The Free Motion Quilting Project: How Free Works

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Free Works

I apologize to anyone who's wanting to see this whole copyright subject drop and just go away. I have a few more things to say about the subject, but as always if you're not up for this conversation, please enjoy learning designs today instead.

Several commenters raised questions specifically about this blog, The Free Motion Quilting Project, and how I would feel if someone took all 365 designs from this blog and published them in a book.

Quite simply: I WOULD LOVE THIS!

Now that I have you scratching your head with confusion, allow me to explain:

1. Thieves Rarely Work Hard

If a person really wants to rip you off and steal from you, most likely they want to do it in the most simple, easiest way possible. This is simple logic: a person who steals is probably lazy.

Do you have any idea how much time it would take to collect all the information on this site and publish it into a book? All 365 designs are not laid out simply. I slowed the project down and wrote about a whole lot of other stuff in between designs so if someone was able to somehow download directly from Blogger, they'd have to spend a ton of time editing.

I'm betting that it's too much time for a rip-off guy to consider, but just in case, let's go a step further.

If someone did take every single post and every single photo of every single design, that book would look like garbage, and probably read like it too.

90% of the photos on this project are low resolution, some below 50 dpi due to the older camera I was using at the beginning. If a book was printed with those photos, it wouldn't look good. It would look terrible.

I also rambled horribly in many posts. Some don't make sense. When I was feeling lazy or too busy, I didn't post a lot of detail. This is a blog, not a doctorate dissertation!

So if you really wanted to do a good job on a book of all 365 of these designs, you'd need to copy and paste all the content, download all the photos, re-stitch, and re-shoot all the photos that look bad, edit the content down, format it for a book, and whew! then you'd be ready to publish.

If you did all that work, you'd DESERVE to publish that book! I'd love to see it! If I liked it, I might even wholesale it from you and sell it here on the project myself.

Now isn't that a crazy idea?

This is exactly why I haven't published the book of all 365 designs yet. I haven't had time to do it all!

2. These designs can't be copyrighted

I seriously doubt these designs are even able to BE copyrighted, as I explained in the Copyright Terrorism post.

Even if you consider them to be "mine" (which I definitely do not), you do not need my permission to publish them in a book of your own.

I'd love to know if you're doing this, if only to give you a big pat on the back and some encouragement along the way. If you had any questions about a design, I'd definitely be willing to give you pointers and advice, or even proofread your book if needed.

I'd really love to see more books with these designs published and using the same names because it's far less confusing if we use the same name for the same design. Imagine if every time someone wrote about Stippling they had to come up with another name? It's too confusing!

3. Being ripped off would help me, not damage me

Most people think being ripped off is the most terrible thing because it will somehow damage you personally.

Basically it's the idea that if someone took all 365 designs and published them in a book, that would significantly hurt me. It would damage my business, it may even cause my business to fail.

This might have been true 1000 years ago during the Middle Ages when a town would have one blacksmith, and one shoe maker, and one carpenter. Any of these tradesmen would jealously guard the skills and knowledge of their profession because if too many people had the skill to make swords or shoes or wooden stuff, they wouldn't go to those guys for service.

But even then, if those guys had become teachers and taught the best way to weld and bend metal openly to anyone interested, the more minds involved would have innovated faster, more knowledge would have been gained in a collective, and the cheaper their services could have become, thus making demand for their services higher and higher. In essence: more people would have had metal fences, new shoes, and wooden bowls.

And this is what eventually happened with the formation of trade guilds, but even then secrecy and jealously often limited innovation.

It's in our history to be grubby and selfish when it comes to fine crafts and skills, but it doesn't have to be this way.

For the last 100 years, and in America, at least, quilting has had a much more open history of sharing, teaching, and community service. A group of women often formed quilting bees to collectively quilt quilts for each others families. They didn't mind quilting Sue's daughter's quilt because they knew one day Sue, and maybe even her daughter would help quilt one of their quilts too.

This is what brought me to quilting: the ability to share freely.

I once took a week long glass beadmaking class at John C Campbell Folk School. It was my high school graduation present and I had an absolute blast making beads and enjoying that wonderful place to learn.

But I never made a single bead after that class largely because of one conversation that I overheard:

The instructor told us a story about a professional beadmaker who made a distinctive bead. This beadmaker taught classes on how to make this bead to students.

One day she was at a jewelry show and saw a former student also vending and at her booth she was selling those same distinctive beads she'd been taught to make. The beadmaker was angry and upset and pulled all her similar beads from her table.

This is a perfect example of the insanity I've found in other crafts. Even at 18, I was appalled by that entire story and suddenly began questioning everything I was learning from my teacher. If I used what I'd learned from her to make beads to sell, would I also make her angry and upset? Could I use any of this information now?

This brings us to a very simple point:


That goes for anything: a technique, a pattern, a cutting method, a design. If you teach it, expect it to be used for ANY reason.

This includes a student taking the information you teach and teaching it herself. This includes the student writing a book on it, making a DVD of it, creating stitched items to sell, and more. This isn't even being ripped off, this is the normal educational process!

If you teach something, you are putting it out there for the world to enjoy.

That is what I've done here: I've shared 365 designs and taught you how to use them. I'm the creator, but I have absolutely no idea of all the million of ways these designs can be used and stitched beautifully on quilts and other projects. That's your job as my student to take this information and run with it.

You have 100% right take what you learn here, stitch it, enjoy it, master it, then teach it yourself.

And no, this won't hurt me a bit. If anything, it will help me!

Case in point: This year I'm not the only person blogging about free motion quilting. Sew Gal Gal is holding a Free Motion Quilting Challenge and Quokka Quilts is holding a weekly Free-Motion-Quilt-As-You-Go-Quilt-Along.

