Quilt-y Copyrights

Quiltcon 2013 and 2015 included an important lecture on Copyright.

It’s a subject we all like to steer clear of mostly,

but it really needs to be brought up once in a while.

If you see a pattern online that is a free tutorial,

it’s considered good etiquette to link back to the pattern

and credit its designer when you post your version.

If your work is “heavily influenced” by another person’s work,

you should consider doing the same thing.

If you’re making a quilt from a pattern,

 you really should give credit to the designer.

These are all situations where you want to give the maker due credit, provided you are using a paid for pattern or free tutorial.

However, and this is the sticky part,

what if you are influenced by a designer and you did not buy the pattern?

Generally speaking, most quilters and designers consider this copying,

also known as cheating unfairly.

This are just my two cents worth on the copyright issue. It’s a raging problem because of ubiquitous internet access. When we as quilters see an easy quilt posted online, we think we have every right to copy it and use it as we wish. In reality, we’re copying someone else’s art, and cutting into their livelihood. My rule of thumb is that if the pattern is for sale, and I want to make the pattern, I buy it. If you want to live in the world of free patterns for the rest of your quilty life, there are lots of them, and you can do that! No one’s going to be upset if you use and credit a free pattern of tutorial. But I encourage you to think of the designer’s viewpoint the next time you see an easy quilt you want to copy!


2 thoughts on “Quilt-y Copyrights

  1. The ethics and the legality of the problem are two different things. It is RIGHT to give the designer credit (and payment) when possible. But it is LEGAL (in my understanding) to use someone else’s pattern to create your own work. Another issue with quilts is that most blocks are hardly unique designs. Consider any number of ways you can chop a square into regular pieces, and it’s been done by someone else. The idea that the “Swoon” block is copyrighted is fairly ridiculous, since that is a very old pattern and goes by several other names traditionally.

    Even so, this issue is one of my reasons I design all my own work. In the old days, I used traditional blocks, sized, set, and bordered how I saw fit. These days I mostly do medallions and I design them from scratch — still using traditional blocks and ideas from my own experience.


  2. I agree with you, but I would go a step farther since I consider quilts to be art. It seems odd to me that a big winner at AQS shows has been a quilt that is a “picture” (a fabric reproduction) of someone else’s art. The original artist certainly was credited, and the piecing and quilting were excellent, but it IS a copy. I know of no other branch of art where that would be a winning entry.


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