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Elephant Parade Tulip Block

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by Lorna McMahon

Horrified.  Embarrassed.  I’m feeling like such a fool.

Today a message was left by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet on my instagram picture sharing the notice for the flower block tutorial as part of the Elephant Parade quilt along.

She kindly asked me to direct message her.  And, so I did, of course.

Lori described how many people have notified her of the similarity between the tulip block shared in the Elephant Parade quilt along and the one Lori has published in her Quilty Fun book.  She explained that, other than the larger measurements, it was the same as her Quilty Fun Tulip Block.  And that it was okay to leave my version of it in the Elephant Parade quilt along.  But that if I was selling the pattern…. That was not okay.

Lori handled this situation with such grace and understanding.  And wished for us to have a fun and successful quilt along.  Now I just feel like such an idiot.  I am horrified and embarrassed.

As a result, I have now changed the instructions for the quilt along and the pdf pattern to include 3 of the round top flowers instead.  And have removed any reference to the tulip block.  Please forgive me for any inconvenience this may have caused if you are participating the quilt along.  I am truly sorry and I just feel so sick about this whole thing.

67 Responses

  1. Hi Lorna. Don't beat yourself up about this. These copyright issues in the quilty world can be rather confusing. It's a tricky matter. And this is JUST a flower, quite straight forward and probably made by loads quilters who never seen any of Loris work before… Good on you changing it to avoid any further issues though. I LOVE your elephant QAL

  2. Jennifer says:

    You, also, are handling this with grace. I admire that.

  3. Thearica says:

    My grandmother, who lived to be 94 had a similar tulip that she used… It is basically half square triangles…When it all boils down to it.. who copied who? Don't beat yourself up.

  4. JulieF1962 says:

    That's a shame. That is such a basic block, I'm sure it's been made many times before. And I seem to recall Lori suddenly coming out with a granny square block right after Blue Elephant Stitches had posted her version. The only difference was that Lori added another round to the block. SMH

  5. Thearica says:

    As a matter of fact I have a quilt on my guest bed that was made by my hubby's great great grandmother who died in 1875, who used a basket pattern identical to one in that book. The only thing different is the handle.Let us all quilt and be happy. if we were designing quilts to the likes of Judy Niemeyer and someone copied our designs then we would have something to be mad about.. Those designs take endless hours of work. Let's be real here folks.

  6. I think Lori was being a little nit picky. I used to design soft furnishings for cottage style decor stores and many I sold on line as well. I was constantly getting ripped off by repeated copies of my work by people who had the gall to sell multiple items made with my copyrighted designs. I would have been grateful if it had been a tiny slip like this one and acknowledged the same fair minded way you have. Don't worry – this was not blatantly intentional the way I see it. I have made those tulip blocks long before Lori had hers in a pattern, as I am sure many other quilters and sewers have over the years. I thoroughly enjoy your work, blog and tutorials. Cheer up girl. It's all okay.

  7. long as you haven't copied her instructions or technique, you haven't done anything wrong. Triangles and squares, how many ways are there to put them together? Read the link.

  8. Lesley says:

    Oh my, I don't like to hear that you're feeling so upset over this. Your quilt is so adorable, with or without that particular flower, and, as many are saying, tulips have been in quilts for a very long time. Head up and be proud of how you handled the situation!

  9. What everyone else said…Chin up.

  10. Anne says:

    Please don't be embarrassed. 🙁 This has happened to many of us, and is probably far more common than any of us let on. 🙂 With that said, if you didn't copy her directions, she really can't tell you to not sell the pattern because it's the directions (not the design) that she has copyright over. It is very kind of you to change your design to accommodate her wishes, and in your shoes I'd likely do the same just to make nice. But don't be embarrassed or sick about it, you did nothing wrong! <3

  11. I'm sure you didn't blatantly copy her quilt block … that's just not you 🙂

  12. Farm Quilter says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Farm Quilter says:

    Both you and Lori have handled the situation with honesty, grace and compassion. The tulip block has been around for ages so I don't really think there is a copyright issue. Don't worry about it! You did the right thing to change the block out of respect for Lori, but heavens, we are all human and if there was a mistake that was made, you fixed it! Embrace that you are human and a wonderful one at that! (Sorry about the delete – I spotted a typo!)

