Month: February 2020

Amsterdam: Den Haan & Wagenmakers Quilt Shop

Amsterdam: Den Haan & Wagenmakers Quilt Shop

The first in my Travel and Quilt Shop Series

Last October, I went to the Netherlands – a country I’d not visited since I was a toddler. My husband and I did all the regular tourist things while we were there, and I had the opportunity to take him on a side trip to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (called Den Bosch for short) to see where my parents grew up. And, of course, I sought out quilt shops. 

Unfortunately, the shop in Den Bosch was closed the day we visited the city, but I did have the pleasure of visiting a lovely shop on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 95 in central Amsterdam, called Den Haan & Wagenmakers

I popped in briefly earlier in the day as we passed the store on our way elsewhere. I returned later and I must say, I made quite an entrance. After I came through the door, I turned to my right and promptly tripped on a step, scraping my shin through my jeans, and taking out a quilt display along the wall. Mortified is a pretty good description of how I felt. That could explain why I spent a good bit more than I had originally planned on! 

The store has two floors. Once my embarrassment faded, I ventured carefully to the second level. Along the walls were some fabrics I was familiar with, and some other traditional patterns, but there were some by Dutch designers as well, which is what I was looking for. Before I knew it, I had several bolts of fabric in my arms, ready to bring to the cutting table. 

Like so many Dutch, both women in the store speak excellent English. This was good because my Dutch has become practically non-existent, unfortunately. We chatted as they cut the fabric and I showed them photos of some of my quilts. 

I haven’t decided what to do with these pieces yet. I’m in no rush. I still have the fabric I bought in Paris in 2017. I only last month used fabric I bought in Taos, New Mexico, almost 10 years ago. The fabric in my stash brings me joy – it remind of the places I travel to and bring a smile to my face.

I love visiting quilting stores when we travel. Some cities don’t have any or they do, but they’re either too hard to get to or the hours don’t work. But when I do get to a shop, I’m happy. I may only be one yard of fabric, but I always buy something. And no matter where I go, the quilt shops always feel welcoming. There is something about seeing the familiar shelves of fabric, rows of thread, and all the other stuff you find in a local quilt shop. And I figure that I never know when I may find or learn something that I’ve never seen before. 

Mistakes Happen: Done is better than perfect

Mistakes Happen: Done is better than perfect

Are you a perfectionist? This is something I fight a lot, but it’s funny. In some ways, I don’t really care how things turn out as long as they do. But in other things, I am so much a perfectionist that it paralyzes me. After all, if it’s not perfect, why do it? Quilting has taught me to be less a perfectionist because we all make mistakes. If a quilter tells you they have never made a mistake, don’t believe them. Whether it’s sewing a piece of fabric down the wrong way, cutting a wrong size, or miscalculating a measurement, mistakes happen. It’s what we do with these mistakes that counts.

we all make mistakes
The corners missed their marks, but when you look at the whole quilt, you don’t see the mistakes.

Several years ago, I heard the expression “done is better than perfect.” At first, I couldn’t wrap my head around that. But over time, I learned that this is so true. If you will only expect perfect quilts, you won’t make any. You may be afraid to even start a quilt. You won’t be satisfied with your attempts. You’ll find fault with every tiny error. And that’s be a shame because you will be deprived of the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes with a completed quilt.

I’m not saying chuck all your rules and feelings about creating out the window. I’m not saying don’t try to avoid mistakes. Of course we should. I measure and remeasure before cutting. And I still cut wrong sometimes. I reread patterns several times, and I still may misunderstand a step. I stitch fabric upside down or wrong side up and then have to rip the stitches out and start over. But if we do make a mistake, does it need to be fixed?

I make mistakes too!

Once I sewed a piece of fabric, wrong size facing out. I left it, because it actually blended in decently and only I knew it was wrong. Another time, I poked myself with a pin and didn’t notice blood drying on white fabric until the whole quilt top was just about finished. How did I fix it? I appliqued something over it and then added a few other appliques randomly along the top. No one ever knew.

I’m often told how some groups intentionally add mistakes to their work because only God is perfect. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I hate that thought. No one can make a perfect quilt. Surely they make at least one mistake unintentionally – it happens. To me, putting in an intentional mistake says that they believe they can make a perfect quilt and they must deliberately screw up. But, it’s an unpopular opinion. When I mentioned my thoughts to others, they got quite defensive on their behalf, saying that I misunderstood the approach. They may be right. This is definitely not something I’m an expert in. 

