When Rachel of Wren Collective asked me if I’d test a collaborative quilt pattern that she and Suzy Quilts designed, I said yes before I’d even read the entire message! What an exciting project and what fun it was to test the pattern before it was released to the rest of the quilting community. Now I think most quilters know that agreeing to test a quilt is always the easy part…fabric selection is usually another story. But this time, that was a simple choice too. Figo Fabrics had just released their Christmas line, Wintertide, and I am head over heels IN LOVE with it! It is so charming and cute, and retro and basically everything you want in Christmas fabric. I had already snatched up a bundle from Fabric Bubb and was wondering what I would make with it when Rachel reached out to me, so clearly it was meant to be!
This was my first time using Figo Fabrics and I’m so glad I discovered their fabric! It’s so ridiculously soft and retains its color perfectly. Sewing with it was such a dream and it quilted up beautifully. I’ve loved every quilt I’ve made but this one definitely holds a special place in my heart.
Tail Feather is the perfect fit for Wintertide because the large quilt pieces mean all of the gorgeous prints are highlighted beautifully. Each print from this collection is delightful but my favorite…well, I used it for the backing so I could use as much of it as possible! As usual, I did some straight line quilting in the form of a 1″ grid. I didn’t want to obscure the beautiful prints and I think the grid highlights the pattern perfectly.
After the photo shoot, I popped the quilt directly in the wash to get it all nice and crinkled and ready for using. This is actually the first holiday quilt I’ve ever made and I’m not sure what the policies are, but I’m pretty sure this quilt is going to be used outside of December!
Copying ideas is something that gets a lot of attention in creative industries like quilting. And rightly so–intentionally stealing ideas for profit is the same thing as stealing physical property. The problem is, intellectual property is harder to prove as being stolen, and more difficult to defend from thieves, particularly online. Public sharing platforms make our work even more visible, which is a double-edged sword. Most of us are searching for exposure and customers, but the more well-known you are, the more likely you are to be copied.
My experience with the quilting community has mostly been through Instagram. This magical place which allows quilters to connect with each other has been a boon for professionals and newbies alike. There is so much information to be had, things to learn, and inspiration. Oh, the inspiration! It seems every day I’m discovering more talented people and being awed by their work. I’ve connected with other quilters and made friends. I’ve been cheered on and advised and comforted. As my profile has slowly (ever so slowly) gained momentum, I’ve started to experience glimmers of the copying I know other quilters dread.
Before I started writing quilt patterns, I occasionally designed my own quilts and shared them on Instagram. There were plenty of times where people would chat with each other in the comments of my post, talking about whether or not they could replicate the quilt I was sharing. I always tell myself people don’t mean any harm by this, but it still feels unsettling. At the very least, discuss your plans in private! When this first started happening, I usually just ignored it, but these days I will often delete the comments. I’ve also received messages from people asking me how to make quilts that I’ve shared. While I know people are just excited by a quilt they’ve seen, this is also an unpleasant request since I feel like I have to directly tell someone not to copy me. No fun for a non-confrontational person like me!
I’ve never seen any evidence of my quilts actually being replicated without credit, but who knows. Now, does it really matter if there’s a duplicate of my mountain quilt out there in the world? Not really. I made it for my son and I’m very proud of it! It’s the first quilt I ever quilted myself, and it was the push I needed to start quilting more seriously. Someone copying it doesn’t lessen my achievement, but it does sting a bit. After all, they could have given my idea credit and gotten my name out to new people who might not know about me. What is more concerning is when people sell a quilt or pattern based on someone else’s idea. If someone makes a quilt just like my mountain quilt for themselves, that’s one thing. But if they make it and sell it, well, that’s money I could have earned.
Whether it’s intentional or not, copying can be a problem among quilters, and I have a few suggestions which I’ve personally started implementing to do my best due diligence when I have new ideas!
Do Your Research
Instagram hashtags are an amazing thing, so put them to work for you! Spend some time looking up different hashtags to see if there are quilts or patterns similar to your idea. Pay special attention to hashtags specific to your idea, like #trianglequilt or #hrtquilt in the case of my Triangulation quilt. If you’re friendly with any quilters on Instagram, you can run your idea past them to see if they’ve seen anything similar already. Checking around to make sure your idea isn’t an exact replica of someone else’s idea will save you some heartache–better to check first than spend lots of time creating an idea only to find out someone else did it already!
Credit, Credit, Credit!
Let’s say you’re blown away by someone’s work and want to make something similar. Awesome! This is when you give them credit like crazy so people know where the original idea came from. If you make it clear that you were inspired by someone else, you’re being upfront and giving people an opportunity to discover the quilter who had the original idea. There are lots of prolific quilters who have very specific styles and there’s no shame in being inspired by them. But it’s crucial to give them credit! And even more than that, you need to….
Make It Your Own
Related to giving credit is another important concept–making an idea your own. I don’t mean changing it just enough to get away with it. I mean really challenging yourself to think about what you like about the quilt you saw, and how you’ll put your own spin on it. Copying something exactly is taking the easy way out. To grow in your craft, you have to take risks and be willing to mess up. It’s fun to find your own style and way of doing things, and that can only happen by trying…not by copying. And selling items that are very similar to someone else’s really isn’t cool at all. Quilters can do better than that!
I think it’s worth reiterating that most people in the quilting community are amazing people, and the majority are trying to do their best work and not steal anyone’s work. Still, mistakes happen (and there’s also likely a finite number of quilt ideas out there!) so your first step should be to reach out to the other person if you ever have a concern or feel that someone is copying you. Quilters tend to be kind, generous people and our industry isn’t exactly cutthroat, so I imagine most of the time people would simply be embarrassed (and hopefully apologetic) to have their mistake pointed out to them. I know it isn’t always that simple though, and I think this is a continuing conversation we’ll be having in the quilting community. I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this topic!