Can I sell crochet items from someone else’s pattern in 2022?

As a general rule, it is legal to sell crochet items made from any designer’s pattern. Copyright law only applies to the distribution of the pattern itself, not to any items made from the pattern. Despite any language to the contrary, there are no legal repercussions for selling crochet items.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice and is offered for informational purposes only. If you have any questions about your individual situation, please obtain advice from a competent intellectual property attorney who is licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction.

If you’ve ever bought a digital pattern from a crochet, knitting, or sewing, designer, you’ve probably wondered whether you could sell finished products made from that pattern.

Maybe you’re a regular at local craft fairs, sell on Etsy, or just have friends and family asking if they can commission you for products.

Whatever the case may be, the legal verdict is clear (in the US): copyright does not include any items made from a given pattern, and only protects the distribution of the pattern itself.

If you’re interested in diving further into the complexities of the law in this area, I encourage you to read this excellent article by attorney and knitter Carol Sulcoski.

If this topic seems a little confusing to you, it might be because the copyright statement or other “for personal use only” statements might be misleading. Sometimes designers use language like this or outright state that crocheters are prohibited from selling finished products.

However, this stems from a misunderstanding of how copyright law works (at least in the U.S.). If a crochet pattern is copyrighted, then any restriction with regards to redistribution only applies to the pattern itself. This means that it is illegal to sell and share the pattern online, but has no bearing on any finished products that are made with the pattern.

In Baker v Selden, 101 US 99 (1879), the Supreme Court specifically addressed the issue of whether or not something made from copyrighted information in a book was covered by the copyright on that book. The Court explained it by stating:

“A treatise on the composition and use of medicines, be they old or new; on the construction and use of ploughs, or watches, or churns; or on the mixture and application of colors for painting or dyeing; or on the mode of drawing lines to produce the effect of perspective, would be the subject of copyright; but no one would contend that the copyright of the treatise would give the exclusive right to the art or manufacture described therein.”

This ruling indicates that a copyright holder has no control over anything produced or “manufactured” from the given instructions. Therefore, in modern day terms, you can make and sell whatever you like from any pattern, copyrighted or not.

I’m well aware from my experience in the crochet world that there exists a lot of conflicting and seemingly contradictory statements about copyright out there. Although I feel that I am presenting my own perspective on the situation from research and experience, I am not a lawyer and this article in no way constitutes legal advice whatsoever.

Further, if you feel compelled to do so, you can always confirm with any designer on whether or not you can sell goods from their patterns. Most designers I know are perfectly fine with this, and know that the law is on your side even if for some reason they say no.

Get the pattern here!

Do I need to credit designers when I sell crochet items?

On almost all crochet patterns that exist, there will be a statement that encourages the maker to credit the designer if they do sell crochet items.

As we’ve seen above, there is no legal reason to do so, and the only reason why anyone would choose to credit the designer would be as a courtesy or a form of etiquette, as opposed to a legally enforced rule.

From my own personal experience, it’s really nice when someone posts a photo of their finished work online and credits my Instagram handle or website. This is also helpful to anyone who sees the photo who wishes to follow the same pattern.

However, since it’s not the law that any maker absolutely needs to give credit, I recognize that someone may choose not to do so for their own reasons.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I sell an item made from a copyrighted pattern?

As a general rule, it is legal to sell crochet items made from a copyrighted pattern. Copyright law only applies to the distribution of the pattern itself, not to any items made from the pattern. Despite any language to the contrary, there are no legal repercussions for selling crochet items.

Can I sell crochet items made from free patterns?

As a general rule, it is legal to sell crochet items made from free patterns online. Copyright law only applies to the distribution of the pattern itself, not to any items made from the pattern. Despite any language to the contrary, there are no legal repercussions for selling crochet items.

As a general rule, it is legal to sell crochet items made from any crochet pattern. Copyright law only applies to the distribution of the pattern itself, not to any items made from the pattern. Despite any language to the contrary, there are no legal repercussions for selling crochet items.

Where can I sell my handmade crochet items?

Handmade crochet items can be sold on Etsy, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and personal websites. Platforms like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace have built in audiences that will search for your items on their own, but selling on a personal website means that you must market the products yourself.