Thursday, April 12, 2012

Copyrights: Attitude is everything!

I've been doing some thinking about the issue of copyrighted material.

I ran across this article on a Blog that I frequent and it expresses my own opinion on this topic.

I've run across the issue of someone "stealing" one of the techniques that I teach and selling the results, and I have always thought that it was a good thing. I was happy that someone took an idea of mine (that I may or may not have gotten from another source) and made it there own enough to sell it and make some money for themselves off of it.

There is a woman in town who was giving tatting classes. I originally taught this woman how to tat when I was working at Erickson's in the last century. She apologized to me for teaching Tatting as if it were taking away from something I was doing. I had moved on so I didn't mind, but even if there had been strong feelings involved, I would have to ask myself, what right would I have to corner the market on tatting lessons? I didn't invent tatting and nothing really innovative has happened with tatting in the last 100 years. It was practically a lost art, so if she was able to master the technique through practice and became proficient enough that she could teach it to others then maybe this art will not totally be lost. I say teach it to as many people as are interested and keep encouraging them to teach it to others as well so that maybe in time there will be some more innovations and the younger generation will find the joys of tatting and keep teaching to more of the generations to come. Once the last person who knows something dies they take that knowledge with them to the grave and then it will take hundreds of years to get it back through the normal progression of experimentation, practice and innovation.

The world of quilting is different from other forms of creative expression in that quilters are natural sharers and nurturers. That is the trait that got us in trouble in the first place and led to debacles like the Schlep bag controversy where we all grabbed a hold of a fairly easy technique and didn't bother to go buy the pattern. It has now passed from quilter to quilter so many times that most of us don't even know that it was a printed pattern to begin with let alone who the original designer was.

This is the worst case scenario on the topic of copyright, and yes, it is wrong. This is why the board of Rumpled Quilts-Kin quilting guild has deemed it necessary to stress the importance of not copying patterns for our friends.

But this does not apply to things that are taught. It states in the article that if you teach a technique that you have innovated, you then must accept that your students are going to use that knowledge to their own benefit if they can. You have no right to claim benefits from what your students do with that knowledge. I designed a bag that I call the "Wild Log Cabin bag" and eventually I will have the pattern ready to sell. I've given it to my students in the free-mo classes that I've taught and it's come back to me several times that my students have made these bags and started selling them at local bazaars and craft shows. That's great! Maybe someone who buys one of their bags for $30 will eventually see the pattern on sale for $8.00 and buy it so they can make their own. Or it could end up being another Schlep bag, because it's so easy that you don't really need a pattern for it, and that would be good too because it would give me bragging rights. Eventually I could go anywhere in the country and say, "You know that Crazy Log Cabin bag? I designed that." It would add to my expertise. I'm not going to get stuck on that one item and keep fighting with the idea that I need to be compensated from every person who ever made one. Life is too short. I give my skills to the Universe and the Universe blesses me with more new ideas.

This attitude of sharing ideas and innovations is the whole reason that quilting has had such a resurgence in the past 40 years. I have always maintained that quilters are the best people on the planet because we know the secret to life. To learn and create as much as we can and to share what we know with other like minded people so they can also learn and create and in this way we love each other with our creativity. This is what makes us happy and full of life. This is what makes us quilters.

I applaud Leah Day and her wisdom, her ideas, and her creativity. I applaud that she has the strength of purpose and the giving nature that allows her to give her creativity so freely. She too has been triply blessed by the Universe (read deity if you must) because she has even more to share as she grows in her craft.

Keep in mind that the copyright laws were written to protect the publishing industry, not to curtail creativity. Most quilt designers know this and truly wish to share their techniques with others. As a quilter I say, give the designers their due. As a designer I say, go forth and create!

See Leah’s post on this subject at:

Cindy Koch-Krol
Quilting Teacher at Interquilten
Quilt designer
Artist and Author

Monday, March 5, 2012

Decluttering the Stash (Part 3): Special collections!

