Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dictionary Definition

Under "keeper" in the dictionary, there should be a picture of my Starman. He organized an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast in Cooperstown, NY. (Yup, of Baseball Hall of Fame fame.) The B&B he picked is run by a quilter who hails originally from New Zealand. I quilt. I have family in New Zealand. I certainly had fun chatting with Jean about both topics. Score one for Starman's planning efforts.

But wait -- there's more! There's no quilt shop in Cooperstown, but Jean told us about Heartworks Quilts & Fabrics in Fly Creek. (I'm not going to link to their website -- we Googled them this morning and Google warned us not to click on the link as it "might harm your computer." Not sure what that was about, but I'm not taking the chance.) So, even though there were other things we could have done, Starman said, "Sure, let's go to Fly Creek."

What a lovely man! Quilt stores across the nation would appreciate it if all significant others were as supportive. I know many are, but wouldn't it be nice if they all were??? Then they would all be keepers.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Quilting Circle of Life

Hey, look at that -- Shelina commented on my yellow quilt! I don't recognize her name, so I suspect she's not a Pickle Road denizen. Maybe she got here from the Quilt Bloggers roll. Don't know. Anyway, I then clicked over to her blog, and she had a link to Carolyn's blog, and Carolyn's got a giveaway going on here. It's all about inspiration, and what inspires us as quilters. I wrote a long comment, so if you want to read it, scroll toward the bottom of the comments -- you know it's me when you see it; I always go on too long!

But this has all gotten me thinking about the connectedness of quilters through the Internet. Back in the olden days, women quilted together. Any job goes faster if you're also having fun, and what's more fun than talking to like-minded friends? These days, that happens less often. Fewer people hand quilt (I don't, and I have to say, I'm unlikely ever to start), and just imagine the dog's breakfast you'd have it you tried to free-motion machine quilt all at the same time with your friends. (One machine or several -- I'm pretty sure it wouldn't come out either way.)

But the Internet allows us to meet new quilters, see what they're doing, and to talk about our lives. I will admit, this blog is meant to be just about my quilting. I have a "regular life" blog elsewhere. But I'm still chatting about life here too. Quilting is life, after all -- and I often think it's been a perfect effort for me: hard to do, I'm not perfect at it, but I'm improving. If that's not a definition of life, I don't know what is.

Thanks, Shelina and Carolyn! You got me thinking.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Before . . .

I've finished the Yellow Wip, so it's time to clean the sewing room/office, getting ready for the next project!

Not a moment too soon, either:

In the foreground, my sewing machine cabinet, piled high with fabric, project bags, etc. In the middle ground, a chair and other furniture piled high with fabric, project bags, etc. In the background, a day bed piled high with . . . you get the idea.

You will have to take my word for it, there's an ironing surface on the left and a cutting surface on the right. They just happen to be piled high with fabric, project bags, . . . oh, never mind.

My sewing machine, front & center in the room. I use the computer chair when I sew, so that's the one piece of furniture that stays clean.

Not pictured here are the bags upon bags of fabric. I try to be good about buying fabric, but that's a bit of a relative concept. I restrict my purchases to three occasions: 1) when I need something for an ongoing project, 2) when I'm on vacation, and 3) when I've finished something and feel like I deserve a reward. I'm afraid the past month has been a perfect storm of stash building: we vacationed in New England for a week, and I finished the Yellow Wip just in time for a shop hop in my area. I got good stuff, mind you, but that's no excuse... Luckily I also earned some money for the first time in a while (I'm semi-retired as an attorney), so I don't feel guilty.

But I'll sure feel guilty if I don't get this room clean!

. . . During . . .

Halfway through tidying my sewing room, and here's all the fabric that needs sorting and putting away:

I've organized it by project, and to a certain extent, what its provenance is. I'll show you what I mean.