Rather than pulling traffic away from my site, both of these projects have brought me more followers and interest simply because they're spreading the word further and father about free motion quilting than I could alone.

They're reaching people who might not have known about me, and thanks to bloggers linking up and spreading love, more people are finding out about this site than ever before.

So rather than view either of these blogs as a threat, I'm contributing to both! My flower designs for Quokka Quilts will be posted this Wednesday and I'll be teaching the Free Motion Quilting Challenge for May.

4. Loyalty is stronger than you think - Now what if 10 people all write books of all 365 designs, including me. Who's book will sell the most?


Loyalty is a wonderful thing, and I don't take it lightly. I've worked hard to create a wonderful place for you to hang out and learn. At the outset, I envisioned this site as a huge resource of free motion quilting designs, ideas, and inspiration, a place I would have loved to have back when I started free motion quilting.

Because I've investigated and studied free motion quilting for so long, and shared so much, aren't you more likely to purchase books from me than some other, unknown source?

To some people, a book is a book and an author is an author. Some people wouldn't care who's name is on the cover so long as all 365 designs are there along with the information you need.

But many more quilters would want my name on the cover of that book, and to be able to purchase it from my quilt shop. It feels more personal that way, and in truth, you help support the project most directly that way too.

It's a simple fact: if you give someone a gift, you make that person happy. Whenever opportunity arises, that person will want to give a gift back.

That's what we're doing here: giving and receiving, sharing and learning, helping and supporting.

A quilter without this base, without this body of content and traffic will be hard pressed to compete with me without a significant marketing budget.

Of course, many big publishers have that kind of money to throw around, but guess what they do the instant they get a book under contract? Tell you to stop blogging about it.

Rather than build an audience to sell your book, they insist you stop writing about the book lest it hurt sales. Their heads are is still stuck on the idea that if you give something away for free, it loses all value.

If that's truly the case, why do so many people continually ask for book of all 365 designs, despite the fact that all of them are here online, for free?

And this brings us to the last point:

5. Open creativity is the most powerful thing in the universe.

Do you know how many designs I have sketched and planned right now? Over 700. I could easily come up with another 1000 if I had a month to focus entirely on designing. New designs aren't my focus right now, but it's always a possibility.

So the idea that 365 designs is some finite number, and that I only need to write one book to feature them all is a bit limited. Variations and innovations are endless, so long as I continue creating, new ideas will always come.

Each design is a base that can be changed minutely to create another design with another texture. That next design can also be changed in another small way, and so on and so on.

The number of possible designs is endless! Truly endless!

Of course, there are two areas that can be exceptions to all of these ideas. These are two areas where damage to this project could be significant if someone was being truly malicious.

1. Nasty stuff.

This is one sticky point that many people bring up - what if these designs or this entire project was somehow used to create gross stuff that I don't support, like child pornography or hate propaganda for example.

The truth is, this is extremely unlikely. How often do the porn world and the quilting world meet? Still, it's impossible to stop or control. If someone nasty wants to do something nasty with my work, I can't do much about it.

This gets into the point about using a quilting design - I could probably copyright the photos and the names of these designs if I really wanted to, but I can't copyright the USE of the design itself.

So if a KKK member wanted to use Deco Planks for their hate banner, they could. I have to assume that everyone has the logic to know that I didn't quilt the banner, and I definitely don't support that cause.

If a particular design got famous on a particular banner, and I became somehow connected to it, I'd release a statement to make it clear that I don't support it. As artist and designers, that's about all you can do, but I sincerely hope I don't ever have to deal with anything too nasty.

2. Ripping off packaged content.

Packaged content would be the finished books and DVDs I've created so far. This is one place where copyright is helpful and necessary. I have two books and two DVDs about free motion quilting, and sales of these items help to support this project and my family.

If someone was to make their own copies of these books and DVDs and sell them for far cheaper than mine, yes, this could hurt my business.

But again, I look at this in a rather open light. I could live in fear of thieves and use that as an excuse to lock everything down and shut it up in a box, or I could keep doing what I'm doing and trust that people of that nature are too lazy to do that much work for not very much gain.

It's a balance act with this kind of thing. I choose to focus on what's really happening today, not what might happen tomorrow. I also believe that if this happened, more people would still want to purchase these items from me, not an anonymous, sketchy source.

Now if someone took my videos down from YouTube, such as all the Quilt Along videos, which are posted for free, and tried to sell them as a package, I would have a problem with that.

This actually happened once with an iphone app which was being sold for $0.99. I believe free content should stay free so I contacted the creator and had the app made free.

I don't think it's still available now, but it's a good experience to remember. I was alerted to the app within a few days of it going online, so also remember that the quilting industry might be big, but it's also very small too and if something happens like this you'll usually know about it within a short time.

So if someone was to "rip off" this blog, would it really matter?

First off, as I covered above, I wouldn't consider it ripping me off or stealing at all. I'd consider it a normal cycle of students becoming teachers, and I'd try my best to support it in every way possible.

And secondly, no, it wouldn't matter because there's always more designs to share, more books to write about them, more knowledge on the horizon just waiting to be learned and shared.

I hope I've helped you understand this blog a bit better and to open your mind to the world of free content and teaching.

I truly believe that whatever you give freely, you will get back in some form or another. By giving away all of these designs, I've built a business that supports my family, and that achievement makes me super happy every day.

Had I created all the designs alone, without sharing a single one, would you even know who I am today? Would you care?

And had I slapped a confusing copyright message on them, would you have even wanted to come back here or play with these designs?

Lot's of things to think about today! Now let's finish up with a little more free information:

Advice to Quilting Bloggers / Teachers:

If you want to blog successfully to build a loving, loyal audience, please try the following:

1. Stop displaying confusing copyright messages on your blog. People shouldn't have to ask permission to share your cool stuff, so stop requiring them to do so.

