I design quilt patterns and then write the instructions and post them on my BOMquilts.com website for free. It seems to me that I have been doing this for at least 10 years but would have to go through way too many files to find an exact date so will just leave 10 years as my best guess. MOST of the time, I work with quilt shops, designers, etc. to bring you well-written pattern instructions that have been tested. This works well for all involved, at least based on the fabric and thread sales that come from one (or more) of my quilt patterns.
Quite some time ago, I had a respected shop owner tell me that because I was offering free patterns, I was basically putting a lot of quilt designers out of business. I certainly have no desire to put anyone out of business but it really chapped my khakis that she would say that to me. While I understand her point, what I don’t understand is how in the world could little ole’ me put anyone out of business? Each quilt designer has their own special niche, as I do. They have their current customers as well as a lot of ways to increase their customer base – both virtually and in person. Every designer wants to be seen and heard and make sales. The bottom line for this unwarranted advice was that the dollar is king.
Whether I choose to design quilts and give free patterns to the masses is my decision. I am not taking money out of a quilt designer’s pockets – I am merely sharing the wealth, as the shops I work with are making sales on the kits for the patterns I design. I am not making money, but again, that is MY decision.
What brought me to this revelation was that I saw a friend who worked in a quilt shop take pattern books and/or current quilt magazines home and copy patterns from them – as did the owner and her coworkers. She had quite a few binders full of patterns she wanted to make, and it only cost her the copier fees, binder costs and page protector costs. As well as a few minutes or hours a week. What she was doing was probably not illegal, but it is more in the grey area of copyright laws.
Then, another quilt friend offered to give me her patterns that she had purchased, once she’d made quilts from them. Again, this probably violated copyright laws but it’s done ALL. THE. TIME. right under the unsuspecting designer’s nose.
And what about those of us who go to Quilt Market and get free magazines, patterns and/or perks from the vendors? We have not PURCHASED anything, but they are giving it away for free. Does that mean we get free reign on what we do with them after they are gifted to us?
Then there is a virtual quilt shop owner who, in the early days of her business start-up, made her husband spend days and days on policing the Internet to make sure none of her shop’s images were used elsewhere. She had very distinct images, as well as a logo on each of her images – and her husband had to send not-nice letters to anyone who was using her unauthorized images. The thing about this that I still don’t understand is that they were NOT her images, they came from the fabric manufacturers – she just gussied them up so they APPEARED to be her images. And with the evolution of Pinterest, now many quilt shops, bloggers and designers want folks to pin their images to their Pinterest pages. (btw: I do not allow my images to be used elsewhere from this blog and I do not have a Pinterest account).
At least with me giving the patterns away for free, I know what I’m getting into. The vendors I work with know how my website works. Everyone is happy because sales are made with each design I make and offer to my viewing audience.
Think about a quilt designer who ONLY sells her patterns to magazines – and they print them so a quilter who gets those magazines can get basically a free pattern. She may make $300 – $500 with just one design in a magazine. She’s the smart designer, the savvy businesswoman. She is not relying on individual sales but gets her name out in the professional and personal quilt world because of her presence in a magazine. She technically is not giving her patterns away but do you realize how many individual patterns she would have to sell to make up for that lump sum magazine payment?
To be judged by those who do not know me personally is sad. To be judged by my designer peers is sad. But to not take advantage of this wealth of quilted knowledge that I possess? That’s someone who is trying to clip my wings based on their own greed. That will not do. Not now, not ever – not for me!