my favourite part of studying drafting + design back in school was the hand-drawn drafting. old school style, with a straight edge, a set square, and a sharp pencil. i never even liked the mechanical drafting arm, but preferred using my triangles and a protractor + ruler to find that perfect angle. i especially loved drafting up a perspective drawing of a room, a house, or a building, seeing it come to life in front of my eyes. perspective. it can really give you a good idea of how something looks, all around, inside + out.

right before i went on vacation a couple weeks ago, i received a really unsettling email in my inbox. my immediate reaction was one of hurt + disbelief, quickly followed by anger. i was uncertain about whether i wanted to share this news here, as i felt that people might take the accusation the wrong way. when i talked it over with some close friends [thanks, friends! you know who you are!], i was overcome again by the amazingly supportive community that i love.
rather than trying to throw together a hasty plan of action before i went away, i decided to take a little extra time to think this whole thing through.
while i was on vacation, it happened. perspective. the extra time definitely gave me the chance to evaluate the situation, and react in a more thoughtful manner.

perspective. the alders, 2010.

i alluded to this whole thing earlier this week, here. i won't get into too much detail, because there's a lot of it. to make it quick, i'll just say that it turns out someone has a patent on a "plurality of evenly spaced ribbon loops...on an interactive item for a baby or child". the accusation is not referring to the design of my blocks in and of themselves at all, but rather, the size of, the spacing of, and the manner of sewing [ie, forming a loop] the ribbons. hmmm.

levi blocks. january 2010.

when i designed these blocks for my baby girl's first christmas, i was aware that i wasn't reinventing the wheel. i had seen cloth blocks here +there, but i wanted to make mine personalized, and in fun bright colours. to be honest, the ribbons were an afterthought. i had a huge stash of them left over from a past creative endeavor, and didn't really have a use for them. i figured i'd throw some loops and tails onto her blocks, just for fun. she seemed to like them, and so when i made more blocks as gifts for friends, i decided to keep them as part of the design. why not?

sadie blocks. august 2009.

if i really get down to it, i think that i could probably get around this patent. while it isn't necessarily obvious just from looking at the pictures, the ribbons are all sewn or placed a little differently. some are long tails, some short, some doubly looped, etc. sounds nit-picky, right? well I'll just say that the parameters of the patent are very cut and dry, very clearly stated, and rather specific about size and form.

ribbon tails on lucy blocks. may 2009.

then the perspective hit me. do these ribbons really make or break my blocks? i don't think so. so am i willing to change them? yes.
some of you [and i've thought the same myself] may think that by changing my design, it means i'm giving in. why "let" her win? why not fight it, why not see if i can stand up for myself and my design? if i'm completely honest here, i can't be bothered to expend the time and energy on a part of my design that was sort of an afterthought as it is. phew. i said it! now i'm not trying to say i'm lazy, but rather that i have way more important things to focus on. you know, kids, summer fun, new designs, craft fair prep. all kinds of things. and so i'm letting it go.

there are other thoughts, of course. i take copyright and intellectual property very seriously. so much so, that it makes me feel physically ill when i see obvious copies of others' work. there have been many articles written on other blogs on this topic, and i won't get into it here today. but i would never dream to copy anyone's idea, and i totally understand the patent and it's purpose. this person made her design, and got her patent. i just really don't think it applies exactly to my work, in this case. but it hurts that my work was seen in this manner, regardless. really hurts. i can't change the fact that the patent exists, nor that this person thinks my ribbons infringe on it, but i can control the way i'll react. for now, today, i'd just like to move on with life.

this is your life print :: jessica swift

from today, each block will have just one ribbon. i'm removing "the plurality". i thought about making them unevenly spaced, or getting rid of them altogether, but i decided it would be nice to keep just one. a bit of sparkle, a bit of extra colour.
i must say, with all this behind me now, it did force me to really think about my designs. i really think that a lot of what i do is unique. i strive to come up with new ways to showcase awesome fabrics, and new designs that are both functional and pretty. but i know that a lot of people make fabric buckets, for example. in fact, someone sells a pdf pattern which you can use, to make your own fabric bins to sell in your own shop. for the record, i made my own fabric bucket pattern. i try to set them apart by the fabrics i choose. and they are a little differently constructed than others, but i know it's not rocket science. slowly, i will be moving away from the 'generic' buckets and focusing more on customized + personalized options, as well as introduction of peek-a-boo buckets [here + here]. as i'm sure you've noticed, i really love the peek-a-boos. as far as my other designs, look for a change in the way i pair + use fabrics, as well as some screen printing of my own designs appearing in the future, probably in the new year.

plant an idea :: elsita

i'd love to hear what you think. about all of it. and i want to say thanks, for all the support, and all of the lovely comments you leave when i share the things i've made. i truly appreciate it.