As I’ve mentioned before, I work a couple of days a week in a lovely quilt store. This means I sometimes get to help choose the new goodies we buy, and am often in charge of finding a spot for them when they arrive. I’ve noticed recently that many new lines of fabric arrive with a free sample pattern for us to distribute to our customers, and we often consider making that pattern in the store to help show off the fabric for inspirational purposes.

And so… as I read through one that was piquing my interest, I espied this in the bottom corner of the glossy freebie:

Every effort has been made to present a well written, well illustrated, quilter-friendly pattern. No warranty is given or results guaranteed. [Fabric Company] and [Pattern Designer] disclaim any liability for unfavorable results.

Huh? Do we really have to cover our patooties at this level? For heaven’s sake, it’s a quilt pattern, not a seat belt or air bag or some other device whose failure could cause you bodily harm. And how on earth could a designer be responsible for a quilter’s craftsmanship or color choices? I mean really… if a pattern was designed for batiks there’s a strong chance it will flame out spectacularly in ’30s reproductions. And how can you define “unfavorable” in this context? Does unfavorable mean that the hard-to-please auntie that you gave such a quilt to doesn’t like a particular shade of blue you used? Could this really be something sue-worthy? And did someone actually SUE [Fabric Company] and/or [Pattern Designer], inciting them to come up with the disclaimer??? Say it isn’t so!

When I started teaching foundation art classes in graduate school, I was advised to write my syllabus in a very detailed manner regarding the penalties for absences and tardies and noodling on cellphones and so on – one that was relatively impervious to the challenge of “I didn’t know I would fail if I missed 75% of the classes…” What resulted was a seven page document of almost legal discourse, a humorless affair that said nothing at all about the joy of making art or the interesting assignments to come. Nope, the first look the students had at me said I was dull and nitpicky, and far more interested in calculating how they might fail rather than inspiring them to succeed.

When I first read the disclaimer above I thought egad…. now I have to add that to my patterns too. On second thoughts though, maybe not.