A Day in the Life of a Print Job - Part 1

A few of you have expressed an interest in the "behind the scenes" action here at the studio. We're always buzz, buzz, buzzing around when it's print time for our patterns. I print locally at a commercial printing facility because I like to have the option to attend press checks and discuss pre-press edits directly with my rep.

The pre-press proofs for our 6 new patterns arrived yesterday. I immediately spread them out on the floor because I find that the best way to work. I thought I was the only one who did that (because I'm "vertically challenged") but come to find out a bunch of my creative tweeps work that way too. I'm guessing us "creative minds" don't like to be confined to the strict parameters of a table.

These are the "Sherpa Proofs". They are large digital outputs made on a high end AGFA machine. We use these to check for color variances, image resolution and registration issues.


This is about the closest you can get to what it'll look like on press, without actually creating the plates. The pages are impositioned in the same fashion they would on press, in our case we print our booklets as "work and turn". Here's a closer look:


After I look these proofs over with a fine-toothed comb (as if I hadn't already looked at these patterns a gazillion times!) I check the "OK TO PRINT" box and sign on the dotted line... then my heart beats a little faster.

Next, is the "folding dummy." As this title would indicate, these proofs are used to check for page positioning, binding and finishing. This proof is in no way to be used to check for color or print quality (that's what we have the Sherpas for!) As a matter of fact, the color is often way off and the image quality is poor. We look these over to make sure the pages are in the correct order and the booklets have the right amount of pages and are folded and saddle-stitched (stapled) as they should be.


There's that pesky "OK to Print" box again. I always hesitate a tad before checking it.


And finally we get to look at proofs of the actual pattern sheets. These are black & white and full size and usually come folded to the size the final printed ones will be folded to.


We check for all the usual stuff... placement, resolution, image quality, size, folds. I also give it a once-over to make sure the MODKID logo is sized consistently throughout and the fonts and type sizes are also consistent. I'm super OCD about those sorts of things.


And wouldn't you know it! No matter how many times we proofed, edited and re-proofed the files before sending them to print, it's not unusual to find something at this stage. That's why I'm so happy I get the chance to OK these before they go on press.


PHEW! So glad I caught that! ;) I make a little note on the sheet, mark my proof as "Need Corrections" and off they go to get plates made.

I hope you guys enjoyed seeing what goes on behind the scenes at the studio. My printing company has graciously agreed to let me bring my camera into the pressroom later this week so I can document what goes on "on press." It truly is a fascinating process... well, at least it is for me! I hope I'm not boring you guys to death!

Until then...


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    I can't wait ... am so excited ... thanx for sharing the pix


  2. Annie1:50 PM

    WOW! It's all Chinese to me but still so cool to see! I'll be checking back to see the next episode. :)


  3. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Awesome! Thanks for posting this. :)

  4. That was like a field trip... except we didn't get paper hats to wear or cookies at the end.

    That was fun to see... thanks Patty! And congrats on your new patterns!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing...I love to learn about this kind of thing...beautiful patterns too!

  6. Anonymous3:15 PM

    When proofing I find it easier to do it backward. By taking the "reading" out of it, it helps you look at each word, not the context. Then you go back and read for context. I find my brain catches errors faster that way, rather than tricking me by filling in the blanks.

  7. Cool! Thanks for sharing a behind the scenes look. Id love to see a behind the scenes look at how you design your fabric lines. Maybe next time?

  8. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thanks for posting this. It was really interesting. You may be OCD but having used several of your patterns it's a fantastic trait to have. :) It actually shows through in your patterns, in a really good way. :)

  10. Well, I'm so relieved to see this sort of thing interests more people than just me. LOL!

    Monica, so funny that you mention that because when I told my printer what I wanted to do, he said "It'll be like a Field Trip. We do lots of those for local high schools and colleges"

    haha... I'll try to work in a freebie at the end of my tour... it'll be almost as good as paper hats & cookies! ;)

    Lois, thanks so much for sharing your "proofing" insight. Sounds like a great idea and I will try it next time. :)

    nheimberg, somehow I don't think that would be as interesting of a tour. I mostly just doodle until something comes out that I like. ;)

    Sew4Fun, thanks so much for the compliment!!!


  11. I think I lost a few brain cells just thinking about all of what you do! I'm not worthy....

    Thank you for sharing. It's nice to see the "workings".

  12. Brings back memories of yearbook and proofs. Both in high school and as a teacher for my elementary school!

    Wonder if I will ever have an opportunity to do this? lol

  13. wow....that stressed me out. :) but it is all well worth it as i have NEVER had a problem with your patterns.

    keep up the good work!

  14. I find the most terrifying part of a print job is the day it comes back done and you are afraid to look because there will always be SOMETHING... nobody else will be able to tell, but you know color or spacing or fold that was supposed to happen...

  15. Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes. It is another fun way to see the professional side to your business...I look forward to the other photos.

  16. I LOVE seeing behind the scenes! Thanks so much for sharing! Looking forward to the next post.

  17. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Patty, I am a graphic designer and I've been creating artwork and checking proofs for twenty years — yet, I could not have described the process nearly as well as you did. You did a really great job. And I also love your patterns. Thanks! :) Ceri (in the UK)

  18. Oh, you make me miss the good ol' days! It's so much like being there.

  19. Patty, it's so fun to see what goes on behind the scenes at ModKid. Thanks for sharing!! I promised Abby we would purchase a doll pattern and I would teach her to sew :) So excited to see them!

  20. Well you are certainly not boring me! My father owns his own printing company. So it is interesting to see the equipment being used at your local shop as 90% of my fathers equipment is 1960's or older. If you have seen the movie Seven, that's pretty much the same equipment he uses and more. So I cannot wait to see your next post!
    Jenny Fish

  21. You realize - there are probably very few people in the industry who do all that you do - you are a one woman shop - doin' it all. You impress the heck out of me Patty Young. Wow!

  22. I can't wait, so excited!



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