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Patterns: Do-It-Yourself or Commercial?

I'm curious. Do you like commercial patterns so that you don't have to worry about the design and can just pour yourself into the sewing?
Or would you rather draft your own patterns because it's part of your creative process?
Or are you one of the adventurous souls who just jumps in without a hard-and-fast pattern ready, just letting it develop as you go along?

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Comment by Schatze on June 9, 2009 at 1:38pm
Apology #2. Yes, my ditziness has returned. I'd originally thought about starting the discussion on the group's page, but decided instead that posting it on the main blog might attract more folks to the discussion. That decision was so last-minute that my brain didn't keep it on file, so I was incorrectly directing everyone to the wrong place.
But, hey, if a couple more folks discovered the "Continuing Education" group's page, that's great, too!
Again, sorry. Once you get past 50, your brain cells get a little slow on the uptake.
Comment by Barb D in Maine on June 9, 2009 at 6:19am
As the saying goes "there's nothing new under the sun" - I too have noticed that many of the quilts in books and magazines use traditional blocks that have been around for centuries! The use of a new fabric line, the block setting, bits and pieces added here and there make it "NEW". I tend to tweak many of the designs to suit me. I have quilt design software (EQ6) that I like to play with, taking blocks from the block library and changing them up a bit - I have drafted quite a few "mini's" from larger quilts - takes all the guess work out of fabric calculations and cutting instructions.

As to the question of "giving credit where credit is due" I always try to do that! I may say that my quilt is based "loosly" on so and so's design, and if I use a commercial pattern, I do give credit. I created a patten many years ago for a quilt bag, largely out of neccessity. I have never pattened it and I've seen several variations over the years. I don't think anyone "copied" me, I just think that many quilters had the same thought - they needed a really big bag to tote their stuff to classes and guild meetings.

I can usually look at a pattern for a tote or handbag and create one of my own - I don't make up a pattern, per se, I just go for it! On the other hand, I have purchased many bag and tote patterns, then I make changes here and there to suit me!!

I do buy commercial patterns for clothing - jackets, vests, shirts, pants, etc. I'm not that good!!

This has been an interesting discussion and I'm happy to particitate!

Note to Schatze - this discussion is not showing up on "Continuing Education"
Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on June 8, 2009 at 6:01pm
Schatze, I was interested in what you said about designers claiming a copyright on new patterns made up of old blocks. I've noticed this, too. In fact I was at a quilt shop and they had a quilt on display with one of their "original" patterns attached. When I first saw it I noticed it was a standard Jacob's Ladder block. (I was kind of into them at the time.) They were using turkey red fabrics and had named their "original" pattern something to that effect. I innocently made the comment that it was a really neat way to use the Jacob's Ladder block. The room went silent. The owner of the quilt shop (and probably the designer) snorted and then said, "It's always interesting what people think they see." I was pretty taken aback. I studied the quilt blocks a bit more to see if I was mistaken, then went home and looked it up. It was the old standard JL block! I don't know if she truly didn't know or if she didn't want anyone else to think they could make the quilt without her pattern or what.

I've also noticed in my quilt magazines that many times the patterns are old blocks in new colorways or paired with other traditional blocks to create a new look. Interesting.
Comment by Carol Wadkins on June 8, 2009 at 4:40pm
I guess I must be the adventurous type, somewhat! I start by going through the mags and books to get my ideas and do follow some of them, but on the other hand I like to make it up to my liking!
Comment by Schatze on June 8, 2009 at 2:31pm
Joana has asked another interesting question related to our discussion: when a quiltmaker shows a quilt she's made from a published pattern, should she or he credit the designer or source of the pattern?
I'd be interested in your thoughts, too!
Comment by Joana Simmers/GA on June 8, 2009 at 11:39am
What a good question! I usually start out with a pattern, but never with the same colors or fabrics because I work from my stash. I've always tried to pinch pennies without sacrificing the quality of the fabric I use. I bought a lot of books when early on, but now i usually have the pattern/quilt block already. Sometimes, now, i'll buy a book to get ideas from the designer's total package--the unique look, colors, even how rooms are decorated (I love Thimbleberries for example). When i start making a quilt, though, borders change, color values are different, and usually i make a different size. One of the things i love most about quilting, unlike counted cross-stitch which i did before, is that my quilts are one of a kind and that i've made an original, to one degree or another. Question--should people acknowledge the designer/source when they show a quilt? I often recognize patterns i've seen, especially in magazines, without any indication of where the design came from.
Comment by Connecting Threads on June 8, 2009 at 10:40am
Looks like I'm in good company. I tend towards both. If I want something fast and no thinking, I use a pattern. Occasionally I'll design something from scratch, but most of the time I use an existing pattern and modify it as I go, to make it my own.
Comment by Carolyn Propst/Central Florida on June 8, 2009 at 7:13am
I have tried designing and also changing patterns a little to suit me. I do best with the "tweaking". I have a hard time visualizing. Usually I like a pattern because of the colors shown and have a hard time doing it in different colors without the help of my buddies at the quilt shop. Not being able to visualize is a problem for me. Carolyn
Comment by Schatze on June 8, 2009 at 6:47am
A few of you have asked why I posed this question, so I wanted to let you in on what's been rattling around in my mind. Since I became interested in quilting, I've poured over quilting magazines, books, websites, and patterns, soaking up whatever I could learn about the craft.
I also bought a number of commercial patterns and books so that I'd have a guide to working with a particular pattern or technique.
Then my buying habits began to change. If I could identify a block that I knew was a common one, I usually didn't buy the pattern.
Over time, I've noticed a large number of patterns put out by a variety of designers that are simply reworkings of standard blocks. The person was credited as the "designer" and claims copyright to the design, even though there's not much new in what she's done. I've seen the practice especially with designers who've just produced a new collection of fabric.
From a bit of work I did as a paralegal, I remembered that it's possible to claim copyright on an item if there are a certain number or type of changes made to another's design. So it's made me wonder if we end up paying prime prices for patterns that are little more than a slight reworking of an old standard.
In some cases, I still buy a commercial pattern, usually because it's so different from those I've been seeing. Or, like some of you, I want something with the whole thing worked out for me so I can just sit and sew and get it done.
The other reason is that, as I've learned more about quilting, I've seen that many $8 and $9 patterns are really just standard blocks that are set a little differently or made in a new colorway or fabric collection.
Hey, I'm wholeheartedly willing to pay a designer for their originality, but not for them to just rearrange what's already been out there for years.
Let me admit that, having worked for lawyers for 25+ years, I've become somewhat cynical. But I'm sure you couldn't tell, right? LOL!
So I asked the question to get your take on it. I enjoy the conversations a lot!
Comment by MES on June 8, 2009 at 6:45am
I look at a pattern the same way I look at a food recipe - as a set of suggestions for obtaining a particular result. So start with a pattern, and with the stuff you have in your stash (cupboard), and see where it all takes you. You don't have to follow every part of the suggestion for a "tasty" product, and sometimes the suggestion just gets you started going in a new direction because it adds "spice" to what you've already been thinking of doing.

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