building block dress for knits and a few other things

Hello again, friends!

First of all, thank you very much. Your response to the release of our new Building Block Dress book this week has been overwhelming. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the words of encouragement and support you have shared in your comments on our blog, in emails you have sent, and in the social media and blog posts you have written. And the financial support you have shown through purchasing copies of the book directly from us has been exceptional as well. As I mentioned earlier, this project is one that our business has a lot riding on–both in terms of our bottom line for 2016 and the direction we go with product development in the future. Of course it’s still too early for us to declare the book and the decision to self-publish it a success, but sales during this week have exceeded our expectations. We’re so grateful to all of you for that support for our work! Thank you.

But back to the topics at hand. You’ve had a lot of questions about the book this week, and I understand why. This is a very new concept, and there is a lot of information packed into one book.

One question several of you have asked is if the book can be used with knits. There’s a phrase we hear quite often in Spain that’s appropriate here: “Si! Pero no.” (Translation: “Yes! But no.”) Let me explain.

I would not suggest sewing the Building Block Dress pattern itself with a knit fabric. It might work to use a knit for the body of the dress if you add woven fabrics or something lightweight for the collar and bias facing at the neckline. In general I think jersey might be a bit heavy for those details at the neckline and hem, especially. Also, the fit of the pattern is designed for woven fabrics. It would be too generous in a knit since most patterns written for knits use negative ease to take advantage of the natural stretch in the fabric. That’s the “Pero no.” part of the answer.

The “Si!” (the “Yes” with an exclamation point) part of the answer is more detailed, so I think it’s best if I explain with an example.

I’m a visual person, and maybe you are, too. Let’s start with our basic School Bus T-shirt pattern, OK?


We’ve talked about all the things you can do with our T-shirt pattern before, and we’ve offered lots of design ideas and tutorials on the blog to get you started. But the book will take you further, with lots more ideas and options. And it will give you more information in greater detail if you’ve been afraid to get started. Here are a few sketches I just made to give you some examples of things you could do using the basic T-shirt pattern and the pattern alteration ideas and instructions included in the book.


So you see what the book does, don’t you? The pattern alteration instructions in the book allow you to modify any pattern you have–not just the Building Block Dress pattern included with the book. So if you have a pattern written specifically for knit fabrics that you like, you can use the book to alter that knit pattern in hundreds of different ways. So “Yes!” (or “Si!”) the book can be used with knits.

But let’s take a step back for a minute. That last shirt in the bottom right corner of my sketch looks awfully familiar, doesn’t it? This book gives away a lifetime of pattern-making secrets. Which might lead you to ask another question, so I’ll just anticipate it ahead of time and answer it now. No, this doesn’t mean we’re going to stop making children’s sewing patterns. Yes, we’ll be offering new sewing patterns in the future. Even though I’m showing you how to do a lot of things with this book and am teaching you how to make your own styles and your own patterns, I still have plenty of tricks up my sleeve. So don’t worry about putting us out of business if you buy the book, OK?

And as long as I’m making sketches, here are a couple to show you simple examples of how you can use the book for women’s patterns.

Here are a couple of our Lisette for Butterick patterns, B6244 and B6183. They’re very rough sketches of both styles, but you get the idea.


And here’s another second rough sketch to give you a couple of ideas for how you might change each of those patterns. The basic structure of the original designs are there (I haven’t changed the darts or princess seams, which we’ll address in a women’s version of the book), but you can see that I changed the sleeve of both designs, added pockets to the dress, and gave the skirt of the dress a lot more flare. I also put a button closure at the front yoke of the shirt and added a bit of gathering at the yoke. Obviously you could do a lot more with these patterns and the book, but I thought it might help to show you a couple of examples to help you understand how the book works. womens-2OK? I hope that helps you to understand that you’re not limited by the Building Block Dress sewing pattern that’s included in the book. It’s merely the starting point! You’re going to go much farther than one pattern once you understand how the concepts in the book work.

Which brings me to the next question we’ve been getting a lot this week: “Do I have to purchase a book from you this week to be part of the private Building Block Dress Facebook group?” Yes, you do. Preorders placed with giant, international book retailers (you know who I mean) don’t apply for several reasons: in part because the book won’t be available through others for a few weeks yet, in part because we don’t have a way of verifying your purchase, and in part because (to be perfectly honest) we earn a lot more from a direct sale of the book than we do from copies of the book sold in other locations. And that extra incomes enables us to do extra things like support the Facebook group. That’s fair, right? And your purchase needs to be made before midnight ET this Saturday for you to be included because we are going to kick off activities in that group next week. For those of you who have purchased from us this week, you will receive an email early next week with information about the group. So watch for that.



Which brings me to a related issue. Yes, we totally understand that the cost to purchase a copy from us and have it shipped outside the United States is expensive. And we know that shipping costs are significantly less if you purchase from a giant retailer with fulfillment capabilities in your country. We wish there was something we could do about that situation. Believe me, we really do. We make no profit from what we charge for shipping and handling. One hundred percent of that cost goes to getting your order out our warehouse door, through customs in your country, and into your mailbox. The exceptionally rapid rise in international shipping costs over the last five years has really, really hurt our business. We have done everything in our power to bring and keep our international shipping costs down. The problem is that we’re just not large enough to be able to negotiate huge shipping rate discounts and to move inventory across borders in mass to warehouse and ship locally in multiple countries. So if you live outside the US and can’t afford to purchase from us because of the shipping cost, that’s fine. We understand. Please make your purchase from a retailer in your local market.

