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A note on PDF sewing patterns


Over the last year or so we have really agonised about whether or not to release our patterns as PDFs alongside our print versions. On the one hand we noticed lots of you using them and many of the other brilliant indie pattern companies we admire releasing them, but then, on the other hand, we also felt such an incredible attachment to our print product we didn't want to detract from it... Oh what to do! In the end, we decided to just go for it and, as many of you many know, decided to release all of our products as PDFs. 

Since the PDFs have been out, over the last couple of months, we've carried on discussing and watching the situation. And, after much agonising again, we have actually decided to withdraw our PDF option for the patterns that also have a print version.  All three of us have always absolutely loved paper and beautiful packaging, which is why, back in the heady days of 2012, we were excited to start with print straight away. We loved the idea of creating a product that looked beautiful on your shelf, that was long lasting and premium and we spent a long time perfecting the design of our packaging to really reflect who we wanted to be as a company. What we mean to say is, at the risk of sounding a bit sentimental, it's in our printed product that we really feel much of the heart and soul of our company and product lies. It's not just us though! You have made it clear that you tend to prefer our printed patterns over our PDF patterns where there is the option. Which is why, it's simply for all of the patterns we hold in stock in print that we will no longer be releasing a PDF alternative.  

That's not to say that there are no PDFs in our future! There are patterns which, for one reason or another, we will decide not to reprint for the foreseeable future (like the Georgia Dress), which we will therefore leave up as PDFs only, the occasional freebie we want to release (like the Polly Top) as well as the odd quick and easy pattern we think is probably more suited to PDF (Sabrina).  

Thank you all for your ongoing support and keep watch as we have a number of patterns we're very excited about in the pipeline! 

xx

* Update *
Hello again to all! Thank you for writing in to us with your opinions on us taking down our PDF patterns. I posted an answer to some of the ladies on our Facebook page who were frustrated with the decision, because their responses made me realise perhaps I should have been clearer about the business reason behind taking the PDFs down - apologies! Here is a repeat of what I wrote on the Facebook page (and in the comments below), which I hope clears up our very real and thought through reasons for doing this:
'We really want to emphasise that this is not just a sentimental decision. We've been keeping a close eye on figures and it really was driven by cold, hard facts and basically what makes the best sense for our business in the long run. In a nutshell, by selling PDFs we started to sell less of the printed product that we have already sunk so much time and cost into - and rent a large space to house! Therefore, so long as we consider the printed patterns our core product, it seems it just doesn't make good financial sense for us to sell PDF patterns alongside those designs. 

We *wish* we could please everybody and really feel terrible that you feel let down in any way! We are hard at work trying to lower our international shipping costs (keep an eye on the blog today) and widening our network of stockists so that hopefully our patterns can get to you more locally. We will also continue to release the occasional quick to sew PDF download (like the Sabrina) and keep those patterns we've decided for various reasons not to reprint (like the Georgia Dress) as a PDF too, so there are still and will still be some PDF options available on our site.'
Also, please do remember to check out our wonderful stockists to see if you can find somewhere more local to you! 
  • Charlotte Hintzen
  • packagingPDF patternssewingsewing pattern

Comments on this post ( 42 )

  • Nov 02, 2014

    …sorry, I meant Elisalex and Georgia dresses…:(

    — CD

  • Nov 02, 2014

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I move, a lot. We are expats. I am always prepared to pull up and move at the drop of a hat. This means I ONLY buy PDF patterns, in the off chance I might be separated from my house. I had just come back to this site today to buy the elisalex and the victoria dresses in PDF, but now I go away empty-handed. It’s too much money to pay for something I might not be able to take with me if there’s an evacuation or other event in the not-so-peaceful country where I live.

    Please tell me if you ever bring back the PDFs….

    — CD

  • Oct 06, 2014

    Hi Kat! The Georgia Dress will definitely be included in the Kickstarter rewards, but as a PDF download only. Hope this answers your query! x

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Oct 05, 2014

    Hi, I saw a comment on here the other day, asking if the Gorgia dress pattern is still included in the Kickstarter rewards, since you mention above that you aren’t reprinting it. I’ve been checking back, waiting to hear your answer, but now I can’t even find the original question any more….?

