Oliver + S

Your thoughts on digital download patterns

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    Todd Gibson

    Lately we have been getting an increasing number of emails and phone calls from people looking for copies of our out-of-print patterns. While some items from the backlist will never sell well enough to justify doing a reprint on them, it seems that more than a few people still want copies.

    What would all of you think if we were to release some out-of-print patterns as digital downloads? The idea would go something like this. You would purchase the pattern from the Oliver + S website. We would send you a PDF by email. You would then have to print the instructions and pattern pages on standard letter-sized paper (the complete package may run to 40-50 pages) and tile the pattern sheet together.

    If there’s enough interest in this, we may try it for one of our out-of-print styles (like the Puppet Show) to see if people feel like the model works for them.

    icicle @icicle

    Great idea! Print on demand, so to speak. Normally I shy away from sewing pdfs because the cost in paper and ink negates any savings over purchasing a printed pattern but for out of print patterns I think this would satisfy that demand beautifully.

    beachmom @beachmom

    I think it’s a great way to meet the demand for out of print patterns. I don’t particularly care for pdf patterns personally but if that was the only way I could get a pattern that was no longer in print, I’d buy it.

    Violaisabelle @Violaisabelle

    Excellent idea! Our sewing community has discussed this issue several times. So long as you keep it like Burdastyle does, this should go well.

    Areas of concern:

    Printers! Some printers automatically force the printing at different sizes, such as 91% rather than 100%. Making sure that people understand how to print correctly will be imperative to a good feedback with PDF patterns.

    Making sure that the other size paper can be used, is it 40? Used in Europe, Australia, etc.

    I don’t know if it’s possible, but having a scale on each sheet would be nice, so that each piece can be tested to make sure it’s been printed correctly.

    A recent happening was ‘stealing’ of the e-patterns, then offering them free to people. 🙁 Make sure you are protected when receiving monies so that the ‘charges’ cannot be reversed, such as with Paypal.

    Please, please, please, do not do away with paper patterns. 🙂 I can handle e-patterns for small things, such as a simple child’s garment. But when there are lots of pages to tape together, it’s just not worth the time and effort…it ends up taking more time than tracing the different sizes. However, for your OOP patterns, this seems like a great alternative.

    Best Wishes,


    JohannaO @JohannaO


    It would completely convince me to buy some of the patterns in smaller sizes to give as gifts. Right now I’m only buying things that my kids will use (in the bigger sizes) but I would love to give some things as baby gifts, and this would be a great way to get a hold of the smaller patterns.

    scgoble @scgoble

    I complete agree with the others. While I don’t care for PDF patterns in general, this seems like the perfect compromise for items that are OOP.

    thedabblist @thedabblist

    I LOVE this idea! I would not print such a large amount from my home printer, but I would digitally send it to Kinko’s and have them print it on large paper for a nominal fee. I am not sure if you need to do something special to have this ability but having the option to print at home or print at Kinko’s would be great and probably encourage more downloads from the sewing community. Burdastyle offers these two options on a lot of their patterns. I don’t mind printing small patterns at home that only require a few pages but for something in the size range you are describing, I think it would be more affordable and easier to do it at Kinkos.

    I really hope this idea comes to pass. I just finished sewing my first set of Kimono Pajamas and I have done the Popover Sundress. I am a new sewer and these patterns made me feel professional. I love how they turned out.



    KarenK @KarenK

    I love the idea of O+S pdf’s for OOP designs, but I also don’t buy pdf patterns very often because of the cost of printing them at home. I don’t want to pay $10-15 for a pattern and then have to print 50 pages and buy a new ink cartridge for $20.00 (my printer and refilled cartridges aren’t friends).

    However, I do reeaaaallly need a copy of the Puppet Show in small sizes . . . I am easily swayed.

    romylou @romylou

    Yes please! Especially Puppet Show..

    I have a couple of suggestions. I once used a printed downloaded pattern that had a 1″x1″ square on each page so you could make sure it was printing correctly.

    Also, I’d appreciate it if you took the time to make sure each individual pattern piece ended up on as few pages as possible, even if that means more pages total. It’s really annoying when it’s only a tiny half-inch corner of a piece going onto the next page. That makes it hard to be sure your alignment is correct. I would think that, at least with the small sizes, most pattern pieces would fit on one or two pages.

    Janell @Janell

    Love love love.

    I would prefer being able to send them off on a plotter on a large sheet of paper than on a dozen or more 8x11s that need to be taped together.

    I also like romylou’s idea of a 1″x1″ square (or however many cm) to ensure the pattern prints properly.

    Anonymous @

    Yes, please! I agree with the logistical concerns mentioned above (scaling on each page is a huge help), I want to be able to get the larger sizes in the Bubble Dress and it’s absolutely true that some patterns and sizes that I don’t have a use for now will come in handy later. You have such a nice problem! That’s what you get for having such timeless designs.

    G + G @kate_conley

    Do it! Would be a great option for those of us who joined the O + S party late!

    Ana Sofia @Ana Sofia ASM_Blue

    Usually I also prefer paper patterns (and I do have to admit that I already have most of your OPP. The Puppet Shorts are totally worth it), but I’ve also used some pdf patterns with great results – usually when I’m in need of a pattern immediately (for school crafts projects) and also when I know I will only be using the pattern a couple of times.

    Recently, I’ve sewed a pattern from Carla C (the Precious dress – http://www.flickr.com/photos/35195588@N05/5756020862/ ) and although the instructions are quite detailed (overall it has over 60 pages) the actual pattern printing is quite easy.

    I’ve also used Burda patterns (for nightgowns) and they are also very easy to download and put together.

    Some relevant benefits from pdf patterns:

    1. For me (international shipping) it means that I can cut on shipping costs and also on waiting time (Just for the record, O+S delivery times are the best I know. Usually I get my paper patterns from US to Europe in 4 working days)

    2. You can start sewing immediately. And believe me this is the main reason for me to choose a pdf pattern – I can just download whatever I need just when I need it (no waiting).

    Having said that, I’m still not ready for trading my O+S paper patterns for pdf patterns, but maybe for some OPP patterns/size ranges it would be really great to have that option.

    TriMama @TriMama

    Excellent idea! I think Jalie does this with their OOP patterns as well.

    One more request. When you create the PDF could you please use bookmarks so that we can easily navigate through the pattern, intro section and instructions? It will make it easier for those of us who only want to print certain parts of it.

    I have no qualms about printing large quantities since i have a laser printer 😉

    justinsbride @justinsbride

    I love this idea! I know some people are not as keen on PDF patterns, but you have proven that they can be done and done well with the free pdf patterns you currently offer. I think it is a great way to “republish” a pattern without the cost of reprinting a pattern. I really hope you do decide to go with digital patterns for your OOP patterns (I too am looking forward to the possibility of the Puppet Show reappearing!).

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