And one last thing: I mentioned it on Instagram earlier this week, but it’s been so busy here on the blog that I haven’t had a chance to mention here that I was featured on the Crafty Planner podcast this week.


Sandi is a very talented interviewer who really does her research, and it was a lot of fun to chat with her. So if you’re not too angry with me about the Facebook group situation and how much it costs to ship to your country maybe you’ll enjoy listening to it this weekend!

Have a great weekend, everyone. We’ll be back next week with more tools and ideas to help you with your sewing projects using the book.




  1. Kerri

    So happy to hear that sales are exceeding expectations! I received my copy yesterday, and am looking forward to reading every bit of it. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks very much, Kerri!

  2. Dorothy

    I also received my copy yesterday, and congratulations on writing and publishing such a beautiful, detailed book. I would encourage anyone “on the fence” to go ahead and purchase the book, which will be useful for many years and bring much joy!

    1. That is very kind of you to say, Dorothy. Thank you!

  3. This is really helpful Liesl! While I am waiting to receive my book in the mail, it is so exciting to get some ideas of how different patterns (including two women’s patterns I own) can be customized using your instructions. Congratulations on all your hard work! I am rooting for you and the book’s success going forward.

    1. I’ll have lots more ideas for you this week and in the weeks to come, Addie. Thanks!

  4. Kara

    Did you just sneak in there a mention of a women’s’ version of the book?! I am so excited to hear that!!!

    1. I really hope we can do it, Kara! I think we’ll know the answer in a month or so. Last week was very encouraging.

  5. Oh it’s so true that once you realise the potential of a good knit t-shirt pattern you almost need never buy a knit dress pattern!
    Tinkering with the school bus tee is one of my favourite pastimes! 🙂
    I recently put a Peter Pan collar on a school bus t-shirt, and while it’s tricky to get nice collar curves using a cotton Lycra, the result is still super cute.
    I find myself buying many less patterns than I might otherwise since I’ve started working on this pattern block style sewing, yet somehow I’m still a sucker for a new Oliver + S release

  6. Lynda

    I’m sad to think anyone could be “angry” with you re shipping costs (and I may well live the farthest away) or understand re the facebook group 🙂

    1. Thanks for your support, Lynda.

  7. Lynda

    oops I meant not understand re FB 🙂

  8. Debra

    Where can nice quality knits be purchased?

  9. Marsha

    I’m over the moon. My book arrived today and it is a beautiful thing to hold and just peruse all the pictures. You’ll laugh at me because my granddaughter can’t even stand yet….is still just learning to crawl….so I don’t think any of these dresses are immediately useful. But I will thoroughly enjoy learning the techniques on things in anticipation of when she stands and walks and can wear dresses!!!

    Congratulations on a beautifully conceived and executed book. While I understand wanting to be frugal, I think it would be worth 2x what I paid…I believe in small businesses!

    1. That’s very sweet of you, Marsha. I hope the book will be a lot of fun for you and will help you create many memories.

  10. Marsha

    Ops…I forgot to say this and you can’t edit your comment. The only thing I wish my book had….was an author’s signature. So it will be my hope to someday meet you when you are on tour. I live in Kansas which is usually off the beaten path for most people.

  11. Kate

    I bit the bullet and cancelled my Amazon preorder and paid the extra £10 international shipping to buy it direct from you so I could be part of your FB group. Can’t wait for the book to arrive now.

    1. Thanks so much, Kate! I’m glad you decided it was worth the extra shipping cost.

  12. Caroline

    Well I am disappointed to not be a part of the Facebook group because I ordered my copy from a retailer where I could afford the purchase as I am overseas, but $20US plus for shipping is out of my reach with our economy and rate of exchange. I am just happy to be able to afford a copy of your book and will still enjoy learning from it without your support. It looks amazing and the reviews so far are all very positive. Thank you for your work in creating it for us.

    1. Thanks for your support, Caroline.

  13. Suzanne Fragale

    I purchased the book and am. Rey excited. My granddaughter just turned seven and I have been making her since before she was born. :). Your patterns are my favorite. I am Hopi g in purchasing your book it will help me expand my skills and creativity fir the years to come. Thank yiu

    1. I can’t wait to see what you make with it, Suzanne!

  14. Darcy

    I’m so happy to hear about the success for y’all! I have my book (and have made the basic dress so far) and it’s worth every penny! You can tell how much work went into this book. It’s beautiful! I have the women’s dress pattern that you mentioned (I have a pattern hoarding problem). Do you think the bistro dress would be a good starting point as well?

    1. Absolutely! And interesting that you should ask since that pattern is very close to a standard women’s dress block.

  15. Can’t wait for my copy 🙂
    Despite the international shipping rates, I did managed to get it from you!! I’ve teamed with a friend and spitted the shipping costs – and although I won’t be making to the Facebook group (only one email address was used), I can’t wait to learn pattern making from the best!! PS: Glad to hear about the women’s book (I need that as well).

    1. Ana Sofia, no worries. We’ll get you added into the group shortly.

      1. Thank you so much Todd!!
        I just wanted to share the way we found to reduce our shipping costs (which will also be added by national taxes) and still support a cause that we strongly believe in.
        My friend (Maria João) just confirmed me that our books are currently travelling across the ocean 😉 Really can’t wait!!

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