the boutique sewer program launches at last!

During the three years that I’ve written a blog, I’ve really come to love the crafting community. There are so many wonderfully creative people out there with so many ideas and skills, and they all seem to be the nicest, most friendly and warm people I’ve ever met. I’ve made friends all over the world through my blog and have had some terrific conversations with other sewers and crafters about all sorts of topics. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting some of my on-line friends in person!

One of the topics that frequently surfaces in the blogging world (and in the general crafting world as well) is one of copyright and fair use. The creator of a design or a pattern invests a great deal of thought and energy (and sometimes money) into his or her work. Some designers attempt to control their work by imposing stringent “do not”s and “cannot”s around it. Others essentially let go of their work and any control over it.

It seemed to me that there must be a middle path here–a way to allow others to use a design as a starting point or an inspiration and to take it in their own direction while still maintaining ownership of the original idea and being able to financially support the continued production of new ideas.

Essentially, it boils down to this: as the holder of the copyright for my patterns, I need to maintain control over those patterns and how they are used to be able to continue to create more work. But I also want to permit individual sewers to make and sell garments based on my patterns, and I want to enable people who don’t sew to purchase garments based on the patterns (because I certainly can’t sew all those clothes myself!). So I wanted a way in which I could protect my copyright and the investment I’ve made in this company while allowing sewers to use my work to make garments that they can sell.

It look a long time, but we’ve come up with a solution that we’re launching today, and we hope you’ll like it! We’re calling it the Boutique Sewer Program.

The idea is simple. Through the program individual sewers can purchase licenses to make and sell garments from Oliver + S patterns. Each license comes with a label that must be sewn into the finished garment before it is offered for sale. The presence of the label indicates that the garment has been created from an Oliver + S pattern and is being sold with the permission of the design’s copyright holder.

By purchasing a license, the sewer agrees to abide the terms of the program, which you can read here (be sure to read the FAQ and Terms pages). Sewers may purchase more than one license at a time and can make more than one garment for sale, but each item must be unique and handmade (in other words, not made in a factory or in large quantities).

The cost for one license is $6.00, and the license can be purchased only via our website (so that we’re able to keep track of all the licenses that are sold). You, in exchange, can market the garment as being made from an Oliver + S pattern. And as the program grows (which we hope it will), we plan to add additional features. We’ll be highlighting some of our favorite licensed items on the blog and in our newsletters, and eventually we would like to add some additional functionality to Boutique Sewer Program section of the Oliver + S website.

So if you’ve been wanting to make and sell something based on one of our patterns, please try it out. The licenses are available for purchase starting today. Shipping is included in the cost of the license, and we can’t wait to hear what you think of the program!




  1. Well done on coming up with a solution that works for you AND the users of your lovely patterns. I really hope the concept works – it deserves to be supported. It sounds to me like a great idea.

    And I’m sure the eagle-eyed craft community will spot any non-compliant sellers and call them out, thereby helping you enforce the initiative.

  2. I think this is a great idea! I have one question though…is it $6 per garment you make to sell? While this idea is very appealing to me, I strive to keep my clothing prices very affordable, so $6 per garment I have to include in my costs would be prohibitive. If it’s $6 for say, 3 garments or 10 or whatever, that is much more reasonable. NOT that your work is not worth $6 per garment, that is not what I’m saying at all…as a designer myself I KNOW the time put into these things (to an extent!), I’m just saying that $6 plus my costs to product the garment (not including my time) would already bring the price into my “barely profitable” margin. Does that make sense?

  3. Hi Kristine and Mika, thanks for your comments! Mika, the cost of the license is $6 per garment, so you would want to build that cost into your margins. We want to keep the price as low as possible because we’re sensitive to your needs, and we delayed launching the program until now so we could find additional ways to lower the cost. I hope you’ll find that it’s worthwhile. You can re-use the patterns as much as you like, so you don’t have to purchase a new pattern for each garment you sell.

  4. As a knitwear designer, I find this a very interesting solution. I think it’s a lovely idea and I hope that many people take you up on it.