  14. Kate says:

    I think you've handled this beautifully, congratulations! <3Like some of the other ladies have said – how many ways can there BE to stitch hst's etc for a tulip block? And they have certainly been around longer than any of us sewing today 🙂

  15. Nita says:

    No, no, no. She brought a concern to your attention, you apologized and rectified it. All is well in the world 🙂 the elephant quilt is adorable and I am sewing the blocks into rows tonight.

  16. Kris says:

    I don't think you should beat yourself up over this. I think it is so easy to do the same things without it being called copied. I don't think anyone could or would think you deliberately did anything. Your quilt along is fun to watch so dust yourself off and get back at it.

  17. Quilt on!!! An oversight only!!!! You are happy with how she handled it- we are happy with how you handled it (with grace) quilt on! (Not guilt on :))

  18. KaHolly says:

    Oh, for heavens sake. How petty.

  19. Karen says:

    Lorna – I hope a night's sleep makes it easier for you to put this in perspective. You have been very generous to notify everyone of this issue via your blog. I find it hard to believe that someone can think you stole a pattern for the tulip block when you were able to design elephant blocks in two sizes, frogs, and turtles. Surely it was your own design strictly for the quilt and inspired by Ed Emberley's drawings. BTW, I do not mean to bash Lori here; I have met her and she is a very nice lady!

  20. Patti says:

    Aww, Lorna! I'm sorry to hear you feeling bad about this. As others have said, this is a very common block construction and no one should have a copyright on it. While I am a fan of Lori's, she should know better. I plan to leave mine in my quilt! Thanks for all your hard work designing this quilt, and encouraging all of us along the way. You don't need to change a thing!

  21. Lorna, you are a total class act–I thought it was similar, but I have seen the same method way before Lori Holt claimed it as her own! By the way, the tulip pattern was originally a free pattern on her blog before she published it. I do own the book, so I don't feel as though her copyright has been infringed by me…Hang in there–this will blow over! :0)

  22. it is becoming harder and harder in the quilt world to be original because so many blocks are made over and over again that no one knows who the \”original\” belongs to anymore. And like others have said – the block has been around forever – I have seen some blocks in quilt books that I swear I saw in others and the world of copyright is confusing – it is normally the instructions that is respected by copyright not the block itself especially if it has been in public domain for some time – I have seen some that claim the \”Bear Paw\” block as theirs, or the log cabin — really? get real – it is just their instructions that they have a copy right to. Love your stuff!

  23. Ioleen says:

    What a shame that this had to happen. You are just a nice person and beating yourself up is so very sad. I made a tulip block for a guild swap and I'm sure it looked like yours. No worries be happy and quilt on.

  24. Rosemary B hereOh my goodness. No more of this, missy!Good Grief, we are all copying patterns fron days of olden,Not one of those quilts ancestors are rolling in their gravesLove always, quilt on

  25. Jake says:

    I agree with everyone else….that block Lori is claiming to be hers…well, that's just absurd! She's def not the first to publish THT block and turn a profit, and she won't be the last! I've gt a book with that \”Loris Tulip\” block in it that's been around probably longer than she's been breathing! Crazy. Hope that you better put this in perspective for your own mindful rest after you get a good nights sleep. She can't sue you even if you did sell it In Your pattern! Well. She can, but I'd put my money on it that it would get tossed right out…if she could even get a lawyer to handle it for her! I mean, quilters are getting ridiculous! I mean, is someone going to lay claim to the flow of the thread in thread painting? Leah Day once had a quilter accuse her of copying a design and naming it the same name…creativity is not limited to a single person….folks are getting ridiculous…regardless of how \”gracious\” you claim she was, still seems like she was threatening to me….oh, it's okay if you use this design to host a free quilt a long, but no, you can't sell it because it's what I am being famous for right now. It's mine….whatever.

  26. Melody A. says:

    I love your quilt and thank you for sharing your wonderful design in this quilt along !!! The tulip block has been around in a very similar form for decades by different quilt pattern designers. Thank you for being so kind to all of us with this creative, fun quilt!

