Saturday, July 30, 2011

Copyright and the home sewing business

I have been reading a lot about copyright issues lately so I have decided to blog a bit about what I know.  Now, first of all, I am not an attorney.  So, don't quote me or use me as your legal defense!  Secondly, I am a home sewist who likes to sell a bit of sewing to others and I have researched this as much as time allows.  So, I feel like I have something useful to share.

So, what is copyright?   Princeton's Wordnet defines it as "a document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work."  Now, what this means with a pattern is that, if you have it copyrighted, you have legal right to the pattern itself.  Only you can sell and publish that copyrighted item.  But, with sewing and knitting patterns, what does this mean for the article you create from said pattern?  Technically, in the United States, a copyright does not give you control over the articles made from your pattern.  Many people who create patterns think that it does and they will even list on their pattern that they do not give you the right to sell anything you create from it.  But, they are wrong.  And sometimes they will sell licenses for you to make their products, but, according to what I  have read, they don't actually have a legal footing on that one, either!

So, how do I know all of this?  Well, first of all, there is an interesting website called Tabberone and they have a great deal of information online about all of this.  They have a page for copyright definitions.    From their page on patterns:

We cannot locate a single federal lawsuit that went to trial where someone has been sued over the use of a pattern. Consider the millions of patterns that have been sold in the last sixity years plus and not one lawsuit? It certainly cannot be because purchasers are strictly following the demands of the pattern manufacturers. Patterns manufacturers do not have the legal right to make many of the demands that they make. Of the major pattern companies, Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue, not one has posted on their web sites anything remotely concerning customer limitations on the use of their patterns. Why do you suppose that is? They know they cannot legally restrict the use but they will tell you differently if you email them. The pattern companies are in the business of selling patterns and the great majority of them routinely lie about the use of those patterns.

Now, doesn't that make sense?

A pattern can be a template, or set of templates, for manufacturing an item, be it a bird house or a dress. Templates are not copyrightable. A pattern can also be drawings accompanied by instructions for knitting, crocheting or quilting. A method or procedure is not copyrightable. While the drawings themselves could possibly qualify for copyright protection, the actual instructions are not copyrightable. The only other aspect of patterns that could possibly qualify for copyright protection would be the artwork and that would only be if its intrinsic properties allowed it to be separable from the design, which very, very few designs can do. And to be enforced a copyright almost always must be registered.

Now, that makes even more sense!  And, according to Tabborone, pattern makers are lying if they try to tell you that you cannot sell something you make from their pattern.  

Now, I know that I, as a home sewist, would be very scared if Amy Butler or Ottobre or some other company sent their lawyers to call on me to tell me to stop selling items made from their patterns.  I purposely do not sell items I make from those patterns.  But, I do find it annoying that they try to bully people into buying with these lies that you are not supposed to do it!   And I wanted to share what I know with you.  

A few other items of interest learned from Tabborone:  

You can sell anything you want using licensed, character fabric. Once you buy the fabric, it is yours to do with what you please.  Tabborone has more information on legal actions about that on their site.  

 Cottage licenses are total bunk.  They are just a way for the pattern maker to make more money.  You don't need to buy one.  They are not legally required for you to use the pattern in your cottage business.

Knowledge is power!  Have a look around the Tabborone website. It is incredible!  They have tons of legal citings and definitions. It is a great resource. 

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer tank dresses

jocole shoreline tank to dress

Summer finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest this weekend.  It is currently 79 degrees and sunny!  It was equally nice yesterday, which marks the first two really warm days we have had all year.  So, it was fortuitous that I decided this was the weekend to make tank dresses for my oldest daughter and her doll, Amy.  You see, the American Girl doll opened near us, in Lynnwood, WA (they call it Seattle but it is not).   We want to visit soon so it is important that our non-American Girl doll, Amy, have a dress matching to her owner.  Don't ask me why this is important, but it is.  Here they are, doll and girl, in their matching dresses.

I spent a good week looking for a tank top dress pattern, one for a size 8 girl and one for a doll, and could not find what I wanted.  Finally, I discovered Jocole Patterns on Etsy, and her Shoreline Knit Tank Top pattern fit the bill as much as was possible. I knew it would be very simple to lengthen the pattern to turn a top into a dress.

First of all, this pattern is excellent! I cannot rave enough about how well written it is and how nice the owner of the store is!  She sent me a few messages to make sure I ordered the correct size and I knew she was available by email for help.  What a sweetie!  The pattern itself is full of details on how to work with knits and how to do the bindings in different ways.  Very nicely done!!

Here is what her tank top pattern looks like upon completion (from Jocole on Etsy)

As you can see, it is a cute tank top with two ruffles across the front.  Very feminine and sweet.  The pattern size I ordered is for girls size 8 thru 14 as well as dolls.  It is challenging to find pdf patterns for tweens so this was a great find. 