    So… is the Gorgia dress pattern going to be included in the Kickstarter rewards still? (I hope so, as it’s one I’ve been looking forward to getting!)

    — Kat

  • Oct 03, 2014

    I much prefer to buy print versions of patterns as it is a lot of effort to print off and piece together pdf versions, especially pattterns for clothing. I do purchase bag patterns in pdf form but if a print version is available I always go for that. Carry on with your lovely packaging.

    — Linda Bott

  • Oct 02, 2014

    Hi Ladies,

    I just wanted to say I totally understand the decision you’ve made here. I have a pretty tight budget but I have just invested in two of your printed patterns because I LOVE the beautiful packaging so much that I definitely think it’s worth it. I also think it must be really frustrating to have invested in printed patterns and for people to not buy them because you have another version available. A hard choice but a good one.

    Zoe

    — Zoe

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I had my credit card company reverse charges. I’m surprised that this has happened and I’m truly disappointed that I wasn’t able to support your company by purchasing and sewing the Anna dress. I’ve never had issues purchasing a PDF pattern before and it is a little shocking that I might buy one and have a company delete the option without any notice and not care enough to address the fact that I’d paid for it.

    Were you to provide PDF versions again I would cautiously purchase it again. I had issues on the 25th of September attempting to open the file and I’m wondering if the server maintenance and other technology fees were the main factor in deciding to discontinue PDF versions.

    — Kaci

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I bought a pdf of Anna on September 25th; I couldn’t open the link to my phone that day. I tried on a desktop today to open/download the pdf. I tried to email “help@byhandlondon.com” and my gmail immediately bounced it as undeliverable. I’ve left a FB message.

    If the PDF file is no longer available, please refund my money. Otherwise I need assistance to have the PDF sent to me, but after reading this post, it looks like that is no longer an option?

    I’m in the USA so its not financially feasible to call to get help with this problem.

    — Kaci

  • Oct 02, 2014

    this is pretty disappointing as a US customer, but I’m trying to understand your reasonings. However, why did you not have some sort of grace period? Say, in the next two weeks, allow for those of us who have been eyeing up patterns to purchase them as .pdfs before removing them entirely? Please consider this for one last hurrah/victory lap before removing the pdfs – that way we have a little “now or never” warning.

    — KZ.

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I just wanted to let you know that there is another disappointed US sewer here. As soon as I found out you had PDF patterns available, I bought the Anna dress. I was thinking of buying more, but I haven’t had a chance to make this one yet. However, I will now not be purchasing more because of several reasons.

    1. Shipping. Just not going to happen.
    2. I’d rather be able to re-print if I mess up or my size changes. I DISDAIN tracing patterns.
    3. I love instant gratification. If I have to wait a week or more for my pattern, I’ll probably just make something else with my fabric instead.

    You have great looking patterns, I just won’t be purchasing them at this time. Just thought you should have another opinion.

    — Amanda Renea

  • Oct 02, 2014

    Hello ladies!

    Thank you all for writing in. I just wrote a reply on our Facebook page to similar concerns that many of you are airing here and so thought I would repost it here. We really want to emphasise (and perhaps we should have made it more clear in our post) that this is not just a sentimental decision. We’ve been keeping a close eye on figures and it really was driven by cold, hard facts and basically what makes the best sense for our business in the long run. In a nutshell, by selling PDFs we started to sell less of the printed product that we have already sunk so much time and cost into – and rent a large space to house! Therefore, so long as we consider the printed patterns our core product, it seems it just doesn’t make good financial sense for us to sell PDF patterns alongside those designs.

    We wish we could please everybody and really feel terrible that you feel let down in any way! We are hard at work trying to lower our international shipping costs (keep an eye on the blog today) and widening our network of stockists so that hopefully our patterns can get to you more locally. We will also continue to release the occasional quick to sew PDF download (like the Sabrina) and keep those patterns we’ve decided for various reasons not to reprint (like the Georgia Dress) as a PDF too, so there are still and will still be some PDF options available on our site.

