Understanding the Copyright of Designs from The Free Motion Quilting Project

If you clicked the link from my blog and came here I can bet you're pretty interested in the rights I'm placing over the quilting designs created in The Free Motion Quilting Project.

Perhaps you're a longarm quilter who needs new designs for quilts you would like to sell. Or maybe you're a quilting designer who is finding inspiration from my designs for new designs of your own. Or you're just a random quilter who clicked the link by accident.

Copyright on quilting designs, particularly on filler designs, can get very sticky, and extremely confusing, so I decided to keep things simple:

Please feel free to use any of the designs shared in The Free Motion Quilting Project within your quilts.  There are NO restrictions on where you can use these designs: for sale, show, gifts, or personal use.

Let me state that again: There are no restrictions on where you can use these designs when quilting them in your quilts.

The whole purpose of this project is to inspire quilters to use new, innovative designs in their quilts. It would be completely backwards of me to want you to use these designs, then slap confusing rules, laws, and regulations on top of them.

These quilting designs aren't even copyright-able!

Peppermint Candy


Basic Spiral

All of the designs from The Free Motion Quilting Project represent ideas.

Think of it this way: how many times in your life have you seen a spiral?

Spirals date back thousands of years, but I've used this ancient symbol to create many free motion designs like Peppermint Candy, Escargot, and Basic Spiral.

How in the world can I say "This spiral design belongs to ME" when it very obviously has existed for thousands of years. It is an idea, and ideas cannot be copyrighted (at least in the United States).

In essence, a spiral is a spiral is a spiral. It's ancient and beautiful and should be used anywhere it can, but I cannot claim ownership of it. It is not mine.

How this applies to The Free Motion Quilting Project

Many quilters are actually misusing copyright every day by restricting the use of their designs, or demanding attribution with their use.

As a friend of mine stated:

...if I read a copyright/copyleft claim in which someone tried to legally force me to attribute to you every time I stitched a design I learned from your site, I'd be scared of using your site any more. I'd constantly be wondering, "how much does this look like a Leah Day design? Will she come after me? I reinterpreted it but what if she doesn't think so? Will I risk a lawsuit for stitching these into my quilt? Is my quilt even mine? Is some of MY quilt the 'property' of Leah Day, just because I learned from her? I can't possibly attribute everything in my quilt that came from somewhere else to everyone who would lay claim to it. Forget it!"

I completely agree. To demand attribution for every design you use on your quilts would be unfair and ridiculous.

It would also run the risk that the growth and expression of this wonderful craft might be limited because quilters and designers would be afraid of using a design that looks too much like a design already posted on The Free Motion Quilting Project.

So when you use designs from The Free Motion Quilting Project, when you play with them, remix them, modify them for your needs, you ARE NOT REQUIRED to mention me or The Free Motion Quilting Project in any way.

If you wish, if you appreciate what you have learned and want to spread the word about what you have found here, then by all means, please share it with everyone you know. Attribution is not required, but definitely appreciated!

So what is the point of this article?

There are a few things that are subject to copyright on The Free Motion Quilting Project:

  •     The text used to describe the designs,
  •     The photos used to illustrate the designs,
  •     The videos used to teach you how to quilt the designs.

These items are subject to copyright because they are a specific expression of the designs.

However, I have issues with locking even these items down completely by copyright.

I prefer the text to be used and shared, particularly the names of the designs because it will get very confusing if we all start renaming the same design 15 times. Won't it just be easier to all use the same name and save the confusion?

So feel free to use the text from The Free Motion Quilting Project as needed. You may copy the designs and information directly from the blog and create your own handouts to teach or your own notes to learn.

Also the videos of the designs all contain information about the project and suitable attribution. Feel free to embed the videos on your blog or website and share them with your friends.

The photos do not contain any information or attribution, so this will be the only thing that I simply ask - if you use them, please link to where you found them.

Click here to learn more about quilting.