Have you ever wondered about reproduction fabric? What makes it a “reproduction” fabric? What are the copyright laws on reproducing fabric? How does one reproduce a vintage fabric?
Reproduction fabric collections are BIG in the world of quilting. Reproducing vintage fabric is so prevelant, you could walk into any fabric store and find something in a collection that is a “reproduction”, even if it is not labeled as such. Fabric design has always been this way. Why reinvent the perfect calico rosebud fabric when there already is one?
It is legal to reproduce a copyrighted fabric design as long as the original is used for inspiration rather than directly copied. If the design is changed by 35%, it is considered to be a new work. How that 35% is determined is a bit of a grey area, but examples might include changing the background color, adding a swirl, removing a flower, and so on.
If no copyright exists, it is legal to copy the design entirely. Of course, many old fabric designs, including most calicoes, were never copyrighted to begin with. Others have had their copyright expire and therefore considered to be in the public domain, free to copy.
All of the reproduction fabric collections produced by Connecting Threads are inspired by public domain swatches, collected from various sources including antique shops, garage sales, the basement of a friend, ebay, anywhere! There are entire businesses built around collecting and selling vintage and antique fabric swatches for reproduction and design inspiration.
I started to develop Wildflowers and Honey as a reproduction collection with a country vibe. You can see from the original Cheater Cloth from this collection that it was very different!
Then, as I wrote about in my last blog post about designing Pen & Inked, I traveled to London. I was visiting London to meet my newborn baby nephew and help my sister be a mom for the first time, so I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time for sightseeing or shopping. However, one place I KNEW I just had to visit was Liberty of London’s Haberdashery (a.k.a fabric and notions department). This venerable London establishment has been producing some of the worlds finest fabric since the 1890’s, more than a century! The Liberty aesthetic is synonymous with one of my favorite periods of design, the Arts and Crafts movement.
Upon returning to the office, and without even telling anyone (sorry, Teri!), I recolored the entire collection to reflect the Liberty aesthetic. I had to. I just had to. I was a woman possessed by Liberty, the store, not the noun. Although I guess there was a bit of liberty taking there, too 🙂
As a happy ending to my story, the collection in it’s new coloration was well received. I just had to redesign the cheater cloth. I went with a Half Square Triangle pattern because I thought it was reminiscent of the collection- a classic, standby design that looks fresh and modern in bright hues.
I really want to make whole cloth duvet covers for my daughters out of this cheater cloth, and embroider along the stitch lines. I would use the new Chambray Denim from our Quilter’s Candy Basic collection for the other side. (If you wanted to make a bigger, pieced duvet or quilt from this collection, I developed the Chambray Denim as a 104″ wide backing fabric.)
And there you go, another reproduction fabric collection down in the books.
I hope you enjoy sewing with it.
Thanks for reading!