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Monday 2 October 2023

To edit or not to edit a pattern…

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a new pattern. Regardless of whether it is based on something (you have) created before or not, it takes a lot of designing, testing, editing, testing, finetuning, and testing again (and again, and again). This is why pattern designers generally do not allow changes to their patterns to be made, and rightfully so. Over the years I have come to appreciate all the work, time and money that goes into creating, selling and protecting things you’ve made. It is something that many people who have no experience with this, do not or cannot fully understand and appreciate.

But I used to be one of those people. I started making small changes to one of the more successful patterns in my repertoire. I had dutifully purchased the pattern (DO NOT share patterns, please always buy a pattern yourself!) and liked it, but it was designed as a quilting pattern with many extra layers and steps I did not need or even want. I liked the shape of the animal, but did not want the extra quilted lines and all that.

After the first couple of iterations of that particular pattern, I started making it more to my personal liking. A few changes here and there, and the long journey of creating the perfect mane and tail: yes it’s the horse pattern I’m talking about. Created by the wonderful Kathy Barbro from Rumpled Quilt Skins. (Check out her shop, she has got some really fun patterns! I made the cow for my son, it was great fun.)

Back then, I figured it would be OK to do this. After all, it was just little me, creating a few stuffed animals. I wasn’t into quilting and there was nothing in the text warning me not to make changes. Actually, there wasn’t even something written in there about it being OK (or not) to sell products made from that pattern. Or even a requirement to acknowledge the pattern creator when I sell. And of course, if it’s not mentioned or covered, it means that it’s OK to do it, right? Right?!

Well, at some point I finally put on my big girl pants and approached Kathy to ask if I could get her permission to make changes to her pattern. It felt like quite a big risk – what if she said no? This was without a doubt my bestselling product and if she said no, I’d have to stop making my horses, unicorns and alicorns. I had tried to create my own pattern before and it is really exhausting and very time consuming – I haven’t finished it still. But I felt it was the right thing to do, so I asked. And yes, I was fully prepared to stop using that pattern if she’d said no. It would have been incredibly tough, but I would have done it.

However, she’s a very nice person and she not only liked my horses, she was also fine with my changes. I feel incredibly lucky that it went like this and I’m grateful. Don’t be like me, however. Don’t make any unauthorized edits to a pattern somebody else made. If you want to be creative, put in all the work yourself and create your own pattern (and then see how you feel about somebody else making a profit off of what is basically 90% your work). Creators deserve more appreciation for what they do, period.