    — Charlotte Hintzen

  • Oct 02, 2014

    @Charlotte
    I would love to see your patterns stocked in local shops in Amsterdam. Haven’t spotted them yet?
    I would be happy to supply you with suggestions.

    — Canal Couture

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I’m glad you are continuing with print, because I have no patience for printing and piecing together PDF patterns.
    I love the way your pattern covers are designed and like collecting them :)
    xox
    Keep up the great work.

    — Neeno - Sew Me Love

  • Oct 02, 2014

    Your paper patterns are beautiful, but as several others have mentioned, for those of us living outside of the UK/Europe it is a pretty disappointing decision. I live in a country in Asia which does not have reliable mail service or shipping (and when companies do ship it is very expensive) and I pretty much rely on PDF patterns. Next on my list of purchases were the Elisalex dress ad the Holly jumpsuit and it is a real shame that I will not be able to sew those patterns now. At the very least, surely you could have given us all a little bit of notice, so that those of us who don’t have another viable option could have had a fair chance to but the patterns? To announce the decision after you have stopped the sales (and in the middle of a sewalong) is pretty poor customer service, especially for a brand with such a loyal fan-following.

    — Lina

  • Oct 02, 2014

    The second your patterns became PDFs, I bought two (Anna and Elisalex) and was planning on two more (Flora and Georgia)! Being in the US, it’s much easier to get your patterns as PDFs. I was waiting for Elisalex since you guys started, and the second it became available I did not hesitate and purchased the PDF. I could not find any of your patterns in any US retailers anywhere, even online, as I can most other indy patterns. I would pay for printed patters, they look absolutely lovely! But I do not want to pay for the international shipping, since the money isn’t going to you anyway. :(

    Maybe with your next announcement about shipping, I’ll still be able to get Flora and Georgia…hopefully… :)

    — Carolina K.

  • Oct 02, 2014

    just lost a customer…too bad…I will spend my money elsewhere

    — wila

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I will not miss the PDFs since I find them cumbersome and hard to store. But mostly I love your print pattern presentation and the label surprise that I have found tucked inside. They are beautifully designed and beautifully presented and reflect a thought that I strive for in my sewing…“it is all in the details”.

    — Linda Michelau

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I’m bummed to hear this. I live in the US, and I think that PDF downloads are a great option for those of us who want instant gratification and not to have to deal with shipping across the pond or who deal with weight/size fluctuations. One of my local indie fabric stores does stock some BHL patterns, but I’ve always only seen a couple in stock at a time. What REALLY bums me out is that there was no warning about this decision ahead of time—I had been planning to by the Holly jumpsuit but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. If I had known that the PDFs were going away, I would have made sure to buy it before I lost the option to do so.

    — Michelle

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I absolutely do not understand your reasoning behind this, especially since the print at home PDFs are already available, and there’s no issue of supply and demand here. I could understand not wanting to move forward with creating print at home PDF versions of future patterns due to the increase in effort, but you’re effectively saying that you’re not willing to continue selling print at home PDFs because your designs aren’t strong enough to stand outside of the packaging. Others have already addressed the issue of shipping, so I won’t rehash it, but overall, I really don’t see what you or anyone else has to gain from removing the PDF option.

    — Hannah

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I only started sewing a year and in that time I have become obsessed with all of you patterns! The Flora dress is the first thing I made that I absolutely loved and I wear out all the time. Recently I decided to splurge and buy 3 of your patterns at once and having the PDF version available was a huge help because a. I’m in the US and shipping would have been a bear and b. because the reduced cost which was a big plus. However, I can honestly say I’m sad I won’t have the Holly, Anna, and Victoria sitting on my shelf next to the others. The packaging is so lovely and the instruction booklets were such a comfort while I was learningI I think you just don’t get the same experience with the PDF patterns. I think you guys made the right choice by sticking to your brand. Can’t wait to see whats next!

    — Zanna

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I can’t stomach $10USD in shipping costs, so I will shop elsewhere for patterns.

