10 years with you!

Hello again, friends!

I promised I’d be back today to talk about you and the sewing you’ve done with our patterns over the past 10 years, in honor of our anniversary. Wow, what a nostalgia trip! I went looking through photos on Pinterest and was nearly overwhelmed! I thought sorting through my own photos and memories of our company and, especially, S growing up would be bittersweet, but how amazing to take a trip through the past decade via your sewing and your growing kids! And then, to top it all off, I wasn’t prepared for the lovely messages you sent in response to my request for your memories of sewing with our patterns and what your kind words would do to me. So thank you! I wasn’t able to include all your messages in this post (there were so many, and they continue to come in), but I’ve read every one of them very carefully. (I may even have shed a few tears….)

First of all, you’ve been so prolific! Do you know how much sewing you’ve done? I just took a quick look at the Oliver + S Flickr group and you’ve posted over 35,000 photos! Can you believe that? And that doesn’t account for the fact that many of you have moved over to Facebook and Instagram, so a majority of you are not even posting to Flickr any longer. Quite a few of you also told us that you’ve sewn more than 20 or more than 30 of our patterns, and several of you have sewn all of them! That’s quite amazing, don’t you think?

Deb Muskoka told us:

I stumbled upon Oliver + S patterns in 2009 and now I’ve made at least one version of every single pattern (including the free ones) except for the Buttoned-Up Button Down Shirt…. Need to get cracking on that one. I’ve said this many times before that I believe Oliver + S patterns are the best on the market as they hand hold the maker through each step with gratifying results. Through your website I’ve also met many sewing friends over the years, so in many respects O&S has become family.  I’m so thankful you took your sewing talents, Liesl, and created these terrific patterns and thankful to Todd who is there to make everything run smoothly, and mostly to S who came into this world and was the inspiration. As for my fond memory, well, it was the time we had Flat S visit us and Pirates kidnapped her! LOL!

And then let’s talk about the number of you who have told us, over the years, that you learned to sew with our patterns. I adore teaching classes and workshops in person and through video, but what an honor that you trust our paper patterns enough to call them “a sewing class in an envelope,” as so many of you have told us over the years. Thank you for that as well. That’s why I started Oliver + S, and that’s what motivates me to keep going.

Rebecca Weber emailed to say, in part:

The patterns are written in such a way that you don’t feel talked down to if you know what you are doing, but they teach skills and tricks that you can use and apply to other patterns. O+S patterns always tell you why you are doing things–not just to do something. I have leaned so much and gained so much confidence from all of the O+S sewing that I have done over the last 9 years. So much, in fact, that my mom asks me for advice when she sews some clothes for her granddaughters.

Carrie Simpson:

I so wish I could remember after all this time how I first came across O+S! I’m sure it was probably someone’s blog post with a picture of something adorable they made for their child. Little did I know what a game changer for me it would be. My sewing skills have grown so much just from sewing with your patterns. I’ve only ventured outside of O+S a handful of times since I started sewing for Ellie, and the results have never thrilled her or me like O+S does! The styles suit us to a tee, and the instructions are SUPERB. We just schemed together last night about her Easter dress, and we headed for my O+S patterns without even a second thought. It’s obvious how much you care about the quality of your work, and the community that comes with sewing with your patterns is like icing on the cake. Happy anniversary!

You also tell us, frequently, that you’ve gained confidence in your sewing skills by sewing our patterns. (To this end, we have a skills index to help you target specific skills you’d like to learn or improve.)

We heard from Sarah Meyer, who said:

The O+S patterns are such confidence builders! Every step is so clearly described and illustrated that I know I have the skills to tackle any pattern! Many times when using other patterns, I’ll pull out your wonderful instructions to figure out the best way to put it all together!

Natasha Tung wrote:

Oliver + S transformed my sewing! I learned to sew when I was 12 using German patterns with very basic instructions, then discovered paper patterns and found those much easier. Even though I thought my sewing was amazing, it wasn’t until I found my first Oliver + S pattern (sleepover pajamas – when I was about 30!) that I actually learned to SEW! So many amazing tips, techniques, and logical flow to garment construction. I’ve learned something new from each pattern and become a much better seamstress because of it!

Inder Khalsa sent a very sweet message that said, in part:

“…ten years later, I’ve grown enormously in my skill, but I still love to make these patterns for my kids. They are just wonderfully reliable, and I still appreciate the classic aesthetic. I think I calculated that I have sewn 29 Oliver + S styles and a good number of those are TNT patterns that I have sewn many many times. Thank you Liesl!”

