Let’s talk.

Hi everyone,

Occasionally I have to write a post requesting a little bit a common sense from the quilting community. It’s always simple things, like customers using out-of-date email and postal addresses, but it can blow up and turn into a drama if you’re not careful.

This weekend I received a request from a reseller. This person wanted to purchase my PDF patterns, print them out herself, and resell them on Etsy (as part of kits) and at quilt shows. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I asked for some time to think about it. I thought that a licensing agreement might work. A licensing agreement doesn’t mean charging extra, it’s a mini-contract that protects both parties.

I’m not happy about anybody printing their own copies of my patterns and on-selling them. This scenario opens you up to all sorts of problems as you have no control over quantity or quality (I am not saying this person was dishonest and never accused her of such).

If the reseller prints my pattern templates at the wrong size, misses pages, or the print quality is poor, I’m the one who has to fix the resulting mess. It’s my business that ends up out-of-pocket.

In the end I decided to decline the offer, but before I could the lady in question purchased multiple PDF patterns from Etsy (to resell). This left me in a very difficult situation, one which I handled politely but firmly; clearly stating my reasons. I would have happily sold her wholesale patterns at the same cost (as the PDF’s) but printed by me.

I’ve copied and pasted a section of the reply I received below. I’ve removed the names of the patterns and the name of the major fabric company referred to because I don’t want anyone tracking her down and giving her a blast. This post is meant to highlight the difficulties pattern writers and designers face on a regular basis.

…If I was a dishonest person, I would have purchased your pattern once, never emailed you to ask your permission, and just went ahead and copied it over and over and over again to sell the kits. You live in Australia, I live in the United States. Odds are you never would have known.

…I am really sorry this could not have work out – if we use the 100 xx kits I put together using the xx pattern by BasicGrey as an example of how much money you could have made – that would be $507.00. That is a lot of money for time and effort for making your wonderful pattern.

Or the xx pattern by Deb Strain that I used to make 75 kits and I sold my last kit on Etsy this afternoon. That would be another $380.25 that you will not make.

And then the xx pattern by Urbanchics that I bought 50 patterns to make 50 kits, that would be another $253.50 that you will not make.

I am really quite sad for you!! Your pride has caused you to lose a lot of money and me to make some darling, darling kits!! And I don’t say that to be mean, I really don’t, it’s just a fact. You are obviously a VERY talented woman, I am just not sure why you would act this way.

Also, even if we had a licensing agreement, I am not sure how much more your “licensing agreement” could have gotten you except the $5.07 for every pattern I was to purchase from you. By my purchasing each of those pattern individually and paying you for every pattern I provided you with everything you asked for. How much more did you expect?

I sell a lot of kits (as a vendor) at the quilt shows and retreats I go to each month and in my online endeavors. This could have been a VERY lucrative proposition for you (and for me as well). There are 100s, 1000s of pattern makers out there that would love to have this kind of busness just thrown in their laps. I will find one of them!!

Please forgive me for taking up your time!! I do wish you all the best because I think your patterns are fabulous and I think it is genuis that you pattern makers are selling your patterns as PDFs. Saves you a lot of time and money. Write a pattern, make one PDF and sell 100s of patterns with no more effort. LOL, maybe I should make up my own pattern and sell it as a PDF and make kits with my own pattern. I think I just might do that!!

Very sincerely,

Designers and pattern writers don’t just “make one PDF and sell 100’s of patterns with no more effort” saving ‘time and money’.

To begin, we spend ridiculous amounts of time and money getting the fabric right, purchasing the materials we need, getting the proportions right, drawing templates, and making the project. We then spend more precious time writing coherent instructions. Then we double check, get someone else to double check, and then triple check until we’re sure everything is okay and publishable.

I pay for paper, printing, and ink. Pens, paper, pencils, erasers. All these things are vital to writing PDF patterns. I pay for the electricity to run my computer, my printer, my scanner, my sewing machine, and my iron.

I pay Etsy a listing fee plus a percentage of the sale price. The credit card companies charge a fee, and Paypal charges fees on top of that. I pay for a website to promote my products via my blog, and for other media platforms. I pay advertising fees. I pay insurance. Then I pay tax. If I’m really lucky I’m left with a small profit.

Patterns don’t sell themselves, you have to promote yourself seven days a week, and I have to sell 100 full priced PDF patterns just to break even on costs.

And now I have to defend my right to sell my own patterns in a manner which benefits my business. I sell independently (meaning I don’t use a distribution company). I’m happy to accommodate wholesale customers and support the reselling of my patterns, but this means I print the patterns and control the quality. End of story.

On a much happier note, and no pun intended, Happy Quilts has been the #1 book in the quilts/quilting category and #1 in the stuffed animals category on Amazon all day today. Thank you, I’m blessed. toni xx



11 thoughts on “Let’s talk.

  1. Oh wow.. I don’t blame you at all. Didn’t like how she or he talked to you. If you wanted to sell your own patterns to a large firm and then make the money from then I understand. You are very talented lady… You should think about going with a larger company than Etsy to sell your patterns, get the cost of printing and sending them off of you.
    Good Luck!

  2. I think you handled it really well. They are after all YOUR designs and patterns but I do have a question Toni? Am I able to sell Quilts I have made from a pattern I have purchased from you ???

  3. Hi Toni – fancy me turning up on your blog, instead of my usual fb reading of your posts!
    Ok, so I’m really so pleased about your book sales – it’s a great book & I’m sure the many creations made from it will be well-loved by lots of little (& not so little) people.
    AS for the patterns issue, I really don’t know where to start… it was at least very good that she contacted you to ask the question, but her response clearly demonstrates that she genuinely has NO IDEA of just the amount of work that is needed to produce even one design, let alone an Etsy shop & book full of them! And run a small business to boot.
    It reads like she thinks she’d be doing you a favour if you said yes to her proposal & now she doesn’t like your response.
    I applaud the way you’ve handled this Toni…I just hope that she doesn’t go ahead & do her ‘thing’ regardless, thus disrespecting your wishes & business.
    You have lots of support from me & clearly from your many fans xx

  4. I don’t blame you at all. I think I would do the same. When things don’t work out for the buyer of the pattern/kit they come right back to you, your name is on it.
    It’s really sad people have to be like that as she could have just said, ok I understand thanks for your time and consideration.
    I have purchased 6 of your books plus I won one, they are great gifts for my quilty friends!

  5. Congratulations on your book doing so well. I knew it would. It is amazing. My friend has made a number of quilts from it and I have other friends who are making projects from your book too. Everyone I have shown it to loves it. Interestingly I have been asked by some if they can borrow my copy to photocopy the patterns. I have said no but also explained why they need to buy their own copy rather than use mine. On the whole they have understood what has gone into the book when I have explained and agreed that they should be buying their own.

  6. As a designer, I would have thought that you have the right to sell your product as you see fit. She put a proposal to you, which was declined. End of story. No need to respond, other than to say thank you for your time.

  7. People just don’t understand what goes into designing a quilt and then writing the pattern. It is your name on the line and you need to protect it.

  8. SIGH! Yes … We as designers run into a lot of ignorance about exactly what is involved in producing an original design pattern. So many people respect what we do even if they don’t fully understand, but it’s the ones who have the attitude that they’re “doing us a favour” by buying our patterns that give us headaches. Would be VERY interested to hear how she goes designing her own patterns. :0) Well done on Happy Quilts progress. Bear Hugs! KRIS xx

  9. Oh Toni.
    Why do people feel they have to question Tobin your own business.

    Good on you for standing your ground.

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