VAT is coming – and it isn’t pretty

UGH. You may or may not have heard about this: the way VAT (Value Added Tax) in Europe is being charged and handled is changing as of January 1st, 2015, and at the moment, it’s being implemented in a way that is a HUGE burden for small businesses.

Until the dust settles and good solutions arise, it means I have to switch off the ability to take digital patterns orders from countries outside of the USA as of December 31st at midnight – so if there’s anything you want for yourself as a late holiday prezzie, hop to it! Note that orders for physical products are not affected in this go around (although there are rumblings that they will be next year). The law is intended to get some good money out of the likes of Amazon, but there is no small business threshold of forgiveness, so yeah, We the Little People are taking the hit, as usual.

This affects EVERYTHING digital… from ebooks to music to patterns, etc. Basically, for all sales to the European Union, I have to collect VAT (at each country’s rate) and file quarterly tax returns and payments to EACH country. I also have to collect a bunch of data about the transaction (like the IP address it came from) that isn’t yet being made available to me by my payment providers like PayPal (they’re working on it, but it’s not in place). And then I have to store that data for 10 freaking years. And if I put my head in the sand and hope not to get caught, I could be forbidden from traveling to the countries in which I would then be considered a tax evader. Go here If you want to read deeper details.

I have already put my Etsy shop on hold, and I will be limiting the payment locales in PayPal, which affect the digital orders from Craftsy (who don’t have a solution in place yet, but I hope are working on it).

So this is how it looks for my customers right now (and I’ll let you know as soon as it changes):

EU folks – until I find a digital provider that will handle the VAT stuff for me (at a rate that makes business sense) I can’t do digital business with you. I can do a credit card and snail mail of a physical product only. UPDATE 1.06.15 – I’m looking into PAYHIP – will probably implement at the end of January. In the meantime, you can order my PDF patterns through PatternSpot.com (as they are taking care of VAT filing for us)

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand folks – as PayPal currently allows a US customer to block only “non-US” customers (not on a country by country basis) I can’t sell digital files to you either or I risk being open to the EU penalties. I can work around it with a credit card and emailing a file though, so just email me and I’ll do everything I can to get you what you need. UPDATE 01.06.15 – I was able to manipulate PayPal to allow everything but EU – you should be fine now, and if you’re not, let me know.

US folks – you’re in luck. Business as usual for you… carry on. Although you’re probably going to see prices go up all over to cover the costs of dealing with this.

I’m seriously bummed. ALL of my customers matter to me, and I’m thrilled that the internet has shrunk the borders and allowed me to make friends all over the world. I HATE that I have to shut some of you down.

Oh, and other countries like Japan are looking at implementing similar things next year. The global digital economy is about to change. I just hope in the race for more tax dollars it doesn’t kill off all the small businesses that make it so vibrant.

Sigh.

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Happy and Merry!

Tis the season! So of course, for my guild’s holiday celebration, I pulled my favorite Christmas accessory out of the waaaay back of the closet.

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I showed it to a couple of friends before I wore it out of the house. The reactions were mixed… it seems that this gorgeous thing that was THE BOMB when I made it in 1995 is now, quite possibly, the quilter’s version of the ugly sweater.

No matter! I sweated over it, so I’m wearing it! Seriously, it has more hours in it than many of the quilts I’ve made (the smaller the pieces, the longer it takes). Where on earth did I get the idea? From Judy Murrah, author of Jacket Jazz (and now the head of education for Quilts Inc.) I took a class from her in 1995 – fabulous teacher – and well… went a little overboard with concept.

Many of the techniques are in her book. The twisted texture…

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… the 9 degree wedge elements (one half of the strips is the sleeve, the opposing half is the front).

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I designed the presents for the second front. Notice how I integrated the pocket. Damn proud of that, considering what I didn’t (and still don’t) know about garment construction.

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I shrunk the poinsettia from a wall hanging pattern (my apologies to the designer… I no longer have the pattern to credit you!) and APPLIQUED it. Yep, I actually did the A-Word for this (albeit by machine, but still). I only wish I had known about glue basting back then!

