Criminal Crafting: Are You Breaking Laws You Didn’t Know Existed?

Many Etsy sellers and other business-savvy crafters are unknowingly breaking the law, are you one of them? etsylogolgrgb

Almost every university, sports team, and Greek organization has strict laws in place to protect their trademarks. Creating and selling products including their names, symbols, or even color combinations without a license could be against the law.

I began selling National Panhellenic Sorority stitched letter shirts to sisters in my sorority and other girls on campus this past March. I realized I could make a profit out of this new hobby and decided to sell online, on I had been selling for a about a month when I received an Etsy message from a representative of Affinity Consultants. Long story short, the sender told me I had two weeks to get “licensed” to sell Greek Organization products or my site would be shut down and I would be subject to a lawsuit. I was totally oblivious that it was illegal to sell something merely containing a specific combination of Greek letters! Especially my own sorority, Kappa Delta. I was outraged and then chalked it up to being a scam–there was no way this was a real legal issue.


I did my research, reading both online forums and the Official Greek Licensing Website. Becoming a licensed seller is a big decision to be made by a 20-year-old full time college student/part-time restaurant hostess (aka slave). The process included paying initial application fees, annual contract renewal, and quarterly royalty payments–each fee was per organization. I would need to obtain general liability insurance and get each design approved for quality and appropriateness. I took the plunge and applied for three Greek organizations. A few months later, I got the email I had been waiting for–I had finally been approved!

Greek Licensing was something I knew absolutely nothing about and, at first glance, thought it was ridiculous. Now, I understand the necessity of these Greek Organizations (and schools, etc.) to protect their trademark. This ensures that the items representing their brand are of high quality and do not promote/glorify things like hazing, alcohol (ex. no Kappa Delta shot glasses allowed!). I do not regret my decision to become licensed, and encourage anyone who is thinking about selling Greek Products to get licensed BEFORE selling-don’t wait to get caught! Any vendor without the officially licensed seal provided by Affinity Consultants is not legally allowed to sell. Help protect the integrity of these trademarks and order from legally licensed sellers!

Greek Life Logo_Plain_FINAL


How To: Sew Your Own Greek Letter Shirt- A Step By Step Tutorial (Part II&III)

Part II: Sewing!

Now that the letters are adhered to the shirt (heat n’ bond is an easier alternative to pinning), you are ready to begin sewing!


1. Decide which stitching you want to use on the letters. I typically use a large zig zag stitch (left photo), but a small zig zag stitch also works (right photo). See the photos below for their distinctions. Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works for you!

stitch big stitch small

2. Stitch the bigger letter to the shirt and the smaller letter to the bigger letter. Don’t forget to stitch the WHOLE letter (ex. the opening inside the letter Alpha)

If you are new to sewing, check out the blogs below for tutorials on applique stitching:

3. Be patient! Stitch slowly-especially around curves! The stitching is what makes the shirt-so make sure it’s neat (and secure!)

Part III: Finishing Touches!

This step is optional, but really improves the appearance and quality of the shirt. It makes the letters more “stiff” and prevents them from flopping over while being worn. In addition, the backing hides the stitches on the inside of the shirt to prevent unraveling and skin irritation from the thread.

1. Adhere the Heat n’ Bold ULTRA to solid cotton fabric (I prefer to use the same color as the shirt)

2. Use the same stencils that you used for the bigger letters. This time, you will place them right side up, NOT backwards.

3. Once you have cut your letters out, remove the paper and repeat the same process shown in Part I. Iron the letters on the inside of the shirt, covering the stitching.

And you’re finally finished! Don’t get discouraged if your finished product isn’t perfect! Visit the Pretty Little Letters Etsy Shop to check out more fabric combinations and stitching styles!

IMG_0883Finished Product!

Washing Instructions: Machine wash inside-out in code water, hang to dry.

How To: Sew Your Own Greek Letter Shirt-A Step By Step Tutorial (Part I)

Follow this step by step guide to make you own, custom Greek letter shirt! The tutorial is divided into 3 parts: Part I: The Prep, Part II: Sewing, and Part III: Finishing Touches.

What you’ll need:

– Heat n’ Bond Lite (Sewable)
-Iron/Ironing Board
– Cotton Solid Colored Fabric
– Matching thread
– Cotton Patterned Fabric
– Sewing Machine
– T-shirt/sweatshirt/whatever you want to sew your letters on
– Posterboard (or cardstock)
– Heat n’ Bond Ultra (optional)

Part I: The Prep

1. First, make a copy of a letter shirt you already have. Make sure you align the shirt in the copy machine so that the letters do not get distorted or cut off. We’ll use this as the basis for our stencils.cutouts

2. Carefully cut out each letter at its fullest point . After cutting, trace each letter on to a piece of poster board to use as a stencil. Once you have created a stencil for the “bigger,” background letter, cut your copied letters again around the smaller, front letter. Again, trace these on to poster board to use as a stencil.


3. Next, you will need your iron and the heat n’ bond. Once the iron is ready, cut out enough heat and bond for your “big” letters (usually about 6 in squares). Place the squares on to your fabric with the textured side down. Iron quickly, but enough to adhere the heat n’ bond to the fabric. Repeat these steps for your smaller, patterned letters. However, MAKE SURE you adhere the heat n’ bond to the “wrong”/back side of the fabric (otherwise the letters will be backwards!)


4. Now we will use the stencils we created earlier. When tracing the stencils on to the heat n’ bond/fabric square MAKE SURE you trace the letter backwards. After tracing each letter, cut them out carefully with sharp scissors.


5. Remove the backing from the smaller letters and center them on to the bigger letters. Once they are in place, peel the the heat and bond off and iron them to activate the heat n’ bond, making them stick together.

6. Now we are ready to adhere the big letters (with the letter letters on top) to your t-shirt (or whatever you are making). Once again, peel the backing off of each letter. Place them evenly on your t-shirt. Make sure the letters are centered and not crooked (use a ruler to make sure they are straight). When you’re ready, iron the letters on to the t-shirt.

alignReady to sew?  Look out for Part II of this tutorial to get started!