  27. PatG says:

    Look at you, giving away your hard-earned patterns by the bucket load, kind and generous lady that you are. A newbie quilter and an avid reader of all things quilty, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that LH was a bit mean with her patterns – long blogs re QALs galore, but you always have to buy the book. Sorry to be blunt, but I'm British and tell it like it is. LH should be the one feeling embarrassed. Be proud, you have oodles of support here xxx

  28. Patti says:

    As a long time Lori Holt fan, I'm embarrassed for her! Something as basic as a tulip and it belongs to her alone? It would have been better for her reputation to just offer it as a free pattern as well.

  29. Debby says:

    I agree with Patti. I also follow Lori Holt and would never have believed she would worry about this. I never even thought of her pattern looking at yours. Put the Tulip back and let it go. There are tons of tulip blocks out there, how many ways can you lay one out? So many people before me have said this so well. Most patterns out there are just an adaptation of a traditional block and you can not copy write the block. The link from Lisa in Port Hope says it well too. Please relax and enjoy your lovely pattern.

  30. I'm sorry that you have been upset and felt you had to change the pattern. I think it is a pity how sensitive well known published quilters can become over patterns that are around for generations.

  31. Carol says:

    You don't need to feel embarrassed at all. You have a beautiful quilt pattern with Elephant Parade, and I don't see any need to feel remorse about the tulip. You have handled it very gracefully, I think, by removing it from your instructions. I don't know how quilters can help from repeating patterns–there are only so many ways to make these things. Hang in there and keep creating lovely designs!

  32. Kate says:

    Lorna, I don't think you should feel obligated to change your tulip block … no doubt there are many tulip blocks being incorporated into patterns around the world. Kudos to you for handling this so very gracefully. I think Lori was being a bully and got away with it – shame on her.

  33. Unknown says:

    Lorna, You have nothing to be embarrassed about! I agree with everyone here. I'm sure the tulip block has been around much longer than any of us!

  34. Aggie-G says:

    I definitely agree with everyone here!!! Nobody was buying your pattern for that tulip anyway!!! It's for the amazing and awesome original blocks. I don't see the problem in using a standard tulip. But you delt with it well. Good job – but don't be sad. You did nothing wrong!!!

  35. Lorna, I don't think you need to change the tulip block either. It is a common block that has been around forever. I know that you aren't the kind of person who would copy a design – you have come up with all of the designs. Certainly, you aren't required to look at all of the patterns available in the world to see if something you thought of has already been thought of by someone else. I understand that a designer doesn't want someone else to take away her livelihood by copying a design but that isn't what you did.

  36. Lorna, I agree with many of the others that the tulip block is a very common block and you should be able to have it in your design. The only thing Lori Holt owns is the copyright to the way she wrote the directions. You share so much with everyone Lorna, great job!

  37. Skootchover says:

    Just want to add my support. You didn't do anything wrong and shouldn't have to change your pattern. How fantastic are you that you share such cute ideas? The tulip pattern is nothing new, but your pattern takes the work out of the construction for others. Your words – your pattern. Keep designing!

  38. DuAnne says:

    Don't waste your precious time and effort worrying and fretting over this! I'll bet if you researched the tulip pattern way back, you'd find someone else that made it! It's great that it was so easily resolved but girl…life is too short! Be Happy! You are very talented and you need to keep on quilting! Don 't let this inhibit you! You GO GIRL!

  39. Brandy says:

    Big hugs to you! I know it's sucky when this happens, but as the ladies above have said, that block has been around. I'm loving my little elephants, am still working on the FMQ around them, and will be sure to send you a photo email when I get it done 🙂 Thank you again for sharing such a great quilt with us!

  40. I normally don't read all the comments on a blog post, it's so nice to see the support and quilty love from so many quilters.

  41. Vera says:

    The tulip is not a main feature on your quilt and I don't think you copied her block. Don't be so hard on yourself.

  42. Rosemary B here againI have a quilt on my bed that i bought from an old department store about 15 years ago.It has the exact tulip flower pattern (probably this quilt was made in China)

  43. Jasmine says:

    I hope you are feeling our love and support. I think your quilt is perfect as is, but would probably do the same thing as you have done. I hope this won't make you hesitate in future designs. I love seeing all your non-paper pieced designs.

