Friday, June 5, 2009

May's Blocks for the Bee Inspired Quilt Group

In May we had two blocks to do and I squeezed them in under the wire by doing them both on the 31st!

First was Nettie's block. Nettie wanted flying geese, which is something that intimidates me quite a bit. This made me procrastinate on starting the block, but as it turned out they were a lot easier than expected. She sent 8 different prints, all of which were super cute. I had a lot of fun trying to center the best part of each of them in the triangle. She is also apparently brilliant at math because when it was all said and done I had about a 1x4 inch scrap of the blue fabric left over!

Here is the finished block.

Then we had Deanna's block. Deanna wanted any sort of star. She requested that the chocolate brown be the star center and the cream as the background. I looked about about a hundred star patterns online and finally printed out 3 or 4 to look at closer. When it came time to make it I discovered that none of them would work since I would run out of cream or the brown wasn't big enough, or SOMETHING. There was one last one that seemed possible, but I was scared to cut and be wrong. I ended up making this slightly wonky star, which I think turned out well.

June is Donna's month and we're doing stars again. Donna sent a little more variety in fabric, so I think the math won't be so intimidating! Regardless, I won't be working on it til after our vacation.

To see everyone else's blocks, visit the flickr group here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Originality

Lately I've been seeing a lot of little turtorials on other blogs for basic items like eyeglass cases and lanyards. These are items that require little or no thought to create a pattern but the bloggers are nicely putting together a photo tutorial on how to do them. I think this is a great thing that they are doing- until I get to the end and find: "please do not sell anything you make using this tutorial." Now. I completely understand that you don't want someone else to make money off your original work. I really do. And I think if you make something that is unique, that this is perfectly reasonable. In the last couple weeks though I've seen tutorials for things I could have made myself and would have done in the exact same manner. So what happens now? Am I never allowed to make and sell those items? What about the key lanyard that someone did a tutorial for that is literally:

Take a strip of fabric x inches long by x inches wide. Make a tube and turn it inside out. Slide a toggle clip on and sew the ends together to make a loop. Please don't sell any of these if you make them!

REALLY? SERIOUSLY? I mean, her tutorial had pictures and all, but couldn't anyone have done that? Where is the line? It seems clear that I should be able to sell this lanyard if I wanted to sell it.

There are a lot of tutorials out there for simple totes with boxed bottoms. I made quite a few of them before I discovered the world of craft blogging. I did not use a tutorial at all, but used techiniques from a pattern that I had bought for another bag. Now though, I have read those tutorials. If I unintentionally follow some aspect of their technique instead of doing it in the same order I did before, am I allowed to sell my bag? What if I make my pocket like they did, but do everything else the way I always have?

On the other end, if do make a bag that is clearly not the usual bag, I can understand saying that I can't copy that. But at what point does it swap over? I've seen tutorials for items for which I've bought mass retail patterns. I think it's great that I could have made my own without buying the pattern, but what's to say the blogger didn't copy the publisher of the pattern? Am I not allowed to sell something made from a McCalls or Simplicity pattern? What about if I make a quilt from a pattern in a book? Can I sell that?

Before the book Weekend Sewing came out, I saw a tutorial to make a checkbook cover. There is a pattern for that in the book. Did Heather Ross copy them? In 1997, two friends and I made checkbook covers and book covers to give to people for Christmas. Our pattern was shockingly similar. Too bad we didn't publish a tutorial.

At some point it seems that everything has been done and nothing is original (you should be able to say this about books too though, right?) When does the 200 crayon rolls I've seen turn into me copying someone else's idea illegally? Have you looked for a crayon roll on Etsy? Because clearly the majority of the people selling them, myself included, copied that one original person, intentionally or not. (That search found 990 of them.)

After giving this a lot of thought, I've decided to use my best judgement on this. If an item is a simple basic item I'm not going to worry too much about copying you. I've seen a millon handmade tote bags. I'm not going to stop making them for my shop because someone did a tutorial. I don't particularly want to make lanyards, but if I did I'm not so worried that you told me how to make a long tube. I know this is gonna make some people angry at me, but let's use some common sense. If I bought your pattern and you asked me not to do it, I won't. If your item truely is unique and is something I'd never thought of myself, I won't try to sell the items I make from it.

So what do you think? Do you only sell things you've created in a vacuum? Am I being unreasonable? Are you about to call the craft police on me? Should I just close the shop now? I'd love to hear your thoughts.