Can I Sell a Project I Make Using Someone Else’s Pattern?

pinit fg en rect gray 20 Can I Sell a Project I Make Using Someone Elses Pattern?

You’ve fallen in love with a pattern and everyone’s telling you that you “should make those and sell them — you’d make a lot of money.” But there’s some question in your mind about that — the pattern says “for personal use only” or maybe “for pocket money”. Maria explains what these terms mean.

Ask Maria Can I Sell a Project I Make Using Someone Elses Pattern?You see a great project you’d like to make to sell for an upcoming craft show in a book or magazine and wonder if you are allowed to make it to sell. I’ve been warning you about copyrights and copyright infringement so you feel a little nervous about making the design to sell. Good! You are now thinking like a professional. And the professional thing to do is research whether or not you can use that design for more than just your personal use.

Personal use is implied for any project you buy or get for free (in a book, a magazine, a sewing pattern, or online). It means you can make one for yourself and, if you like, make one to give to your sister or friend. No money is exchanging hands. You are not going to profit from making the design. The deal changer is when you decide to sell the design in any form. You might want to make a few copies of the project instructions and use it to teach a class. You might make 12 of the item and place them on e-bay or etsy. You might kit all the materials for the project and sell them to others as a way to earn income.

Many publishers understand the fact that you might like to earn a little money from your creativity. It might be to support your crafting habit. It may be to save for a vacation. It might be to earn a living part or full time. Some publishers like Design Originals include a brief note in every book published saying that the designs within the book can be made for pocket money. What exactly does pocket money mean? It basically means that you will only create the projects by your own hand (not mass produced on machinery or by hiring 12 employees) and that you will limit the production. Publishers vary on how many of a specific design can be made, from allowing only 2 or 3 to allowing 100 to be made within a year’s time.

If you find the project in a book and do not see either a pocket money notice or a notice that no item can be made for sale (personal use), then you need to contact that publisher or designer for permission. Be specific. Let the publisher know how the items will be made, how many you intend to make, and where the items will be sold. Most publishers and designers just don’t want you to produce thousands of their designs by means of using a team of employees or machinery. If you reach this point, you are a manufacturer and the owner of the design should be compensated for their contribution.
By: Maria Nerius, Resident Craft Expert for FaveCrafts.com

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Comments

  1. paulette says:

    Is it still considered a copyright infringement if you use a published pattern and make changes to it?

    For example, if a pattern calls for a single piece of green cotton fabric for say a flower-shaped placemat and I chose to use the pattern’s basic flower shape, but choose to substitute the plain fabric with patchwork squares instead, is that considered copyright infringement if I were to make 50 sets of placemats to sell at a community craft show?

    • Hi,

      Great question! It has to be a big enough change. Altering the patterns color, size, or shape is not a big enough change because you are still using the basic design. If you were to use part of a pattern in an entirely different project, that’s different but you would still want to make sure that pattern doesn’t have any specific copyrights on it. For example, if you found a pattern for a unique looking fabric flower and used that flower in a dress you made to sell at craft shows, you would need to check the specific copyrights on the flower pattern to protect yourself from any legal action.

      Copyrights can be a very difficult thing to get a grasp on. Your safest best is to always check with the designer or company. Many are more than okay with you using their patterns to make pocket money.

      I hope that helped!
      Maggie

  2. Thank you for this great article! I found you after a great deal of internet search on a question I have. Do you have any thoughts on online DIY-type articles? For example, I followed a DIY, loved the end result, and made a few more with new colors/alterations to size, etc. Now I’m wondering if it would be okay to include some of these in my Etsy shop. There is no note about personal use/pocket money. Do you think I should just follow the same idea and contact the designer? Thank you for your advice!

    • Great question! Yes, I would suggest contacting the designer. I’ve found that more often than not they are more than happy to have you reproduce the design to sell, but you know never know unless you ask. Like they say, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

      • L.anne escombe says:

        Hi. I went on a course to learn how to make a bag and would like to make and sell them. There is no copyright so would this be ok. Leanne

  3. Deborah says:

    I am taking jeans, shirts,etc… and taking them apart and making different things out of them. I am not trying to sell them as my original work. I put on my card redsigned or embellished.
    Some of my items sell because they have a name brand on them. I bought them, wore them, and now I recycle them.
    Is this still considered using copyright infringement. I have only made pocket change as the results but I enjoy making them.

