Monday, July 16, 2012

A Question -- UPDATE : :

Happy Monday! If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know that I heard back from West Elm in regards to my "A Question" post from last week.  How wonderful is that?! From the comments that were left, it's obvious that as a community we all share a very similar opinion on being original, where it is acceptable to get inspiration from, and most importantly -- to always give proper credit!

I'm so happy such a wonderful conversation emerged!

west elm
photo from West Elm


From the moment I first saw the Kantha Chevron Pillow Covers come through my facebook feed, to the time I hit publish on that post, was less than 10 minutes. I didn't even think it through fully and I left out some important points initially --

It wasn't my intention to make the pillows, sell the pillows if I made them, or to create a tutorial, when I asked the question.

I was not asking about "copying" or showing an example of an individual artists work, asking if it was alright to "steal" their design.

I was asking as a maker, who so often sees something in a magazine or in a shop, and thinks, "I can make that."

When I asked the question, I used the word "inspired" because my goal would never be to see this pillow and to try my best to make one as similarly as I can. If I were to decide to make one, I would of course want to make it my own through color choice, fabric selection, dimension, construction, process. I would of course give credit to West Elm for being my inspiration!

Sweet Summer Dream Bundle
My Blogger Bundle Inspired by West Elm Mugs

So, here's what a West Elm representative had to say about it...

"Hi Maureen! 

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. At west elm, we're happy to provide inspiration any way we can — whether it's the catalyst for a DIY project or desire to purchase our designs for yourself. We embrace the expression of personal style and to keep our own in-house team of designers inspired, we continually seek out designers and artists around the world as collaborators. You can see our current roster of collaborators here: Our Collaborators

In addition to designers and artists we have been partnering with Etsy for the past two years. We work to feature handmade Etsy products and artists in our monthly catalogs and host a number of events in our stores to celebrate local makers in our We <3 Handmade Art events. More on our partnership with Etsy: Shop . Collaborations . Etsy

We like to celebrate personal style on the west elm blog, Front & Main and you can see how some of our fans "make it yours" by taking inspiration from west elm designs and transforming them to meet their needs: Make It Yours

Thanks again for reaching out — if you decide to make a tutorial inspired by our pillow, we'd be happy to feature it on Front & Main!

Best -- AARON"

Are you surprised by their answer? Do you think that their response is rare? Are most companies this supportive of the handmade community? Or, can we truly believe now, what many of us assume -- that these large companies ARE just as inspired by what the handmade community is making?

Should I make the pillow with a tutorial now?! It would be fun, now that I have permission, and that sounds like a pretty good opportunity!

I could use up some of my fabric scraps! Or better yet, wouldn't Indie be the perfect fabric to make one in?!





I had also mentioned to my friends Nicke and Jessica, that it would be fun to use this opportunity to do a challenge -- to have a bunch of us make a pillow, all inspired by the Kantha Chevron Pillow Covers, and then we can prove that even with the same image as inspiration, we will all make something different.That everything we make, no matter where the inspiration comes from, can be uniquely ours with our own creative flare! Of course, I would have to get the approval from West Elm before I did anything like this.

So, again today I'm asking one last time for your thoughts on this -- please share!! Maureen

81 comments:

  1. Amazing M! Go for it! Adelina

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  2. I completely agree with the comment above!!!!

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  3. I think it would be really cool to see how three different people interpret the same pillow! And I am betting it would very much prove the point that "inspired by" and "copied" are not the same thing!

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  4. What a great idea! I do not have much fabric with me in the motorhome and we will not be home for 3 more weeks, but I already have an idea and might try it with very limited fabric!

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  5. Wow that is so great that you heard back from West Elm and that they encourage people to get inspiration from their products! I think it would be great if you, Nicke & Jessica all made a pillow. It would be exactly as you said it...a great way to show how people can get inspired by the same thing but have different end products. Good luck and yes you should do a tutorial! :-)

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  6. i love that response! i think that's the best way to interact with crafters: you're never gonna stop them all, so you may as well get involved.

    if a tutorial is something you're interested in, go for it! but it sounds to me that you're not the most interested in that--the challenge idea sounds much more exciting. And if maybe you talked about your process rather than making it a straight up tutorial, you'd get lots of people interested while still being able to stick to an idea that seems more fun.

    whatever you choose, it'll be fun!

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    1. I think the challenge is important and will be super fun! I plan to do the tutorial after the challenge, for sure!! :)

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  7. Great idea! I would love to see the results!!

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  8. There response couldn't be any better in my opinion! Way to go West Elm!! =D

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  9. Such a great and refreshing attitude they have! Let's face it, far fewer people can/will make it and far more will buy it. I think people (companies in particular) need to remember this when "make it" tutorials come up. It may seem like there are so many DIYers out there, but really, not everyone has the time and/or skill. Most people would rather buy. And tutorials add exposure to the original.