Secondly, since I did not want to make a top, I needed to find a dress to use as a sample for the length and width I wanted.  I used this Hanna Andersson dress that still fits my daughter, one she wears often.  It is a size 130 and falls just to above her knees.  We like the way the skirt is A-line.  So, I printed out the three pieces for the Jocole pattern and decided I only needed the top two parts because I intended to flair the skirt out.  Here you see the top two parts of the Jocole pattern, attached together (parts A & B).

 The next step was to use the Hanna dress to create a longer pattern.  I used a piece of printer paper for the middle section and then realized I need more width.  So, I taped together a piece of Swedish Tracing paper and attached it all with clear 3M packing tape, for strength.  Here, you see the whole dress pattern, taped to the Jocole pattern.  Because the Jocole pattern has straps and the Hanna dress does not, I had to modify the bodice placement accordingly. 

Then, it was a matter of following the Jocole directions.  As I said, it is a very well-written pattern.  She gives you options for binding.  You can use cotton knit and use regular thread with it or Wooly or Bulky nylon.  You can use a straight stitch or a zig zag.  You can also use fold ever elastic.  For the ruffles, you can use elastic to ruffle or you can ruffle in other manners.  I chose to use the same cotton knit as the dress for the bindings and elastic to ruffle.  The fabric I used is a cotton interlock knit from Chez Ami.

I decided to give Bulky Nylon, from Gutterman a try, and boy do I regret that!  My old, fussy Singer did not like that thread at all.  I tried it on the bobbin only and it caused me annoying tension issues until I finally gave up, put the regular Gutterman thread on the bobbin, and switched to a zigzag stitch!  Aaah, relief!  No more issues! 

I am not the best at sewing bindings so these came out a tad messy but they look ok.  Ok is better than ugly, right?  LOL!  I sewed a dress for the doll, Amy, first, and then one for my 8 year old.  I think they turned out pretty cute! I needed to custom-tailor them to fit well, but that is the point of home sewing, right?  So, here are the finished products.  We are ready to have lunch at the American Girl doll store/restaurant!

 Here is Amy and her tank dress.  Amy is a Madame Alexander 18" doll

 Here is my 8 year old and Amy.  The sun was in her eyes.
And here they are in the shade, very happy with their new dresses!  

jocole shoreline

This is a great pattern! I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On vacation in Bend, Oregon

 Handmade Dress Haven has been on vacation for a week in warm Bend, Oregon.  Being from the very cool coastal Pacific Northwest, Bend seems warm to me.  It was in the high 70s the whole time, which is cool for them.  The reason?  The whole west coast was covered by a huge rain storm!  Lucky us, we got out of it for a week.  The coastal rain showers kept temperatures low in Eastern Oregon.

At any rate, what did we do while we were there?  Well, we spent some time at the High Desert Museum.  My littlest had to wear her Delilah capris I made for her from Simplicity 2171.  Perfect for a warm play day!

The highlight of the visit was Tumbleweed, the 10 week old porcupine baby.  Here he is sucking away on his bottle.  Did you know that porcupines do not throw their quills at enemies?  Quills are just like hair.  They can only come out if you touch them.  I did not know that!  So, just don't touch a porcupine and you will be fine.

The High Desert Museum specializes in saving injured local birds.  Here are some eagles who were too injured to leave and will live out their lives in their very nice habitats.

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

80 degrees is warm for me so here I am, keeping cool with a head scarf.

While we were nearby, we took a drive up to the Cascade Lakes Loop and spent the day at Elk Lake.  Here is my oldest daughter.  That is Mount Bachelor in the background.

My nemesis, Cooper.  I have no idea why he hates me.  He is my mom's bird and he hates her, too!  He likes my dad and my brother.  Strange bird, that one.

The highlight of the trip? Making homemade pizza with my dad, Poppa John!  He makes the dough and sauce himself and then cooks it in his pizza oven.  Great stuff!

Now, of course, when you are a sewist who is working on her stash, you have to visit the local famous quilt shop!  I happen to love Valorie Wells' fabric and since we were only a half hour away from the quilt shop she owns with her mother, The Stitchin' Post, I had to make a trip to see it!  Located in very cute, but touristy, Sisters, Oregon, this shop is very nice.  I did not see Valori while there but all her patterns were at the store and she and her mother have accumulated a very nice and large selection of fabrics, including Valori's new Wrenly line.  My daughters helped me pick this selection which we are going to turn into skirts for them.  Yes, I am going to put a bird on it!    This is a rarity for me.  LOL!

Finally, Valori and her mother have an awesome selection of Kaffe Fasset at their store so I had to pick up a couple of yards.  So hard to choose!!!  Here is what I got.  Not sure what to do with it but it is sure lovely!

Now, since the storm is still hovering over the entire west coast, I will have lots of time to sew this week.