Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quilts in your Quilt Show!

It has come to my attention that there is a bit of a buzz and confusion in the quilt world thanks to a particular magazine article in McCall's Quilting. The article is requiring quilters to get direct permission from each and every designer allowing them to display quilts made from our designs in your local quilt shows. This has greatly increased both my email and my snail mail and the time it takes to reply is daunting!! It is taking away so much quilting time!

I WANT you to show the quilts made from my designs in your local shows! I love it when you send me pictures! Please consider this public announcement BLANKET PERMISSION for you to do so. You don't need to write me or send me forms in the snail mail to have to sign and mail back to you. (And ones that require me to use my own stamps to mail back to you? FORGET IT! At least some have included self addressed stamped envelopes.. ;c) )

All I ask is that you list me as the designer on the label, and include the ORIGINAL NAME OF THE QUILT if you happen to change the quilt to some other name that suits your own story. Something like this works great:

Carol made her quilt while following along with last years "Carolina Christmas" mystery. She did hers in blue and green and gold, and renamed hers "Happy Scrappy Stars", but included BOTH quilt names on her label.

This is really important when it comes to tracking back a quilt to its origin.

Designers are losing their connections to their own designs as patterns go out there and are constantly renamed by everyone who makes the quilt. So including the designer AND the original name of the pattern keeps all that important information intact, and gives credit to the designer.

You will also notice that Carol gave proper mention of her machine quilter as well! Quilted by Kristy! This is IMPORTANT!

The only thing I would add if I were Carol, would be her own signature somewhere on there, in pigma pen. Future generations are going to be missing out on our personal handwriting, and personal handwriting is very valuable on antique quilts. It gives a connection to a REAL PERSON, not just a computer-generated-die-cut-printed-thing made by a machine. Don't forget to SIGN your labels!

Happy Quilting, Happy Showing!

I have to tell you, talking about this article while at the Colorado Quilt Council retreat sure opened up a CAN OF WORMS!! I think mostly from me...LOL! First off, whoever wrote the article never considered the designer's point of view on all of this "must get written permission to display anything" issue. It has increased my email and snail mail 10 fold and has really thrown me for a whammy.

Luckily, gmail has a "canned response" feature that I have put to good use, and I have also put my reply out there as a blanket statement on my website to try to calm not only my own nerves, but the nerves of those poor quilters out there who just want to show a quilt in their guild show, and are now afraid that the designer will say "NO! YOU CAN NOT SHOW THAT QUILT!" (We all know that there are designers out there like this, don't we? Why, I will never understand, its the best advertising there is for their designs!)

And don't get me started on the need to give credit to a certain designer for a simple "9 patch on point" that has been in public domain for centuries? I don't care if a pic of a reproduction showed up in a magazine. A 9 patch is a 9 patch, I don't think you need to list the magazine's 9 patch maker as your SOURCE?! Who was THEIR source? And who was their source before that who did that same 9 patch on point? It's ridiculous.

The hilarity increased and escalated as we sat around the table at retreat discussing what we'd like to do with this article and the ideas and REQUIREMENTS in it...including stuffing it into places where the sun will NEVER shine....

I really really, while in the thick of this, thought of forwarding every request I got in my inbox on to the author of said article just to give her an idea of what this article had started....and even thought of passing her email address on to other designer friends as well so they could do the same. I thought her article was not very well thought out, and just created so much extra work for those of us who have already put everything we can out there for public use as it is.

Then I thought of grabbing all the Colorado Quilt Council ladies, and going to TP her house since she lives right there outside of Denver *Evil Wicked Grin* but we thought better of it, calmed our nerves with copious amounts of chocolate, and thought we'd rather spend our time quilting!


  1. I read that article and I thought it was a bit too much. With all those requirements, no one would ever make a quilt for a show unless it was their own design. Who has the time to do all that? Okay, I've taken enough of your time. Have a great day!

  2. Good post Bonnie, with common sense too.
    I read that article and afterwards thought this copyright law thing is getting out of control. I understand designers want credit for their work, but gee whiz-alot of the pattern and book prices have gotton way out of line price wise to beging with-especially single patterns it has gotton quite ridiculous; so they are already getting money for their designs.
    My first thoughts too, this has all gotton so complicated about what to do or not to do, I definately won't be showing any of my works any time soon.
    I don't comment much, but I read you, and love your blog and books-thanks Kathy in the ozarks of Missouri

  3. Thank you, thank you!! This is a pet peeve of mine and even though I understand the need for copyright in the quilting business, it irritates me.