    • maggie says:

      I think since you are re-designing the item or re-appropriating them they count as your own design and you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very unlikely that a big brand would come after you for making pocket money with their logo, but that would be the only possible issue I see from what you’re doing. However, as long as you’re not trying to use that brand name to promote your work, you should be fine. Does that help?

  4. Deborah Dantin says:

    H, I enjoyed reading the article on using someone else’s patterns. I do have anther question. I have purchased several patterns from a seller on eBay, and she has taken vintage patterns from 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s and she prints them on white paper after simplifyint the paterns. She states which ones are in the public domain at this time. Dose that mean the pattern has no copyright on it any longer? I eagerly await your answer. Thanks,
    Deborah

    • Hi Deborah,

      Yes, public domain means that those copyrights have expired so I believe you can feel free to recreate and sell items using those patterns. If you are ever not sure, it’s a good idea to contact the person you bought the pattern from. It’s lucky that this seller happens to mention that they are public.

      I hope that helps!

  5. I purchase artificial flowers and take them apart to make original creation flowers of my own. Can I sell these as my own original creation and can I make considerable money doing this?

    • Hi Samantha,
      You can definitely sell your creations. AS for making money off of them, it will take a lot of hard work and effort but you can make any business successful if you are determined enough!

  6. Just found this. Thank you! I am a senior and do not like using computers. Sorry. Is there some way I can get a paper copy of this information? I know that I will forget this very important information and would like to purchase a copy for future reference please. Hope you can help me. Thank you.

    • Hi Marsi,

      I’m sorry, we’re only an online publication. However, you are more than welcome to print any articles you find interesting from your own home or perhaps a library computer.

      I hope that helps!

  7. Jessica says:

    I have been thinking of creating a DIY book on how to create birch bark items to use at your wedding.My concern is who would I contact to see if I could use there idea. Some of the ideas are my own creation (I think..at least I have not found anything like it on the internet) and others I have seen on various websites mainly Esty. The items that I would like to place in the book many of the stores on Esty sell similar items. So who would I contact..would I have to contact anyone if it is a more or less a “common” idea? Thanks

    • That’s tricky Jessica. I think if it’s a “common” idea as you say then it might be alright to publish a tutorial for it. However, if you want to use the design of someone who makes a unique product, you would have to contact that seller for permission to make sure they don’t have any working copyrights in place. I hope that helps a little. Good luck with your book!

  8. Barbara P. says:

    As a newbie just getting started, this is very informative. This answered my questions. Thanks

  9. If I find a tutorial on YouTube on how to create a product, ex mini album, and i want to recreate it and sell it, can I?

    • Hi Gwen,

      You can follow a basic tutorial, like how to make a mini album, and alter it to make a unique product and then sell it. You cannot recreate an original design from any tutorial and sell it for pocket money, unless it’s specifically stated.

      I hope that helps!

      • Would you mind clarifying what you mean by altering it? I have made several items by following tutorials from You Tube. I do tend to make variations to the design. Sometime the variations are bog and sometimes they are small. I would like to sell my versions of these items, but I don’t know if my changes are enough.

  10. Im lovIng the idea of creating little badges out of shaped wood; I’ve seen it done lots (hearts, stars etc) but wonder if it’s okay to batch buy the wood shapes to customise as my own? How does that work out?

    • 99% certian I could say “yes,” because 1) The Copyright Office says basic shapes (circle, square, etc.) are not unique enough to copyright, and 2) Most of what the end product is is determined by you; it would be akin to worrying about yarn mills suing you for what you made with their yarn.

      The kicker is if your technique (i.e. whatever you do to them) is similar to a distinct process that someone else has used, or if you get shapes that aren’t so basic (like a cutout with a distinctly Ninja Turtle silhouette, for example.)

  11. Hi i am wanting to create some wooden hanging signs, i have found the shapes i want to buy and i will then paint and write things on and personalise are these ok to sell and also sewn hanging lavender hearts and bunting etc. Thanks

  12. I purchase fabric and crochet borders on it. Some of the fabric purchased is licensed. Am I allowed to sell the finished projects for pocket money?

    Anxiously await your answer

    • I want to say that in most cases this is ok. The only issue would be if you are selling any kind of fabric with a trademarked character on it like a Disney character or a brand logo. In those cases, each company has their own specific rules and you’ll want to look into it further. I know for a fact Disney is very strict about their images.

      I hope that helps!