If you absolutely must know when someone mentions your name, use Google Alerts to know anytime your name or specific phrases are written online.

2. Don't blog about things you don't want to teach / share / see used. If you're going to get upset when you see your tutorial sold or your pattern turned into a quilt without your name credited, just don't put it up in the first place. You use it and enjoy it, lock it in a box, and swallow the key. Enjoy the selfish stomach ache that will result.

3. If you do give something away, give it away freely. Attribution in this case would be as desired, not a requirement. Trust me, if someone appreciates the pattern, they will give you credit honestly and openly, and probably far more often because they're not feeling pressured to do so.

4. Share, share, share - Give freely, give daily, and the world will beat a path to your door. Teach and spread your knowledge and influence with everyone in the world and expect them to expand and innovate on it and share it in turn.

It's a big world out there, we all have lots of people to teach and help.  I love teaching quilting and I hope to help create a world that's open and giving to information, ideas, and techniques.

It's been in the works for awhile, but very soon I'll be launching a Teaching Program where I give all my teaching information away for free as well.  If you'd like to start teaching classes on free motion quilting, this free program will definitely be a great place to get started.

I've also realized while writing the last few posts just how passionate I am about business and making money in this creative field.  I'm going to pick a day to write about business and making money with quilting each week.  

I've definitely learned a lot over the last 5 years of owning two businesses, and have many ideas I can't wait to share with you.  Not everyone is interested in making a living with quilting, but many quilters want to make some income, and this will be yet another way we can learn and grow together.

Whew!  Now if you're inspired to write a book of all 365 designs, please go get started!

As for me, I'm ready to shut up and go quilt!

Leah Day

UPDATE - 4/7/2012

I've received many comments about this post and recently many have ran along a certain vein which bears clarification.

There are two comments in particular I'd like to address personally:
Bmayer - Where it seems we disagree, is:if a designer, or an author, throws their blood , sweat, & tears into a project, they have a right to have their work protected from theft. That is why copyright laws exist in the first place. I'm not talking about "locking everything in a box or slapping confusing rules on your work" as you put it. How confusing is "Thou Shalt Not Steal"? I guess we'll just have to respectfully agree to disagree.
I look forward to just getting back to quilting!

Karen - Leah, You do grasp the fact that copyright laws were written to protect the little person, right? When you get out in the big world you sometimes find that not everyone is as free and sharring as you would like to believe. The way that you are suggesting this industry functions boils down to "the biggest bully wins". That's why the laws were created, to keep people that have more money and more power from taking the things that others create to profit for themselves. I agree with the free sharing of information and learning new techniques that then become your own. What I want to know is where you draw the line between free to use and stealing? In your world does anyone own anything they create?
 The fact is, copyright is confusing.  

At no point within this article did I say that no one should copyright anything.

I also did not mean to imply that we should all sit back blithely and allow people to rip us off left and right.

I intended to create a clear explanation of how I view the 365 designs posted to this project and how I'd feel if someone took this free information, condensed it, edited it, and put it in a book.  I would have no problem with this because it would require an extreme amount of work, and effort, and honestly, I haven't had the time to make it happen.

Now let's look at copyright of one of my published books: From Daisy to Paisley.  This work took a large amount of time and effort to write, edit, quilt and shoot photos for.  I would be extremely upset if someone took this work and sold it or gave it away for free.

Such an act would undermine my ability to support my family and continue this project.  If I couldn't pay bills with revenue from my quilt shop, I'd have to get a job, and would no longer have time to post so much information so freely.

So yes, copyright is helpful and necessary to protect a physical body of work such as this, and yes, I do believe such "packaged" content should be copyrighted and should be protected by the creator.

Thou shalt not steal is right on the money with this and a great statement to live by.

But the fact is, the average quilter is not looking to steal a book and mass produce it!  I refuse to believe this industry is full of thieves ready to rip each other off!

Now, does this mean Kate Spain was in the right to protect her copyright over her fabrics?  I doubt my opinion really matters here, but having more time to reflect, I think Spain had a right to demand attribution - her name on the bags and within the book.

Heck, I think all the fabric designers should have their names in that book because it would have made the book better in general!

I just don't know that threatening a lawsuit was the best way to go about it.  The negativity this has stirred up, along with the confusion of how to use her fabrics, isn't the best for business.

So why do Karen and Bmayer think I hate all forms of copyright?

The confusion here probably lies in my advice to bloggers.  I've shared advice to give away content freely and take down confusing copyright messages.  Is this not opening a blog up for mass stealing?

Here's my take on blogs: a blog is not "packaged" content.  It is a collect of posts, sometimes linear, but mostly a mass of ideas, inspiration, tutorials, and personal info, depending on what you blog about.

Blogs are designed to build traffic (interested viewers) and funnel them to wherever you want them to go.

You might wish to be a traveling teacher, so a great place to funnel your readers is to your page about your lectures and workshops and how to book you for programs.

But if you slap a confusing copyright message along the lines of "Don't use anything on this blog without my permission," you instantly make viewers nervous.

A quilt guild might want to use a photo to advertise for your upcoming lecture, but is that allowed?  A quilt shop might want to write a post about you to build buzz about your workshop, but is that allowed?  Should they even ask, or will that make you angry?

By adding that copyright message, you're making everyone uncomfortable about doing the very thing you WANT them to do: share and discuss your work!

Now let's talk about content on blogs:

If you post a tutorial about a TECHNIQUE, such as English paper piecing, please understand that techniques cannot be copyrighted.  Otherwise someone would have copyrighted how to stitch a 1/4" seam and all the rest of us would have to use 3/16ths!

What you post - your words, your photos, your write up itself - could be copyrighted.

But the technique itself cannot.  Other people can teach the technique, other people can blog about it, other people can write books on it.  They have only done something wrong if they've literally copied and pasted your exact tutorial - words, photos, etc - into their blog, book, handout, etc.