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I finished it off with a run of paper-pieced trees. They needed a bit of a switch up, so I swapped a tree from the back with a Santa from the cuff. Santa does get around, you know.

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So there it is. Shoulder pads and all. I like to think that, due to the wonders of time, it has perhaps transcended from tacky kitsch to retro cool, just the way that ugly sweaters have, no? And when you think about some of the holiday excesses (swants, anyone?) then perhaps not quite so over the top!

I wish you Happy and Merry from my studio to yours – I hope you get to spend time with good people and good food, and that every stitch you made on a gift is well appreciated by the lucky person that received it!

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WASWI – Please don’t steal my pattern (or any one else’s)

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A friend of mine is working on one of my patterns as a gift for her son. Sweet friend, sweet and lucky lad to have a mama that quilts for him.

And a friend of hers stopped by. For the sake of keeping these people straight, let’s call my friend Mary, and her friend Jane. Names changed to protect privacy, innocence and all that – and with huge apologies to the Janes and Marys I know and love.

Jane geeks out over the pattern (yay!) and decides to make one. She swipes Mary’s copy of the pattern, saying “You can just print another.” (Mary had the PDF version of it). Mary let it go because, hey, we’re women, and we’re NICE, right?

But it weighed on Mary. She respects what I do for a living – heck, she’s pitched in at my kitchen table on more than one occasion. Yes, this is my LIVING – I have no inheritance, no trust fund, and no partner with a salary behind me. It’s just me and my customers.

So she tackles Jane about it. Explains to her that she’s not happy with having facilitated giving my pattern away. Tells her where she can buy her own copy. But Jane pushes back. And here’s the interesting part… this isn’t a pattern that is languishing in Jane’s sewing room in the “I’ll get to it someday” pile – nope, she’s actually making it. She bought the fabric. And she tells my friend that the fabric was pricy and she “can’t afford another $10 for the pattern.”

Jane, Jane, Jane.

It’s not the paper the pattern is printed on, it’s the intellectual property.

I designed a thing you thought was cool, and you want to make it. And that’s great – I’m always flattered when someone likes the things I create. But that has WORTH. Without the pattern, you’d be just holding a pile of fabric (beautiful fabric that someone designed). Unless you feel like designing your own, you NEED the pattern as much as you needed the fabric you paid for. So yes, I should get paid for it.

Jane – when you did your Thanksgiving dinner shopping, did you buy all the trimmings but steal the turkey because you thought it was expensive? My guess is NO.

So pay me for the pattern, OK?

( And yes… I used to copy patterns when I first started out. But I don’t do that anymore, and I’m working on putting my karma back in balance by fighting for us all.)

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Sew Sassy Buttons – GEEK edition!

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New sassy buttons! An edition just for our geeky and nerdy sewing pals!

From Firefly: 
Sew Shiny!
The Quickest Stitch in the ‘Verse

From Star Trek: 
Make It Sew!

From Star Wars: 
Sew Geeky
Sew or Sew Not, There is no TRY

From Game of Thrones: 
Winter is Coming… Make Quilts

From Battlestar Galactica: 
Sew Frakking Nerdy
Sew Say We All

And from Doctor WHO: 
Bigger on the Inside
Sonic Seam Ripper

Get ‘em here! 

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On Turning 53

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Yesterday, I had the good fortune to celebrate my 53rd birthday. I am grateful for and humbled by the wishes, hugs, emails, FB posts, gifts, chocolates, handmade goodies, gifts, and gift cards that made their way to me from many timezones near and far. I got weepy several times because of it. I am cared for and loved, and it is a wonderful thing.

I was once married to a good chap that just hated his birthday. He approached it with trepidation, running a commentary of the “shoulds” in his head. “By (insert age here) I should have done this by now, should have seen this by now, should have bought this by now.” I’ve never felt this way, but then I prefer looking at the filled part of the glass. I have no idea what I though 53 might look like from my 20’s (other than perhaps hoping I wouldn’t be as unhip as I perceived my parents to be) but I can say without doubt that I’m the best, truest version of me I’ve ever been. And for my next birthday, should I get one, I plan to have refined myself further down this path!

