Saturday, July 30, 2011


Oh WOW! A few days ago, I received an acceptance letter for the April 2012 issue of Quilter's World magazine. I am utterly amazed - they accepted THREE of my quilt designs for the April issue. Isn't that awesome!

Of course, reality soon set in when I realized that I have about eight weeks to create three complete quilts from wall quilt to throw-sized as well as write the instructions.... Am I insane or what?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fabric to DYE For

Recently I finally found my crate of fabric dyes in the garage. Hurray! That really made me happy.

I haven't dyed any fabric for the last two or three years because of my book and such, but since I agreed to do a fabric dyeing demo at one of my favorite quilt shops, Quiltessentials, located in Pittsfield PA, I thought it would be a good idea to actually find my dyes AND do some practice dyeing so I don't look like a complete idiot! The demo is part of their Summer Lawn Lecture Series and will be Friday, 19 August. The fun starts at 5 PM, and I will be demo-ing at 6:30 PM. A fellow dyer, Anita, will demo dyeing wool.

SO I dyed. Under a tree. Twice so far. Fourteen yards and counting.

I mixed red and yellow to get orange and also yellow and blue to get green. All I have to do is dye red and blue to get purple and I will have the whole color wheel. Cool, huh?

Have you ever tried dyeing fabric? It's a lot like doing t-shirts (tie-dye anyone?). I use the submersion method along with professional-grade Procion dyes. Here's a photo of my two dye runs so far. Yummy, aren't they?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Great Finds

On Sunday, my parents and I took off for a few hours in the afternoon. We went to a big indoor flea market (in an old department store). I was lucky to find some more vintage quilt blocks -- including a signed star from the 1930's -- utterly charming! What a fun week end! I'll post pictures of my new finds soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Victorian Days in Mercer, PA

My lecture at the Mercer County Historical Society yesterday went very well. There was a nice turn out. As always, I totally enjoyed talking quilts and quilting for an hour and a half.

Here I am talking about the cover quilt of my book, Orphan Block Quilts. The quilt is called Lavender Green.

After my lecture, the intern, Morgan, kindly helped me pack up and get my stuff out to my car. THEN it was time for some old-fashioned fun. On my way to finding something yummy to eat at the food vendors, I checked out a corner antique shop and then hurried to the quilt shop, The Gallery. I was so pleased to find some great pieces of fabric for my niece, Meghan's graduation quilt (she will graduate in 2012 and has requested a purple and green quilt for college). I even found the perfect brifge fabric that breings all the other colors together! SO after the quilt shop, I enjoyed a philly gyro while listening to live dulcimer music. Next I wandered through the crafter's tents. Finally I started to get a little tired and decided it was time to head home -- there was one last antique shop to stop at and I didn't want to miss it.

I made it to the last antique shop, housed in a charming old mill, and happily found a little gift for one of my BF's as well as a few vintage aprons, a 1930's quilt block, and some 1930's quilt pieces. What a nice end to a great day!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Well I'm off to Mercer PA tomorrow. I'm doing a lecture at the historical society during Mercer's annual Victorian Days celebration. I plan to show some of my quilts from my book, Orphan Block Quilts, a few magazine pieces, and even those three recently acquired crazy quilts and tops (you know -- the ones I blogged about last month).

I'm looking froward to it. I had wanted to do something with the Mercer County Historical Society last year, but it just didn't work out, so I'm happy to be working with them this year. In anticipation of my lecture, they've put many of the their own antique quilts on display. I will be there to talk about the collection's quilts as well.

So, if you're in Mercer tomorrow, stop by the historical society, my lecture will be around 1 PM upstairs in the museum.

BTW, Mercer has a nice little quilt shop AND there are several antique shops, too. Hope I have time to visit. OH! No visit to Mercer is complete without going to the Old Fashioned Soda Shop for a flavored coke, either!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Little Bit About Copywright for Quilters

Recently I've begun to gather information about designing patterns to go with my quilt fabric collections. It's definitely more complicated than I first assumed. Again, I turned to my dear friend, Cheryl Weiderspahn, who owns Homestead Speciaties Pattern Company. She is one of the most amazing people that I know AND she has mentored me through the crazy world of publishers and pattern-making. THANK YOU, CHERYL!