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    1. I agree! I always get such a great response when I share a new tutorial. It's so rewarding to have the chance to actually "teach" someone how to make something new.

      I'm so happy West Elm not only embraces an interest in allowing our community to create things inspired by their products, but also the chance for me to share how folks can make their own -- that's AMAZING!!

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    2. I just wanted to add to your reply:

      Lots of DIY folks don't follow tutorials EXACLTY either. They use it as a jumping point to make their own version of the version shown in the tutorial. So the question of "copying" falls by the way side once the original inspiration has been filtered through so many twists and turns.

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    3. I completely agree! From the several tutorials I have made to share here and for the groups I'm apart of, most of what's made using my tutorial ends up having the addition of something that makes it completely unique and special, which always inspires me!

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  10. Truly amazing and great opportunity...do it! :)

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  11. Great response from them. I say do both - the challenge and the tutorial. Maybe the tutorial and launch it with the challenge!

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  12. Just do it! (ah-oh, did I steal something ther?!!) I'd love to follow along and make one too!

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  13. I think that their response is wonderful and it truly surprised me, in a good way!

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  14. You have a chance to "collaborate" with West Elm. Take it. You'd be a fool to pass up this friendly invitation.

    I think that a challenge would be brilliant. It would also be a great way for West Elm to show how their products can lead to a variety of inpirations. Honestly, if I were West Elm, I'd hope to get not only inspired pillows, but also inpired quilts that would match the pillows they sell.

    And, kudos to West Elm for embrassing inpiration from their products.

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  15. How awesome!!! DO IT Maureen!!!!

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  16. Hurrah for West Elm! I am off to shop as a thank youth them for getting it. Being inspired by a product doesn't t mean 8 don't go off spend money on something else I their stores. The pillow is very cool and Pat Bravo's fabric a perfect pick as a starting place for your version!

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  17. what a wonderful response!

    I have found most bloggers to be very sharing and supportive to followers who want to copy, reproduce and tweek their 'stuff'....how refreshing to find a company with such a view...but really it pays them to be like this because the chain of creative-ness may lead them to stock something unique that any one of us has made thru inspiration from them!

    Also if I were to purchase something....now I know their view....it is more likely to be from them as I like their attitude.

    Thank you for your wonderful posts Maureen...do what your heart tells you and give credit where needed....most decent paople would be delighted at that.

    Blessings
    Nora xx

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  18. I think West Elm is an unusual company, and their response is awesome. I like the both ideas, a challenge and a tute.

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  19. I love these pillows and I personally would like a tutorial and to see what you and you're friends come up with. I think the response from West Elm was awesome.

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    1. I'll have to see who's interested in the challenge and go from there! I'll definitely plan for the tutorial, and I do think Indie would be a perfect choice. It isn't available just yet, so I'll have to wait a couple of weeks!

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  20. What a positive response. As someone who hadn't even heard of West Elm before your first post (I'm in the UK) I must say they have made a new fan. I can't wait to see how you and your friends respond to the challenge - Go for it Maureen! x

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  21. The more the merrier, Maureen! I would ask all your blog buddies to join in and would love to see the amazing results they come up with.

    Having worked for the Williams Sonoma Company of which West Elm is under the "umbrella" I'm not surprised by their response. Just as you are inspired by what you see in their catalogues, they are inspired by others as well.

    I can't wait to see what happens!

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  22. The inspiration challenge sounds like a fun idea!

    These last couple posts have been most interesting; it is nice to see everyone's opinions in this conversation and to know that at least one company is pretty realistic and even encourages makers. I was happy last week when I saw their etsy connection on the website and even happier now with such a positive response to your question.

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  23. How refreshing to hear that a forward thinking company had the grace to reply to you and actually has a very sensible and grounded attitude to us ,the little fish in a big pond! I hadnt come across the company before this, but I will be looking out for them when I next visit the States,
    Heather x

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  24. When I started reading your post today (somehow I had missed the question earlier), I was thinking, "Oh, no....." Instead, what a great response you received! I love West Elm's respect and appreciation for other artists and their view of collaboration. I'm definitely going to follow along with the challenge--already have the picture in my head. Happy Monday!

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  25. What a great response. Like another commenter, knowing their view will make me more likely to purchase from them than a similar store. It's also nice to see that they acknowledge that they get their inspiration from handmade artists!

    I do think you should definitely do the challenge. I already have an idea floating around in my head.

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  26. I'm so glad you started this conversation. That was a very welcome response from them. I think the challenge is a great idea - like a lot of the other commenters, I am already thinking of some ideas!