Gayle Kauzlarich:

The only children’s clothing items I have ever entered in the Iowa State Fair have been sewn from your patterns. I have never not gotten a ribbon from 1st to honorable mention. Your patterns are well written and have such perfect seam finishings. Also, I always use your patterns for baby gifts. Thank you for all your beautiful patterns.

Florence Taylor:

First, Happy 10th anniversary.  I am new to sewing. I self-taught myself by watching YouTube. I was doing OK and moving along, then by luck, i.e. fate, found Oliver +S  and everything changed. I have learned so much from the clear and detailed instructions.  I have been challenged to try things I thought I would not be ever able to do. My confidence and skill levels have increased. I feel like every pattern I tackle is like my own personal sewing lesson and the payoff is the delightful and joyous smiles from my twins. I am so proud to be part of the O+S family and look forward to years of developing greater skills and sewing for myself and my family.

Rhythm Tyagi:

I had never sewn before in my life! The first thing I tried was the Jump Rope Dress, and I love it to bits. May I be the millionth person to say that Oliver + S patterns have taught me to sew! I fell in love with the patterns and the clothes that I was making. Thank you for giving me a creative outlet that I really needed. I was deep in post-partum depression when I found you. Thank you for pulling me back and giving me something to really cheer about.

Erica Yao:

I found your patterns when my now 10-year old was a wee toddler.  I never cease to be amazed how well the clothes turn out with your instructions and designs.  Congrats on these milestones—personal and professional!  Looking forward to the tween patterns and many more to come!

You’ve also told us how much you appreciate the blog and all the tutorial and inspirational features we include.

Shelley (a.k.a. Lightning McStitch):

I can’t remember why I started sewing but I can certainly credit Oliver + S with why I continued to sew! Back in 2009 I was cursing at the opposing curves of a neckline and collar and the infuriatingly brief instructions of a big-4 toddler shirt pattern. The next thing I made was the Puppet Show tunic as a gift for a tiny baby and it was like the clouds parting and the light shining through. (In my sewing imagination Liesl sits on a cloud and plays a harp while firmly reminding me to staystitch, clip, and baste that neckline). Skip forward three years and I dipped my toe into the internet community that is Oliver + S and that’s when I truly became hooked. The defining moment for me was the first thing I made that landed me on the blog as a guest back in 2012 and I’m delighted to have been allowed to hang around ever since! This virtual space means such a lot to me.

Ani Ross Grubb:

I started sewing O+S patterns when I wanted to make pants for my super-skinny toddler. Store-bought pants just would not fit him. The patterns allow you to grow in your ability to sew, and have spoiled me for instructions for other patterns. I sewed an heirloom outfit for my son from a particularly unclearly written pattern, and when I wasn’t relying on my experience from sewing O+S patterns, I found myself running back and forth to the instructions from the Building Block Dress book to try to decipher the best way to do whatever the pattern wanted me to do.

And we love how you interact with us in so many ways, too. We hear from you frequently on the Facebook groups, via Instagram, Flickr, and on the discussion forums.

Janice Green Harris:

I had been sewing long before I found Oliver and S, but what I got from O + S was a sense of sewing community, and friends…to say nothing of well-written, consistently sized, unique patterns. I’ve been sewing with Oliver and S probably since my daughter was 2 so she has pretty much grown up in your patterns!

Sally Dixon surprised me with how she found us!

I first came across Oliver + S through an interview with Liesl on the podcast “Longest Shortest Time.” I’d just had my first child, was using mat leave to get back into sewing and was very touched by your motivation for starting the company. Since then, I’ve loved being a customer of Oliver + S! The quality and originality of the patterns, coupled with the extra support of the blog posts, tutorials, inspiration boards…. I think your patterns are the best value out there. I’m sure I would not enjoy sewing for my kids quite so much without you! Plus, I’ve loved watching you on your adventures in Spain, closely mirrored by my own move to Europe. You share so much of your heart and life Liesl, it feels incredibly generous to receive. Here’s to another 10 years!

Rebecca Ballew Dockum:

Oliver + S is a bright spot in the sewing world. With their patterns I can visualize a new project and find the completed garment a success. Of course their online community gives me inspiration and encouragement through the eyes of others. What first drew me to O + S was the wonderful illustrations and the understandable instructions. O + S fills a void in the fashion world which has a seen less home sewers of family garments.

