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Vintage related self-businesses

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by Amie, May 7, 2012.

  1. Amie

    Amie One of the Regulars

    Hi ladies. I've been sewing for about 2 1/2 years, taking fashion design courses part-time and all. I think I'm pretty decent at it and would like to take a stab at selling some of my creations and hopefully maybe this could lead to some sort of self-business at least on a very small scale. My skills are not advanced right now but I can make fairly nice blouses and dresses off of commercial patterns, mostly vintage of course. Now I was wondering what is the copyright law on that? Are you allowed to sell garments made from a commercial pattern? Also, I know a lot of you ladies sell on easy so if anyone had some insight or tips on selling, that would be great help.
  2. MarieAnne

    MarieAnne Practically Family

    Hi Amie, sounds very exciting! I 'believe' you may sell the garments you make from sewing patterns as long as you don't try to take credit for the pattern/design. I read a really good article on sewing patterns and copyrights a few years ago but I can't find it now. I believe the copyright laws apply to the images on the pattern envelope and the pattern itself. I hope this is useful!
  3. Flat Foot Floey

    Flat Foot Floey My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I don't think copy right applies to pattern if you sell single hand made pieces. For a factory produced run of 5000 blouses maybe...
    I assume you would use vintage pattern? It would something else to sell exact copies of stop staring dresses or something like this.

    Start with a etsy shop ... and a blog (wordpress, blogger, tumblr) to spread the word about your clothes. I think it sounds like a great project.

    Good luck!

    PS: Sorry for interfering in the "Powder Room" but my girlfriend is a seamstress too.:)
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  4. As long as you don't actively market the brand name/envelope imagery of the actual pattern -- "Made From Simplicity 3901!" -- you should be all right. Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, and possibly a few other pattern companies still have active trademarks, and using their names/logos in your marketing might attract unwanted attention from intellectual-property lawyers. Avoid that, and it's unlikely anyone will bother you.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  5. lareine

    lareine A-List Customer

    Most, if not all, modern patterns state that they are for home use and may not be used for commercial purposes, so it's illegal to use them to make garments for sale. If you are using a pattern that's out of copyright then you're free and clear! But otherwise you are breaking the law in most cases so you'll need to keep your head down and hope nobody notices if you're taking that route.
  6. lareine

    lareine A-List Customer

    Having said that, if you are good enough to make things for sale then you are good enough to create your own patterns and use those. Just use a commercial pattern as inspiratin or a base and turn it into something unique, then sell away.
  7. Flat Foot Floey

    Flat Foot Floey My Mail is Forwarded Here


    When in doubt...add a bow.
  8. It seems to me that if you are making garments that are pretty universal in nature, based on patterns that have been around for ages, made by many different manufacturers, then you shouldn't have issues selling small volumes of your work. Just how many original garments can be newly designed, especially witha vintage style?
  9. lframe

    lframe One of the Regulars

    If you find vintage pieces you adore, you can also create a pattern to base your pieces off of. :)
  10. Juliet

    Juliet A-List Customer

    Oh, and another thing. A LOT of European vintage patterns did not have their copyrights renewed, since publishers have gone bankrupt, magazines have ceased to exist, etc. Take a look around the European forums, people post a lot of copyright-free patterns. You're in the clear with those.
  11. lframe

    lframe One of the Regulars

    Excellent advice.
  12. Amie

    Amie One of the Regulars

    Aghh, what happened to my thread, I thought I posted a reply a few minutes ago...oh well, I'll try again.

    Thanks all for your comments, I'm really excited about this idea, although I'm gonna just keep it real small for now...I just think it'll be fun to make a few pieces and have some pocket money. Besides, it'll give me lots of pride in my sewing ability that someone is willing to pay for my creations.

    Anyways, I forgot I put this thread up, I was so busy this past week starting my new job at a fashion e commerce business, which is really cool. I'm working in Soho, so I'm surrounded by the best, most cutting edge fashion and it's very inspiring. I see so many top brands doing vintage inspired stuff. Really quirky vintage looking pieces that go for like 200 and up. I know vintage has been really in style at least in the last 12 years, or maybe I just became more aware of it, but lately I'm seeing this shift where these top and also smaller brands are doing really hardcore vintage inspired stuff. For example, not only on the outside garment design, but the sewing techniques being used on the inside of a garment are pure handmade old techniques. We're in an interesting time in fashion and I definitely see a market for these vintage inspired clothing even if on a small scale. Also, the most fashion savvy people seem to love vintage and are constantly out for oddities.

    Btw, does anyone know when copyrights expired for vintage patterns? Does it depend on the individual pattern company?

    Also, how about later vintage like 60s to even 90s?
  13. Copyright law in the United States is a horror -- there are no simple answers. During the Era, the term of copyright was 28 years, with one renewal allowed for an additional 28. However, this was abolished in 1978 and an entirely new system instituted -- which has been extended and extended several times since.

    The short, simple answer is that there is nothing after 1923 that you can be absolutely positively sure is out of copyright in the United States unless you have the records searched at the Copyright Office. If a copyright was registered for its initial term and not renewed, it'd be out of copyright as of the expiration of that first registration. If, however, it was renewed at the end of the initial copyright and that renewal was still in force when the new law went into effect in 1978, it's *still* in copyright, and will be for the forseeable future.

    If it was never registered for copyright, it may fall under what's called "common law copyright," which fell under Federal protection when the new law went into effect, and it's still protected and will be for the forseeable future.

    Anything from recent years will be protected until all of us are long gone.

    European copyright laws are much more reasonable than American laws, but you'd have to research the specific country for exact answers.

    The best tactic, all that being so, would be to avoid any mention whatever of where the patterns came from. Don't say "Made From Simplicity 2980!" or anything like that, or use any illustrations from the pattern envelope in your marketing. Just say "Made from an Authentic Vintage Design," and it's unlikely anybody will bother you.

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