Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Selling your own patterns?

Where do you get your inspiration to design your quilts or quilt blocks?

I've read and watched quite a lot of blogs and videos and most mention that they get their ideas or are inspired from nature, architecture, other quilters and even other quilts.

I am now quilting for a year, so the concept of designing something entirely new and different is a bit confusing to me.  What makes it YOURS?

Here are two examples of quilts I've made, one from a single block tutorial, the other my own applique blocks, and sampler blocks.

1.  My Purple Diamond quilt was made using a single block tutorial.  Obviously the block itself is not my design, but the layout of this quilt was not done using a pattern.  The fabric and colour placement was my own, so the question is, can I write a pattern, slap my name on it and sell it?

Purple Diamond Quilt
2.  Gone Golfing - Back Maybe was inspired by my Dad's love of golfing.  Three of the blocks I had made was from a book called 'The Essential Sampler Quilt Book' by Lynne Edwards.  The HST (half square triangle) block I made up as I went along.  The rest of the quilt blocks are done using applique and are from what I have drawn up myself.  So again the question is, 'Is this quilt my own design, can I write a pattern and sell it'?

Gone Golfing - Back Maybe
Here is another example of a Half Square Triange BOM by Jenny Baker she had in 2012.  At the time while participating in the BOM she posted free tutorials every month.  Now you can buy the pattern for that quilt and is available on her blog.

I need to get this question answered, 'When can I write a pattern for a quilt or quilt block and sell it?'

Another reason I'm asking this, is that I've come up with a quilt block that I've designed myself, the inspiration was from craft paper.  I have not copied the design exactly and have changed the layout just a bit.  I want to write a pattern for this block but want to know the do's and don't first.

Your input will be very helpful, please share your experience and advice!

I am linking up to WIP Wednesdays @ Freshly Pieced.

Happy quilting.


Emma said...

Here's my take on it. For the top quilt, given the block itself is not original to the place you found it, provided you wrote your own instructions, then yes, you could. For the second quilt, it would depend on the level of originality of the block designs you took from the book. If they're traditional blocks, or minor variations on traditional blocks, then you're probably ok, but if the author of the book has drawn them herself, it's probably not right to take them and use them in your own pattern. Either way, you'd have to write the instructions yourself, not copy existing words.

Karin said...

Hi...this is very tricky. Remember my baby quilt. I was going to sell that pattern. When I researched this further I found that the block also goes by another name and that there was a free pattern on the internet...felt very defeated, I must say. I decided to put the pattern up for free as well now. To your first question: you need to find out whether the block is in the public domain (which it probably is), then you need to do some research to find whether anyone else has put up a quilt like that. And then it goes into the hair splitting...because one could argue that it is your own given that yours will be a different quilt as you used your own colours etc. Similarly to my baby quilt...the quilt I found was essentially the same, however was in different colours and had a border. However it was essentially the same design and I thought it would be slightly unethical to put this up for sale if people could grab it for free from the net.
The blocks in the second question...again you would have to establish whether they are in the public domain. If they are all is good and you could use this pattern given that the applique is your own. And , just reading above, yes, the instructions you would write would have to be your own words, not taken from where you found the blocks...
On the other hand, I have gone to some pattern sale sites where I have found that people are selling the instructions for individual blocks that looked very familiar. Very odd ...I have just gone through several weeks of reading about this and must say there is a huge amount of confusion around this topic.

Kitchener Quilter said...

You've posed a very good question. Good for you, I say, for thinking of it. Many do not. The issue of copyright is important to quilters and all artists. Kathleen Bissett writes an excellent article about this very subject, which you may find on the Waterloo County Quilters Guild website, Look on the left sidebar at the bottom for the copyright button. Hope this helps.

Kelly Vetch said...

I was thinking about this recently too when I designed my puzzle block. I did not find another pattern similar to mine and spent many hours working out the math and shapes of the pieces. I KNOW that design is mine, but another quilt I am working on uses a very common star block. I wanted to make a pattern for this quilt though because of the sashing I designed for it.

I think Karin put it clearly, just be careful about how you word your pattern and be sure you aren't copying someone's original work. Or when you plan to make a pattern for something, maybe just be sure to design the elements yourself other then the more common blocks.

Sewing Mom said...

Oh dear, I don't honestly know the answers. I know it seems to me like there's nothing new under the hopefully someone can help you more carefully. Love those quilts!

Amanda said...

I really like the purple and green top!
And my take...if it is a "common" block, you can write up your own instructions for how to color it and sell the pattern. As for the golf one, you can obviously use the blocks that you made. I would not use the blocks from the book unless you can prove that it is a common block and you chose the color scheme. Or unless you get permission from Lynne Edwards.

TiaraHelen said...

Have read the responses with interest. Isn't there something in copyright law about "substantially and significantly" different? For instance, I would have thought if you were inspired by some paper and then adapted it for a block and worked out how to produce it, that would be a "substantial" additional change. I think you're on shaky ground with the Lynne Edwards blocks though because although it was free, she wasn't giving it free to sell. I think I'd contact her and just be straight. Maybe she'll be ok to let you sell it for an acknowledgement or for a small per unit commission? Maybe you could link to her pattern and she could offer your buyers a discount?

On a personal note, I've just used a free pattern for a bucket bag (pretty much public domain design, I think) and it doesn't explain clearly enough for me the process on how to make it. If I were a beginner, I would have been better off paying a small amount for some better instructions! So the actual quality and understandability and detail of the technical know-how that your instructions cover are important.

Not sure if that helps at all?


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