Ronnie Gronek:

Found you by accident when looking for patterns to sew for my granddaughter, after sewing many years ago for my own daughters. Your blog is so inspirational, love your weekend links and always look forward to reading them. Your information is thoughtful, timely and so on the mark! Have learned much from you! You are truly a great addition to the design world and I wish you, your family and your company happiness and success always!

Lyndsey Young Stanfill:

Oliver + S patterns have elevated my sewing skills and taught me not to fear any sewing project. I was definitely a beginner sewer when I sewed my first O + S pattern, but after following the instructions on each additional pattern I have added to my tool box. I now have the confidence to sew anything. I also love that I have found this community that appreciates the value of hand-crafted, slow sewn garments for their children. In a world of fast fashion it is refreshing!

Barb Annunziello:

…But it’s not just the patterns.  I love that your business is family based.  Your philosophy is inspiring.  I love that you are promoting fashion without excess.  I admire your willingness to put yourself out there on your blog. You’ve modeled a bathing suit!  You wore the same sweater for a week!  You’ve let us tag along as you moved to another country and raised your wonderful daughter.

I love how you include other people on your blog and let us hear their stories too.   And your Friday posts always provide food for thought. You’re one of my favorite blogs and I’m happy every time there’s a new post. Wishing you many more years of success and joy.

I’m also so impressed at the number of friendships between some of you that have formed out of this community! I know of several of you who stay in touch after meeting via our blog and discussion forums, and that’s just icing on the cake, isn’t it?

Katy Morrell:

I came to Oliver + S patterns as a complete newbie with only a tiny bit of sewing history. I browsed the Flickr group and was bowled over by all the amazing clothes. I wondered if I could manage to make something like that and so nervously purchased my first two patterns, the Puppet Show and the Sailboat. I discovered my passion for sewing with the help of clear and well-written instructions, and with the encouragement of the lovely people in the Flickr group I developed my skill set. That was nine years ago and since then I have not only improved my sewing with the help of Oliver + S, but also made some firm friends. For all these years of fun and friendship (and a fair few handmades) I can’t say thank you enough.

Erica Yao:

The Bubble Dress was my first O + S pattern, and I was so inspired by the online posts about it. The quality of instructions and fit in the final garment are the best I have seen. I always will have a special place in my heart for your patterns! I like to say that some people choose to meditate, but I choose to sew at night when my kids are asleep. It brings me peace and joy, and I owe so much of that to Oliver + S patterns!

Beth Baker:

…I just find everyone here so heartwarming and encouraging. If I hadn’t found that pattern I probably wouldn’t be sewing clothes.

There’s one more thing, and I almost hate to bring it up because it will make me all weepy again: our children are growing up! Ten years is a lot of time, and it’s gone altogether too quickly. What a thrill (and tear-jerker!) to see your children growing over the years. I’m honored that you’ve allowed us to be part of your family in this way. <sob!>

So thank you. Not just for being our supportive customers over the years, but also for all your kind and encouraging words, as well as for letting us be part of your memories. I always say I love this community and I’m so glad you’re a part of it. I’m going to let some of you finish out this post. Thank you for all your kind words, and thank you for being part of this story!

Sharon Knowles:

Because of O + S I have grown as a seamstress. Your patterns have taught me not only how to sew well but also how to make a custom garment. My five children have all grown up in your patterns so you will always have a special place in our hearts and home.

Sarvi Chan:

I know I have said this many times before, but I wanted to say once again how thankful I am for Liesl Gibson whose patterns taught me to sew. It’s more than just a pile of outgrown clothes, you know? It’s the hours I spent measuring my child and marking her growth. It’s overcoming the fear of a machine that had sat in my closet for years, which was really the fear of my own years of failure. It’s the thread that connects me to a whole community of other mothers. It’s the feeling of walking through dusty button shops and running my hands over bolts of cotton, silk, wool. It’s licking a thread, threading a needle, pulling together my dreams and my love for my child into something more. Thank you, even though you didn’t do it just for me.