    — Jessica

  • Oct 02, 2014

    As someone who lives overseas, this makes your beautiful patterns far less accessible to me. I am disappointed, and worry that I will no longer be able to afford your patterns. Loss in access is always disappointing.

    — Jennifer

  • Oct 02, 2014

    I always like more options, but I prefer paper patterns. I have yet to purchase one of your patterns because of shipping costs, but haven’t bought the PDF because I hate sticking pieces of paper together. I also appreciate beautiful packaging.

    — Suzanne

  • Oct 01, 2014

    This is really sad news for me. The shipping is prohibitively expensive and printing a PDF just isn’t.
    Also, I love that with a PDF, if I screw up the original pattern piece, I just print that section again.
    Lastly, I have a hard copy of the Anna dress pattern and, please don’t kill me, but the packaging isn’t actually my favorite. Once unfolded, the pieces don’t go back in and there’s not room for a traced copy in there, too. The booklet is really nice, and I appreciate it. Beyond that, I’d rather PDFs. What happened to my pretty purple Anna booklet? It went into a giant yellow envelope like all my other patterns.

    — Chris Griffin

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Hmm, for me that’s a bummer- I enjoy using PDFs and somehow missed the opportunity to get any while they were available. For me to buy one printed BHL pattern it would total $32.86 US, which for me is totally cost prohibitive for a sewing pattern. It’s also the main reason I haven’t used any of your patterns yet.

    I’ll add that I am a very visual person and appreciate good packaging and design, but all my patterns are stored quickly after use. What sticks with me is not the packaging, but the quality and ease of use of the pattern and instructions themselves. That, and of course the final garment! I get that you are trying to maintain the exclusivity of your brand, but to me exclusivity of a pattern is not an alluring factor, as I know the end product will be one of a kind- as exclusive as it gets!
    Just my two cents. :)

    — emily marie

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Ah, awful news… I really hate to work with flimsy tisue patterns, I would tape pdf patterns at any time! also, living in Brazil, and not having a reliable mail service, not even mentioning the shipping costs, make me want pdf patterns… I was so happy when you announced the pdf patterns, and now I am very disappointed… I just don´t understand why not offer both options? I know your package is beautiful , but we should also have a choice as to pay more for beautiful package or not… I am really, really sad about those news… I should´ve bought your patterns in pdf when I had a chance… At least you could give us some notice? The pdf patterns just disappeared?

    — Tatiana

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I understand the decision to not release future patterns as PDFs . I don’t understand why you took down the ones you have already formatted and released. You have already spent the time on them and people are already aware of their existence. Costs of both printed patterns and shipping is prohibitive to many and this decision cuts out a chunk of your audience/market.
    In the end, it is your companies decision but a warning would have been appreciated for all us people on the other side of globe to get one last chance at patterns. Eh, life goes on and I’m sure you will continue to be successful with your company. Any negative feedback is just a result of people being disappointed by the idea of not being able to get their sticky mitts on your patterns- which means your doing something right.

    — Mary

  • Oct 01, 2014

    This is really very disappointing. I much prefer PDF as living in Australia the shipping costs have always put me off buying patterns from overseas and patterns in shops here are then marked up very high. Not to mention the ease of receiving the pattern straight away.

    — Alex

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I admire you for being uncompromising regarding your brand vision and identity but I have to admit to being disappointed. I was planning on buying the Anna PDF to make for an upcoming wedding. As I live overseas I cannot afford to buy the paper version. I also believe PDFs are more environmentally friendly as there is a lower carbon footprint and less packaging.

    — Deirdre

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Out of curiosity, does it cost you any extra money to continue offering the PDFs you already went to the trouble of creating? I can understand if you decide not to offer PDF versions of future patterns, but to decide to un-offer existing PDF versions is an odd decision.

    To be totally honest, though, regardless of your reasoning, this is disappointing news. I live in the US, and the only reason I own any BHL patterns at all is because you began offering PDFs. Aside from the matter of shipping costs, PDFs are cheaper than paper patterns. They’re more budget friendly. Paper patterns are more manageable and they come in pretty packages, but the advantages of PDFs outweigh all of that for me.

