Just Wanna Quilt

Have you heard about Just Wanna Quilt? It is a research project on quilting, with the ultimate focus on copyright and intellectual property issues of the quilting industryElizabeth Townsend Gard, the lead researcher, law professor, and a quilter herself, is going full-immersion into quilting to understand the subject better.

The long-term goal for the project, as summarized by Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps,

is to create two bodies of work about intellectual property as it relates to quilting … The first will be intended for the hobby quilter. It will include “everything you need to know about copyright and intellectual property when it comes to quilting. Just simple. So that we can get everyone on the same page on things they don’t understand.” The other will be a more in-depth work for people in the quilting industry. “Every single person in this field is using materials and you should feel confident in what you do with them so that you don’t get in trouble, or if you get in trouble you do it deliberately,” she says.

In a lot of academic research, the initial stage is a review of the existing literature. In quilting, there is very little formal (academic) research existing, outside of quilting history. Elizabeth’s project includes surveying the whole landscape to create a basis for the research product. To do so, she’s initiated a series of podcasts, interviewing dozens of participants in the quilting industry, from corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, fabric and pattern designers, and hobby quilters.

You can find those interviews here. I’ve barely scratched the surface listening to them — there are dozens, and more being added all the time. Most of them run between about 30 and 60 minutes. They’re the perfect thing to listen to while you’re working on a project. Elizabeth’s interview style is very conversational. She comes across as charming and funny, and the focus is always on the interview subject and their part of the quilting world. It’s so interesting and I’ve already learned so much.

And here is a fun thing — she’s just posted a podcast interviewing ME! Click on this link to find the recording. It’s 52 minutes, on the long side. We talk about how and why I started quilting, what medallion quilts are, how I see green quilting and our responsibility as quilters to make the Earth a better place, and more.

In truth I’m not sure how this helps the research, but I had so much fun sharing my quilting world. 🙂 Thanks in advance if you choose to listen. Either way, check out the long list of podcasts available. If you love quilting, you’re sure to find this fascinating, as I do.


18 thoughts on “Just Wanna Quilt

  1. snarkyquilter

    The project sounds like a sweet gig – combine your personal enthusiasm with your job. I’m not quite sure how traditionally research-y it is (I was trained on hypotheses, chi square analysis, standard deviations, etc.) but if you can get your employer to sign off on it and get sponsors for it, why not? My sole concern is that it not forget about the copyright issues and turn into a feel-good paean to quilting. So when is the team visiting Iowa to shop hop with you?

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      The professor’s career is largely based on copyright and other intellectual property issues, so I believe that will be the overriding focus as her work progresses. As to the shop hop, I haven’t heard of anyone planning to come here just for that. 🙂 You know I don’t pay it much heed.

      1. snarkyquilter

        I’ll show that I haven’t listened to all of your podcast with this query. I know you’ve addressed copyright issues in past posts, so did you talk about your advice to quilters during the podcast? Also, I would think the same copyright issues might apply to other art forms, like music. Many traditional tunes/lyrics have been adapted/used by modern composers and singers. Again, at what point can traditional/folk idioms be considered somone’s IP?

        1. Melanie McNeil Post author

          We did not talk about my view of copyright or my posts on it, except she wondered about my personal reaction if someone copied my quilt designs, the ones actually designed by ME (not like Hibiscus Mountain, for instance, which is a very old design) and not specifically noted as free for anyone to use. I said I thought that would be “icky.” We didn’t talk about legality of that, but I doubt it is illegal, from my understanding. Yes copyright issues do cross forms of art, but it seems that the law including judges’ rulings make the whole thing quite murky.

  2. KerryCan

    Such an interesting project, and a huge undertaking! I don’t know when/if I’ll get a chance to listen–it’s spring and outdoors is calling–but, when I do, i’ll listen to you first!


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