  13. I have purchased white plaster or wood ornaments, statues, houses, etc. They are plain and I paint them. The houses give ideas on colors to paint them and I somewhat follow the idea. All other items are just plain and I paint them the way I would like to see them. I also have plaster or cement statues which I restore and paint which have been given to me or are found at places like garage sales or second hand stores. Can I resell these items?

    • As long as you’re not selling the house painted exactly as the instructions say, you should be fine. Just think of the houses and paint as supplies. You would sell a bracelet using beads you bought at the craft store wouldn’t you? I hope that answers your question!

  14. In and of themselves, patterns are not copyrightable, and restrictions placed on their use are meaningless…whatever you create from a pattern is yours to do with as you like. http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/Patterns.shtml

    • Thanks for posting this site. I created a pattern for a crochet item and needed to know what (if anything) I needed to copyright. Apparently, once you put your pattern on the market, ANYONE is free to make the item and sell it as often as they wish. THAT is good news. I will trademark my design’s name and let people enjoy making and selling it.

      • OK. So what I get from this very informative article is that once you buy a pattern, book of patterns and instructions, or whatever, even if you get them for free, that you are allowed to make and sell these with extremely little or no restrictions at all. Which is great. My question is, does this also apply to video tutorials? And what if they say something like “The lady who lived on our street showed me how to make this.” Then it becomes a question of Who is the original designer. What then?

    • Laura Coronado says:

      Don’t know where you got this information but it is not correct. If you actually read the copyright law you would know that you don’t have to register the copyright for it to be protected. It is just easier to file a lawsuit if you have registered the copyright. And sites like eBay have the copyright law information and links to the law on them to be sure sellers understand them.

      • Lucie Harvey says:

        Copyright do not protect pattern or basic shapes but all the trademark, logo, pictures, texts, tutorials, videos, sounds, voices, musics…
        That means, you can not reproduce an original tutorial or video (nor any photos or graphics etc. that it contain) to resale it, include it in a compilation, or use it in a class. They are the exclusive property of the creator. You have to make your own material to promote the product you want to sale.

  15. This article was wonderful! I cut fabric into petals and various shapes and create artwork on canvas…do u think this is OK? I’ve seen similar designs on websites like etsy but never with the same fabric…

  16. Hello

    I have a burning question for you. I am working on a knitting stitch pattern page on my website. By that I mean it is just the actual stitch pattern.

    What I have been doing is making up swatches so that I can show people the many different ways of using knit and purl stitches and so on.

    Are those actual knitting stitch patterns copyrighted? I see many, many websites that have pages like mine showing knitting stitch patterns but it raised a question with me.

    The question along with this one is that if it is a copyright issue, how do the other hundreds of websites that do this get away with it?

    All I am doing is showing the knitting stitch pattern. And I am not trying to make any kind of money from it. My website teaches people how to knit.

    Thank you so much
    Vickie D.

  17. Hi! I have a question regarding a certain pattern I’ve found on the internet. If I google the name of the pattern, I can find dozens of replications of the exact same pattern, all attributed to different authors. Do I need to go and ask each individual author for permission to sell things I’ve created with this pattern? Or is it just a free-for-all where anybody can use it for any purpose?

  18. I’m wondering the same thing as Ivy. Also what about something that I basically had to use the instructions the first time I made the item and now can do it from memory because it’s so simple? Is it still truly the original pattern if I don’t need the pattern/instructions any longer and have put enough of my own spin on it?

  19. I am using team themed fabric. Can I sell a non-team item to sell and give away the copyrighted one? BOGO

  20. What is the percentage of change needed to make a pattern my own?

  21. I have had a similar conversation with one of the groups I work with. One of the suggestions was to include the pattern name, designer name and website information on the completed piece.

    In doing so, would this constitute copyright infringement?

  22. DebbieKinil says:

    Great comments about using DIY tutorials. Really helpful.

    Just to note- I purchase and use machine embroidery designs from Embroidery Library INC. They make the use of design (by selling you a license) very clear. It says “When you make a purchase from our website, you are purchasing a license to sew the design. …The license that is sold to you allows you to sew the design, and use the result in the following manners: personal use, donations to charity, gifts, and sale for profit.”

    IMHO is a great way to sell their designs.

    see for their whole licensing policy go to the below
    http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/help.aspx?page=helplicensing

  23. Cheryl Russell says:

    If I purchased a book of crochet pattern w/ a celebrity endorsement. A friend has asked me to make a blanket using a pattern in this book. I this a legal problem?