The plastic boxes have fabric bought, or culled from the stash, for specific projects. Here's the list so far: The big plastic box on the top of the stack has 30s-era and English multicolored florals, plus 8 yards of white tone-on-tone floral for a scrappy floral quilt on white. Below that are some very soft peachy toned fabrics for a low-contrast log cabin quilt I want to make. There's a jelly roll on the top that might be part of that effort as well.

Below that is a box with yellows and creams, plus the focus fabrics for a tote bag challenge issued by the local quilt guild (which isn't my quilt guild -- Ms. Genius here had to join a guild that's 80 miles away just as gas prices go through the roof!); I want to piece the background and then applique over that. It'll look great if I can pull it off.

The two stacks of fabric are an immediate project to the left (this fabric will be left out -- it's been prewashed and is ready for design stages and then cutting), and a future project to the right. The left stack are muted shades of coral and cream -- a toile, some florals, a stripe -- for a baby quilt I want to do, using a pattern in Color from the Heart by Gai Perry. The right stack are florals for a Blooming Nine-Patch quilt, from Blance Young's book, Traditions with a Twist.

On the left, some blue & white fabrics I got in Stowe, and on top a pink floral I got in Williston, VT. I think they'd go well together, don't you? To the right, a focus fabric I got in Williston as well, with some fabrics I got to go with it, and some fabrics I just pulled from my stash. A future project, to be sure, but at least I know what I want to do. Just need to design it, cut it, sew it, quilt it, and bind it. Next week, maybe (cough cough)...

A bad photo, color-wise, of some really lovely green fabrics I've pulled from my stash. I want to make AmandaJean's star quilt, which she's been doing as a sampler on her blog. I've got a link to the most recent block here. The pins are to help me remember which fabrics I thought could go together where a block needs both a light and a darker color.

Stash fabric. Some of it is recently purchased, some of it is going back into the stash after coming out for some project or other, and some of it is a recent addition by virtue of the auction at my guild.

Watercolor swap fabrics on the left, scraps from the guild auction on the right. The watercolor fabbies are going straight to the washing machine for this month's swap; the scraps are going into the closet. Someday I'll do a million-piece, no-two-fabrics-duplicated quilt. But not this year decade.

Of course, no sooner had I taken these photos and nearly finished putting everything away, but the mail arrives and . . . you guessed it! More fabric! Including the real indulgence of the month: an entire fat quarter set of April Cornell's Portugal. Yummy! (You can see it in the After photos, if you are very clever.)

. . . and After

And here it is, all cleaned up. The cutting surface and ironing surface are supplied by Ikea freestanding kitchen furniture. The computer station, bookcases, and shelving for my fabric -- all Ikea. Even the rug is Ikea! The bed, the velveteen chair, and the art work: not Ikea. Oh, and the flowers were a surprise present from my husband, who bought them while doing the grocery shopping. I don't have the heart to tell him that doing the grocery shopping is gift enough!

I have parked the next series of projects in clear plastic boxes. Some are stowed in a cool bag that my cousin, the famous cross stitcher Coffee Jones, gave me. Others are stowed neatly under the chest of drawers.

Note the clever use of a daybed for extra guests. Although I have to tell you -- I hate being shut out of this room for too long. I need to see my fabric!

And here it is! I had carefully put nearly all the stacks away when my husband came home and said I had a new delivery from Hancock's of Paducah. I still have a little room left...

That's my sewing machine, carefully tucked away in a cabinet designed to house a dishwasher. How clever is that? (if I say so myself). This is good because it means that during the cutting stage of a project, I can keep the sewing machine completely put away. I'll be honest, though -- once I start piecing, it doesn't go back in the cubby for a lo-o-ong time.

Just had to include a photo to show where the sewing machine isn't.

Something Accomplished, Something Done!

This is the yellow & earth tone quilt I made for my dentist's daughter. The photos aren't doing the colors justice -- I guess yellow is a tough color to capture. I am pleased with the quilting on this one -- for the middle I used a freehand version of a pantograph design I saw in a Fons & Porter issue. (They're very good about showing the quilt design of a quilt they've featured using dotted lines on a washed out illustration.)