If you are like me, you have several of these special collections of fabric. Orientals, Civil War or Depression Era Reproductions, Christmas, Halloween, I spy's, hearts, Metallic, Cats, etc. All of these are considered special collections, especially if you have them in a separate area of your stash. Some people might consider Batik's a special collection. I don't because, well just because and I don't want to discuss it, OK? I love Batiks and I'm not getting rid of any of them. I've been collecting them for more than 10 years now and someday I will have ONLY batiks in my stash because I love them so much. Their colors and designs are simply luscious and I'm never going to get rid of them. So, just, get off my case, OK?

If you feel this way about one of your collections then by all means, keep it. It probably means that that's how you see color, design and yourself as a quilter. I know someone who is so into Halloween that she has a stash of Halloween fabrics to rival none other. She would never get rid of them in a million years. But for me, it was just more clutter.

I recently tried to make quilts to get rid of all my Halloween stash. I kept cutting and piecing and then found a way to make smaller and smaller pieces go further and further. I now have a Haunted house quilt, a haunted attic window quilt, a haunted log cabin quilt, a witches hat quilt, several Halloween wall hangings, and I still haven't gotten rid of all of it. I think the rest is going to pieced into backs. Same thing happened a few years ago with my Christmas stash. I wanted to make one Christmas quilt and when that was finished I realized I had enough fabric to make about six more full sized Christmas Quilts. so I set about doing exactly that. I did the same for my Depression Era Reproductions, and ended up giving the rest of them away to my dear friend and co-worker Sues Simpson for Christmas last year. The Civil War prints went to another friend, Sharyn Woerz who edited my first novel. I just stacked them all in a box, and mailed them to her. Feels good to give something to someone who wants it when you don't. It's freeing. Try it and see.

Again, as you go through these special collections try to remember why you bought the stuff in the first place. Do you have all these Civil War prints because you wanted to make an Underground Railroad quilt or Dear Jane? Did you finish the quilt you wanted to make with them? If so then maybe it's time to get rid of the leftovers. If not then maybe you need to put them in a box or package marked, "save for Dear Jane". This might give you the incentive needed to pick up that project again, knowing that once it's done you can then get rid of those fabrics. Did you buy every bug fabric you could lay hands on because you wanted to make a bug jar quilt? Did you make it? Is it done? Then pass those bug prints on you someone else who hasn't made one yet. Give them the pattern you used to, kill two birds!

One of the things I did to get my stash down was to find these collections and the patterns I still wanted to do with them. I did all the cutting for the project I wanted to do and then put all the pieces into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag with the pattern. These are called kits! You can store these in a box or old suitcase. I put them in my suitcase and then take them with me to quilting retreats. If all the pieces are cut then you know that all you have to do is start sewing them and retreats are perfect for this because you're being entertained by gabbing with friends.

Oh and BTW, there is no such thing as the phenom entitled: "Fabric too Pretty to be Cut."

If you think there is and have pieces of this in your stash then here is what I want you to do before you do anything else:

1. Go get it out of your stash and see how much is there. If it's more than a yard then cut off a one yard piece of it.
2. Take this yard and cut it into two half yard pieces. If it is less than a yard than cut in half. If you have 27 inches cut it into two 13 1/2 inch pieces, etc.
3. Go to your stash and find fabrics that go with this fabric. Use it as a focus and pull other fabrics out of your stash that go with it. You will need more than 5 of these and less than twenty.
4. Go to your block library or to this website and find one or more blocks that you like or just make a quantity of blocks that you like to make. Make enough of them so that you have at least three rows of blocks that are about 40-42 inches long.
5. Put one strip of the blocks between the two nice pieces of fabric and one on either side of them.

6. Now just border it out until it's the size you want. Voila! Instead of beautiful fabric that is getting no use in your stash, you now have a beautiful quilt that you can use as a throw or a bed quilt. Because it's more important to have a beautiful quilt than beautiful fabric! Right?

OK, so go have a look at your stash again, and declutter those special collections and those special fabrics. You won't be sorry you did!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Decluttering the Stash (Part 2)

If you are following this Blog, you now have a box of fabric that is old and/or ugly and you have probably been berating yourself for spending money on it. So what do you do with it?

