1. Use a plain, easy to read font. Sure, they look boring, but they are nice and easy to read! Save the fancy fonts for your cover page. Also, align your text to the left, not centred. Centred text alignment takes more brain processing and is slower and harder to read.
2. Group your steps into logical sections. This can be tricky, but the more prototypes of your pattern you make, the better idea you get. Think about things like grouping some topstitching together so that you wont need to be changing threads so often.
7. The more prototypes of your item you make, the better your pattern will be. You may find a better way to do something the next time you make it or you may pick up a simple mistake in your instructions or pattern pieces. Also read your steps as you are sewing through. Read every word! You’ll be amazed what you pick up, missing words, extra letters…all these things that our brains fill in for us, especially when we’ve read something so many times.
8. If your pattern includes printable pieces, make sure you include a printing test square. This square can be measured up so that the user knows the pattern has printed out the correct size. Many times I have printed out a pattern, stuck it together, cut out the paper pieces and then thought, I should check the test square, and guess what, it was wrong! Thankfully I hadn’t cut into my fabric. A quick reprint, making sure no page scaling was set in the options and my pattern was perfect! If the test square wasn’t there, I would have no idea if my pattern was wrong and would have wasted my time and fabric making something that was never going to fit.
12. Put your pattern name and logo on every pattern piece if you can. It’s so frustrating finding a rogue pattern piece on the floor during a clean up and having no idea which pattern it belongs to.
13. Include a large format/copy shop version of your pattern. I’m so excited that designers are starting to include these with their patterns. For just a couple of dollars you can print out the pattern at the print shop…no aligning and sticking taping of pages needed! Also, this is more personal preference, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to overlap pattern pieces. The beauty of a PDF pattern is that you can just cut the pieces out of the paper and not bother with tracing. But when the pieces are overlapped (the lines of one pattern piece go over/intersect another, think burdastyle or ottobre) then it needs to be printed out many times or traced off the PDF).
17. Use lot of pictures! Many people prefer to learn visually and they can make some confusing instructions crystal clear! You may also find that diagrams and drawings are better than pictures in some cases.
18. Test out your instructions by printing them in black and white. I also print mine out ’2-to-a-page’ (at 50%) to make sure that they are still easy to understand when small. If they look good like this, then you know they will be easy to read if someone prints them out b&w (I only have a black and white printer at home) and also if viewing them at a reduced size on a mobile device.