For the middle section, I took advantage of the geometry both of the quilt and the yellow fabric and did a grid freehand.

And on the outermost border, I did daisies that get cut off by the binding. Aesthetically, I'm not sure that's optimal, but I rather like the effect for other reasons. I used white thread here, and then a variegated yellow thread for the flower centers.

The back. You can see the middle quilting design a bit better here.

And here.

I handed the quilt off to the people in the office over my dentist's office -- they're lawyers, which probably doesn't make them more honest than the rest of the world, just more likely to see that there's no point in stealing something when I'm certain to follow up!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Copyright & other legal issues

My life as a lawyer doesn't often overlap with my life as a quilter -- other than the suggestion that I'm equally unskilled at both! But every once in a while, something comes up that gets me thinking both as a quilter and a lawyer.

I belong to the Pickle Road Studio message board on Yahoo, a loose collection of quilters (well, I think one or two of them may be loose...) who are quite vocal on a number of issues. They raised two legal questions regarding copyrights and licenses. I will paraphrase them somewhat:

1) Quilt block designs are as old as the hills and almost all are in the public domain. How does someone collecting the various blocks for a public purpose avoid copyright infringement if the book/website/computer program that contains the block is copyrighted? Just redraw the block?

2) Fabric is designed, and some of it is designed by a name designer who claims rights in the fabric design. Some fabric companies offer "free" patterns on their websites, with a disclaimer and reservation of rights that restricts the quilter from making any money from the resulting quilt. Meaning, you can't make a bunch and sell them on Etsy, at a craft show, etc. Which is fine. But can the fabric designer prevent a quilter from selling just any old quilt (or bag or potholder...) make from the designer's fabric without claiming a licensing fee? So the real question is, when does the designer have rights in the money someone makes from an item made with the designer's fabric? And where's the line between licensing issues, which is a contract claim, and copyright laws?

I had my answers, and then I sought even better answers from a higher authority -- my ex-husband (aka "Hub 1.0"), who is an intellectual property lawyer at a big Philadelphia law firm. His specialty is international patent law, but he is very smart about all IP law, and -- frankly -- about virtually everything else you can think to ask him. Here are his answers:

1). If the block design is "as old as the hills" it must be in the public domain by now. However, if somebody makes a new drawing showing the block design, or a new quilt using the block design, or a new photograph of an old quilt using the block design, there may be a thin copyright in the actual drawing, quilt, or photograph. So, you have to go behind the new drawing, quilt, or photograph, extract the old underlying design, and make your own drawing.

2). Assuming the original designer's authorized textile mill sells (or gives) you the original fabric, so that you are the lawful owner, she has exhausted her rights in the bolt of fabric, and cannot stop you selling the quilt, 17 USC s. 109(a), or publicly displaying it, 17 USC 109(c). That one is difficult to avoid, short of a license that requires you to give the fabric back when you have finished with it. But the exhaustion extends only to the physical fabric that you got from the official source.

However, the *quilt design* (which I interpret as covering choice of block pattern, choice of fabric, which fabric goes in which panels of the block pattern, and possibly some fussy cutting) is a separate work, with a separate copyright.

So, the designer, through her website, provides you with the copyrighted quilt design, with a license to use the design to make a quilt. A license is contractual, so she can impose any terms in the contract that do not fly in the face of public policy or the basic statutory scheme of copyright. For example, a clause saying you can make individual quilts for "social, domestic or pleasure" purposes [That one is an obscure joke on English car insurance, so you will wish to rephrase it.] for free, but must not make them in commercial quantities without paying a license fee, is usually considered proper. Note there is one catch. Unless the license absolutely forbids you from selling or giving the quilt away, or requires you to impose a contractual restraint on the recipient (difficult for a gift), the person you give it to becomes the legal owner, and appears to be protected by the exhaustion clause in s. 109(a) as previously discussed. So your donee can sell it, so a ban on your selling it rather than giving it would be a bit pointless. (The practical limits on enforcing license terms may be more generous to the quilter than the legal limits. A designer whose rigorous enforcement made her as hated and despised as the RIAA would probably face not only bad karma but loss of business.)