  5. I’m confused. Isn’t the idea that if you purchase a pattern you’re able to reproduce the garments and make them yours? Does Butterick or Simplicity have a copyright restricting sale of garments made from their patterns? Obviously mass producing something with an exact pattern isn’t something to be taken lightly, but requesting compensation for each garment, even after purchasing the right to use the pattern doesn’t make sense from a consumer’s standpoint. I’d have to agree with Mika on this one. Fabric is so expensive already and then investing the time to create each item…to make ANY profit I’d have to charge too much.

  6. Chelsea, thanks for your comment and question.

    The program is not something we had ever considered doing, but we’ve launched it in response to requests from our customers.

    We’ve created this program because in the months since the patterns launched, we’ve been overwhelmed with requests for permission to make and sell garments from people who understand and respect copyright. We really believe that people in the boutique sewer community want to do the right thing in relation to copyright, and we’ve responded with a program that makes it easy to do that.

    To answer your question directly, every sewing pattern is covered by copyright, but it’s up to the designer or producer of that pattern to enforce. Butterick, Simplicity, Vogue, and every other pattern company that copyrights its work could sue anyone who sold a garment made from one of their designs. Most large companies, though, don’t find that it’s worth their while to monitor and enforce infringements of their copyright. Other companies and designers, though, are very prohibitive and strictly prohibit any use of their intellectual property for profit.

    We’d like to set a middle ground with this arrangement so that we can continue to produce new patterns while also permitting the sewers who use them to make a profit from our design work as well. That’s why we’ve made it so simple, easy, and inexpensive to participate in this program.

    Please understand, as well, that it’s only if you make and sell something from our patterns that copyright comes into play. You are more than welcome to make as many garments from a single one of our patterns as you like as long as they are for personal use or given as gifts. Copyright only comes into play when someone wants to profit from a copyright holder’s work. For us, that means when someone wants to sell a finished garment made from one of our designs.

    If this innovative approach to licensing works, we want to grow this program into something much bigger and better than what we’ve launched. We can see turning this into a real community and international marketplace for people who want to sell and buy garments made from our patterns. We want to highlight, draw attention to, and help market the skills of the amazing boutique sewers who have contacted us because they are doing wonderfully creative, fine handcraft. But for us to be able to do this, we need to have the participation of people in this community. We’ve made it easy for people to participate, and we’ve worked hard to bring the cost for a license down to a point that we think can still work within the economics of the boutique sewing market.

    I think it’s going to be a really neat program, and we hope you’ll like it as well.

  7. as a photographer, crafter, and someone whose livliehood is very much affected by copyright, I think this is a great solution. It’s up to the individual boutique sewer to create a product that maximizes the great potential of these patterns, both by the quality of their work, and the quality of their materials. An extra $6 is a reasonable price to pay.

  8. Liesl,
    What a well thought out and incredible solution to a problem we all face. Congratulations!
    Jan Lutz

  9. TRS

    That is a great idea! Very inventive.

    But I’m still unclear regarding your response to Mika.
    First you say:
    “the cost of the license is $6 per garment, so you would want to build that cost into your margins.”

    Then you add: “You can re-use the patterns as much as you like, so you don’t have to purchase a new pattern for each garment you sell.”

    So… are you saying you require one license for each pattern – unlimited use?

    Or are you saying the sewer pays $6for each garment made from the same pattern? But can obviously re-use the pattern to your heart’s content as long as you don’t sell more?

  10. TRS, thanks for asking for clarification. The patterns themselves are re-useable as many times as you like, but the label/license must be purchased for each garment you make to sell. So you could make 6 Tea Party sundresses from the same pattern, but you would need to purchase 6 individual licenses (labels) for the 6 dresses if you plan to sell them. Does that make sense?

  11. TRS

    yes, thanks.

  12. Kari

    The rules say $6 per garment made from a pattern. Does that mean that when a pattern that has a shirt and a skirt–like many do–I can only make the shirt for the $6 and would have to purchase another $6 license to make the skirt if I wanted to sell the outfit?

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