If someone really is this lazy - so lazy as to not even shoot their own photos or make their own step outs - all it usually takes is a simple email to request they either take the tutorial down, stop using it, or link to your original tutorial.

Don't sit and stew about it - just send them an email, or better yet, find a phone number to talk to them in person.  A phone call is always better for sticky issues like this because you can hear inflection and personality, whereas an email lacks this feeling.

But if someone has done their own work, written an English paper piecing tutorial in their own words, and created their own photos, they are not stealing from you.

This is the main problem with blogs these days - excessive claim of ownership of techniques.  Many quilters are teaching cool techniques, but refusing to understand that once you teach something, your idea stops being "yours" and will soon be taught by many teachers.

It also seems that many people assume that if they think of some cool new way of sewing fabric together, they're the "inventor."

Dude!  We've been cutting fabric up and stitching it back together for hundreds of years!  Do you really think that ANYTHING is original?  Do you really think you're the first person to think of using freezer paper with applique?  Or whacking up that 9 patch to make cool new blocks?

Lose the "inventor" mentality.  We're not doing anything new these days that wasn't being done 10 or 20 or 50 years ago.  I don't care if you're using new materials, gluing with new glue, or sewing on your head, you're just stitching FABRIC with THREAD - someone else is bound to think of the exact same technique within a matter of time, with or without your help.

Now here's an idea to chew on: if you post a technique tutorial on your blog, rather than posting a message like "For personal use only" consider adding the message:

 "Feel free to share this tutorial with all your friends, and teach with it too!"

Consider making a printer friendly PDF version that includes your name and website.  This means that every person that sees this tutorial will know you're the author and they can come to you for more cool stuff like this.

This will bring more people, more interest, and more traffic to your blog.  More people will "like" you and will feel comfortable sharing your information and sending their friends to read your blog.

More teachers will feel comfortable teaching with your tutorial, and each student will receive your printed page, complete with your name and website.  That's like a personal advertisement, every single time it's taught.

In essence, you will reach hundreds, if not thousands of quilters than you could ever reach if you'd slapped "for personal use only" at the bottom of that tutorial.

This is a suggestion.

This is an idea for how to blog and share and build a community of sharing around you.

This is also my opinion, so you don't have to take my advice if you don't want to.

I run my blog this way and have found it to be extremely freeing to simply give tutorials away, knowing that they will do far more good out in the hands of quilters teaching and learning than if I'd slapped a confusing message on the bottom.

This is how the Heart and Feather Wholecloth quilt was given away.  Students could print this pattern as many times as they liked, teach with it, and print it for students.  Anything you want to do with it, you can, and you don't have to ask permission first.

I hope this update clarifies this post on copyright.  Yes, there are reasons to copyright packaged content to protect a body of work that took a lot of time and effort to put together.

But consider this idea of sharing blog tutorials freely.  If you're going to post something for free, allow it to be used for any reason and see what new world of sharing this will create. 

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. i've stayed out of this controversy because i agree with what you are saying and i know i'm in the minority and that i will not be changing anyone's mind. you've said it well. ego seems to get in the way of common sense.

  2. Nicely said, Leah. I'll look forward to your new ideas on teaching and making money. Thanks for sharing all that you do.

  3. Leah, I also am in what appears to be the minority and agree with you. Just think..... if all the quilting patterns like log cabin, churn dash etc. where all copyrighted way back when they first appeared....If everyone was not allowed to use them freely, where would the quilting world be today. I shudder to think about it.

    Chester, NY

  4. Thanks, i needed to be reminded. Nicely said.

  5. I really appreciate your posts on this subject and I appreciate your willingness to share openly. I agree with you that this is how quilters should behave.

    I had a run-in with a visiting quilter not too long ago. I blogged about her visit to our guild and linked to her website and pattern shop. I emailed the link to her and thanked her for the inspiration. She was furious that I had presented an alternate method to create a very simple unit in one of her designs. She demanded that I take the post down, which I was all too happy to do. I will never again participate in her workshops or purchase her designs.

  6. Wow Leah this is powerful and if no-one else realizes this, you are extremely intelligent!
    A quilt pattern designer once told me after I questioned her about her patterns being so cheap that you need to make people pay for something they think they need for the moment you give it for free, they simply won't make it. The latter part I've experienced myself. People who pay, will seriously use what they paid for but those getting the freebies, only collect paper, not experience.

  7. Thank you, you have put your argument very nicely. If we don't want to share, then go live in a cave.

  8. I think I love you, Leah. What a refreshing point of view, and very well said.

    I learned a long time ago that someone else can teach my techniques, but they'll never teach as I do. Some people may settle for imitation, but most will hunger for the real thing.

  9. you said: How often do the porn world and the quilting world meet? Still, it's impossible to stop or control. If someone nasty wants to do something nasty with my work, I can't do much about it.

    I don't know, I often quilt with my
    "private parts".....

    Sorry, couldn't resist that one!

  10. Your openness and generosity shine through once again. I remember nearly thirty years ago making small checkerboard quilts, slicing, sanding and painting dowels to use as checker pieces and selling them as a set in a cute little patchwork pouch. Imagine how happy I was that a shop owner at a prestigious 5 star (now it's a 4star) resort purchased all I made. Imagine how sickened I felt when I saw that she had someone else start making the same thing for her at less than she paid me and sold them for 5 times what she paid me. My angst only lasted a short while....after all....I had to "rights" to a simple checkerboard quilt. I knew that I could still make them and sell at art and craft shows ---a completely different market---and now I could tell people they would see the same thing at the Gr******** for a huge price. Keep up the good work, Leah! Your star will keep rising for a long, long time!