On my 50th birthday, I wrote the following essay, and as I revisited it today, I see that it’s all still true for me. So I’ll share it here, and I’ve added three more to grow on at the end.

50 Thoughts on Turning 50

A time for reflection and introspection. Time for a party filled with embarrassing gifts of prune juice and adult diapers. The big five-oh. Mid-century. Half way done, should I be so lucky. A few thoughts on that…

1.  In the inimitable words of the Monty Python gang – I’m not dead yet!
2.  Turning 30 was a relief. Turning 40 made me feel powerful. Turning 50 makes me feel grateful.
3.  Questioning authority is still fashionable.
4.  Knowing that your girlfriends get you (and like you anyway) is incredibly comforting.
5.  Eating chocolate every day is sacrosanct. Wasting calories by eating bad chocolate is just wrong.
6.  Having a season pass to Disneyland allows you to see all the small things in the design and artistry – and to marvel at the absolute commitment to the concept such details illustrate.
7.  Board games are even more fun as a grown-up.
8.  Fake butter is just that. Fake.
9.  The shift of a smooth gearbox on an open road is still a thrill.
10.  However, next time I’m buying an automatic car. I’m done with clutching my way through traffic.
11.  I got too good at not wanting to be a bother in the doctor’s office, and it almost killed me. Being firm about what I instinctually know about my body is the right kind of bothersome to be.
12.  Spending time outside of your home country is important.
13.  Facebook birthdays rock.
14.  Uncomfortable shoes are just not worth the agony.
15.  Uncomfortable undies aren’t either.
16.  Although I would have chewed my tongue off before admitting this to her as a teenager, I’m grateful that my step-mother spent the time to teach me which fork is the right one.
17.  While I think I could have been just fine without children in my life, I’m so glad I have my son, Steve. He somehow makes me more complete.
18.  Art really is everywhere. And that is a very good thing.
19.  That multitasking thing that we’ve all tried so hard to be good at is a load of bull. Being fully present to one thing at a time is so much more satisfying.
20.  Having good manners never goes out of style.
21.  It is wonderful to find a lost friend from your youth, and to find out that that you still like who they are.
22.  It doesn’t matter that my shoes never match my handbag.
23.  Having an opinion is a good thing. Respecting that other opinions may differ is a better thing.
24.  In my head I’m still in my thirties. But 50 is the new 30, right?
25.  Smart phones are incredible tools of efficiency and convenience. And distraction.
26.  I’m no longer willing to play dumb, or hide my light, or stay silent when I should speak up, just for the comfort of others.
27.  Climbing to the top of a dome or church is a spiritual journey. Coming out into the light and 360 view after the fight of the climb, through the dark and narrow passages, is a re-birth of sorts and worth every ache, gasp, and bead of sweat.
28.  I prefer clocks with hands.
29.  Wearing the right earrings can make your day.
30.  I’m ok with not being liked by everyone anymore. I’m ok with not liking everyone anymore. We are not ALL made for each other.
31.  Keeping the back of your neck warm from draughts wards off colds.
32.  When all else fails, bake shortbread.
33.  Having my face cut and filled to look like a version of 30 will never happen. I’ve earned and lived all my lines.
34.  Saying “thank you” is SO important.
35.  Saying “sorry” is perhaps even more important.
36.  I’m grateful to have been born in times that allow me to exercise choices. And I’m aware that with such privilege comes the responsibility to make sure that these choices are available to future generations.
37.  Those SMTWTFS pill boxes really do make your life easier.
38.  Sleeping under a handmade quilt is a special joy.
39.  Not being obsessively clean is good for your immune system.
40.  I hope evolution takes care of chin hairs and the hairs on the top of big toes in future generations because I can vouch for them having no use whatsoever.
41.  I’m thrilled to see my young friends making babies, and even more thrilled that I’m no longer in the business of teething, tantrums, and teenagers.
42.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
43.  I love the summer movie formula: the good guys win, the bad guys lose, the guy gets the girl, and stuff blows up during a really good car chase.
44.  Slumming with the occasional book of trash pulp will not rot my intellect.
45.  Learning to say “no” is a good thing. Wish I’d got better at it sooner.
46.  Beautifully written words are as satisfying as perfect crème brulée.
47.  This teach-to-the-test crap is ruining our children.
48.  Seeing it in person is so much better than reading about it on the internet. Just say no to the mediated experience.
49.  The color orange makes me happy.
50.  You dishonor the people who love you when you don’t allow them to actually do loving things for you. Accepting love is both humbling and powerful.

