I’m thinking I have arrived…

They say imitation is the best form of flattery and I am the first one to tell you that there is nothing new in the quilting world. Somebody somewhere has already done that. But I do have to say, do your research and then decide if you will be stepping on toes or even more than toes as you move forward in your pursuit of creating and sharing your wonderful ideas. Give credit where credit is due and avoid at all cost claiming your inspired (or downright copied) project as your own if it is not.

I say this in light of several occasions  in recent months when I have discovered that there are a few designers and/or teachers who apparently really like what I do and want to make my ideas their own.  And I can appreciate that. After all, it is my goal to inspire you, to push you to be more creative, to step out of your quilting box and try something new. And I want to make it easier for you to do that. Hence, I write my ideas down in the form of patterns and have them distributed all over the world.

Now many of you have seen my Quick and Cute Tuffets.

graysons tuffet 2 tuffet dresden detail black and red bargello DSCN1358 graysons tuffet 1  brown and blue tuffet

Tuffets are not new. They have been around for several hundred years and every now and then, they regain popularity, sort of like bell-bottoms. My design offers lots of variations and unique construction techniques that are¬†not like any other tuffet pattern out there. Imagine my surprise when another nationally distributed¬†designer decided to re-write my tuffet pattern as her own. Unfortunately, she is not a good at the illustrations as I am and took it upon herself to xerox one of my illustrations straight out of my Quick and Cute Tuffet pattern and put it in hers. I know… right… After I found out about it, I consulted a lawyer and sent her a letter to get her to delete my unauthorized contribution to her pattern. I even ordered the pattern a third time to see if she complied. ¬†I still had to send an email to get her to stop. Not once did I get an apology, or even an acknowledgment that she shouldn’t have done that.

And then there are the teachers out there who buy the Quick and Cute Tuffet pattern, make their sample and then teach others without requiring the students to purchase the pattern. I am so happy you like my pattern and it works so well for you! But please remember, this pattern was¬†not designed as a teacher’s handbook but as a pattern for all to follow. It is downright uncomfortable when I have to insist you follow the “rules” of teaching in the quilting world – which is what I have had to do a few times in the last couple of months just to protect my designs.

But the most heartbreaking incident of design “thievery” goes out to a former friend of mine. ¬†She was most recently published in a national quilting magazine telling the world that she came up with this idea of how to create fan blocks with no curved piecing and no applique.

Sort of like this… well, exactly like this…

photo5 photo4OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAoptical illusions in plaid

These are just a few of my patterns that support my technique of adding backgrounds onto fan blades and them squaring up the block to the size it is supposed to be. I am sure that this is not a new technique by any means. Great minds think a like and any one at any time could also come up with this idea. I did back in 2008 when I wrote the pattern for Phatkats.

phatkat cover pic

At the time, Phatkats was made with templates with all the brainstorming going on in the back of my head for a ruler to support it.  I showed this technique to that former friend of mine who was teaching at the same quilt shop I was. She asked if she could use the technique in her classes and of course, I agreed. After all, it is a technique that was meant to be shared. We even discussed my timeline for getting that ruler made.

Two years later, I had to ask this former friend to stop making the ruler that I told her I was going to do. She seemed genuinely contrite and said that she thought I “given” her the technique and ruler idea… Okay, maybe I like to believe that everyone is good deep down. And she seemed so genuine… so we remained friends… or so I thought… Needless to say, I got right on the ball of getting that ruler made because if a “friend” would try to take it from me, no telling who else would, right? As a result of this little eye-opening experience,¬†the Creative Grids 15-degree Triangle ruler was designed by me and is one of the top selling Creative Grids rulers out there.

And I continued to socialize with this woman, monthly lunch meetings, a trip to the Houston Quilt Show as well as other quilt shows, even held a private class in my house for her and others to teach them one of my patterns using this technique.

Apparently my eyes weren’t open wide enough though. Imagine my surprise and incredible disappointment to see that article in that national quilting magazine. And to read the sentence that quoted her saying “I figured out how to cut and sew an arc using straight lines and a 15-degree ruler”. Well, yes, she sure did figure it out after I showed it to her in 2008 in the quilt shop and again in 2011 in my house.

Again I say there is nothing new in the quilting world and someone could have come up with this idea on their own. But if you know me and I showed you how (more than once), be honest about it. At least admit that you learned the technique from someone else.

My only consolation in this little diatribe about the shortcomings of some quilters, is that I am older and wiser now and will protect my designs much more stringently than ever before. Meanwhile, I will assume that I have “arrived” in the quilting industry since my work is getting such “flattery”. And I will keep designing because I just can’t help myself.

2 Responses to “I’m thinking I have arrived…”

  1. Nancy Barr says:

    Erin,

    I know I have already told you this…. I love your pattern, and I teach a class on it in a Quilt Shop and have several more requesting I do so in their shops…. Their is never question if I am teaching someone whether I do it on my own in my home or in a shop… THEY MUST PURCHASE their own pattern THERE IS NO SHARING!

    The gals who have made them absolutely love your pattern and the ease of making them.

    I am sorry there are so many dishonest people out there! ūüôĀ

    Nancy

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks, Nancy. I am so glad you are enjoying the pattern!

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