Resizing printed PDF patterns with Adobe Reader XI

If you’ve ever wanted to print your PDF foundation patterns (or any other PDF file, for that matter) at the exact size you need from your home printer, then wait no more. The latest version of Adobe Reader, Adobe Reader XI, lets you do exactly that and lots of other cool printing tricks. I’ve been playing around with it a little, and want to share what I’ve found so far with you (though there’s probably lots more to discover). If you don’t have the latest version, download it for FREE from Adobe’s website here.

Here’s the new printer dialog box:

printer dialog

Notice all the new options under Page Sizing and HandlingSize, Poster, Multiple, Booklet. Let’s first look under the Size button.  The Shrink oversized pages radio button is the default. However, to print ANY foundation patterns, you’ll want to click the Custom Scale button. The default percentage is 100%, but this can be changed to whatever you want (even down to 1% up to 1000%). Here, I’ve changed it to 50%, and the preview window shows the result. Then just click PRINT and Bob’s-your-uncle. (How to select the correct resizing percentage.)

Custom Scale works really well for reducing pages, but not so great for enlarging more than 10% or so, depending on what you’re enlarging and how it’s placed on the page. The page WILL be enlarged to your input percentage, but only the very center portion of the enlarged page will print. The rest of the page image is chopped off at the margins and lost (i.e. not printed on other pieces of paper).

A better (but still not perfect) option for enlarging is the Poster button:

printer dialog2

In this example, I’m enlarging my Circle of Geese pattern unit to make a 24″ block, a 200% enlargement of the original 12″ block. I’ve input this number into Tile Scale. As shown in the preview window, the page will be tiled over 8(!) pieces of paper. The default Overlap is .005 in, but I recommend somewhere between .25 and .5 inch to allow for your printer’s no-print zones — experiment to see what works best for you. I also recommend ticking the Cut marks and Labels options because these can help when taping the pages together. For what it’s worth, I didn’t see any effect in toggling the Portrait and Landscape buttons.

Personally, I find the Poster option less than entirely satisfactory for pattern enlargement.  It results in considerable paper-wastage and often chops up the pattern pieces into more bits than necessary, only to be tediously cut out and taped back together. But when that creative fever hits at midnight and you can’t / don’t want to find an all-night copy shop, this will certainly do the job. It’s also likely your local copy shop will be able to use the Poster option on their equipment to directly print on larger sheets of paper than letter size or A4, with better results than photocopying. So all in all, this new feature IS a big step in the right direction.

Finally, don’t overlook the Multiple and Booklet options for other types of PDF files you might want to print. These would be great for small books as favors for kids’ parties, quickie photo albums, digital art booklets, event programmes, …

What, you’re still here reading?! Go update your Adobe Reader to the latest XI version, and check all this great stuff out! :-))  I’d love to hear what you discover in your experiments!

P.S.  When I have to tape together paper foundation pieces, my all-time favorite sticky-stuff is Pritt brand permanent adhesive roller.  It goes on cleanly without buckling, and withstands ironing brilliantly.  You can find it at office supply and scrapbooking stores AND it’s even widely available in Europe.

P.P.S.  If you can print to a PDF printer program (e.g. PDF Creator, among others), you can use the Poster option to “print to PDF” enlarged patterns as described above. When you go to print out the paper foundations, you can choose to print only the pages with pattern sections. In my Circle of Geese example above, I only need to print 4 pages for a complete foundation unit, not all 8.