  11. Once again I agree 100% with you and once again you've said it well. This whole Pinterest hulabaloo is something else I'm finding tiresome. I consider anything I put online as far game to anyone who happens to see it. I am certainly not going to lose sleep worrying about whether or not Pinterest is going to find a way to make money distributing copies of my quilt pictures!

  12. I appreciate your perspective on this matter, and agree with most of what you say. A strong argument can be made, however, that the C&T Kate Spain tote bags fit squarely in the 'ripping off packaged content' category.

  13. Agreed, right to the last word! I am all for sharing, in the end, we all gain a lot through it, knowledge.. inner piece and to set our creative minds free. Love you for sharing!!

  14. Thank you so much for your direct, common sense. It is such a rare commodity these days. And thanks especially for the videos and tips,

  15. Yay, Leah! Your passion is contagious! You GO girl! Keep on quiltin'! :)

  16. You are refreshing, Leah. Thanks!

  17. you've done it again!!spoken the truth and done it so well..It's been so refreshing

  18. I just think you are wonderful, and I like your attitude. As long as I can use your designs to improve my free motion quilting, that is all I ask.

  19. Well said! And you are totally right about the loyalty - I would definitely buy that book or DVD series if you wrote it, not any one else - because I know you care!

  20. If everything was free, everyone would have everything they need.

    I've never really understood all the crap surrounding the Copyright arguments. We all have ideas. Some ideas look a bit like someone else's; some are direct variations of someone else's. Very few things are "authentically original".

    I love you, Leah! Have since your first blog post. The fact that you're so wise and generous is totally BONUS!

    I can *not* tell you how many people i've referred to your blog!!!
    Keep up the Good Works!!!

  21. Only one word needed -- AMEN! :o)

  22. Leah, you are wise beyond your years.

    I don't understand people that use the very public forum of the internet to express their words or talents and then don't want anyone to share them. Why, in so many words do they say "You may not be inspired by anything I have written or made, do not repin, repost, or share in anyway. Just tell me how great I am in the comment!"?

    Now back to my sewing machine.

  23. Once again nodding my head in agreement.

    I once complimented a lady on the FMQ she did on a pinwheel quilt, saying I might do something similar when I quilted one of my own someday.

    She wrote and told me I'd better credit her with the inspiration.

    It's a disease that gets passed around. Too many quilters are out there trying to grab up whatever "originality" they think is left.

    I designed an R2D2 quilt for my son. Really nothing complicated. Several friends and several strangers asked if they could buy it. Just to make sure I didn't get into a legal tangle with Lucas Films, and because I think it would be ridiculous to sell something so simple, I just shared it. It's silly to think that I'm the first and only person to think of what I did.

  24. A very thoughtful post. I think the medium makes a difference - blogs are free for all and mostly free for the writer to produce - no one is paying them. Had you published the fmq blog as a book first - well, that would be different. While i am sure there will be copyright restrictions legislated regarding blogs someday, the key things i appreciate are acknowledgement and honesty. I LOVE to see "look at this cool thing i made from quokkaquilts' blog" but my blood would boil if i saw "look at what *i* designed myself" if it was aa truly original idea of mine, the person had visited and used mine and was selling the pattern.
    Thanks for the shout out :)

  25. This goes way beyond the quilt world, but extends to all endeavors. Working in a law office I see the partners coveting each of their clients and holding them close. When young lawyers join the firm, instead of freely "sharing their overflow of clients, they parcel out the work, but keep the client under their umbrella. This very thing keeps the new associates from having an opportunity to build their own client base, thereby growing the firm.

    Something that revealed itself to me was in taking quilt classes from various teachers...the ones that held nothing back, but freely shared all their knowledge and ideas, are the ones that have flourished. For example, I've been privileged to learn from Libby Lehman and Doreen Speckmann and Ricky Tims, each of whom absolutely shared their knowledge and encouragement with their students. And the proof is in the pudding that this teaching philosophy only enriches their ability to create a business doing what they love. I've also had classes from teachers that tried to hold back some of their knowledge in order to sell you their book...don't even remember their names.

    Thank you, Leah, for taking the time to discuss this and show us all how to open up and benefit from our own generosity.

  26. Leah you are so wise beyond your years. That's all i can say.

  27. Thank you for saying it so elegantly!!

  28. Wow! I just want to hug you Leah!!

    I just found your site a few weeks ago after reading about you in one of my industry magazines and I began working on your wholecloth quilt along.

    Then I stopped in my tracks and was afraid to link up my blog because I make a living selling quilting fabrics and supplies. Having been brainwashed by the copyright police (and anti-sharing crowd) I was afraid you'd be mad at me for linking up since I'm possibly a "competitor" (though I really look at you as a colleague, mentor, etc. myself!!)

    Anyway, I know my customers and blog followers would absolutely love to know more about you! So after reading these posts it has really encouraged me to finish that quilt and not be afraid to share my progress (I'll be linking up for sure this Wed).

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air and for helping me to become a better quilter!

    Christa from

  29. PS. And yes - keep working on those free-motion quilt along books. I already bought one of them and would be first in line to buy them all as soon as you can make them. I would even love to carry them in my shop!!

  30. I have recently discovered your blog through Pinterest. I just want to say, I LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS, PATTERNS, AND STYLE!!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  31. Thank you Leah! Great posts!

  32. Leah,

    First stop apologizing for expressing your opinion - your opinion whose purpose is to improve and progress. Many people these days are apathetic believing their opinion does not matter and they cannot make a difference. Frustrating. Bravo to you and keep it up!

    In the words of Joe Strummer, "The way you get a better world is, you don't put up with substandard anything."

    On the subject of sharing and generating creativity and improvements, I agree with you. However, humans are sometimes fearful and mistrustful. They don't know if they can keep up, learn new things, don't want to learn new things etc. Or they have tried to be open and have gotten burned by someone else who does not share the same philosophy.

