Sunday, October 9, 2011

The truth about free patterns

Have you heard about Craftsy?
It's basically a show-n-tell site for designers who create patterns and create from patterns.
I was invited to drop a few of my creations onto the site by one of the site admins and I've made some new bead buddies and loyal customers through the experience.
I highly recommend checking it out if you're looking for great patterns for a handmade Christmas (oh, and they don't just do jewelry...).

Well, recently on the Craftsy blog, Stefanie addressed the issue of free patterns and why not all patterns can be free. I really think she hit the nail on the head when she mentioned all the different reasons why designers can't just keep cranking out free patterns.
(Definitely a must-read)

I remember having the same discussion about a year ago when I found out someone was e-mailing one of my projects out willy-nilly to whomever wanted it.  
Their argument was that art should be common knowledge and that you should be willing to share what you know with everyone and not expect compensation.
This kind of thinking is totally foreign to me, I was taught that nothing came from nothing and that hard work and good work had its rewards.

It really is a disservice to a designer who works so hard to create what he or she creates.
When I create a pattern I take the following things into account:

- the hours it takes to edit the designs and illustrations and write the copy (some of my designs can take up to 20 hours for just illustration editing alone!)
- the cost of the materials (sometimes for two or three versions of the designs)
- the hours I spend making two or three prototypes (yes, designing is trial and error)
-the time it takes to photograph and edit photographs
-the cost of listing each design on Etsy (and the small chunk Etsy takes out for the sale)

These are just a few of the considerations, not to mention sending out patterns and addressing questions from my customers.

I've never really taken the time to sit down and explain why my tutorials are priced what they are and I've often thought myself, why would someone purchase a tutorial from me if they can buy a magazine from interweave for $6 and get a whole gaggle of tutorials?

In the end, I think it comes down to a few things, my customers like my style and want to wear my creations, they like the idea of having the designer "on call" if there are any problems, and they trust that my designs are well-written and illustrated and easy to follow and reliable and that when they're finished they'll have a piece that looks just like mine (albeit with a few color variations).

So, thank you to those of you who have purchased my designs to make and create and who have been kind enough to honor me and the time and effort that goes into each design.
In return, I'd like to give you something.

I've thought long and hard about this and I'm making some changes to the permissions for my patterns.

I still request that you don't make versions of my designs to sell online.

However, if you're doing an outdoor or indoor handmade market this year and would like to offer a few versions of my designs to sell, I don't have a problem with this.
I only ask that you label your pieces:

Created by: (your name)
Designed by: Marcie Abney

And one more thing, I encourage you to try to create your own designs. Pick a stitch that you love and play around with it to see what you come up with (and be sure to label those pieces Created and Designed by: Me!)

Enjoy your Christmas designing and be sure to check out Craftsy in the meantime for some great gift projects.
Thanks again for your support! 
Enjoy your weekend!  


  1. A great post Marcie, and you are so right of course, there is so much work that goes on when creating patterns that they should be priced accordingly.
    Magazine tutorials and patterns are ok, and were ok when i was starting out, actually i have to say i've very rarely created something from a magazine, i'm normally inspired by the colour or shape more than any thing, but now i've found that i have progressed beyond them, and i don't really find them a challenge, and that's why i think it's great when a designer sells their patterns or tutorials because i always think they are a bit more challenging, and as you say, in the style of the designer whose work you adore. There will always be some whom will take advantage of this, but i like to think that the majority have the best intentions x

  2. So, so, so true Marcie and very well said. I could not agree more and I think that with the open sharing lots of folks don't realize that they're doing something wrong. Of course, there are also the ones who DO know they're doing something wrong.

    Nice post!

  3. What a great post! I's possible that some people don't know how much work and time go into creating a tutorial. But a person who create does know the time involved!
    I personally don't purchase tutorials online, but I do subscribe to magazines, specifically to learn new techniques, but I like to make my work my own. I would like to think that most people like to put their own spin on their work.

  4. Awesome advice, Marcie! You've made so many good points here. It's important to consider why people buy or use different patterns for different reasons.

  5. I really like what you had to say, and agree. I also think it is very generous to allow others to sell items created from your designs. So, thank you very much!