Get rid of it. If you are like me, you can't just throw it in the trash, but hopefully, you threw some of it in the trash already, the little bits that were cut into and ragged with frayed edges or the ones that had big seams going right down the center. As quilters we would buy those bits if they gave us a discount on them because we knew we were going to cut tiny pieces out of them anyway--had we ever used them at all. Well, so What now? If we can't just throw them in the trash what?

How about taking them to guild and offering them to other quilters who will pick through them and take the bits they like. This is good for fabric that is not Quilt Shop Quality (QSQ) fabric. If it is QSQ then you might offer it for sale to people at a substantial discount and make back some of the cash you spent on it. Or you can donate it to any number of groups that make quilts for charity. I can't stress more highly the idea of getting rid of fabric that isn't going to get used in your stash.

OK, now that your rid of the old/ugly fabric, presumably all you have left in your stash is good, new, beautiful, useful fabric. It is now that you have to ask yourself an important question. Is there still too much of it? Yes, no? Maybe? Count a maybe answer as a yes. If the answer is yes, than more sorting is required.

Your first purge should have let you see how much fabric from any given piece you are in the habit of using. I used to always buy a half yard of anything that I liked. I bought a yard if I really liked it and thought it would be nice to use as a major part of a quilt such as the background, or sashing, or as a major theme of a quilt. For the most part though I have found that I usually use less than a 10 inch square of any given fabric. There are exceptions to this rule for sure. But for the most part, if I don't have a particular use in mind for a fabric, I have to assume I will only use a 10 inch square or less. So what does this mean? It means, dear reader, that I only need to keep a 10 inch square of whatever fabrics I have. Not the full yardages that I seem to acquire. Again, there are exceptions to these rules, so as you go through your stash a second time, use your judgement. Did you buy 2 yards of this bright purple because you had it in mind for a project? Are you still going to do that project or have you lost interest in it? Could you get by cutting off a half yard of it to keep and getting rid of the other 1 1/2 yards? If so then do so.

You have a half yard of fabric and a 4 inch square was cut from one side of it. How about cutting it along the fold and selling the other as a fat quarter on E-bay or at guild. I took a bunch of fat quarters that I had cut this way to my guild's retreat and ended up making more than the cost of the retreat.

You're new assignment is to go through your stash again and downsize it by cutting off saleable parts of it and then keeping what is left over for yourself. The idea is to only keep what you will use, and only the amount that you are apt to use in the future. You should be able to reduce your stash by half this way.

Once you have done this, come back and I will give you the next installment in how to declutter your stash.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Decluttering the Stash--A how to moment

How many of you have uttered these phrases?

"I have so much fabric at home, I can't buy any more fabric!"

"I need to finish some of the stuff I have at home, so I can go out and buy more."

"I just inherited a huge stash from my (whoever) and I just don't know what to do with it all."

Don't tell me you've never said at least one of these phrases, I've heard you. I work at Interquilten and these are the three things I hear most often and usually it's an excuse not to buy any more fabric from our shop.

So let me tell you something about the fabric industry once and for all.

Number one, no matter how much you love the fabric that you are buying right now, later on down the road there will be another one that you like better.

Number two, the reason you need to buy more fabric is because the fabric in your stash is: (choose however many apply)
__ Too Old
__ Too Ugly
__ Too Bright
__ Too Dull
__ Just not right
__ Just tired of looking at it
__ Doesn't fit current project needs
__ Not this one in my hand right now

Number three, face it right now and take the pledge: You are addicted to buying fabric and your quilting has become unmanageable. You need a power greater than yourself to restore you to quilting sanity.

Well, I'm here. I've been there, I've done that, I've bought the T-shirt. (It's pink and it has a bunch of ladies in a car with fabric flags flying out the window and it says, "Road Trip".)

So your first assignment from me, your higher power.

Go through your fabric stash and pull out all the old and ugly fabric that is over ten years old and that you are tired of looking at. Put it in a box. That's all. Next week I'll tell you what to do about it.