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  27. Such a great response from West Elm! I think a designer challenge inspired by this cushion is a wonderful idea Maureen.

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  28. Wow, I really love their response! I was picturing something coming from it more like the taggie people. This response makes me want to go check out West Elm's website. A tutorial would be lots of fun. If I were to make something inspired by that pillow it would be scrappy and probably wider pieces, maybe with some ruffles thrown in.

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  29. I think it is a great idea. Perhaps you should challenge your followers to make an inspired pillow and link up, too. I did not think it was possible to like West Elm more than I already did. i am o happy to hear their response to your inquiry. Thank you for sharing.

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  30. Okay, now I officially love West Elm. I find it hard to believe you would get the same kind of response from one of the companies that's known for ripping off artists (ahem, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Target ... the list goes on). How wonderful to hear about a major chain that's actually trying to SUPPORT the handmade community instead of just steal from them!

    And yes, Indie would be SO perfect for this pillow!! Looking forward to a tutorial!

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    1. I emailed each of those companies, as well and haven't heard back yet! :) Just to get feedback from more than just one popular home dec company.

      I feel silly that I didn't look around the West Elm blog prior to my initial post! I am just so amazed and impressed by their support of makers and the handmade community!

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  31. That is a refreshing response! It's so great that they responded to you, and that they understand the meaning of the word inspiration!

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  32. How fun! It's a win/win/win.

    Win for West Elm (they'll get exposure as being the inspiration). Win for you (exposure and fun of making the tutorial). Win for all of us (who get to see the tutorial and then make our version of your version!).

    You're making me want to try my hand at this pillow (just to see if I can!). I have a lot of scraps looking for a purpose.

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  33. I love their response to your question. It is so awesome that they support our crafting community. Thank you for sharing.

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  34. As if I needed a reason to love West Elm any more than I already do... what a wonderful response from them! I think the challenge sounds like so much fun and will be a great way to illustrate how different we all use inspiration. I would love to participate in something like that! Thanks for sharing :)

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  35. what a totally awesome response!!!! I say go for it and make a tutorial.

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  36. what a fabulous response!!! i'd love to see your tutorial (AND a challenge) xo

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  37. okay maureen, i'm a new follower (jessica told me how awesome you are), and i'm kind of in love with you now!!! so great that you actually reached out and ASKED them what they thought rather than just hemming and hawing about it like most of us do. i loved west elm's response, think the challenge idea is fantastic, and can't wait to see what more comes of this. i also love that you and most of the commenters have kept such a positive tone while discussing this - it's a topic that can get pretty heated so it's good to see a constructive conversation rather than a negative one.

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  38. That's so fantastic! My opinion of West Elm just went even higher. If you decide to do a challenge and are looking for people to join in, let me know!

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  39. I think each of you should make something with this inspiration- I suspect, as you will credit west Elm, they will get some added business, anyway, but it would be fun to see you published by them!

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  40. This company sounds like a class act! I have been following all the answers to your initial question. How neat that West Elm not only realizes that they are inspiring others, but actually celebrates that fact! Good for you, Maureen.

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  41. Now that is classy! Great to see the big boys aren't threatened by the small timers. There enough to go around for everybody, in my humble opinion. :)

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  42. I remember what you went through with those local woman and that was so wrong and awful! You're a positive person with a good heart Maureen. It's clear that your main goal has always been to inspire and to try your best, to make the best things that you can. It just makes me so happy to see you receiving this response online and to now have the opportunity to collaborate with West Elm. How's that for Karma!!

    Cheers!

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  43. This looks like so much fun. I'm glad West Elm has this type of attitude!

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  44. Wow, what a fabulous response from West Elm!! Total props to the rep who wrote that, it really encourages creativity and is so positive! I wish more people and companies would respond like this :)

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  45. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all artists, authors, companies, corporations, governments and organizations could come to such an enlightened opinion about inspiration, ideas and sharing? How beautiful would our world be?

    West Elm has just landed themselves on the list of brands that inspire me in more ways than one.

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  46. That's so cool, and now I know more about West Elm. I think it would be really fun if you wrote up a tutorial and we all made our own - I know that your posts about this have made me browse their website, and their lovely response made it more likely I'd PURCHASE from them! AND they're linking to your question and your blog too, that's lovely.

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  47. ok lady, i am totally in and i have an awesome idea for my pillow!
    i do love west elm and i want to buy everything they sell. like this for example, http://www.westelm.com/products/flag-conversions-tea-towel-d086/?pkey=ckitchen-towels-linens-aprons and this too http://www.westelm.com/products/owl-measuring-cups-e612/?pkey=ckitchen-accessories!

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  48. Do you think this would be a challenge that we all could join in? I would love to make some new pillows for my living room couch and join in with you!
    And this makes me love West Elm even more! So great that they responded so quickly and that they support handmade.

