Selling Crafts Using Licensed Fabrics?

What licensing steps do I need to take to sell aprons at craft fairs or out of my home? On the bolts of fabric it often says, "licensed for home use only" or "not for commercial use".

By Jody H.

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October 19, 20110 found this helpful
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Actually, using the fabric to create items for resale is illegal without proper licensing from the company.

I teach sewing using commercial patterns and fabrics but am only able to get away with doing so because the patterns and fabrics are bought by the student for home use only. If I were teaching my sewing students how to craft for resale I would have to have a licensing agreement from the companies whose products I use, as would any of my students.

Disney is particularly harsh to people using their licensed materials to craft for resale, they will go after even someone as small as a local flea-market crafter. They will even go after people using 'likeness' as in an image or style they've copyrighted (Disney Princesses, Winnie The Pooh are two of the likenesses they've successfully sued over).

Another company that will hunt you down is the company with the rights to the Charlie Brown Gang, especially on the Snoopy character.

So you have to be very careful about what you use for creating a craft item for resale. Read the following forum discussion regarding licensing, it's a very interesting discussion that starts off saying "Oh yeah, it's OK" but other posters quickly disagree and provide links to cases wherein the license holders have successfully prosecuted violators:


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February 7, 20190 found this helpful
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A license is basically a (contract between YOU and the manufacturer of the fabrics).

A fabric store, more than likely has a (contract or license) from the manufacturer they purchase their fabrics from.

That is how the manufacturer makes money, a percentage, by(selling to the fabric stores) and the fabric stores then make their money from the customers buying their fabrics.

To obtain a license agreement or (contract) to sell (existing fabrics)
you are better off (money wise, and legally) to contact the manufacturer and make a formal written agreement with them, then you will be "contracted or licensed" to sell that particular fabric to whomever you choose to sell it to.

But to use someone else's fabrics (from a fabric store) you are infringing on the fabric store that has an agreement with the manufacturer - which is "their" contract/license.

Also, you'll pay a lot less buying your fabrics directly from the manufacturer, but because you're not actually "weaving the fabrics yourself" which then you could sell to anyone, you will have to pay a percentage to the company that does make the fabrics.


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February 7, 20190 found this helpful
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Here's more on that subject, so now I'm at an (I'm not sure) place with the *details* of selling someone else's fabric. We'll have to read more on this, I'm very interested too for different reasons than yours.


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February 7, 20190 found this helpful

Ooops sorry, in my post, I should not of said (selling someone else's fabric) rather it is:

"creating something out of someone else's fabric and then selling it".

October 18, 20110 found this helpful

I believe the warning applies to the sale of the whole bolt or partial bolt of fabric, rather than a person using the fabric to produce something to sell. I don't think you need a license.

February 6, 20190 found this helpful

I make Welding Caps. Some customers will request a certain team. Would I be able to use Sports Teams fabric to make them?


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February 7, 20190 found this helpful
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Of course, you should always get legal advice from an actual attorney. But from what I and the other people have seen online, it doesn't look like that would be a concern. Worst case scenario, you might get a "cease and desist" letter from the NFL but it seems unlikely they would go to the trouble for a small operation like yours.

If you have a business license, your city or county may have some resources for basic legal matters like this.


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October 19, 20110 found this helpful

I believe that means you can't mark the bolt up and sell it. Once you have used it to make items they are yours to sell.

July 12, 20152 found this helpful

A company can't dictate how you use an item once you purchase it, which is surely a violation of your rights. You have paid for the licensing by buying the fabric. After purchase, it is yours. If you are not mass producing, their should be no issue. If this issue is keeping you up at night, choose fabric without licensed characters.

October 7, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you! It's sad that we can't use their product. I was going to make a few thing to see if i can sale them to supplement my S.S. oh well what a person to do.

February 8, 20200 found this helpful

I sew with fabric with sports logo..I can or cannot sell that at craft shows
.my product is a bowl.cozy for home use.
All my sewing ..bowls,,towels,,skillet handle holders are for home us
So yes or no


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February 9, 20200 found this helpful

I would read all the previous comments as people discuss whether it is legal or not in detail. There is no consensus but it seems that if you are a small crafter selling locally, you probably will be in the clear. If you are trying to sell online, that is when larger companies will step in with copyright or trademark infringement claims. Disney is especially strict with their designs.

