I recently changed the copyright information on my patterns from “...for the exclusive use of private customers..." to “This Pattern may not be reproduced, copied or sold. You may use this pattern to create garments for personal use and for those for which you are paid.”
Lets get the obvious out of the way: don’t make copies of the pattern. Not to use or sell or give away. Just don’t make copies of it. Easy peasy.
Now lets clarify who “you” are in this scenario. You are an individual who has purchased a pattern. You are not Target. Target doesn’t need to buy my pattern to rip off my design. Again, another story for another day.
So when it comes to “You”, lovely person, sewing garments for yourself and sewing a dress for your neighbor for a fair price, go right ahead. Now this is a heavily debated topic, weather or not there is even a right to copyright a pattern. I believe that if you make it you should be able to protect it, no argument needed and I’m not here to start one (or even participate in one so don’t bother). I am deciding that for me, personally, it is more important to support home sewists than it is to try to sell a few more patterns.
What I do want is for people to be able to earn a living from sewing and sometimes that means using patterns to do so.
I also want people to hire local sewists to make clothes for them and sometimes that means using patterns too.
In fact, using patterns can be a very cost effective and productive practice for both the sewist and the client.
If we ever want people to change the way they consume fashion we are going to provide them with accessible alternatives. Right now, most people only turn to a local tailor for big-ticket items like altering a wedding dress. But what if people knew that a local sewist can help make their clothes fit better, can make them a custom fit pair of jeans that they never want to take off or can make them a great fitting garment for any day of the week?
We know making and wearing handmade clothes is wonderful, but what if other people figure out that they love the experience of working with a skilled craftsperson to make them one of a kind garments? It’s already starting to happen and it’s not going to stop. The intersection of consumers and home sewing is going to be big and disruptive.
Sewing from ones home on ones own schedule is a great way to earn a living and I believe it will become even more popular over the next few years as the slow fashion movement grows and eventually collides headfirst with the home sewing movement.
Not all sewists are pattern makers and they don’t need to be. If you need to make the pattern and the garment it’s going to be an expensive project and may not be an option for many. But if you can use a pattern that you trust you can make more garments for more clients and make custom made garments an affordable option for more people. Win win.
Now what if you want to make 10 dresses from my pattern and sell them at a craft show? Sell them on Etsy? Go ahead. I know how hard it is to earn a living making and selling fashion and I believe there can be room for all of us.
Just do me this one favor, please don’t under value your time and charge a price that is fair to your skills and fair to the needs of your client. Know that by fair and affordable I do not mean cheap.
Author, Jenifer Sult, not a professional writer but a professional sewer of things.