    • Hi Cheryl, most patterns in published books have for personal or for pocket money licensing. This means that it is perfectly fine for you to recreate the pattern for your own use or to give to a friend. They problems come in when you are interested in selling those items to a lot of people. I hope that helps!

  24. Hi. I have a question about making greeting cards to sell. Is there a problem in using patterned scrapbook paper that I’ve purchased from craft stores? What about the use of paper punches, etc.? I hadn’t given any thought to this until recently, after spending lots of money on supplies! When researching this I did come across a Tabberone article and felt a bit more comfortable with this issue but, as you can tell, I’m still concerned. Thank you for your help.

  25. I buy panels from fabric stores and quilt them to make wall hangings. I’m hoping to make them to sell at a flea mkt. Do I have to contact the maker of the fabric or the person who designed the picture?

  26. Maggie, are you saying the information at this website (http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/Patterns.shtml — which is posted above) is incorrect? If so, I am totally confused. The information on that site clearly states that once a pattern is sold, placed “out there” for the public, NO COPYRIGHT infringement exists. The pattern may be copyright protected, but NOT the item created from it. It’s understandable that you couldn’t make a trademarked product and call it THAT item when you replicate it. A Swiss Army knife, MUST BE a Swiss Army knife. But I could make a knife with the same bells and whistles and it would just be my knife. Or did I misunderstand? A “Coach” bag is only a Coach if that company makes it. But if the pattern for the bag is out there, or I replicate it, I have not infringed the trademark unless I call my replica “Coach”.

    Since I create crochet patterns, I understand others not wanting their creative genius “stolen”, but what is the point of releasing the pattern, if you don’t want it made? What’s the point of making things that you can’t sell, if you want to. And yes, sell to 1000 people, if you know 1000 people who want to purchase it.

    If I sound confused, Maggie, I am!! :) HELP!

  27. Patricia Wilken says:

    Can I sell items online that are made from another person’s knitting or crochet pattern?

  28. Hi I am so grateful I found your site, I really
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  29. I read thru all of the Q & A above and didn’t find this addressed.
    I crochet handbags to sell using variations of other people and company’s patterns.
    My preferred “yarn” isn’t yarn at all (recycled materials), and has its own quirks to work with and exploit. I would say I have changed the pattern enough to accommodate the “yarn” and still get a bag that resembles the original pattern.
    Is this considered a copyright infringement? None of the attorneys I have asked know enough about the “what ifs” to advise me.
    Any thoughts?

  30. Hi Maria
    Hoping you will be able to help me. I’ve started watching tutorials on youtube and love the crafts they have been making. I was wondering if i could make say a crocheted hat that i followed with someones tutorial and sell it. Colors would be different but the same pattern. Or follow someones tutorial to decorate a teabag box that may end up a little different as i may not have the same materials as she has and sell them on Gum Tree or a Flea Market say. Now unfortunately i didn’t understand some of your answers above so this is why my questions may have already been addressed. Forgive me but could you explain in detail thanks :)

  31. This may be of interest to all….

  32. Nancy Bennett says:

    I have made quite a few jewelry items from kits I purchased from a seller on-line. The jewelry items were made following the kit’s directions exactly. Can I sell the items I made ?

  33. What about if I have a jewelry pattern that I use to decorate, say, a shirt.. or other bigger (my own) creation, do I need to ask permission to sell it?

  34. Hi–thank you for this very helpful info. I will read the articles shared via links but in the meantime am wondering how global copyright laws are–are they drastically different in Canada & the US? Also, are there restrictions if you buy a ready made item of clothing & embellish it with your own design? If you do all you can to contact the original source for the original idea to gain their permission but you never hear from them or cannot remember correctly who had the idea, can you still use the general idea with your own design & not be found at fault of copyright infringement? I found the idea I’ve been using for personal use over 20 years ago & am not 100% sure of the publication. I have modified the idea many times but certainly agree the original idea is not my own. Also, I understand that using stickers & other non-public domain graphics can be a copyright infringement. Can you offer any more info about this–for example if someone uses stickers or rubber stamps to make cards to sell would this be an infringement? Would fonts also fall under copyright laws?
    Lastly, what is the best way to protect something that is really your own idea or design?
    Thank you!!

  35. I am in the process of developing a line of doll products that are made for used items and upcycled with unique clothing and embellishments. I’ve searched and have not found anything like this (have found all kinds of altered dolls, but none like mine. I would like to protect the idea so that my originals will be more marketable.

