Quilt shops no photography rule

Quilt Shops and The No Photography Rule

Quilting Rebel is reader supported. Often times links you see will earn me a small commission if you purchase through these links. Your support is greatly appreciated!

And exactly what I think about it!

Have you ever walked into a quilt shop and the no photography rule is posted loud and clear? I have seen quite a few in my last 7 years since I began on my journey into quilting.

In 2021 we use our phones for everything. In particular, taking photos has become a sort of note taking for many of us. Especially those who are very visual learners, we love photos! I take photos and screenshots of anything I want to remember or revisit another time and don’t want to forget. The grocery store, out shopping for clothes or shoes, home furnishings, dog treats, pictures of written notes because I’ll lose the paper!! You name it I have a picture of it! So when I walk into a quilt shop and see this rule I am immediately disheartened.

Quilt shops no photography rule
Quilt shops no photography rule
Let me first say that I get it.

I get they why behind quilt shops and the no photography rule. I truly do. There are some not so nice people out there who will try and copy work. Or get pictures of inside of books and patterns, which is just simply theft. And we want to keep them from doing this type of thing. I am all for keeping them from doing this type of thing. But plastering NO PHOTOGRAPHY all around a shop is just not the effective answer in my opinion and even can do more damage than good.

Let me tell you the whys of avoiding the no photography rule

Because your customers are visual.

They are in a hobby that is very visual. This hobby has so many different facets to it. Colors, blocks, patterns, stitching, binding, borders, fabrics. Just one quilt can give a host of ideas to someone! The inspiration one can achieve from a few snapped pictures could be next years star quilt or pattern!

Color isn’t everyone’s forte.

It certainly isn’t mine. I just don’t have the gift of color coordination that a lot of people have. When I purchase fabric I usually try and get it all from the same line because then I know darned well it matches and I don’t have to worry or fret over that aspect of it.

Fabric bundles for quilting
How I like to buy my fabric so I know it matches!

Equally, when I see a particular sample quilt hanging in a store that is a great color way, but isn’t a fabric line itself, I can snap its picture to keep for inspiration or to learn how to put together colors. Maybe I can use that picture at the store I am currently in to try and recreate something similar. Maybe I want to save it for later. Now think about how a NO PHOTOGRAPHY sign shuts down that creative spirit. I know I will have to leave this idea at the store and likely won’t revisit the idea, because I won’t have that visual reminder of a picture.

Signs can seem dramatic.

Maybe dramatic isn’t the right word, but they feel off-putting, in your face, and very unwelcoming to me. And not just because I like to snap pictures for myself. Often times they are not just posted once, they are posted repeatedly and boldly, and it just doesn’t create the feeling of friendliness and a focus on customer service. It feels like getting my phone out to calculate some measurements, send a text, or take a note might make me a suspicious person in their eyes. And really, posting a rule on a poorly made sign, right on the front door or window is immediately negative. It’s not a positive welcoming invite to the store that customers should get. Most of the people that come in are customers, not thieves!

Be the energy you want to attract
Letter Board in my Studio! You can click the picture to purchase from Amazon!

Suggestions to thwart those no good thieves

Patterns and books to the front please!

Consider moving these where you can monitor them more easily. I very often see these tucked away in a corner and they should be front and center where staff are. I would imagine that patterns and books must be at the top of the list for thieves when they steal by taking photos. Snapping the inside of a book for any info is wrong and popping open a pattern to take pictures of the pattern is just a jerk move and also illegal. If this is your main concern, then please move them up where you can monitor them more easily.

I’ve even heard of a quilt shop who had signs posted that state “no graph paper” or “no sketching”. Apparently they either had or were afraid of people coming in a sketching a quilt out. I mean that is pretty bold for someone to do, but what a specific rule to post in big bold signage! And seriously if you have someone doing this in your quilt shop – boot them out!

Display quilts

Quilt shops should allow pictures to be taken of any quilt on display. And I know this may be an unpopular opinion, so if you disagree I’m happy to discuss in the comments. But if someone can recreate a quilt pattern by snapping a photo, then they can recreate the quilt pattern by hitting up Google. I’m certainly not advocating being a thief. But we are quilters and on a simplistic quilt there are only so many ways squares, rectangles and triangles can be sewn together. I saw a pattern once that looked like a layer cake had been sewn together. I don’t need a pattern to recreate that, but maybe some do and that is ok! And honestly simple squares are some of my most favorite quilts! But I just don’t classify that as the same type of offense as snapping a picture of the inside of a book.

I believe that most quilters are way more likely to buy a pattern than to try and recreate it via a photo snapped in a quilt store anyway. Even a simple one. I don’t want to figure fabric requirements or figure the size of cuts etc… And yes some may. Maybe I am delusional here! I mean it is possible right?!?!

I completely understand and support that a pattern designer wants their pattern purchased and a quilt shop wants to sell it. But sometimes a simple pattern can be figured out and I don’t think the amount of people that might do this outweighs my other points above that could be detrimental to business with having the no photography rule. In fact, I think the chances increase for a pattern designer to sell a pattern because now the quilter who was allowed to snap a picture has taken the pattern name with them to serve as a reminder so that are able to purchase it later!

Erin the quilting rebel acting surprised
That’s my opinion!

So those are my thoughts about the no photography rule found in quilt shops. I would love to hear what you think about this rule and what you agree or disagree with me on. Be sure to check out my blog post: Advice to Quilt Shops: Quilters Have Their Say! It was really interesting to gather data on it and I think you’ll find it interesting too!

Similar Posts


  1. I haven’t seen any signs, but I was in a shop once and saw 2 gorgeous quilts hanging so I thought I would take photos to show my craft group. When I took the photos the woman behind the till was really rude and demanded I remove them from my phone, which I did, and then I left as quickly as I could. To be honest before this happened I didn’t give it a second thought.
    (The shop has since closed down!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *