Is it really your quilt, or is it a copy?

I’m interested in you opinions.

Do you design a quilt, or do you use a prepared pattern? maybe you want to create your own quilt from a pattern you’ve seen in a book or a magazine. Just add a little something extra and make it your own.

Sometimes I sit in lectures at quilt events and listened to people who have a self-determined genre in quilting and I think “goodness how did they think of that” The scope for quilt design is limitless and there are so many ways to come up with a pattern. I for one think that we should use everything that is available to us.

  1. Images.
    Hand drawing.

I gave a presentation recently. The next day a lady stopped me in passing and asked me if I printed my patterns onto fabric from the computer? She said if you do, I think that’s cheating. I’m really not sure what she meant. I told her that what she saw in the presentation had been my drawing on fabric.

I don’t think the word ‘cheating’ comes into the equation when you are designing your own piece of textile art.  I can design a magnificent quilt in a very short time in EQ7….. is that cheating or is that using your computer and design skills to achieve the end product. Is it any different to using pen and paper?


I study the art of painters and try to use some of their ideas for brush strokes in my quilts… what would you call that?

The art of Vincent Van Gogh

1776, Heartache, Heritage and Happiness by Pam Holland

I re-created a quilt from a very old pattern. I drew the pattern from the original, it was quilted in a totally different genre, I added my own ‘mojo’ to the pattern and it won a lot of awards.

Yes, I was told by one of the those ‘someone’ people, well really it’s not a proper quilt it’s just a copy……! Gulp.

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Gail says:

    Pam, as someone who is very analytic and logically, I struggle with the creative side of things. It makes me very good at my job as a program, but really bad at creative ideas. I live in awe of people like yourself who can create such beautiful art work. I will have a vision in my head but it never comes out right in any medium. Perhaps I just need more practice.

    People who don’t know me will tell me how creative or “crafty” I am. I hate being called “crafty”. In truth, I can follow a pattern that someone else has designed but not design something myself. Oh how I wish my brain was wired that way. Perhaps this person is just jealous of the beautiful items that you can produce over and over again.


    1. Pam Holland says:

      Gail, I think I’ve practiced ‘creating’ enough that it becomes a bit of a trial at times, I can’t turn it off. Then again, I’ve taught lots of people to look at things differently… maybe we should do a ‘share’ online…. I sort of did with the socks Quilt

  2. tschlabach says:

    I think using the tools we are provided can only enhance our quilting and make us better artists!

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Love my computer, and I even sleep with my iPad. (just in case)

  3. Linda Pyke says:

    Please Lord, NEVER let me get that self-righteous and judgemental about someone elses work.

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Oh, to be honest, sometimes I guess we all have an opinion. I jut hope its nice.

  4. Susan Sparks says:

    So all of our giraffes created in your class are “real” not copies, right! A perfect example of a group using the same outline and same method but getting totally different results as some went for realistic colors while others did not, some were more adept with the processes , etc. Whether real or a copy creating something is just a good feeling!

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Pam Holland says:

      Susan, indeed, indeed. Loved those darn Giraffes.

  5. carorose1 says:

    And the body of work from the person or persons commenting includes…???

  6. If I take a photo of the same subject you do and we both print it onto fabric for a small quilt … who is copying who? (It would be one hell of a challenge for me to do something vaguely as interesting as your effort would be!)

    You drawing on fabric is cheating? Then an artist who paints on canvas is cheating.

    Creating an image on a computer is just using another tool to create, and printing it onto fabric is another level of creativity, to which you can add even more creative stuff. Using an original photo and adding embellishments is also just extending creativity.

    As for using EQ, most people use it to save doing the basic maths required to make a quilt, in the same way I used to scribble calculations on a scrap of paper. Like all the tools we use it is another one we can use to do the basics or to extend our creativity. (I am also learning more about making real quilts by playing with design in EQ, though i have to admit I sometimes get stumped on how to actually put some designs together.)

    I prefer hand work, you prefer machine, but both require skill, both can be used to copy, or to create something different. I know a lot of people who could not have ‘copied’ 1776 because they couldn’t draw a pattern for a pieced block, let alone do it in different materials etc! If I was to do it I would make changes to both the original and your design. But then, I have only ever followed one pattern, and ran out of one fabric because the instructions were wrong!

    Copying is making up designs by somebody else, using the same materials, the same methods and making a reproduction of the original. No creativity required, no challenge of working out how to do it, no maths to make sure the fabric will stretch far enough or the pieces fit …. and for me, no fun what so ever!