    I hope you’ll reconsider this decision. I don’t think offering PDFs detracts from the authenticity of your operation or the joy of sewing up your lovely patterns.

    — Jen

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Bravo ladies! Stick to your aesthetic! I know others will lament this decision, and I apologize in advance for all the grief you may get. But I think it’s a brilliant choice. I hate the damn pdfs and the taping together. For those who sew for more than one size, I say copy the pattern onto craft paper, or swedish tracing paper, and save the original. That’s what I do. I love the whole effect of the BHL patterns, and will happily continue to support your position by buying your paper patterns…. Somehow the price of the real thing never bothers me. They always seem a worthwhile investment, and I have never regretted buying a BHL pattern.

    — Samantha

  • Oct 01, 2014

    This news doesn’t make me happy. I was so excited to see you going the pdf route. I love pdf and love not paying for shipping. :(

    — Jessica

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I live in New Zealand and love them or loathe them, PDFs make sewing more accessible and affordable.

    — Kath

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Bold move guys! I for one love a physical printed pattern, and I adore your packaging and booklets. For me it makes the whole process of sewing a garment that more special.

    — Lauren

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I agree with a number of the others; PDF patterns are not only more immediate, they make the cost thismuch lower which is important for those of us with tight budgets. I too was about to buy a PDF version a pattern (Victoria Blazer) but I think I’ll hold off now. Lots of respect and gratitude for what you are doing, but I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed.

    — Annie

  • Oct 01, 2014

    A hard decision but a brave one as well…. Weird question though: you won’t be reprinting Georgia; will she be amongst the Kickstarter pattern-rewards?

    — Anja

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Brilliant news! I think it’s a great decision to go with what you believe in for your brand. I hate PDF’s and have no patience for sticking all the bits of paper together. I also think all printers are evil and so printing out said pattern usually takes more printer wrestling and bad words than I’d care to mention! I much prefer paper patterns I can trace off without fuss (although I need a bigger table!!!) and your gorgeous packaging.

    That said I wholeheartedly like the idea of things like the lovely Sabrina now and again. That definitely looks like it will be worth the printer wrestling :) X

    — Emma

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I have to tell you, I am pretty sad to read this. When others first started releasing PDF’s I thought I would never make the switch. But having using them quite a bit now I find that I will always buy the PDF over the paper pattern. This feels like a step backwards…

    — Amber

  • Oct 01, 2014

    As a Canadian customer I too prefer the Pdf versions. As I tend to sew for people of different sizes I find it much easier to download and assemble the off versions in several sizes.
    Imagine my dissapoinent when I logged onto your online store to purchase the Anna dress today and could not purchase the PDF version and instead found this post :(
    I was going to purchase it Monday but was not able to complete my transaction due to a glitch in the system.
    Bad luck. :(

    — Jenny

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Hello Marsharee!

    Thanks for writing in. We do hear you, and know that the immediacy & lack of shipping costs is something that makes PDF patterns especially appealing to our overseas customers – which is why it was definitely a difficult decision for us to make. Although we can’t make them get to you any faster, getting down shipping costs to non EU countries in particular is something we are working on really hard at the moment. In fact, if you keep an eye on the blog this week, we should be announcing some good news on that front :) We are also trying to expand our wonderful network of stockists, so our patterns can hopefully get to you more locally. So, if you have any suggestions for shops near you that you think we should be stocked in, please do let us know!

    Charlotte

    — Charlotte Hintzen

  • Oct 01, 2014

    Interesting decision. I love paper patterns for their ease of use and also think yours are especially well packaged. However, even living in Europe I find the shipping charges to be extremely prohibitive when buying more than 1. Hope you will take this into account when considering the PDF’s in the future. Would happily sew up all of your gorgeous patterns in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the steep upfront cost. PDFs just make sewing a tiny bit more accessible for those on a budget. Cheers! :)

    — Chloe W

  • Oct 01, 2014

    I can appreciate your decision to remove pdf patterns, but as someone residing in Canada, paper version of patterns are not always accessible and/or cost efficient it access. So I love pdf patterns, not for the work of putting them together, but for their accessibility.

    — Marsharee Williamson

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