I've finally embraced Pinterest. I set up an account a few years ago and was using it a little bit, but I didn't really grasp it's utility, both for collecting and storing creative ideas and for promoting my own work, until very recently.
These past few weeks I've been working on a whole series of awesome boards, including Softie Inspiration, Nursery Rhymes, Non-Rubber Ducks, Dachshunds, and Creative Snowmen. One that's been most popular is my Free Softie Patterns board. I get it. I love free, too, and it's super helpful to collect all these visual links in one place for future reference.
The more I've gotten into Pinterest the more pins I see linking to a particular type of free softie pattern. You can easily recognize these free patterns because they are all formatted the same way: green edges with the words "Pretty Toys" in orange in the top lefthand corner. The words are all in Russian.
I see them every day on Pinterest. I have to wonder, what is Pretty Toys? Are these patterns uploaded with permisson? In other words, are these okay to pin, download, and use? Why are they all free?
My friend and fellow soft toy maker, Miglena Doneva, lives in Bulgaria. I asked her about Pretty Toys. According to Miglena, "in Eastern Europe people do not pay for any types of patterns." Some of these are pirated for sure. Maybe all of them?
This is a screenshot from a Google Image search Miglena did for me in Russian (выкройка игрушек were the search terms).
I'm not kidding you when I say there are thousands upon thousands of free softie patterns in Russian. I don't pin them, because I don't understand their origin. These aren't toys I recognize. From what I can tell they aren't pirated from American toy designers. There's a copyright symbol on almost all of the Pretty Toys patterns, and some have the name of the designer on them. Does that indicate permisson from the designer to have these designs online for free? I don't know.
Many of these patterns are really only templates. Let's look at this elephant.
Miglena translated the instructions for me.
"This elephant can be sewn very easily. Any type of fabric, or even scraps of fabric will let you create a new toy for your kid or for a present. This elephant is very cute!"
That's it. No further instructions included.
I'm not sure what else I want to say about this, except to show it to you. These patterns are being circulated and recirculating thousands (millions?) of times a day on Pinterest. The world is becoming very small. What was once free, possibly pirated, material being produced in one region now has a global audience.
Have you seen these free patterns around online? What do you make of them? And if you speak Russian, can you help us shed some light on their origin?