If you make pictures of the finished quilt, then I think there is likely to be a problem, because you are likely to be outside both the exhaustion of rights in the fabric and your license to use the design. If you merely want to put up the pictures on your private, non-commercial blog, it may be worth doing a "fair use" analysis, or it may be safer to make the pictures so fuzzy that the exact fabric is not recognizable. We would need to look at the facts a bit more carefully.

Of course, if you do not make an exact copy of the quilt as shown in the downloaded pattern, but make a somewhat similar quilt, it becomes a fact-specific question whether you have taken enough of the designer's creation to have made a "derivative work" that is still controlled by the copyright in the pattern, or whether you have made an original work merely inspired by the pattern, which is not controlled by the earlier copyright.

So there you have it -- basically, make your own representation of classic blocks, and buy the fabric, but if you use the fabric company's free design, read the small print. My thanks to Hub 1.0 for his time thinking about and then answering my questions.

I have a couple general suggestions in the IP realm: credit anyone's photo wherever possible, and if you're not sure if you're allowed to use it, ask permission or don't use it. If you've been "inspired" by a better known quilter's work, and your resulting quilt gets some publicity, be sure to credit the inspiration and mention the better-known quilter by name. It may not be legally necessary, but it's just good manners. Finally, don't make money off anyone else's work. That's a broad injunction, but it's a good rule of thumb, and it would include the case above of selling a quilt you couldn't have made without someone else's work, namely the pattern.

Hope this helps!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation S.E.X.

We're in Maine tonight; tomorrow we'll cross two state lines and end up in Vermont. Now, how many quilt stores can I manage to visit on this trip? Certainly one: I was advised over the weekend not to miss the Calico Basket Quilt shop in Windham, just west of our current location.

Meanwhile, the message board I belong to, Pickle Road Studio on Yahoo!, introduced me to the joys of S.E.X., which stands for Stash Enhancing eXperiences. Suddenly, Starman was off and running with the double entendres. Hey, if it means we can actually stop our trip at a quilt store, and there are no tears when I come out with a shopping bag (and commensurately lighter wallet), he can make all the jokes he wants.

So, in keeping with my theory that vacation S.E.X. is best (not necessarily all the time, but work with me here), we'll see what I can find tomorrow.

The yellow Wip is still wippy, but mostly quilted. I'm pleased with the effect of cross-hatching on the wide (and frankly rather boring) yellow border. I took advantage of the fact that the fabric has a naturally even design that meant I could do all the quilting by eye. No way was I going to mark it.

I'm also pleased that my purchase of a special quilting attachment (the one with the open C-shape at the bottom, and a spring that hops it up and down) has solved (?!) my perennial problem with the main thread breaking as I quilted. That was money well spent!

Alas, no pictures. Let me get home, do the last little bit of quilting on the outer border and then I can show you how well it's come out.

But first, some S.E.X. on the road!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Commence Quilting!

I've started quilting the yellow flimsy; my goal is to finish it and sew on the binding before we leave; that way I have the handsewing to do over the weekend and then I can mail it from the road. It will be nice to get it done!

I'm do zone quilting, including a field pattern adapted from a nice, rather Asian looking meander that I found in the current issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting (June/July 2008) on p. 64. I like Fons & Porter for this very reason -- they show a dotted line illustration of the quilting, even when the quilting is obviously done with a long arm machine. I'm machine quilting on a conventional sized machine, but I can adapt the more polished looking design. The way I see it, the more I practice my machine quilting, the better I'll get . . . in a very very long time.

Back to work!