I started collecting patterns way before I could sew. I also collected fabrics as a child might collect toys. They were not there to use, they were there to inspire. Patterns tell me that I can change what I have into what I want, and that is a good thing.
My collection of patterns is extensive. I have painting patterns, punch needle patterns, quilting patterns, rug hooking patterns, and the list goes on and on. Oh, I might note that I have tried my hand at all of these, at one time or another. I am an equal opportunity crafter. A good pattern is enough to bring me to purchase all the supplies needed for a project and even sign up for a class to learn how it's done. I have learned a lot about myself over the years from my patterns too. Going through them I have seen how my own sense of "style" (for lack of a better word) has evolved. I have gone from the tan goose on blue (don't even pretend you didn't have these in your house!) to a more eclectic mix that makes sense only to me, and that's OK because it's my house and I live here...surrounded by things that make my heart happy.
No longer strapped to rules or guidelines, I choose to use my quilting patterns to paint, my painting patterns to punch, and so on. A pattern is just a starting point, it's inspiration. I buy patterns for everything, not because I can't "figure it out" but because I don't want to "figure it out". I don't want to deconstruct that beautiful quilt. I want to look at it and think of where I can put it. Someone has already gone through the trouble of deconstructing it for me, making it and picturing it so that when I see it I stop, catch my breath and think, "I WANT that!". If I hadn't seen the quilt or pattern I would not have been inspired. Does that make sense to you? Do you follow me here? I might look at a pattern and find the next wall paint for my living room, my next wall hanging, my next painting. Regardless of what makes me stop and stare, I know that pattern was the root of my inspiration... so I buy it and save it, never ever giving myself a guilt trip for not making it (and truth be told, when I purge my patterns I might even be happy that I didn't make anything from that pattern. "What was I thinking?!", LOL!)
Today I read a blog post and the blogger stated that she never purchased patterns. She liked "designing" her own (based exactly on a published pattern). It made me stop and think of my own personal pattern collection and how I wish some of my favorite designers would never retire because their work inspires me. I hope that if you collect inspiration as I do, you would remember that those folks who design those patterns need to pay their mortgages and if they can't pay their bills, they can't spend all that time designing your inspiration. I don't know about you, but I need to be inspired, so I will continue to buy patterns and collect inspiration wherever I should find it. I don't "design" other people's work. I buy patterns and collect inspiration.