what we learned from your feedback: part V, we can ask

Liesl and I have always been independent people. Being independent has helped us both accomplish many of the things we have set out to achieve. But it has also made it hard for us to ask for help.

It’s taken a long time, but I think we’re both coming to see that this isn’t always the best way to approach the world. Sometimes there’s real benefit to asking.

In her TED talk from 2013, the musician and performer Amanda Palmer makes the case quite compellingly for why you should ask for things and how you can make deep, lasting connections (and a living!) by asking.

Liesl and I are both trying to become better at asking. We’re not nearly at Amanda Palmer’s stage of development, and as much as I respect Palmer we probably won’t be giving away all our patterns hoping that everyone will throw a few dollars into the hat. But we did learn something very important from your responses to our customer survey: you care about us. You care about our brands, you care about our business, you care about the community that has developed here, and you feel a sense of ownership in all of this. For that we area extremely grateful.

We also realized that we can ask for your help in continuing to grow what we’ve all built together.

When we asked you to spend some time telling us what you think, more than 1,500 people put aside the other pressing responsibilities of the day to share their thoughts. So, so many of you took our request for information seriously and spent the time to write us detailed, thoughtful comments in response to our questions. You put effort into sharing your feedback. Thank you so much for that.

We feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to grow this idea Liesl had eight years ago into what we do to make a living and support our family. And we feel even more fortunate to have developed such a dedicated and loyal following. But we can’t rest on our reputation. In order to continue our business into the future, we always need to be growing our customer base. And your survey responses showed us we could be doing better in this.

So let me end this series of posts about what we learned from the survey the way we began the process—with an ask. The survey has told us that we could use your help in spreading the word about what we do here, about our brands, and about the community that has developed around our patterns. Will you do that for us?

Here’s why we’re asking.

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rapunzel fairy tale dress

Earlier this month Brittney stopped by with her fox Playtime Dress tutorial. Now she has a tutorial on changing the Fairy Tale Dress into something different. For the special girl in your life who wants to be Princess Rapunzel, you can make her dreams come true! Here is Brittney. Enjoy!

My daughter’s favorite princess is Rapunzel. It was her birthday and we were going to a princess play, so I decided she had to have a dress to wear. I thought the Fairy Tale Dress would work out perfectly, and it did!


Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress turned into a Princess Rapunzel dress


First of all, I went one size up to make a roomier and less fitted dress. Let’s get started shall we?

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pinterest picks and links

Hello friends! Today is the last day of school, and is S ever excited! We’ll spend the coming week together and then she’ll fly to spend a month with our parents, which she does every summer. She really looks forward to that time with the grandparents, and I know it’s great for her and for them because we live so far apart. It’s also good for Todd and me because we rarely have time alone together. When we have an extended time together with just the two of us we can do things that we don’t do during the rest of the year. We’ve got a standing Friday night date during the month of July, and we spend more time in museums when S is away: especially the Frick and the Neue Gallery, both of which don’t allow kids. That time alone together is probably the best gift our parents could give us. And the best part is that everyone enjoys it!

Anyway, it feels like the last day of school to me, too, even though I’m waist deep in all sorts of projects. I’m sketching new Lisette ideas for spring and summer (winter is already finished), working on fall Oliver + S and Liesl + Co, and of course working on those larger projects we’ve been hinting about.

What about you?

Pinterest picks

Did you notice this quilt in the Oliver + S Flickr group? The pattern is from my book, Little Things to Sew, but I love the colors and the way the prints are used in this version. From this vantage it almost looks like on each “stripe” two solids overlap to create a print!


june 26 apinterest link


This would be such a fun summer vacation project, and I love that it folds up to fit in our tiny apartment! Now we just need to find a really big box.


june 26 bpinterest link

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my favorite pattern: meredith from olivia jane handcrafted

Today we are happy to welcome Meredith to the blog. She is going to share a bit about her favorite Oliver + S pattern, a classic boy’s shirt, and show us the many fantastic versions she has made. She just discovered the other day that she’s a contestant on the Super Online Sewing Match II taking place right now over at Sew, Mama, Sew. Thanks so much Meredith for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us!


Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


Hi there! I’m Meredith. I blog over at Olivia Jane Handcrafted and spend far too much time Instagramming. I am a self-taught sewist and while I began my sewing journey with quilting and baby things when my daughter was born, I quickly began sewing garments. As many of you know, once you sew one Oliver + S pattern, you are hooked. That’s just what happened to me. Over the years I have sewn many a dress and outfit for my daughter and gushed over each one. In fact, 95% of her closet is Oliver + S. But today I’m going to tell you all about my most favorite Oliver + S pattern–the Sketchbook Shirt, which is actually a boy’s pattern!


Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


I first made this pattern a little less than a year ago. My son was ginormous when he was born and was in 9 month clothing at 3 months. I needed to make him some larger clothing! I purchased the Sketchbook Shirt and was thrilled that it took only half a meter of fabric. Within a few days, I had made him three new shirts.


Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


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lisette patterns round-up

Since the release of our Lisette patterns for Butterick it’s been a lot of fun to see everything you’ve been sewing for yourselves from this new collection! We thought it would be nice to do a little round-up of some of our favorites.

Helena sewed this gorgeous floral version of  the moto jacket, B6169. Doesn’t it look great? I loved reading all about the process on her blog. (And it’s nice to know that the sew-along really helped.)


B6169 Lisette Moto Jacket


Nakisha posted her moto jacket shortly after the pattern came out, and I think she looks smashing!


B6169 Lisette Moto Jacket

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an apology

Dear friends,

Over the weekend I came across this quote and it seemed very timely.


Last week Todd wrote a post as part of his series on our customer survey. Many of you have really enjoyed this series and, like the other posts in the series, it received a lot of comments. However, the tone of the post was not what he intended, and those words caused hurt for some of you. Had I read the post before it was published, I would have asked him to change it. For that I am deeply sorry.

If you know either of us personally, you know that we care deeply about the people around us, both on a personal level and as a small business. Many of you have become good friends over the years. Those of you who know us know that we would never want to hurt anyone, but we ended up doing that. For that we’re extremely sorry, and we sincerely apologize for the hurt feelings that we caused with that post.

We had considered taking down the post, and we asked several people for their opinions on doing this. In the end, we decided to leave it up for two reasons. First, because so many of you put time into writing responses to it, and we don’t want to see your efforts disappear. And, second, as a reminder to ourselves in the future that we need to be more careful of peoples’ feelings. We’re not proud of how that post came across. But we think that leaving it out in the open, as a little scar on our reputation, will remind us to be more sensitive in the future.

Before anything else, our business aims to build community, to be inclusive, to provide uplifting experiences and inspiration, and to operate in a moral and ethical manner. We value our friends and our customers, and we want to contribute to this community in positive ways. Please forgive us.


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