I've always made things and I've often just made things up as I go. I usually prefer to figure out how to make things on my own. Partly, as Claire mentioned in a recent post, I feel like I'm cheating when I use a pattern, partly because I like the challenge of making something work on my own. Another reason is that I usually can't afford to buy the books with the patterns I love - as a mostly self-taught crafter, this is why I love anyone I come across who shares their patterns, as I can learn some basic techniques from their instructions. But my biggest reason for not wanting to use a pattern is my fear of inadvertently copying their ideas in later work.
Maybe this fear comes from years of academia, where you are threatened within an inch of your life if you even think about plagiarising (not that this stops all students). Regardless, I sometimes fear that I might inadvertently infringe on someone else's work. I wonder if all the books and blogs I read might "influence" my own creations, without me realising that this is the case. I fear the "cease and desist" letter. I fear the wrath of other crafters (see the Lily Chin/Vegan Fox brouhaha from a few years back). Of course, this fear is largely irrational, as I try really hard not to use the original ideas of others - but like all irrational fears, it exists to torment me.
All of this pondering leads me to ask the question of all you plush makers (needlers?): What is copyright when it comes to making plush creatures and posting/selling them on the internet? Where does your idea end and mine begin? Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? And what do you do if you thought the work of Crafter X was just a wee bit too similar to the work of Crafter Y?
I have used patterns and I have altered patterns, but those were only for personal use and were given as gifts or kept for myself. But when it comes to selling, I feel like there is a very fine line between my own ideas and those of someone else.
(p.s. I'm really sorry if this is a long winded post - writing my thesis has caused my writing to become overly, um, verbose).