.
      I wll NEVER sew another PDF pattern unless the square is perfect! Good luck πŸ™‚

  • Claire Kennedy
    Posted at 08:31h, 29 June Reply

    I love how encouraging you are – cause just working through these challenges gets you to a much more satisfying (and empowered) place. I have been known to tweak my pdf printing – printing out that page with the square and doing anywhere from 98% to 101%….most of the time 101% works. And congratulations on the fly – looks really great – flat as a pancake!!!

  • Marguerite
    Posted at 17:17h, 29 June Reply

    Congratulations on battling the PDF patterns and winning! The shorts are great. I bought that Sawyer Brook fabric in navy and had a dress in mind …now I’m thinking shorts like yours.
    As for the PDFs….well I’m all for innovation if it seems to improve what we have. And although the delivery is very au courant, the paper still comes into play, only it’s your paper and time being used. So in this case I do believe the profit margin is what will push them into the future. I guess its very cost effective for the producer. What amazes me is the price paid for PDF and then the work involved in creating a paper pattern after all!
    can’t imagine a designer Vogue being better in PDF. Or something with a ton of pieces. The craziest thing of all is I’m heading back in time. I’m getting the best fit ever from junior petite patterns from the 60s and 70s. I can use them pretty much right out of the envelope which is a time saver. Older patterns came in quite an array of sizes which made it easier for someone to get a good fit.
    But PDFs are the future and it bodes well for all of to get use to it! Thanks for your post on this.

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