  44. Lara B. says:

    After reading about what happened Lorna, I had to go make a cup of tea and then pace around the kitchen a few dozen times just to calm down enough to type. What everyone here is saying is so true! I made curtains in 1983 with a tulip border much like this that my mother-in-law had tucked in a basket of patterns found in magazine and newspaper clippings. Who knows how old that was. There really are only so many ways to create with HSTs. When you drew up your pattern on graph paper, you were being just as original as Lori Holt was when she came up with the tulip design. You should not be embarrassed in the least. In fact, you should be proud of the way you have addressed this! I think you are the one who is behaving with grace and dignity! From a copyright standpoint, there is no need for you to remove the design from your wonderful Elephant Parade pattern, but I do understand that you wish to handle this peacefully. I'm left wondering, not just about Lori, but about what kind of people go around being misguided \”informers\”. Blogland sure isn't all sunshine and rainbows, but I do hope and pray that you don't let this dim your beautiful, creative light!

  45. Oh, Lorna! My heart breaks for you. I can feel the embarrassment in your post. But here's the thing… I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about. You didn't set out to copy anyone or steal anyone's livelihood. Tulip blocks have been around for eons. For anyone to say they have the copyright on one is simply unjust. It's a traditional block. If you had cut and pasted her instructions, seeking to call them your own, then you would be in the wrong. Love you. Love your wee elephants (and their accompanying tulips). You're a class act.

  46. Heather says:

    Certainly an easy mistake to make. How many ways are there to make a pieced tulip?

  47. Lisa J. says:

    Everyone else has said it all. Just sending you some love.

  48. KMTrott says:

    You are way too hard on yourself Lorna. So much fuss over a simple block, just shake your head and smile. I've loved doing your Elephants on Parade btw, the perfect pick me up for a winter that just won't end.

  49. Anonymous says:

    As has already been said, copyright exists for instructions, not for designs, and it is quite unlikely that Lori was the first one in history to put half-square triangles together in that particular way to make a flower. I think, though, that it speaks to a larger issue in the quilting world about how we think about the quilting. Quilting has been a craft passed from generation to generation, its skills and its patterns shared as women (primarily) gathered to socialize and make things for their families and communities, finding inspiration in the work of others. In the attempts to monetize the craft, suddenly we are concerned not with the sharing of knowledge and inspiration, but with claiming ownership of patterns and ideas and getting credit for a share in the creativity of others. It seems to me at a fundamental level, there is a contradiction with the spirit that is at the heart of quilting.

  50. ~Diana says:

    Ditto here Lorna! Quilting is derivative~something as simple as a tulip is not \”owned\” by anyone. I'm sorry you're feeling bad about this~take heart that you have a LOT of supporters! All so silly…we quilt with you 🙂

  51. Sending you some love too. Love your elephants and your quilt. Oh and that little bird too! You have been SO generous with your pattern. This kind of thing would crush my spirit too. Please don't let it do it to you. You handled it graciously. Tomorrow is another day to make quilts. Get busy and get it out of your mind.

  52. coolbeans says:

    Think about it. The three elements of a tulip are universally drawn that way from the time little kids learn to draw flowers:3 zig zag petals on topvertical stemtwo leaves aiming upward.Converting that to a simple block with half square triangles, how else would a very simple tulip block be made? Leaves might be fatter or skinnier, but there simply isn't a lot of variance.It's unfortunate that someone claimed a basic traditional pattern as her own creation and then bullied you about using the same one. You handled everything with grace.It's difficult to come up with something that hasn't been done before. I appreciate how you have created something new in the world of quilting with your adorable and unique animal family quilts. They always make me smile.

  53. SewPsyched! says:

    Oh, Lorna! Nothing to be embarrassed about! You're both professionals, handling professional events, professionally. That's a good thing! Loving the quilt along! X!