Good luck and let us know how it works out for you.

January 16, 20201 found this helpful

Folks have fought these name brand companies in court about the copyrights after they have paid for the product fair and square. The case was always won in their favor.

May 16, 20200 found this helpful

See US Supreme Court 2013 decision - Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons - You bought it, you own it, you can resell it.

June 5, 20200 found this helpful

Look up Doctrine of First Sale. It says the license between the copyright holder and the product manufacturer ends with the purchase of the physical product. That means if you buy the fabric, etc, it is yours to do what you want with it, including making something to sell. What you are not permitted to do is reproduce images, logos, etc and sell them. In one case the court decided against someone who bought a book of art prints, separated them, framed them and sold them, because he/she altered their form from a book of prints to individual prints. Another case decided in favor of someone who purchased printed notecards and used them to decorate woodwork, because he/she purchased the physical notecards which were already separated. But they DID show copyrighted images and the purchaser was permitted to use them to decorate sold products.

October 14, 20210 found this helpful

Copyright is different than trademarks. They copyright the print of the fabric, but the fabric still contains trademarked images that are theirs to control...I think.

February 24, 20220 found this helpful

I realize that I'm responding to an older post but I feel it is important to address this question for those who may still find this conversation thread. You are correct for pointing out the difference between copyright and trademark. "Copyright protects original work, whereas a trademark protects items that distinguish or identify a particular business from another." (Copyright vs. Trademark: What's the Difference? - NerdWallet Fabric can have a Trademark component, such as a sports team logo, or a copyrighted character such as Snoopy or Harry Potter. Often, fabric may have a "use statement" in the salvage of the yard goods. It may say "not for commercial use" or "for personal use only" which answers your question about how the fabric can or can not be used. Also, it sounds like some folks are discussing the resale of just the fabric and others of selling items created from the fabric. Here is another useful link ( Also, don't assume that being a "small" crafter puts you in the clear. HOWEVER, those who have questions about this topic should be contacting a lawyer for an answer.


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May 1, 2013

Ornament made with licensed materials.I have started making ornaments using licensed material, ie. Disney and college teams. Do I need to have a license to sell these ornaments and if so how do I go about getting one?



By June F.


May 7, 20130 found this helpful

We experienced the same concern using licensed duck tapes such as Hello Kitty, Spiderman, SpongeBob Squarepants. If you were planning to sell your ornaments made with licensed artwork ONLINE......DON'T! The law says you can't even show photos of the recreated items such as your adorable ornament.
Hello Kitty legal went after someone selling duct tape accessories in her online Etsy shop and won! They actually closed down the shop and threatened further legal action. Harley-Davidson did the same with someone selling handmade purses and wallets made from their licensed tape.
So we can USE the licensed duck tape, logos, etc. in our crafts for our personal use (gifts, etc.) but can't photograph it or promote it online for sale. As crafters we don't have the millions and millions Disney does, so I believe buying your own licensing rights is not feasible.

May 31, 20180 found this helpful

I had a friend who used The Nashville Predators as a theme for her shirts (even though she made the design herself and didnt just copy theirs) and they came after her for it. Id be very careful.

May 24, 20200 found this helpful

You can resell Licensed farbic as you please because you are protected by the first sale doctrine law, look up this law and use it to your advantage when big companies sue you for using their farbic.

July 28, 20210 found this helpful

The problem is that she made her own design and didnt use something pre printed and stating that the item was made with a licensed material but she had no connection to the company and the item made is not a licensed product.......when she made her own rendition of the copywrited design that is illegal.

September 18, 20210 found this helpful

The first sale law only applies to unaltered items. So if you purchase a bolt of fabric with Disney characters on it and you decide you dont want it - you can resell that item legally. However it is not legal to make a shirt out of it and sell it without a license. Licenses for characters and logos are carefully guarded for good reason. Someone else paid to make shirts with Disney characters. And companys protect their copyrights by filing legal action - because if they dont - they are actually at risk for loosing their copyright.


So legal action leaves the paper trail of active protection which helps them in cases that involve real money. Its not that theyre mean people. Its just the law. And it protects people who do pay for licenses properly. If you went to all the trouble to get a license but it forces you to charge $5 more than someone making the same item who didnt secure licensing- youd be happy for that protection too.

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