  4. Haha, "due to spammers and Trolls"... LOVE IT! Just like I love your generous blanket permission-- Keep it up, Bonnie! You are quite possibly the coolest quilter, and most realistic. I'm saving scraps and nearly ready to dive into one of your projects, and if it gets entered in a show, I will be SO PROUD to list you as the designer of the original pattern!
    Keep the piece... :)

  5. Thank you, Bonnie, for your commonsense "get quilting" mentality! You are such a blessing.

    Lucy (in IN)

  6. Bonnie, I read that article before all this buzz started. When I read it, I thought to myself, "Oh, yeah, as if these designers want everyone writing to them for permission to post a photo of their quilt on their blog, enter it in a quilt show, and so forth. They'll never get any designing or quilting done, because they'll spend all their time responding to e-mails." I thought, as I was reading, "What seems reasonable is if people simply credit the designer and pattern publicly." The whole point of copyright law is to prohibit people from profiting form other people's creative work. So, giving credit, without making money off something seems to be reasonable. Even if there is a prize for your work, you have to be able to execute a design with good skill (e.g., color selection, fabric selection, sewing skill, quilting skill). So, even if you win prize money, it doesn't seem to me to be "profiting" from the design, per se. (I am assuming most prize money is a fairly small amount, though I know there are a few exceptions to this.) Thanks for being so generous, down to earth, and realistic about things. If people are reasonable and give credit where it's due, there really shouldn't be issues. Your example that you posted is just great and a good reminder to all. Thanks for setting such a positive example.

  7. It seems like common sense has gone out the window! Thank you for your great common sense and generousity in sharing your love of quilting!

  8. love your post! yes it is getting complicated when designers do a nine patch or something in a slightly different way or color and then say it is theirs so many blocks are in public domain who knows who designed what at times. Or you might make a quilt that you only have a picture of from a magazine 10 years earlier and have no idea who designed it or what magazine you found it in. what then?

  9. I agree that article was a little overboard. If what she said was true, then it even spreads over to clothing and bag patterns. Which means you wouldn't be able to buy a clothing or bag pattern, make the item, and then wear it in public. Heck, we'd all be walking around naked and bagless. Crazy.

  10. My guild had done an extensive piece on this a few years ago - and when I read this article I did think - geez, who would want to enter anything in a show anymore with all these restrictions? We are so fortunate to have you, Bonnie - you're coming to my guild next year and I just emailed your site to my friend and she was so pleased with all that you make available. Thank you again for your generosity of spirit and your common sense.

  11. That's a load off my mind now. THANK YOU! I like the irony of a "blanket" Permission. And the picture of the can of worms... haha. Not only is there public Domain, but with EQ we can do so much.

  12. I've saved a copy of Bonnie's blanket permission on my computer so that if I ever do show a quilt made from one of her patterns, I can print it off -- just in case the show's organizers are nervous about permissions.

  13. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I appreciate your common sense approach. I too understand and appreciate the work designers put into their creations and I don't begrudge anyone compensation and recognition for their efforts.

    Sadly, it seems to me that the world of quilting is becoming more and more obsessed with copyright. To the extent that a craft that used to be about sharing and collaborating is now more and more about the world of Recognize ME ME ME! (ex: Your 9 patch example)

    Maybe it's okay if a show is about the quilts not the designers. Maybe it's okay if every quilt is not intended for posterity to the extent that the label takes up half the back!

    Again, I am not saying that designers do not deserve recognition & compensation for their work. I just hope showcasing people doesn't become the central purpose of quilting & quilt shows.


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  15. Good to know. Thanks for the info. I was in confusion as to what to do, and now you have answered many of my questions. Thank You

  16. My thought is, what if a quilter doesn't read that particular magazine, or hasn't run across this on the internet? Are they going to be held in some way libel if they put a quilt in a show without the designer's written permission?

    I can understand if someone copies an original artwork (like Hollis Chatelaine, for example) and calls it their own. But for goodness sake, most quilt blocks are a combination of geometric shapes than anyone could come up with randomly. So do I now need to research every quilt ever designed to make sure someone else didn't come up with it first? Give me a break!

  17. Thank you ,Bonnie, for standing up to this. This article almost shut down out show last month.

  18. Thank you for posting about this Bonnie, as it has been a problem I've run into too, only with free motion designs instead of block or quilt designs.

    It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling through this mire of Copyright Nazis and Obsessive Give-ME-Credit Freaks.

    I just want to make beautiful quilts and share how to make them with everyone else! Why are so many obnoxious people trying to ruin that?!

    Off to post on this issue myself,

    Leah Day

  19. As much as it bugs me when I see a quilt hanging in a show for which the maker has not given credit for a unique design that I recognize (and don't you love it when another quilter in the show has made the same quilt and credits the designer?) and as much as I value the intellectual property of others, I definitely have seen instances of people taking the idea of copyright too far ... and sometimes beyond their actual legal rights.

    I don't subscribe to McCall's Quilting and would be unlikely to purchase their magazine now ... less they accuse me of violating their rights because I have made a similar quilt based on traditional blocks. I understand and appreciate that they are just trying to protect their designers ... and expect that they will appreciate and understand that I choose not to buy their product in order to protect myself.

