Monday, April 28, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Lisa Reber

I am delighted to introduce my Guest Blogger today. Meet Lisa Reber of Dippy Dyes!

 Lisa is a dyer and surface design artist working with textiles. After many years of exploring a variety of crafts, first quilting and then dyeing took over her life beginning in the mid 1990's.
 Originally self-taught, continuing education in surface design has allowed Lisa to incorporate methods including discharge (color removal), texturing polyester and dyeing it with disperse dyes, direct applicaton of dyes and discharge agents, and illumination with vat dyes, which both remove and add color at the same time. The addition of ink, embroidery, beads and quilting further augment the surface of her work. In 2014 Lisa's work - fabrics and quilts both - will be included in three books authored by Linda Seward, Mary Kerr & Shannon Shirley. And in 2012 she was invited to participate in a dyeing Master Class taught by the internationally renowned Carol Soderlund. Earlier publications include articles in Quiltlers Newsletter and American Quilter magazines, and her applique work was featured in the books " Artful Applique ll" and " Applique Takes Wing", both by Jane Townswick. 

Please join me in welcoming Lisa!

Make a Print of Your Furry Friend

In dyeing fabric, one thing I’ve stayed away from until now is screen printing. But this year I’ve learned about a new to me technique – making silk screen stencils with house paint. Here’s one example.

Because I wanted to make something specific for Nan’s blog, I found a picture of one of our Golden Oldies, Dudley. 

 The next step is easy – tracing. I put a print-out of the photo underneath a sheet of tracing paper and drew lines around the major shapes – eyes, ears, nose & mouth. 

 Next, I used a heavy marker to trace over the pencil lines.  After filling in some dark areas – the eyes, nose and lips, I put the tracing under a piece of sheer fabric. 

In this picture  you can see the tracing paper picture underneath, the sheer fabric on top, and a corner of a piece of white paper slid part way between the two.

 Here  you can see the sheer fabric with pencil lines all over it. There’s masking tape on the edge to control fraying.What you need to remember when making the screen is any place that doesn’t get painted will let color through. So you need to paint anything that was not a dark line or area in the drawing. Any kind of water-based house paint works – indoor or outdoor – just don’t paint it on too heavily. Before painting, the screen needs to be stretched over open space. That can be done with a hoop or a cardboard box.

 I used a Q-Snap frame. I started by using a small brush for good control in the small areas, and painted the details around the lines. Then I filled in larger areas using a bigger brush.


 After letting it dry for about an hour, I took a close look  and found poorly filled areas. I painted them again, so that I wouldn’t have spots on my print.

Here’s what the finished screen looks like. 
I only partially painted the cheek, tongue and nose so there would be some dark areas that weren’t solidly filled. And there are dark spots on the original doggie – he liked to chew rocks when he was little!

Because it’s not stretched permanently in a frame, it’s as much like a stencil as a screen, but unlike cut stencil, you don’t have to worry about areas that float. That is, parts that aren’t attached, like the center of the letter O don’t need ‘bridges’ to hold them in place.

When the paint has dried for several hours, it needs to be heat-set. I ironed mine between two layers of cotton fabric at a medium heat. Parchment paper is another option. Then you’re ready to print. Because I’m a dyer, I used thickened dye on soda-soaked fabric. You can also use textile paints, like Setacolor, or ink, like Tsukineko ink that has been thickened with Aloe Vera. Or use paint or ink with a stencil brush – just whatever you have on hand.  Here’s the completed print.
There are still some spots on his forehead that need to be filled in. Oh – if you use paint, be sure to wash the screen right away, or the screen will get filled in where you want to see lines.

For more info on this technique, see

Complex Cloth: The Workshops DVD by Jane Dunnewold

Screen Printing: Layering textiles with colour, texture & imagery by Clair Benn & Leslie Morgan

Thank you so much for showing us this technique. Love Dudley - he is so cute for real and as a stencil. What a precious face and I love the story about him chewing rocks. 
 If you have any questions or want to learn more, just go to Lisa's Blog

 I will be introducing May's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Linda Franz

I am so excited to introduce my Guest Blogger today. Please welcome Linda Franz. I have known Linda for quite awhile and I love what she has created for quilters - Inklingo! I love to hand piece and Linda has made it so easy for us. She has had some help along the way from a little guy (Monkey). You will see him in this blog.  So Linda - take it away!