  54. Wow! I agree with the comments here about how it's a quite simple block to begin with so Lori Holt is hardly the first and only person to have made it up. There was a comment that also mentioned how Lori would only hold copyright over the way she wrote the pattern and not the actual tulip itself which is what I've understood copyright to be as well (not that I am a copy write lawyer/expert or anything even close lol!). But from what I've seen and read on the topic, that's what I've usually seen it explained as and from what you've showed of your pattern it's obvious you've drawn it all up yourself and didn't copy and paste what she wrote. Seem like Lori and the dibber dobbers who showed her YOUR tulip need to do some follow up on actual copyright as well because in general I think it's a topic few us really properly understand, so please don't feel embarrassed!I've seen this link before about copyright written by a lawyer who is a quilter, maybe it will help in the future 🙂

  55. Shanna says:

    Wow! I don't think what you put together is wrong at all and I agree with everything being said above! It its hard to be original these days with everyone's claim to copyright!

  56. Amy DeCesare says:

    I'm so glad you didn't suffer in silence. I join in your support!

  57. legato1958 says:

    I love your delightful Elephant Parade quilt design! You can't help but smile when you see these cute blocks!And, I also admire your graciousness and class in this \”Tulip-gate\”. Susie

  58. She has a patent on her quilt block?

  59. Anonymous says:

    Don't give this a second thought. No need. I agree with everyone and cannot imagine that one quilter/designer forever holds right to this block. That is absurd. Your work is lovely and original – it is your design. No need for beating yourself up. I am impressed by the grace with which you have handled this Lorna. 🙂

  60. Julie Cefalu says:

    Hi Lorna, I had the same thing happen to me with my quilt along last year. One of my blocks was similar to another one from a certain blogger's pattern who was also doing a quilt along. I don't think I was as graceful as you were. After hearing from this person through a comment and then an email, I tried emailing her back three times and she completely ignored me. No reply, no comment. So, I went ahead with my qal and ignored hers as well. I did some research and found that you don't own the rights to a quilt block, only your interpretation through your own written instructions. It is very \”neighborly\” to have the kind of conversations that you had with Lori, but don't put yourself at the bottom of a rock. You deserve to be on top!

  61. Oh dear Lorna,I just read about this flower mistake at Deborahs blog.I can`t see that you did anything wrong!So sorry that you have to go trough this terrible copyright nightmare :-(Cheer Up!x – oBente

  62. I really hope you aren't beating yourself up about this anymore. Personally I get a little peaved with simple quilt blocks being \”owned\” as if it was something so new to them. I understand it to a degree when it comes to such complex overall designs of a quilt and so forth, but over a block seems to really ruffle my feathers unfortunately. I feel horrible for you and find it to be such unnecessary back tracking work when in reality I am sure if it was dug around enough, that tulip block was used LONG before the copyright owner and others alike. I do admire how gracefully you are handling this but I really wouldn't feel so embarrassed by it by any means. Personally, I think copyright is as good as the owner of the copyright as I could create that block and would have never known it was from her. I could have written something for that block and never knew someone 'owned' a block. It makes me wonder about lots of quilts that are made from other quilt blocks created by others… should now we all be going back and making sure anything we have created has not been done before? You're wonderful Lorna and glad it was able to in the end be worked out. *hugs*

  63. You took every bit out of my mouth and sounded restrained while saying it… in which I was in my response as well. I find it to be ridiculous that someone in this wonderful quilting community that is supposed to be so giving and thoughtful would really take away and be that 'entitled' to really say a block that can be proven to have been created long before them… still decides to threaten and take away from someone else. While the words weren't coming out of her mouth, I think she was being threatening as well… she just wasn't expecting it to be handled to her liking though. I respect and understand keeping peace, but I don't think others should be tossed to the side with their creativity just because someone else has a sense of ownership and entitlement.

  64. I personally have felt this way regarding LH as I have seen her be pretty 'aggressive' towards things that 'look' like her stuff. This isn't the first time I had heard of this happening and because this isn't the first… I kind unfollowed her on Instagram as I don't ever want to be accused of seeing any of her things and 'recreating' them. That also means I removed her from reading her blog anymore. I can't support someone in the quilting world if they don't support others.

  65. I agree! I have stopped following her blog and on bloglovin, I personally don't want to have to be accused of anything on that end to THIS degree… so I'd rather not see any of 'her' things then so I won't be accused of my creativity being hers!