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  49. Wow what a response to get!
    That sounds like a great idea. The challenge sounds like a lot of fun too, maybe you could do a sew along then more of us could join in the fun and we all link up our pillows at the end =D

    Also I've added some new fabrics into my swap shop, as well as a new one via Flickr. If you're interested feel free to check them out =D
    http://ibescheraldine.blogspot.co.uk/p/cheraldines-swap-shop.html
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ibescheraldine/sets/72157630591128322/

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  50. I think we all get inspired - by something. That being said, as you mentioned above, we see the same inspiration piece, by we communicate it differently. I'm taking an on-line stitching class with Rachel at Stitched In Color. We have the same inspiration piece but each finished product is as different as the woman who created it. That in itself is inspiring. I've always loved West Elm, but because of their response above, I have a new found respect for them. Thanks for sharing.

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  51. Actually, I'm not that surprised, as anything where they get a mention is free advertising. For every person that sees the tute and thinks 'I want to make that' there might be, say, two that think, 'I could make that, but I haven't got time so I'll go and buy it, even though I'd never seen it before' So if you tie up with them, it's a win all round :o)

    The challenge sounds fun anyway, I can envisage a number of different ways you could take this :o)

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  52. WOW. I'm impressed with West Elm for this response. This is a world I want to live in.

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  53. I think it is wonderful and that a challenge would be great fun and would also show how many ways people can be inspired by the same thing.

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  54. What a super response from West Elm! I would love a tutorial and to see a challenge. More inspiration! and from all of this I have discovered West Elm.

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  55. TerryKess has the perfect example! We are part of the same class and following the same examples and instructions but there are so many variations that no two items are the same. We are all inspired by what we see and very individual in what we make. The response is a relief, they can only increase their profile and sales through a positive response. I think the challenge would be fun!

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  56. I love West Elm's attitude about this. It seems this would also give them additional exposure...unpaid advertisement.

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  57. Who knew?!?!!? That's so cool, you should totally give it a try. How great for you

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  58. What a customer friendly and realistic response you got - love their outlook!!! A challenge would be too cool - would love to see what different people's eyes behold!

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  59. Who knew ?!!?!
    That's so cool, you should totally take this and run with it

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  60. I am not familiar with West Elm. I have not yet looked into them since your last question post but because of their response I am want to...

    I think the opportunity to make a tutorial and be featured on their blog is awesome. Indie would be such a great look too!

    I hope you decide to go with the challenge. I am excited to see what turns up from design, color, etc. :)

    I am happy for you that the response was such a positive one. :)

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  61. Great idea & how fabulous of West Elm.

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  62. What a great response from West Elm and, yes, I'm a bit surprised that they didn't tell you to stop and desist with your idea. Rather, they encouraged you
    to go on with a tutorial and then they'll publish it!
    Win - Win all around!

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  63. Very cool! Both the response from West Elm and the tutorial idea! I love this pattern and as a newbie sewer, I love tutorials. Bring it on!

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    1. I'm working on the tutorial this weekend!! I can't wait to share it!!

      :) Maureen

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  64. Its would be awesome to see a tute on this, I couldnt participate right now, but I did go and see what you were looking at on West Elm and left a comment. I havent had the opportunity to or need to as permission, because I havent had the need. good luck MC.

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  65. That's a pretty fantastic response - I think you should go for it! Great exposure and I'd really love to make one of those pillows! (No West Elm here in France that I've seen). I have lots of scraps begging to be put on display.

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  66. well... I expect to have something to share along these lines on Thursday! I've made something inspired by the pillows as my physical "response" to your post.

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  67. Whatever the bloggers, creatives, and "mean girls" reaction is to your using things as inspiration, the legal ramifications are slim to none unless you make a 100% replica. Just look at any line at Old Navy: you can see the inspiration ripple all the way up through real fashion and other designers. As soon as you change the design a little bit, it's your own creation from an intellectual property perspective. You don't need their permission, legally, to use their pillow as inspiration, just their permission to use the picture they took in your blog post. Now, the world of popular opinion is also really important, so that is why we don't rip each other off and why we give credit where credit is due: because having thousands of angry comments is no fun! That's why it's great that you reached out to West Elm and that they responded in this way, and if you do make a tutorial, obviously it would be awesome to be featured in their publications! **Necessary but obvious disclaimer: this is not legal advice.

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  68. WOW. I always loved west elm, now I love them more! Please make a tutorial so I don't have to go to the hassle of figuring it out for myself :)

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  69. Sah-weet! Some people are so nice.

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  70. Now you have to make the tutorial :))))) And see how different pillows can be made with the same starting point :)))

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