Anyway, we had a discussion the other day about the ins and outs of creating original patterns. Cheryl referred me to her website where she had a page devoted to "Copyrights and Copywrongs." It made so much sense to me and really helped me to understand how copywright laws apply to quilters. I asked her permission to post her article on my blog, and she agreed.

I hope you get as much out of it as I did!

By Cheryl Weiderspahn
Pattern Designer, Homestead Specialties Pattern Co.

“If you didn’t write it or create it, you do not own the right to copy it or distribute it!” - Susan Levin

Our schoolteachers warned us all about plagiarism. We were refused when we took a professional studio photo to Staples to make color copies. We all know we shouldn’t buy a movie video and make copies for our friends. We all have heard about the piracy controversy over illegal music downloads from the Internet. Yet quilters and sewers are incurable sharers and we think nothing of laying a magazine or pattern in the copy machine and distributing copies to all our buddies. It all seems innocent enough at first.

Copyrights protect “Visual Art” such as drawings, sketches, paintings, blueprints, maps, labels, photos, charts, stationery, music, movies, architecture, sculpture, cartoons, patterns, how-to instructions, books, fabrics, quilt designs and other two- and three-dimensional works. (Patents only apply to inventions.)

Copyright Law was established in 1710 to protect the creator’s “intellectual property” and has been updated many times to reflect current society and technology. Since a law change in 1978, any “Visual Art” is protected under Copyright Law automatically upon it taking on a tangible form. In other words, a thought, concept, idea or intention is not copyright protected. But the minute it takes on a physical and visible form (a created design or writing that others can see, and therefore copy) the work is protected under copyright law, even if no fees are paid and no papers are ever filed with the Copyright Office. The symbol “©” followed by the year and the artist’s name is not required, but constitutes a “Public Notification” warning and simply expresses the artist’s intent to claim her “rights to copy.” So, if in doubt, anything in tangible form (if you can hold it and read it) is protected. Ask permission!

This copyright grants the creator five inherent rights: the right to reproduce or copy their work; the right to distribute their work; the right to publicly display their work; the right to perform their work; and the right to create derivative works of the original work.

How long does a copyright last? In 1998, Congress fine-tuned the law to allow works to be copyrighted for the life of the creator plus 70 years. This means that 70 years after the creator dies, the copyright expires if no family heir files for an extension to renew it. After that it is in “Public Domain,” allowing anyone to use the work. So the fact that a magazine, book or pattern is out of print, or the author is dead, does not mean you can copy it.

But many Public Domain works are available for legal copy. Also, there are copyright-free sources such as some of the EQ5 designs. I got over 20,000 results when I did a Goggle search for the topic “public domain quilt patterns!” Take the time to look and ask for necessary permission and grant credit where due.

Let’s dispel a few myths. First of all, forget any nonsense you ever heard about “If I change it 10%” (or 20% or 30%, the myth varies) or “If I change three things” then it is my own design. That is a myth. What will a judge look at? If the work is in any way recognizable as the work of another artist, and you use it without permission, you have created a derivative work of art, which is an infringement on the original artist’s work and a violation of Copyright Laws.

Another myth is that if you don’t sell the work, or if you create it for charity, you aren’t infringing on the artist’s copyright because you aren’t making any money. That is a myth. The law is not based on how much money YOU make, but on how much money the artist might lose had she been able to charge you for your use from licensing, royalties and other fees. An artist denied this income has no money to invest in future designs for you. Artists are in the business of selling their designs. If they don’t sell very many, they can’t keep designing new ones, and the entire creative community suffers in the process.