The best quilt is a finished quilt. You do your best, you create, and you finish it. You probable won’t make the same mistakes you made in one quilt again. That’s how this all works.

Copyright and why it’s important

Copyright and why it’s important

It happens all the time. Someone sees a photo or image they like online and they copy it. They may save it on their computer, and then use it later in a project. Or they may print it on a t-shirt or post it in a blog post or on their website. They think it’s all good because they’re not selling it, trying to make any profit from it. Perhaps they see a pattern they like but don’t want to pay for it . With some patience and know-how, they copy the pattern and start to make their own identical quilts (or other product) based on what they saw. It seems perfectly harmless right? After all, it’s on the internet. Actually, it’s theft because of something called copyright. 

Crediting the designer, photographer, or author isn’t good enough. Just because something is online doesn’t mean it’s ours for the taking. Someone produced that item, photo, pattern, recipe, poem, story, article, or whatever it is. Unless they expressly give permission for people to use their creation, it can’t be taken and used by anyone because of copyright law.

Your creation is yours, not mine

I write for a living. Copyright applies as soon as I write something, put words on paper or on the screen. It’s mine. Anyone who takes my words and uses them elsewhere, either stand alone or as part of their work, without my permission is stealing my work and my copyright. It’s stealing the years of knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years. It is stealing the work it took to research and craft those pieces. It’s stealing the potential of clients finding my work and thinking they may want to reach out and hire me to write for them. The same stands for quilt designers. If a quilt designer offers a pattern for a charge, copying that pattern without permission is, yup, theft.

I’ve gotten into debates/arguments with people who don’t see copyright as such a big thing. After all, isn’t art meant to be shared? Don’t artists do it for the love of creating? One person who was looking for a cheap writer told me I was asking way too much and I was in the business for the wrong reason. I shouldn’t be focused on getting paid for my work. I should be happy that I had the opportunity to write. 

Isn’t it flattering to have your work copied (stolen, really), people have asked. And surely, by crediting the creator, all is good, right? And how can it hurt the creator if you, just one person, copies the work?

Let’s break this down. 

Isn’t art meant to be shared? Absolutely. I love it when people share my stories on social media. But sharing my stories online and copying my words and putting them on your blog are two different things. If you share my stories, the readers go to the site where they’re posted or the magazine where they’re published. Statistics, view numbers, ratings, all make a difference to sites that are attracting advertisers or subscribers. Putting my words on your blog, even with credit to me, gives me nothing, gives the sites or magazines where they were published nothing.

Isn’t it flattering to have your work copied? That’s a tough one, because some people don’t mind. But, if you’re at work and someone gets the credit for what you do, is that flattering to you? If you propose a great idea to your boss but your boss takes credit, never mentioning it was yours, is that flattering?

How can it hurt the creator if just one person shares the work? Because it’s never just one person. You may think you’re the only one. But there are many people who copy and use without permission, and maybe they all think that they’re the only one.

So, what to do?

So, what do you do if you see a quilt, a photo, a pattern, an article that you really like, that you want to share? Well, it depends on the product. If you find a photograph online that you like, reach out to the photographer. Ask if you can use it. They will tell you if you can for free, with credit, or if you must pay a fee. The photographer should always be credited though, even if they don’t ask for a fee. In a future post, I’ll be using an internet meme to explain quilt costs. The name of the creator was on the meme, so I found him online. I asked for permission to use it, and he granted it. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have used it.

If you find a pattern you like online and the designer charges for it, the only correct action is to pay for it. Found an article you like that you want to share? Give the original URL so your friends can visit the site where it’s located, or tell them what magazine it’s in so they can get it or find it at the library. Don’t take readers away from the outlets that provided you with the articles.

Remember that someone made everything you see. Some people are happy to share their stuff for free. Others depend on the work for their livelihood. People who come to this site read my pieces for free – I don’t charge any subscription fee because this is a labor of love for me. But you can’t take my posts and post them on your blog – even with my name on them – without my permission. The readers who read them on your blog won’t see all the other stuff I have on my site, including the items they can purchase.

I know it seems like a harmless thing. But it’s not. Artists, writers, photographers, everyone in the arts in any way deserve to earn a living, just as do plumbers, doctors, and taxi drivers do.

You can learn more about copyright at the Stanford University Libraries website.