On Pentecost Sunday my friend’s baby boy was being baptized. I couldn’t figure out what to make him, and then I found these adorable dolls on Etsy . Saint Joseph was Jesus’s foster father and is the patron saint for workers. He was also a carpenter, hence the axe. I sewed most of the doll by hand, which took a long time, then I figured out I could use the blanket stitch on my sewing machine, which was a lot quicker and still gives a hand sewn look. Good thing, because my hand stitches are really awful!
I’d like to say I added my own spin on the design, but no, I pretty much copied the thing down to the little axe on the side. So I won’t be sharing a tutorial , since I copied it. Even if I did figure out how to make it on my own.
I recently brought up a thread in one of my sewing blogger Facebook groups asking how they felt about the idea of doing knock offs of certain popular indie patterns out there. In my line of thinking, I was wondering why I should spend maybe twelve or fifteen dollars on a pattern I would have to download and print out (ugh) , when I could just hack and existing pattern to get the same look. There were a few pattern designers in the group and they felt they would be annoyed if this happened to them.
So why is it not OK to copy from say, an Etsy seller or an indie pattern designer, yet you see DIY hacks from things sold at Anthropologie, J Crew, and there is (or was ) even an official IKEA hack site ? Is it OK to take ideas from the big corporations but not the little guy? Or is it OK to take ideas from everyone? Or not OK? As creative people, we are always influenced by others, either directly, or subconsciously without even realizing it. I mean, they all put their ideas out there on the internet to settle into our subconscious brains, right?
Would I be shunned if I saw an Indie pattern design I liked and just decided to make my own knock off version of the design, because I know how to and because I also hate dealing with PDF patterns?
Here is my philosophy on copying.
There is nothing wrong with copying if it’s for my own personal use or a gift, but the minute I try to financially gain off lifting someone else’s design, that’s wrong. If I set up an Etsy shop trying to sell these St. Joseph dolls, that would be pretty tacky. But if I came up with an idea and then later found out there was something similar on the market, I would go ahead and proceed with my idea. There will always be similar things in the marketplace, and I would know I didn’t directly take someone else’s idea.
What about tutorials? Popular tutorials increase page views and bring in ad dollar revenue. Is it ethically wrong to show how to draft a pattern that is seriously similar to something else that is already out there? There’s no doubt that a lot of pattern designs out there are very basic and not that unique. It seems many of the designs are similar to things one learns in first year pattern design courses. There are so many pattern designers out there now, that it would almost be impossible not to be accused of copying, even if you weren’t.
Big businesses copy all the time. Look at Forever 21 and H&M. It isn’t even illegal to copy clothing designs here in the US.
How do you personally feel about copying?