Nicole Baugh:

I found O+S in the middle of the post-newborn haze after my son was born. For reasons that aren’t funny to anyone other than me and his father, he NEEDED to be a secret agent for his first Halloween (at three months old). Which meant my three-month-old needed a trenchcoat. Secret Agent Trenchcoat to the rescue! Since then, O+S has filled many more practical clothing needs for my son, provided me with a creative outlet when many of my other hobbies were no longer practical, and taught me so much about apparel making and sewing in general. It makes me feel good to see my son wearing something I’ve made for him, and it makes him feel good to know that his mother spends her time making things for him to wear. I’m looking forward to exploring many of the other O+S patterns once my daughter arrives. Thank you!

Audrey Fixation:

I’ve sewn ALL the O+S skirt patterns, and each one is special and unique. I love that about them. Often patterns can be hacked from one look to another, but the O+S skirt patterns are each so unique in themselves. Now that my baby is getting into O+S sizing, I plan to make them all for her!

Michele Olson:

I’d always wanted to sew clothing for my kids. My mom taught me the rudiments of needle and thread, but somehow I’d never managed to put it together. …And then I came to “Little Things to Sew” which led me to Liesl’s website, which led me to the Popover Dress. As my daughter laughingly tells it, “That [new] machine just sat there for two months, and then I came home one day and Mom said, ‘I made this dress.'” That was my granddaughter’s first outfit from her Oma. I’ve made, oh, countless clothes since and Oliver + S has been there with me, every step of the way. And now my grandchildren are putting needle to fabric. My deepest gratitude, Oliver + S, and a very happy anniversary!

Rebecca Ark:

I only started sewing about a year ago and a friend steered me toward Oliver + S patterns. I love these patterns because they’re full of thoughtful details. They are written so beautifully with such clear illustrations that even a beginner like me can make something to be proud of.

Emily Stone, who found us via one of our free patterns:

Happy anniversary Oliver + S! The Lazy Days Skirt was my first sewing project (apart from a heavily supervised baby blanket when I was 12 and sewing a few rows of stitches in college). I learned a lot of proper sewing techniques from your patterns and ended up with beautifully fitting and finished items! Your women’s patterns were the first ones that actually fit me and gave me confidence I can do it! (There were several other attempts.) Thank you for generously sharing your expertise and skill and hard work. Congratulations again!

Courtney Fairbrother-Davies:

I discovered Oliver+S patterns when I was sewing for my niece about 10 years ago. I made every pattern that came out because I simply adored the style, fit, and of course the amazing instructions. I’ve sewn so many of the patterns, and they are still my go-to patterns for anything I make for my kids. With 4 kids now, the sewing has slowed down a lot, but my kids always start school with a new Oliver +S outfit. It’s a big tradition around here. Both for the kids and for me. I’ve attended a few workshops with Liesl and always come away having learned so much. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but I have sewn four Fairy Tale dresses and they always come out so beautiful. My oldest daughter is the same age as S, so I’m thrilled to have some teen styles so I don’t have to stop sewing with my favorite patterns. Congratulations on 10 years!!

xo,
Liesl
Liesl

P.S. All these photos, and many more, can be found in our Oliver + S 10th Anniversary Celebration Pinterest folder. And there are so many more photos of Oliver + S pattern you’ve sewn that I didn’t include here or in the Pinterest folder, many of which you can see in our regular Oliver + S Pinterest folder as well as in our Flickr group.


 

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22 Comments

  1. Congratulations , Liesl! So amazing…. I will never forget that first time I discovered your patterns and sewed my first one for Ruthie – the Swingset Top and Skirt.

    1. April! xoxoxo

  2. Sarah

    Congratulations on 10 years! I’ve been sewing with you patterns since almost the beginning. I’ve not been very busy on social media with my projects, but I’ve followed along with the group since around 2009. Your patterns are the first that I recommend to friends who want to try their hand at sewing, and turning out such beautiful child’s garments has encouraged me to finally try making things for myself. Finishing the Sketchbook outfit was a key moment in my sewing journey, and I’ve traced it off in every size that the small pattern comes in to make shorts and tops for both my boys and girls. Thank you for your hard work encouraging and teaching.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Sarah.

  3. Stephanie Spann

    I agree with all of this! I love this company and I love the people (from Liesl to the people that like posts on Facebook). It’s a community I am happy to be involved in. It’s sad the kids are growing up but boy do they look amazing!

    1. Ha! So true–they’re growing up, but at least we get to dress them nicely (while they let us…) Thanks for your comment.