    Not raining on anything, just being a realist. BUT, this absolutely does NOT mean that because of a few, you give up or give in and don't open up and share.

    Thanks for your opinions, opening and leading a great discussion, and most of all promoting a healthy, productive, and open way to live and interact as human beings.

  33. Kudos to you, Leah!!! And a great big THANK YOU!
    Today's post is yet another reason why I keep returning (& sending people) to your wonderful site - besides so kindly sharing your incredible knowledge & wisdom, you have given voice to my thoughts that up until now I didn't feel had a place to be heard in our quilting world. Your 'sacred site' has changed all that. And because of your ongoing generosity of heart and mind, I will continue to wholeheartedly support you & your family.
    As someone who has found these rules and regulations both creatively intimidating and inhibiting, thank you for helping to call into question these heavy and cumbersome burdens often associated w quilting. I'm starting to feel free, again!!!

  34. We all have to learn somewhere! If (some) of the bloggers out there don't want people using their ideas, then why in the world do they blog??? Just to show off?? I bet those same bloggers get ideas and inspiration the way the rest of us do! Thanks for being so sharing and caring with your ideas! If I had a great idea, and everyone was copying it, it would make me happy to know that I put that out there, and people loved it. Its like Spreading the love! As for the people that do copy for monetary gain, most people recognize posers and they wont go to far.

  35. You are right on the money Leah. Quilting was always about sharing knowledge with others and you are sure keeping your end of the bargain! I can't tell you how many people I have referred to your website via the Quilting Club Facebook page but I'll keep doing it because yours is an awesome resource. I agree with you that what you give out comes back to you so being mean only gets mean back. Much better to be generous and get generous back! Good on you Leah, keep on sharing!

  36. What struck me most in your writings today was your section on loyalty. You are 100% right on that point. I hope someone wants to co-author a book with you on the 365 designs. Justine

  37. Leah! Thank You! Very well said. I tend to think that you are more in the hidden majority rather than the other way around. So many people out there now sharing ideas and work. We just hear so much more about the other side. People who share their knowledge and ideas, tend to not be the type of person who hoots their own horn or get up on the negatively soapbox. You are so right about loyalty. That's why I'm here, right now

  38. Leah,
    I thank you for all you have shared. You have enabled me to be a better freemotion quilter. Your designs have inspired me. I would not be where I am today without you, your blogs, your DVDs and Isacord. I am looking forward to growing with you. Thank you.

  39. Love you, and you have said this so well. There will be haters, there always is everywhere and every day in may different aspects of life. Your loyal followers will always be here though.

  40. Thank you for these posts. They are well thought out and I agree 100%.

  41. P.S. Out of curiosity, I googled you and was thrilled to see that this dialogue you've initiated is getting around :) Imagine if it goes viral!
    You are an inspiration, Leah! I'm sure your husband and son are proud of the strong, bright, compassionate, talented woman you are.

  42. Feel compelled to comment as this has been on my mind fopr a very long time. Have been reading your posts on copyright with interest and couldn't agree more. I get very annoyed at times with this issue, i.e some people out there putting a copyright on line drawings of simple loops or is really quite crazy. I occasionally contribute in some Magazines and understand that the instructions written by me become the property of the Magazine, hence I cannot sell them or put them anywhere else. What about the quilts though...who owns the copyright on them once they have appeared as a photograph in a Magazine. I like to think that the quilts are still mine and I can do as I please with them, but reading the posts recently I was beginning to wonder.

  43. Hi Leah,
    I really love the way you wrote this blog. Common sense which gives back the joy in creating and sharing lost that a bit after nasty comments while just asking technique questions out of interest. So Thank you

  44. I'm not a Quilter at all, but have been following your blog for some time, and have both your books. I find the blog refreshing in all aspects. Perhaps people think their technique is unique and created by them - if so how come hundreds of years back, people were using the same techniques thousands of miles apart, when all they possessed was a rowing boat, so in no way could pop over and see what was happening elsewhere.
    I've seen books published about a new and exciting technique... and yet I did it 15 years back, and it can't have been new then because someone showed me or set me off on the idea. I stitch on paper, its becoming a trendy thing to do... I've seen it written about as a new technique around only 5-10 years, hardly... people have been stitching on paper since the Middle Ages (likely beyond) Nothing is truly new, just the individual's interpretation. We make art in whatever form, and repeatedly so because we want to try a different way, add something else, if there was one way only, well, after making it once, no-one would have bothered again. Monet would have stopped after one water lily!!!
    What's lacking is common sense, and plain good manners, but at least Leah you speak exactly that.

  45. What a superb post.

    I've only just come to the world of FMQ so don't know really know about any of the controversy of which you speak.

    I'd just like to say thank you for all your tutorials etc I'm recovering from a serious breakdown after being bullied by a work colleague and being able to sit at my sewing machine with fabric and your tutorials has been a life saver.

    Thank you so,so much. Please keep up the good work.

  46. Have fun quilting! Thanks for so generously sharing your talent. Loved your comments! Well said.

  47. WELL SAID LEAH! Thank you for your common sense. You nailed it.

  48. well said, Leah!
    I often wonder whether there would even be any 'copyright controversy' if only the LAWYERS had stayed out of quilting!
    Thanks for sharing - and caring!

  49. As always, you remind me to pay attention to what is important

  50. As a variation of the "loyalty" theme, I think you can add "thankfulness" purchasers. After using your "free" pattern inspirations for months, I felt it was time for me to buy you some groceries.

  51. You... long winded and go on and on... NOOOO!! LOL
    But when you have something to say, you just have to say it! And I agree!!
    I found you because Sew Cal Gal linked me over here!
    You know you can teach and teach and teach, I can practice and practice and practice.... mine looks NOTHING like the amazing things that come out of your sewing machine!! LOL So some people have it and can teach (or do) and some people just don't and couldn't even if they wanted to!