51. Making stuff makes my world right. Make, make, make.

52. Minding your values matters. Both personal values, and the color values in art.

53. In the words of Madeleine Albright, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

The Little Spark

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It happens. The well dries up. Your creative mojo chases the sunset out of town and you feel like you’ve lost a dear friend. How to get it back becomes your next big priority. And lucky us, my friend Carrie Bloomston has just written a delightful book chock full of prompts and exercises to get your creativity back into gear!

This is what Carrie has to say about her book:

You were born with a creative spark inside. Do you look at yourself now and wonder if the spark has gone out? Ignite that inner fire with the 30 engaging exercises, fun activities, inspirational images, and motivating ideas in this book. Learn what your Little Spark of creative passion looks like, how to capture it, and how to make room for it in your life. Read the book cover-to-cover and use it as a month-long creative roadmap, or just dip into the exercises as your time and inclination allow. Either way, you will change your life.

She also made a sweet video trailer!

The book is full of space for you to write in and make yours. It’s full of ideas and questions, and peppered with quotes from some really inspiring people. And of, course, lusciously stuffed with beautiful imagery. This image tells me I need to buy more ORANGE pens!

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My favorite chapters in the book so far are Chapter 2, about making your creative space calm; Chapter 23, about the rhythm and mastery in repetition; and Chapter 26, about taking a day off (this post is coming to you while I’m on vacation, through the wonders of auto scheduling!)

Carrie is consolidating all the giveaways from her blog, so head over there to comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

If you can’t wait, or want to gift it for the holidays, it’s available on Amazon or from your favorite indie bookseller (mine is Powell’s!)

Now go to your studio and play!

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Lost in Translation

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been on an adventure, though not of the kind that involves plane tickets, dagnabit! I’ve been relocating my website to a different host, and moving it to a version that has more customizable power. Of course, there have been hitches! But this morning, I actually had access to being able to write a post for the first time in a few weeks. Huzzah!

So hi there! How are you? I hope you’re getting ready for some great food, love, and friendship this weekend.

Thanks for hanging in with the radio silence – and I’ll be back soon with some real posts. But for now, to the sewing machine!

 

WASWI – Designing Fabric?

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Yesterday, Abby Glassenberg of WhileSheNaps delivered an eye-opening post of behind-the-scenes information about the money in fabric design in our industry. Please go read it… I’ll be waiting for you when you’re done. And a continued thank you to Abby for researching and writing such important posts.

I woke up in the wee hours this morning fretting about this, and here’s what I was fretting about: WE must stop agreeing to work for negative income. 

At Quilt Market, just two weeks ago, the result of the Quilting in America 2014 Survey was presented by F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company. The major data point is that Quilting is a $3.76 BILLION industry. Yes, BILLION. To be told that there’s almost $4B of cash floating around in Quiltdom, and then to read that there are fabric companies that effectively force their designers into penury via footing the entire bill of Quilt Market marketing obligations is… just… appalling. Abusive. Manipulative. Just plain WRONG.

And I lost count of how many times I heard during market “I don’t know who’s getting the $4B but it sure isn’t me.”

Look – this isn’t about the companies (fabric or otherwise) that take care of their people. This is about those that don’t. If you are so desperate to see your name on the selvedge that you will sign a questionable dotted line, then you will live by that questionable contract (and really, is the “fame” worth it?) But here’s the thing: because you are willing to sign, it tells the company that what they are offering is good enough. So the bar stays low for anyone coming behind you. It’s the same thing I argue about pricing handmade goods – if you are willing to give it up for the “work for free” price, then you are educating the customer that “work for free” is the going rate. Which screws us all, you included.