A quilter called me one day to ask if she could make one of my vests to donate it to a charity auction to benefit Breast Cancer Research. Of course I thanked her for calling and granted permission. It was my choice to enable her to raise money for a worthy cause. Any artist with a heart would grant permission. She was not claiming it as her own design and I did provide her with a sew-in label stating “Created with a Homestead Specialties Pattern” and a catalog flyer to include with the vest. Can she also make one of them for her niece for a Christmas gift? Of course, I see that as being for her own personal use. Would I have grated permission if she had asked to make four vests from my pattern and sell them for profit at her local gift shop? No way! Would I ever find out that she sold four vests at her local gift shop? Would the Copyright Cops arrest her and haul her off to jail? Probably not, but she still broke the law and ripped me off. If I were she, I would not want that guilt hanging over my head.

In a shop class situation, that is why each student is required to purchase the pattern/book being taught. Otherwise, the artist is being denied her income from the sale of her pattern/book. Does paying for that class entitle the student to make and sell those items? No, not without the designer’s expressed permission.

This is also why shop owners must buy the patterns from the designer herself (or one of her distributors, like Checker Distributors), rather than laying the pattern on a Xerox machine or scanning it and making copies for sale. This is clearly denying the artist of her deserved income and the shop owner’s professionalism and integrity is in question to all who see this activity. Legal action could easily follow, especially since the shop owner is bold enough to expose the counterfeit patterns to the public eye.

If you copy a quilt or garment, even making changes, and enter it in a national competition as your own design, you are not only guilty of infringing on the rights of the original artist, you could be forced to forfeit all prizes, as well as any commission work that came as a result of that show. By all means, you should give credit to the original artist and say so when filling out the entry forms!

When I do retail shows with my original garment designs all over the country, I do not allow photography (which amounts to “copying”) in my booth unless the person taking the photo has already bought the pattern. Many people take photos with the intent of making their own garment from the photo rather than buying the pattern, and this denies me my earned income. This photography policy is printed in the show program and most show attendees have the courtesy to ask my permission to take photos.

Have artists actually stood up and won? You bet! For example, Connie Spurlock, owner and designer of Sew Wonderful Dreams Patterns told me how she was looking at patterns at her local fabric chain store one day and was shocked to see that a “major pattern company” had a pattern very similar to one of hers. She opened it up and saw that it was her design; even the instructions had been copied word for word! It was just a crafty little doll pattern, but they settled out of court for a tidy sum of money! True stories abound where the artist prevails over copyright infringement.

If in doubt, ask permission and give credit where credit is due.

For more information:

U.S. Copyright Office: 202-707-3000 Copyright Information Office: 202-479-0700 To request a publication: 202-707-9100

Permission is granted by the author to reproduce this article in its entirety.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Amazon's Top 100

I am so very excited to shout to the world that my book, ORPHAN BLOCK QUILTS, has made the top 100 quilt books in the Kindle category on Amazon. Wahoo!!!!! Yesterday I was #91. So, if you are interested in getting my book as an ebook, go to Amazon and download it for $11.99. Oh, and don't forget to leave a customer review, too!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fabric and Quilts, OH MY!

Here's that promised photo of my new collection of Louetta fabrics. Mostly 30's and 40's with a few 50's thrown in for fun. There were also several WHOLE feedsacks -- what a wonderful surprise! There is definitely a lot of inspiraton in this stack of fabric!

The other day my boss called me at the library and told me to stop a a country church rummage sale on my way home becaause there were three quilts there and one of them looked to be older. So I did. I found a circa 1920's cotton crazy quilt. It was folded inside out like a comforter. It is in perfect condition and freshly washed. Of course I grabbed it! I looked at the other two quilts and they were circa 1970 polyester double knit quilts and they were priced higher than the cotton crazy. To each his or her own, I guess. I'm happy with my crazy.

As you can see, my dog Gizmo really liked this crazy quilt! I laid it out on my bed to look at and he jumped up. He rubbed his face on it and snuffled -- I think he liked the fabric softener. The quilt has some great fabric in it, too.

So much inspiration........too little time.