Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

by Nancy Smith & Lynda Milligan

Originally published in June 2005 issue of McCall's Quilting.

Click here to download a PDF of the original article, Giving Credit Where Credit is Due.

A piece of art often has great history, whether it’s a painting, sculpture, or quilt. And it is important to document the contributions of everyone involved in the creation of a quilt, as in any other art form. Artists like to be recognized, and it is important to give credit where credit is due!

Let’s follow the life of one quilt, to learn how recognition and credit should be properly given. Our fictional quilter, Jane, created a quilt, and entered it in a competition. Her quilt label and registration paperwork included her name, as the quilt artist. But who else might be entitled to recognition?

Starting at the beginning, Jane needed to note the pattern name and the publication (i.e. magazine or book) where she found her pattern, if applicable. If she had another quilter do the quilting once her top was completed, she needed to recognize that quilter’s contribution. Information about the pattern used and any and all quilters who participated in the construction of the quilt should be documented on the quilt label and the registration paperwork. Because there were two artists involved in the construction of her quilt, she and her favorite long-arm machine quilter, Jane entered the “group quilt” category of the competition.

Jane won the competition, and a local quilt store contacted her to teach the quilt as a class in their shop.Wanting to give all parties appropriate credit and to follow copyright laws, Jane contacted the publisher of the pattern she used. The publisher arranged to sell copies of the pattern to the store where Jane would be teaching, so each student could have their own. (If copies of the pattern were unavailable, the publisher would have given Jane information on how to proceed, depending on company policies and the life of the copyright.)

On the day of the class, Jane displayed her quilt, complete with a sign that was an enlargement of the quilt label. This allowed class participants to see the quilt pattern name and source, Jane’s biographic information, and the long-arm machine quilter’s information. Jane decided to offer her quilt for sale at an upscale craft fair. She called the publisher of her pattern once again, and was told that she could sell up to 5 finished pieces using the pattern, if she filled out a license agreement. The publisher mentioned that other companies handle this situation differently, but provided this arrangement free of charge to Jane, for this pattern only. Jane was required to place a label or tag on the finished quilt(s) for sale, listing the pattern name and publisher.

Although you may not encounter all of the situations Jane did, it is helpful to know the appropriate and legal way to provide credit. If in doubt, you can
always contact a reputable publisher (like Possibilities!) or a copyright expert (Sylvia Landman, for example, at for further information. It’s better to be safe and thorough from the start than to run into an undesirable situation down the road.

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Response to FlorenceM
Hello, As gift-giving constitutes personal use of a quilt pattern you purchased (or legally obtained otherwise), you are free to label your quilt however you wish. Thanks!
Giving Credit where credit is due
Way too much info to put on a label. I do not enter contests but my quilts are given as gifts. Any feedback as to what I should put on label.


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