  52. Most women quilt because it's fun. Those who are over concerned about their rights are only going to drive women to other crafts and then where will the customers be? I published two books in the 1990s. Whenever I get requests from people to use my patterns I always say yes and give them permission to photocopy and share, too. Nobody is going to photocopy an entire book and if their friends like the photocopied pattern, maybe they'll buy the book. I look at it as a way to introduce myself to new customers. Kate Spain has gotten more bad than good from her fight with C&T. If you don't want people to "steal" your ideas, etc., keep them in your closet and never show them. Why would you teach if you didn't want people to use what you taught? Why design fabric if you don't want the fabric used? I just don't get it.
    You can find more free stuff at my blog, Thanks for taking such a public stand. You rock!

  53. Finally someone sane!!! I asked permission from a copyright Nazi use a block pattern she had posted (directions for cutting, piecing, everything) to use in my 4-person quilt group. The Nazi said NO! Why on earth was this block pattern on the internet? News flash, Nazi, I used it! Four people made a block. Big deal!

  54. I love, love, love what you said. I would not be inspired if it werent for people like you who just want to help and share with others.

  55. Just AWESOME! Great post, I couldn't agree with you more! This whole thing kinda works like Karma - for good or bad! I think you are building some really good Karma!

  56. Thank you for posting again about this!! You have captured my feelings and thoughts about this whole topic, and I appreciate your sharing it so openly. Your voice and talent are very much appreciated!!

  57. I just found your blog. I agree with you about copyright. I am so excited to have found you! This will
    keep me busy for hours looking at back entries!


  58. Thank you for your sane comments and take on this controversial issue. I've felt for years that my copyrights have become infringed on... And thanks for using the voice you have to speak your mind to many on this issue.

  59. You go Girl!!!! I'm so proud of you! Thank you for giving me the courage and support to give FMQ a try. Hugs!

  60. Your openness and sharing are some of the qualities that drew me to your blog in the first place. Keep up the good work. And may the attitude of gratitude continue.

  61. Leah, thank you for being such a passionate teacher!

  62. Leah,
    Love your follow up to the Copyright Terrorism post...I agree 100%. Quilting is about sharing - period! I am completely loyal to the quilters I read in blogs and buy their books even though they often make a lot of their work free. I love having a quick reference on my shelf. Word gets around quickly about designers and teachers who leave something to be desired...because it's all about SHARING!

  63. Leah,

    Thanks for being a generous, 'straight to the shoulder' thinker and talker. Before I was a quilter I was A potter, and had the joy of meeting and learning from well known potters, some quit famous, from all over the world, all who gave freely and generously of their knowledge and skill, and expected us to go away and use what we had learnt and market our wares freely, I learned that good teachers do that, they are not precious about what they give you. It's always a pleasure to read your blog, you say it how it is.

  64. Where I find copyright even more interesting and how it applies to me as a teacher, is that you can not copyright a technique or a set of instructions. For example if I see a technique I wish to teach as long as I write my own instructions I am well in my rights to teach it. What I can't do is photocopy the other person's pattern and sell that or distribute it in it's original form. When ever I do teach a technique I've seen online I always included the source on my instructions, that way if someone want to see the original idea they can....thus proving your point about "Free"

    Keep up the great posts!

  65. Thank you for this article. My friend sent it to me, because I'm going through some issues with finding one of my crochet designs being sold by another. Your words have really helped me put things into perspective. It stings to find someone copying my hard work, especially when I'm really struggling to be "found", but I know that all crochet patterns, even "new" designs, are built off of hundreds of years of collective crochet knowledge. Thanks again for helping come to a peaceful resolution in my own head:)

  66. Bravo Leah, you are one generous and intelligent lady. I live in the UK and recently visited an old Roman Villa here, and I can say that having seen the mosaic floors there, very little in the way of modern geometric design is original! Then I went to Cyprus, and lo and behold just about every aspect in every quilting block I've ever seen is represented in those mosaics. Therefore, how can anyone claim their blocks are completely original? Also many "patterns" are found in nature i.e. plant cells under a microscope, kidney cells etc. The list is endless, so how can anyone copyright these? The world is truly going mad.......

  67. Leah,

    It is wonderful to see someone so talented and prolific coming from a sense of abundance instead of lack. Anyone who has begun to understand how the universe works should know that the more we share, the more we receive; the more we give, the more we get...and in multiple returns! How I wish I had known this at your young age. It took me another 25 years.

  68. Inspiring post, and so different from the copyright issue posts I have seen on other blogs. Thank you for sharing!!!

  69. I will never buy any product from anyone requiring copyright permissions etc. to use their work or who even mentions it on their products, blog etc.

    Leah, you are a voice of kindness, sanity and reason in a selfish, self-centered world.

  70. I agree with all you've said and appreciate your opening the conversation. It's a lot like recipe writing (which I do professionally) I create my spin on a recipe with my experience and that wording is copywritten but I want you to take it home and share it and bake it and if you get good at it go ahead and teach it but rewrite it in your own words or ask permission to reprint it. Best to attribute it too but if you've been using the recipe and make it your own YAHOO! I did my job.

  71. Thank you for you blog, your sharing ways and most of all your forward-thinking attitude!
    I clicked through spent quite a while reading at the Lear Center site. Great stuff there!

    Virtual hugs to you -- you're awesome!

  72. If quilting were simply about sharing and giving for free (who doesnt love free?)why then, is it a Four Billion (yes with a B) dollar industry? Face it, its a business with some very hard working people at its core, well as on the fringes. People who make their livelihood in it. I agree we need to use common sense but we have to remember, there are Copyright LAWS, not suggestions, or guidelines, but LAWS, which need to be obeyed, whether you like them, or not.