    If your 1776 quilt is not a real quilt, there are a hell of a lot of homemade stuff on beds around the world that are not real quilts! 1776 is at the very least something made with a high skill level, and there have been a few judges which have agreed about that, and those judges would also have noted that the original design was not slavishly reproduced, but modified for accuracy and balance, so as a copy it isn’t very good at all! Next time you will have to keep your creativity under control! (Please, never do that!)

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Judy, thanks for your comments, I guess its something that has been going round and round in the quilt world for years. Your work is wonderful and I have a small part of you in the form of your lady still hanging in the studio. These days we have exciting technical tools to create images and quilts, we also have hands and minds that are different to the person sitting next to us.

  7. Judy McElwee says:

    Pam, here is my comment to the debate “your quilt or a copy?” I agree 100%, use all the sources around you. My Mother, a very wise woman used to say “you can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please ALL the people ALL the time.” Now, was my Mother cheating when she used that expression? Go Pam, I’m one of your biggest fans! ~Judy McElwee (African 2014 trip)

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Judy, super…. I agree with you 100% of course, but you must admit its and interesting subject.

  8. Nola says:

    We all learn from each other, from trying to copy exactly another persons work, to carefully looking at the Masters and trying to learn from them. We see colours differently, we put our own interpretation into our work. Without trying it becomes “ours” My initial reaction to “them” is “get a life. You do what works for you and I will press on extending my own boundaries”. Hugs dear Pam and keep enjoying being you.

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Nola, you and I know each other well, we think along the same lines.

  9. mary says:

    Thank goodness you are PAM…the original one and only. Having taken a few classes from you and watched you in action…….many words came to mind….creative…inspiring…colorful….to name a few. But never “cheating”……technology provides new paths to explore with your many talents. Keep drawing and continue to be PAM

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Mary…. we are all individuals, I guess some have different ideas. I was just putting it out there to see what others think. I wonder what they think of my Bayeux Quilt !!!!

  10. I spend some time in other countries, either visiting kids or working and find inspiration everywhere for various art forms. A recent project was inspired in India…..a sketch of a lotus flower…turned into a goldwork embroidery. A piece of Indian fabric….turned into goldwork…..visit to the Taj…now working this into an art quilt……my quilt!

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Liandre, Send us a photo when you have finished the quilt, would love to see it. I have lots of drawings too, but haven’t actually made the quilt yet.

  11. PB says:

    You have opened my eyes on all the possibilities and adaptations one can make from existing works of arts and photos to make a quilt their own! Thank you!

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Thank you for the compliment. I get great enjoyment out of the inspiring works of others.

  12. I have designed my own quilt blocks, but I also use prepared patterns, especially Baltimore album block patterns. The antique reproduction quilt patterns are my favorites. So far I have not been inclined to enter anything in a show simply because I produce quilts for my own enjoyment; they are not perfect and I do not want negative feedback. For those that choose to share their creations, I see the harsh judging at quilt shows that you speak of as being a deterrent to purchasing patterns and/or entering quilts produced from these patterns in a quilt show. I agree, traveling the world and sharing your love of quilting is the way to go. Enjoy. Thanks for your post.

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Marcia, I get really excited when my students or friends create their own ideas. I bought 2 vintage quilts today that I will create blocks from and share with you all. I hope that all judges are not harsh…. This one isn’t 🙂

  13. I love your work and am inspired by all you do. I love the reproduction quilt—Iit deserves ever award it got too. I think as long as we are honest in what the inspiration is from, then so be it. I’ve made many quilts from the Baltimore Album style– now I’m designing my own original blocks. I’m still proud of the ones that came from published books. I had to learn my craft by first making quilts from patterns. Your quilt is not an exact copy either! As Ms. Swift says, Shake it off!!!

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Sandra, really I was pointing out that in a way everything we do is our own creation even if we get inspiration from others, the famous artists used each others technique. Copying art was encouraged an a 2 year project on the curriculum at art schools. We learn from inspiration and add our own perspiration.

  14. Cynthia McNair says:

    Isn’t art supposed to inspire? There are so many artists whose work I admire, and I have fabric sitting in a drawer waiting to be made into a Pre Raphaelite piece, it’s one of my favourite art periods.
    I think there will always be detractors just because they can’t do what you do. I work from photos, mainly my own, but I will always ask permission if necessary.
    Keep doing what you do. I am working on several pieces which have been inspired by a recent trip to Israel and am enjoying the process.

    1. Pam Holland says:

      Cynthia, art is in the eye of the beholder. I have had a passion to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I am inspired by the most simple and the most intricate and I will continue the journey.

      Good luck with you quilts. Share your pieces with us when you are finished.

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