Thursday, June 11, 2015

What do you do when someone wants to copy your design?

Someone saw my “Midwinter Visitor” quilt on Ellen Lindner’s Pinterest page and sent her the following note:

I came across your website via Pinterest. I am
enthralled with a quilt called Midwinter Visitor.  I was
wondering if you have her email address or would forward this to her. I would like to hook a rug out of wool based on her picture.
It is astounding and I think it would be a wonderful challenge to hook this.

Ellen is the teacher I had when I made this original quilt.

My husband doesn’t understand what the big deal is and I should just let her copy it.

Have you run into this issue? What did you do? What do you suggest that I do?

This reminds me of a story about my 64 ford galaxy. I had this car in 1978 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Someone came to the door of the house I was renting and asked to buy the hubcaps from the car. I said no and the next day they were gone—stolen.  I hadn’t even gotten their name…how dumb. How dumb to not see it coming? Well actually I thought about taking the hubcaps off, but then I figured they would slit my tires. I guess at that point I had already learned to mistrust people. I called the police, but they could do nothing. Does make you wonder how many people out there already stole the design without asking for permission.
Thanks for reading.


  1. That is tough. I believe all your creative work is covered by copyright law.....but how do you enforce it? Are you going to take someone to court; spend your time and money to get a ruling? From what I have heard, many people do not ask; they just copy whatever they find. You could offer to sell her a copy that she could use as a pattern. You would not get the value you deserve for an original piece of art.

    Your best advice would come from someone like your teachers. They will have had experience.

    I hope the septic system is being installed. When do you expect to move out?
    NancyB in AZ

  2. The septic work won't start until the week after next.Looks like early July now. Not sure I even have a pattern for the piece. The trees in the background were improvised. Not sure if I even saved the pattern for the cardinal.

  3. I'm sure you feel honored someone would want to replicate your work. To be honest I thought of using your tree pieces as a guide to make a quilt for the guild challenge. It didn't take me too long to realize there was no way anything I made would look half as good as your original. Then I also decided I wanted to finish quilts rather than start new ones. So, no I didn't steal your idea. Good luck trying to decide what to do.

  4. Tough call. Do you have time to create a pattern and give her a price for it? OR are you prepared to risk her making a hooked piece out of it and giving you credit for the design (if she follows through, it's great exposure)?

    NOTE: Watermark the photo ASAP!!

  5. I would take it as a compliment and ask her to send you a photo of the finished rug (assuming she ever gets it finished). How many times have we heard quilters talk about asking permission from a photographer or painter to reproduce their work as a quilt? This is no different. I think she is doing you a courtesy and you should do the same to her in return. You are in no way hurt if she tries to do a rug from your design -- she could do it even if she didn't ask you for permission -- so why not graciously say yes?


    Hi Chris,
    I found this one on YouTube. Hopefully the link works.
    If it was made later than your quilt I hope you will be proud of the inspiration you bring to all the other quilters.
    Hope everything is okay. It was nice seeing more of your PS work. Keep them coming.

  7. I often have requests for patterns of my art quilts. I explain that they are original designs and there are no patterns. I then encourage the person inquiring to use my quilt as an inspiration and to design their own. Usually I never hear anything further, but occasionally someone does create a quilt inspired by one of mine, with a reference back to me as their design source. I always try to leave a comment on their blog, with a link back to my original quilt.


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