  20. This reminds me of all the quilts I see with identical patterns that are done in different designer's fabric collections- they don't attribute the designs to anyone but themselves. The name is changed, but if you look at the gridded black and white layout, you see the patterns are not original. So they don't follow their own rules

  21. "Give credit where credit is due" is a good operating philosophy. People who design patterns (and I speak as one) would, I think, want lots of people to make their patterns and show/tell their friends, and so on...

    Copyright is an important issue, don't get me wrong. If you've created an original work and not published a pattern, then no one should be copying it. Period. It is protected by copyright as soon as you have created it. If you HAVE published a pattern, then it's fair to expect each person to purchase their own pattern unless you have put it out there for "free use." (ie if Susie buys Jane's pattern and xeroxes it for all her friends, that's a violation of copyright. Jane owns the copyright)

    And if you are creating from a well known pattern, even if you "change it up" with fabric choices or motif placement, don't call it "original" and claim it as your own creation.

    Give credit where credit is due.

    Oh...was I just on my soap box? :)

  22. This came up at a quilt meeting the other day (our show is one year away!) We opted to be more serious about giving credit (ie if the quilter doesn't say it on the form we are going to "call her on it.") We are not going to ask for signed paperwork from the designers though...yikes!

    I am very happy to say in the past few years I have contacted 7 designers asking for permission to use a quilt design of theirs for a guild quilt that raises money for a camp for children with cancer. Only one said no. Like most things if you show respect for the other quilter they will support you in your craft too....

  23. Copyright is important but anyone who publishes a quilt in a magazine should not expect everyone who makes that quilt to ask permission to display it in a local show. I wonder where the article author came by that idea. IMHO copyright can be carried a little to far.

  24. Really appreciate your down to earth approach to this issue.

  25. Good for you Bonnie! I'm all for credit where credit is due... but then... let it go and move on!!!
    Life is busy enough!
    Oh... and the t.p.ing.... perfect!
    I used to go with my kids... ahem, just to supervise while they did their thing... I even told them that "if" the police showed up and told them to clean it up... I would back the police to the hilt!
    Our kids were only allowed to t.p. as a sign of "love"... not "hate or retribution".
    Hang in there.... enjoy the Fall!

  26. Awwwh I wanted to see the TPed house. Damm that chocolate that calmed you down. ;-)
    But Seriously what you have said is common sense and common curiosity, but as they say 'common sense isn't very common now a days'

  27. Well, you are right. When you're right you're right! Makes me feel better that I never do manage to follow a pattern all the way through- now I can say, yup, I go off roading because it saves paper work!

    Your website, ad now your books were my everything when i started quilting. You have the nicest, warmest personality, and the most helpful fun website on the planet! Rock on, Bonnie!

    PS please come teach in Northern California, mkay?

  28. I SO appreciate the generosity you have shown over the years, with sharing your quilts and quilt patterns and all. Thanks ever so much for the blanket permission statement (not that I have actually made one of your quilts yet!).

  29. Anonymous5:47 PM EDT

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Bonnie! I thought the article was absurd to say the least. I agree every designer should be given credit on the quilting label. However, I also agree with you, a 9-patch is a 9-patch is a 9-patch. The author was just trying to make us all into quilt police. Ain't gonna happen. No way - no how! I think she needs to publish another article as I know a LOT of my friends have taken to shunning McCall's magazines because of one stupid article. Thanks for setting the record straight! You continue to be my favorite designer because you are down-to-earth and practical. Thank you for the blanket permission statement!

  30. I agree with the article, but you can take a good thing a bit far...and they did. Now can you remove the wiggly can of worms...I almost spewed my hot tea...

  31. Thanks for this, Bonnie! <3

  32. I agree 100%. The Pine Tree Quilt Guild which presents Maine Quilts every year has just decided to enforce this new copyright rule, too. I think you give a very sensible solution that really should cover everything. A little common sense goes a long way.

  33. Anonymous8:41 PM EDT

    Bravo Bonnie!

    I didn't read the article, but I understand the sentiments.

    Recently on Facebook, there was a big uproar when an unsuspecting quilter published a photo of a quilt she was working on. This quilter had seen a photo of the pattern, and decided to make it. She did not know of the pattern. She happened to have posted the photo on the wall of the designer. The FLAMING that ensued was unbelievable. I can understand that the designer was upset, but I think the designer and others went way to far. The quilter did not know where the pattern was from, or who designed it. I don't recall if she had actually said it was her design, I believe she said she made the quilt. I felt sorry for the quilter. I chose not to get involved, but when you read that kind of thing, it really does effect you negatively as a quilter.

    When does it stop?

    Bonnie, perhaps you could write an article yourself and have it published in one of the magazines.

    I recall designing a quilt myself, and being quite happy with the results. About a year later, I saw the same pattern in a quilting book. Can you imagine my surprise! I never showed anyone my design except some local quilters (not that I am copyrighting it). The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. I'm thinking quilt designs are pretty much the same. I'm sure that you know of one block that has several names, because it was "designed" by different quilters in different parts of the world.

    Somethings that people will do for the almighty dollar!

    Keep up the good work you do!



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