  4. Well now I’m teary eyed! Congratulations on a beautiful post and memories.

    1. Me too, Emily! So many memories…

  5. Emily

    My first Oliver + S pattern was the Field Trip Cargo Pants. They are just so cute! I love all the detail and they always turn out perfect. These days I have sewn most of the Oliver + S patterns, and I trust that I will always get a good result when I use them.
    Thanks for all the wonderful patterns, Liesl, and congratulations on ten years!

    1. Thanks so much, Emily!

  6. Amanda Correa

    Happy Anniversary, Oliver + S! I’m so glad I came across your patterns in 2011. The first one I bought was the Jump Rope Dress for my then 9 year old. That 9 year old is now 16 and asked for the Girl on the Go pattern. Even she appreciates the classic styling. For awhile I was kind of sad that she was too big for O + S patterns, but then the Lord blessed us with another baby girl! Hooray! Appropriately, she came home from the hospital in an O + S Bubble Dress! Each time I make one of your patterns, I feel such satisfaction that I’ve made something that looks professional and timeless. I currently have 15 patterns plus the freebies and both books. I’ve just added 10 more for my 1 year old. I can hardly wait for them to arrive! Sewing is my therapy. It lets me “escape” and do something both productive and creative. This scarce “free time” could easily be swallowed up in frustration and disappointment with other patterns. This is why the majority of my sewing is done with your patterns! Keep up the great work and I will continue to spread the word. I look forward to all the new patterns that the future holds for Oliver + S!

    1. Thanks, Amanda! And congratulations (belated) on your little one! xo

  7. Oh, this is is so sweet to read and I loved looking at all the photos. I agree with everyone who wrote that Oliver+S taught them how to sew. I feel no different–and now every time I get a new pattern the excitement is the same as having an new book in hand–one whose author I love and I am dying to read. Thank you so much Oliver+S and Liesl for such fantastic patterns, and teaching style.

    1. That’s so lovely, Asmita. Thank you!

  8. Lynn Shepard

    After 50 years of sewing, including making my wedding dress, I discovered your patterns about three years ago. Now I feel that I’m REALLY learning to sew! I reach for your patterns and books time after time and rarely need to choose from any other. The Button Up Button Down Shirt is next on the cutting board for my grandson, to match his sister’s Easter dress and coat. My hope is that I have another 10 years left to sew with you. Happy Anniversary!

    1. What a high compliment, Lynn! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  9. Erica

    What a tear-jerker of a post! …and an amazing amount of beautiful homemade clothes for loved ones. I hope Liesl, Todd, and S are feeling lots of much deserved love from all corners of the globe during this anniversary. Already I am looking forward to the next milestone celebration and re-cap of all the styles yet to be made! xo

  10. GREAT POST!! SNIFFLE! Loved reading all these comments!

  11. Congrats, Liesl! I first was aware of your patterns via at the adorable ads in Quilting Arts Magazine, and I admired them vicariously until I became a grandma of 2 granddaughters. I started with the Jump Rope dress and loved it so much. The directions were impeccable. I have gathered and used many more of your patterns since then. Thanks for the fun!

  12. Just yesterday I finished an empire waist, maxi dress with pockets (“I have to have pockets, Grandma, and I want it to come all the way down!”) using the Building Block Dress book and my zillion years experience sewing for my 3 1/2 (can’t forget the half) year old granddaughter. We have a matching dress cut out for her 7 month old cousin. Over the past few years I have made some of your free patterns, most recently bucket hats. There are patterns purchased waiting for their chance to become 3 dimensional objects, but there isn’t enough time in my days. While I don’t really have a zillion years experience I have enough to know a well designed and well written pattern when I see one, and these are really, really well done. Step by tiny step for the beginner while never seeming infantile and even more amazing, never talking down to either the beginning or advanced sewista. You have taught this ol’ gal a few new tricks and reminded her of others too long unused. Wishing you many more years of inspiration.

  13. What a lovely bunch of people you’ve attracted. Not surprising when the three of you are so lovely and approachable yourselves. Of all the things I make my kids it’s the Oliver + S things that I can’t bear to toss when they’re outgrown. But through this community I’ve met so many friends and so my hand me downs are scattered all over the globe, and it’s such a buzz to see them being worn all over again on the other side of the world!

  14. Mary Coonts

    Just love these patterns. I promote them any time I can. I just did a count and I’ve made at least 48 garments from 23 patterns. As I look at the patterns I see that I own 12 more that I haven’t used yer. I’d better get busy!

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