  73. Leah, I love your attitude. Let's all remember that Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world-wide web) made his idea freely available rather than asking for royalties or a patent. Where would we all be if he had restricted it or charged high fees? Making material freely availableto share is the beating heart of the internet and bloggers keep up the tradition.

  74. Bmayer - Why is this industry worth 4 Billion??? BECAUSE there is so much free and copyright free information available.

    All the core blocks: double wedding ring, apple core, 9 patch, log cabin - these are more than 100 years old and were shared and taught freely. If we didn't have those old quilts, if we didn't have access to that rich history, would so many people be interested in quilting and willing to pay money for fabric, tools, and patterns?

    It seems to me that you fail to understand the purpose of my article - that there are MORE WAYS TO MAKE MONEY with quilting, and that copyrighting and locking everything in a box and slapping confusing rules on your work is not always the smartest way to go about it.


    Leah Day

  75. Hi Leah,
    I absolutely agree that its nonsense for someone to claim a copyright on historic blocks that have been passed down for have no argument from me there. Or that every line or squiggle should have a copyright slapped on it...crazy. Where it seems we disagree, is:if a designer, or an author, throws their blood , sweat, & tears into a project, they have a right to have their work protected from theft. That is why copyright laws exist in the first place. I'm not talking about "locking everything in a box or slapping confusing rules on your work" as you put it. How confusing is "Thou Shalt Not Steal"? I guess we'll just have to respectfully agree to disagree.
    I look forward to just getting back to quilting!

  76. I found you via a recommendation about reading up on your copyright terrorism post and found this post too! It was a lot to wade through, but I'm so glad I did. This copyright thing has really made me nervous about what is even okay to post/link/mention/create/admit to. I especially enjoyed what you said about the blogger that get a publishing contract being locked down and told to stop blogging about it. Hello? Their blogs, which used to be so interesting, are now some of the most boring. Poor them and poor us. It's been very refreshing to get information about copyright use from your end of the spectrum.:)

  77. Leah,
    You do grasp the fact that copyright laws were written to protect the little person, right? When you get out in the big world you sometimes find that not everyone is as free and sharring as you would like to believe. The way that you are suggesting this industry functions boils down to "the biggest bully wins". That's why the laws were created, to keep people that have more money and more power from taking the things that others create to profit for themselves. I agree with the free sharring of information and learning new techniques that then become your own. What I want to know is where you draw the line between free to use and stealing? In your world does anyone own anything they create?

  78. Bmayer and Karen - I will be updating this post to address both your questions.

    Leah Day

  79. You are a bright spot in a very dark selfish world. I am learning so much from you. Thank you for your generosity. In my personal and professional life the most successful teachers I have had are also the most generous-for they have learned whatever you give you get back so much more!

  80. As you said, ATTRIBUTION is what was lacking in this "muddle" turned cyclone! "Giving 'credit' where credit is due" has been a concept that's been around for a long time. When I see a quilt in a magazine that I really would like to make, with the same fabrics, I would like to see that info somewhere in the article (even if it's no longer available!!!!!). Many times I do NOT find this info! Really? Why not??? Attribution, maybe, would have prevented this situation!?! Just sayin', Hugs....Doreen

  81. I love your work, your advice and your blog. I have read your comments with great interest and read some of the blogs relating to the Tote Bags that were recently recalled. My personal conclusion it that when C & T publishing wanted to manufacture the Tote Bags for mass distribution they should have ordered the fabric from the original manufacturer and this issue would not have occurred. It would have been resolved in line with normal business practices. C & T Publishing are conversant with copyright issues as publishers of books.

  82. I think you have the heart of a quilter in wanting to share much of your knowledge with the rest of us quilters for free. It is what we do and what we want to do. I agree with your thoughts as well that some things do need to be protected by copyrights but it seems to be getting taken to the extreme. ex. if I show someone that I've found a new, better way to pin, I might want to think of copyrighting it! NOT- I just want to share; just makes me human, not divine!

  83. I'm in 100% agreement with you but you said it so eloquently!! I will be referring my followers to you since this whole issue has stirred up so much controversy on Pinterest. Some quilters who WERE "Pinning Quilters" have closed out their Pinterest Boards and have suggested we all should too before we get 'sued". My answer to that was, anyone has the right to sue anyone over anything...HOWEVER, Winning the lawsuit is a whole 'nuther can of worms. I LOVE you're a smart little cookie, girlfriend!
    Gmama Jane

  84. Leah
    Well said ...thank you ... I can't teach motion quilting but have sent many a new quilter to your site. They love it ...and have had a go ...because of your generosity. Not all of us can afford somebody else to quilt our quilts and you have shown us how we can do different things to liven up a quilt with ideas I would never have thought of. I always tell people where the design or idea came from...
    Thank you again
    Blueys Beach Australia

  85. Leah, thanks for the update to this post and the additional clarification.

    I think you are right on the money about sharing your tutorials and how that can only help you. In fact, I'm writing about machine binding on my blog this week and included pictures of quilts I made with pictures and instruction I put together myself.

    Then, I embedded the video of your machine binding tutorial from the heart & feather wholecloth quilt with links back to your site.

    What a great way to enhance the content on my blog and send a few more of my readers & customers your way. It's a win-win for both of us!

  86. Leah, you're absolutely correct about loyalty. I have watched many of your free motion tutorials, and because of you I took a deep breath and stuck a test sandwich under the needle that first time. (So far, I'm getting okay at stippling at different scales! Thank you!)

    Before Christmas, I told my hubby what I wanted, and I specified YOUR online store. Yours is the only online store that has my loyalty the same way a couple great local shops do.

    More people should know that you cannot copyright an IDEA. With all due respect to those selling patterns: if I see your design and can make it by just looking at the picture, I'm not going to buy your instructions. That is not a copyright violation.


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