These companies are not going to offer you a better deal out of the goodness of their hearts, any more than a craft fair customer will double your asking price for the sake of good karma. We are not going to get better contracts unless we refuse to sign the bad ones. And my guess is that if enough of us pass on the bad contracts, and the company faces Quilt Market with little new stuff to show, then they’ll get motivated to up their game.

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The quilting industry started its growth back when we began the fight for Equal Rights. Its initial population was founded on women who were brought up to be nice, and that pressure to be nice above all else, and especially above being business-savvy people, is still extreme. I know it can feel “not nice” to push back on a contract, especially when you’ve worked hard to achieve the offer of one. But a contract that screws you over isn’t one you (or our industry) deserves.

And in case you are reading this and thinking “I don’t design fabric so it doesn’t apply to me,” well, think again. If you knew which company treated their artists like this, would you buy from them? Would you encourage them to mistreat their people with your hard-earned money? I hope not…. many of us boycott several brands and chains for less.

We are, as always, in this together. If we demand better, we can achieve it for us all. If we take care of others as we rise, then we all rise. I believe we really can change our industry, but we really have to do it together. As Abby says at the end of her post “This kind of alliance can only happen when we speak up.”

So I’m speaking up. We truly Are $ew Worth It.

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

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Where is Sam? Quilt Market edition! With a slightly Fractured Fairy Tale, and CAH!

Read on for some quilt updates!!

I’m off to Quilt Market tomorrow! Here’s where to find me: (or follow on IG @huntersds and #quiltmarket)

TODAY: In the kitchen, making shortbread; finishing laundry; last minute errands; cramming it all into suitcases; hopefully not forgetting anything.

Haven't even started on the clothes yet!

Haven’t even started on the clothes yet!

Thursday: O-Dark-Hundred, PDX to IAH, landing early afternoon. With, methinks, the new X-Men movie on the iPad because, well, Hugh Jackman.

Thursday afternoon: Delivering a bunch of the pile above to the booths they belong in! (Aurifil, Brewer, Checker, EE Schenck, Hoffman Fabrics, Janome, Warm Co.)

Friday: Schoolhouse! 3:45pm in Room 362D! Showing some of the quilts from Quilt Talk and teaching retailers how to market the book. And I have great giveaway swag. And Sew Sassy Buttons. And SHORTBREAD. You want to be there!

Saturday: Book signing! 4pm at Booth 2336 with C&T Publishing – I’ll be signing free copies of Quilt Talk! With more Sew Sassy Buttons!

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The rest of the time: I’ll be on a scooter, protecting my goofy heart, with fingers crossed to stay the heck out of the hospital this time. For those of you who worry about me when I travel, please know that the Queens of BadAssery, Maddie and Flaun, are my guardian angels this trip, and are not afraid to kick my patootie and send me to my room if I get over-tired.

BUTTONS! I have new Sassy buttons to share – track me down and ask to dig through the swag bag. Really, just ask – I love to share them. If you are a Quilt Industry Professional, I have a special button for you, because you are now officially Quilt Famous!*

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*The Fractured Fairy Tale behind Quilt Famous goes like this: Once upon a time, the daughters of a certain Quilt Humor Writer came to their mother with questions, as children are wont to do. Being as whip smart and sassy as their mama, the young ladies demanded to know, now that said mama had written a whole book, just EXACTLY how famous she was. It was determined that, by tabloid standards, their mother wasn’t very famous at all. But it was pointed out that, in the small realm of Quiltdom, their mother actually has cred, and oodles of fans who adore her, both qualifying attributes for the achievement of fame. Thus the term Quilt Famous was coined, and all of Quiltdom may live on, happily ever after, secure in their quilt fame, too.

In other news… the qiveaway for Quilt Talk and a bunch of other goodies is still open for comments until Monday, after I return.

AND lastly… I’ll be playing Cards Against Humanity (CAH) with my fellow quilters on Saturday night. I have blank cards that need some diabolical quilt related stuff written on them. Ideas? Leave them in the comments, or email them to me at sewsamsew (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want to preserve your “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” rep. Your secrets are safe with me! I will send Sassy Buttons to the author of a randomly chosen phrase or question offered!!

Catch you later!

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