    Do I need to formally get the copyright? If so, can you point me in a “quick” direction to get that accomplished?

    thank you!

  36. I have a commercial project for a certain country that would yield billions yearly and have great impact on the world. My project is complete including all needed details and recently registered as copyright.
    My question is what should be my next step in marketing the project and be paid back faily for it.

    Thank you,
    Amer Kadri

  37. I saw on the Internet a baby skeleton that was on a t shirt. I do crafts and though it would be cut for a shirt. I made my own skeleton and put it on the belly of the shirt. I was contacted that it was copyrighted. I am confused. My skeleton looks different than hers. Does she have the right to skeletons? What exactly is copy written that makes it to where I can use it. Mine has it’s a girl on the front. Hers has ribs.

  38. Thanks

  39. Lisa Evans says:

    Can I frame wallpaper and sell it? Im not changing the image in any way, just framing it.

  40. I didn’t read all the comments so maybe this has already been addressed. So here goes –
    Please do an article quoting documented law cases in which craft making and selling in small quanties has been addressed. I’m not talking about anything that is trademarked. Are there really that many cases on the issue that the small time crafter needs to lose sleep?
    Will the court seriously entertain cases in which someone sells at a craft fair or on etsy where there is only small revenues being generated? Once someone sells a pattern and does not specifically indicate you can’t remake the pattern, then isn’t it okay to make and sell in small quanties? The same goes for free internet tutorials.
    Who’s policing all this?
    Isn’t there a lot of money involved in taking a small crafter to court?
    Why can’t we get a professional legal opinion on the matter (I’m assuming your team has not consulted legal advise and I realize this assumption may be totally incorrect.)

  41. L.anne escombe says:

    I have attended a craft workshop where we made a fabric bag. Can I use this now to sell at craft fairs etc. I have had different views regarding this but am not sure what the bottom line is. Can anybody advise please. Leannev

  42. I knit and sell. With the main stitches being garter stitch or stockinette stitch, these possible can’t be copyrighted right? Say if I make a basic scarf using garter stitch (as many knitters do), this isn’t any kind of copyright infringement correct?

  43. Hi, I am an artist. I want to sell my mixed media art. I use scrapbook papers, the patterned ones, in my art. Do you know if it is okay to sell my work using these patterned papers sold by various companies? Thank you so much!

  44. I’ve been doing many projects I’ve found on pinterest. What would I have to do if I wanted to sell anything?

  45. Susan Hokanson says:

    It is nice that you want to help people out but this information is inaccurate. There is no copyright for patterns. The instructions, the layout of the pattern with the instructions and pictures, the pictures are all copyrightable. And no one needs permission to sell items made from any pattern.

    Check out http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/Patterns.shtml. She gives a lot of information regarding copyrights and provides backup for her research.

    • That’s the good thing about Tabberone….they give back ups to all their truthful information…not just hear-say or personal opinion, but actual court case references. They have done all the research and spent countless hours doing so….and then untold extra hours, putting it all into terms that even the most simplistic person (not quite saying dumb!) such as myself, can understand.

  46. I think people have a junk drawer where all of the stuff you dont want to throw within the trash ends up.
    As most of us tie the watches on our wrist, we need a
    watch that won’t break even just in a fall. It is often a little different to put the alarm between G-Shock watches.

  47. If a person cannot use other people’s design for personal gain, how come Michael’s was violating it? One afternoon, I was at their store. One of the Michael’s craft store employee was assembling a flower vase home decor and was looking at copyrighted book?

  48. Maxine Corimski says:

    I do counted cross stitch, if I know the designer or artist of the pattern, I actually add that acknowledgement at the bottom of my work across from my name and the date the piece was completed. Is that enough or do I need to do more?

  49. If I find something at a craft show that I like, can I buy it and then copy it and sell it myself? I’m sure it’s not copyrighted or patented.

  50. Hi to everyone out there.
    I just want you to know that I enjoyed reading all the questions and answers on this blog.
    The information on copyright was very helpful to me. I am a seam stress who love to sew mostly clothes, cloth dolls, cds and I want to make money doing this. I also crochet to so I use other people patterns to make these items. With out there ‘s pattern I don’t that I could make them.
    So once again thank you.

    Denise

  51. Joy Schottenloher says:

    I see some patterns on here and nothing is said about not selling them. How do you know which is which. I would like to make and sell some of my blankets. I don’t always follow the exact pattern will what I make be considered my own.

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