patterns and copyright

Yesterday was all frivolous and frothy. Today there aren’t even any pictures, just me chattering on. I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries lately about the patterns for the things I make…where I find them, are they for sale, etc. I thought I’d give some answers here and then I’m also going to add this to the FAQs on my about me page.

For those of you who don’t want to read through all this, here’s the good part…
We’ve set up a mailing list (over there on the side) to notify people when tutorials and patterns become available or when things are put up for auction or swap or other exciting new developments. Please sign up if you’re interested!

Where do I get the patterns:
Some are ones I’ve created and some are from books or sewing patterns. I’ve made quite a few things from Japanese craft books like this patchwork bag, the scottie dog and this puppy purse. I’ve listed over here all of my Japanese craft books and given some info on how to find and purchase them. I’ve used patterns from other sources like this elephant which was a pattern in a 70s craft book (Splendid Soft Toys) I got from the library or the bunnies which were from a vintage McCalls pattern (Forest Family, #5369). The rest of my projects are from patterns I design and draw up myself, like the kitty dolls, the robots, Betsy and Daisy, the bunny doll, pointy kitty, these guys, Oscar’s bunny, the quilted bag, etc. I always say in my posts whether the pattern I use is one I created or from somewhere else. For the patterns that are not mine I’m sorry but I can’t send out copies because they are copyrighted and I can’t distribute them like that. Sorry to be so uptight — it’s the librarian in me — but also I do feel that artists, crafters and designers deserve credit and compensation for their work.

For the patterns that I come up with:
My goal is to eventually clean them all up and make them available with tutorials in some form or another. Some will be free here on wee wonderfuls — like the wee pattern is now and this bunny doll  pattern will be soon. I’m currently working on a pattern and tutorial for it. Some patterns will be available for free other places, like the pointy kitty whose pattern will be available on MagKnit’s new sewing site, SewPretty this Fall. I’d also like to eventually sell some patterns on wee wonderfuls. My loftiest goal/dream is to some day write a crafty how-to book.

What about dolls and other items for sale:
I’d always like to have something available up for sale on the wee auction. I get bogged down with so many projects that I have a hard time keeping up with making things for sale, but I’m going to try to make that a priority soon.

Creative Commons Copyright:
So the deal is, by default anything I create is copyrighted. I feel the standard copyright is way too rigid so I’m putting a creative commons coyright on my site. This means that others can modify, improve, recreate, etc. entire designs of elements of my designs to their heart’s content for personal use but not for commercial use. You can read more about the details, restrictions and requirements here. I think the creative commons copyright is a really great way to create a community of sharing and building on each others ideas without robbing people of their original work.

Where to start if you want to design your own patterns:
I started at the library. I’d never made a stuffed animal or doll before last summer when I checked out some vintage craft books from the library. I just started following patterns and then after making a few was able to start altering them and then drawing them up on my own. Get yourself a pile of muslin and just jump in!

So that’s all I’ve got. Hopefully that answers more questions than it creates. I’m tring to get organized with these FAQs so it won’t take me as long to return people’s emails. I’m also working on answers for "I’m coming to Chicago can you recommend some crafty stops" and "what’s with this swapping". Please let me know (hillarylang at gmail dot com) if there’s anything else you’d like to see answered.

18 thoughts on “patterns and copyright

  1. Melissa says:

    pointy kitty is so cute! I had no idea magknits was starting a sewing site. No sewing here yet, just admiring, but I think I’ll try pointy kitty when she becomes available.

  2. dawn says:

    Thanks for the comments Hillary. Your site and others, has given me such an appreciation for the work that goes into designing patterns. Even if I think, “oh, I could do that myself” (which I probably couldn’t) I would still order the finished product or the pattern from the designer. It just makes sense.
    I used to do a Christmas craft sale once a year but it was so disheartening hearing people say just that, or sit and count beads on a bracelet that I had made or outright ask if they could have the pattern. I even had a friend order a scarf then phone a few days later (after I’d bought the wool) and cancel the order, saying it looked so simple she thought she’d do it herself. sigh.

  3. amanda says:

    The librarian in me commends the librarian in you for upholding copyright in the interests of crafters and designers everywhere. Well done!

  4. jordan says:

    I have the Splendid Soft Toys book too. Isn’t it wonderful? I actually had a question for you about selling things made from vintage craft patterns. I guess the question is just: Is it allowed? Most newer patterns seem to state that they are for personal use only … but I don’t know about older patterns. I have a whole bookshelf full of vintage craft books, so I was hoping maybe you knew what the deal was.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thanks Hillary, this is a very important post. I just wanted to add something and PLEASE librarians correct me if I’m wrong. When I wanted to provide a copy of the lamb pattern, I did some research on copyright laws and reproductions, and it was my understanding that if the copyright existed before January 1, 1978 (and was not renewed!) it lasts for 28 years from the date of registration. The book in question was copyrighted in 1975, so it became public domain in 2003. I hope I had this right!

  6. hillary says:

    hey stephanie,
    that sounds right. that’s how I understand it too. I’m more than a little freaked out that 1975 was 28 years ago but anyway…
    yeah, I should have been clearer when I mentioned above about not sending out copies of patterns.. most of the requests I get are for the Japanese patterns. copies of vintage patterns would be different, in that case I’d just be too lazy to head to kinkos to make copies 😉
    thanks for adding this!
    and Jordan, I think Stephanie just answered your question. phew – cause I didn’t know the specifics.

  7. amy k. says:

    thanks so much for all the research and information and posting about what can be a delicate and confusing topic. to you too, stephanie!

  8. rosa says:

    Thanks for this post, Hillary, and thank you Stephanie for that information about copyright/public domain on vintage patterns. I’m sure what you wrote here will make a lot of people look at their craft books and their authors with a lot more respect. Crediting your sources is as important in the crafts community as it is in life in general 🙂

  9. P says:

    Nothing about copyrights, but a question for you, Hillary. May or may not be a FAQ… How do you promote your website to get people to visit? I would like to up my blogs’ readership, any tips?

  10. kerrie says:

    Yay for pointy kitty in the fall! Thanks for an interesting post Hillary, the subject of copyright is very topical right now isn’t it?

  11. hannah says:

    librarians rock. just seeing pictures of your creations is good enough for me. thank you for your integrity and sharing. wonderful!

  12. tricia says:

    Thanks so much for posting this info and all of your tutorials. Your creations and posts are inspirational.
    From another crafty librarian

  13. Carol says:

    Would you consider creating patterns for just a few of your creations while getting your book together? I am sure there are many of us who would gladly fork over for the doll and kitty patterns (my personal favorites). Maybe something simple that you could sell through your blog?
    Just an idea

  14. Bram says:

    Hi. You are not quite correct about the copyright rules. Works from 19 23-1964 are in the public domain if they weren’t renewed—then they expired in 28years from the date published—or if they did not have a copyright notice somewhere in the book.
    Works from 1964 through 1977 are in the public domain ONLY if they do not contain a copyright notice somewhere in the book.

  15. Stacy says:

    I am wanting to start selling my own patterns. I have a few made up…I just don’t know exactly how to get into selling them. can you please give me some tips. Thanks,,,Stacy

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