Thank you very much for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers, Nan!

The world of quilting has been wonderful to me. My first bed quilt won a first place ribbon in Paducah in 2000 and resulted in my first book. I self-published Quilted Diamonds early in 2002, and I have published dozens of books since then, most of them related to Inklingo. It has been a long journey, mostly uphill, but the view has been wonderful!

Before Inklingo, I was teaching hand piecing using freezer paper templates and drawing the stitching lines with a mechanical pencil. Quilters love the idea of a portable project, so classes filled all over the US and Canada.

I loved teaching. I met many wonderful quilters and made some life-long friends. There was a huge demand for classes but traveling to teach was taking its toll, so in 2003 I hired movie professionals from Toronto to come to the house to film a two hour lesson for a DVD. Quilting DVDs were not common back then, but it allowed me to teach students all over the world without ever going through an airport again.

Many quilters wanted a portable project but found drawing the lines too slow or too difficult. I saw enough thick, heavy, inaccurate lines to convince me that I had to find a better way.

English Paper Piecing sounded like a good idea in theory but it was not precise enough, hard on the hands/wrists, and incredibly slow—even slower than carefully drawing the stitching lines around templates. 

These two book covers might surprise you on a quilting blog. Did you take Latin in high school? Do you remember translating stories a few lines at a time in class? It went so slowly that we lost the plot. That’s how I think of English Paper Piecing. It takes so long that we often we lose the plot—and the motivation to finish. I came, I saw, I created a UFO. (Veni, vidi, vici ufo.)

The Little Engine That Could was one of the first books I could read to myself as a little girl. The story of optimism and persistence stayed with me. I had to get over the mountain, so I kept experimenting. I tried rubber stamps (not one of my best ideas) and then printing on fabric with Inkjet printers.

The result is Inklingo, a wonderful method of printing on fabric with any ordinary Inkjet printer. I draw layouts of shapes and deliver them as PDFs, so quilters can print the shapes on fabric and have a line to cut on and a line to sew on.  No more templates. No more measuring. No software to learn. Inklingo makes it possible to combine hand and machine piecing in the same quilt for the best of both worlds AND it uses the printers that quilters already have.

Inklingo is so innovative, this little engine (and Monkey) succeeded in getting a patent! There are 3 key ingredients to make Inklingo work. They are described in the Quick Start Guide under the Support & Goodies tab on

In the beginning, I was looking for a solution for hand piecing but it only took a nanosecond to realize that printing on fabric is even better for machine piecing and appliqué!

The best thing is that Inklingo has made quilting more accessible to quilters of all ages. Also, my business model is designed to ensure that Inklingo is good for fabric manufacturers, shops, magazines, teachers, designers, beginners, experts—almost anyone associated with quilting.

Seeing is believing. You can order, download and start printing on fabric in the next few minutes because I published two FREE Inklingo shape collections ($20 value each), one for piecing and one for appliqué. They are under the Shop & Freebies tab.

The first Inklingo shape collection was published in May 2006—8 years ago already. You may wonder why you haven’t heard of it before, but Inklingo has been growing by word of mouth from one quilter to the next. I am just “one little engine” but there are thousands of quilters in more than 60 different countries using Inklingo and they are the best advertisers! You haven’t seen full page ads in magazines or received spam from Inklingo. Thanks to a loyal following and a generous affiliate program, the train is chugging over the mountain delivering Inklingo to one quilter at a time. We think you will love it too and will want to tell your friends.

Almost all Inklingo books are downloadable from Some exceptions are Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC), Jane Austen Patchwork Mystery and The Inklingo Handbook. Those are also sold in quilt shops.

By the way, I apologize to anyone who has started sewing POTC blocks with English Paper Piecing!

I only included instructions for English Paper Piecing in Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses because that is the method Lucy Boston used to make her quilts in the 1950s and 1960s. It is by far the slowest and most difficult method in the book. I did not think anyone would sew POTC that way!

Lucy Boston was famous for the way she used the designs in the fabric, definitely not for her sewing method. She never took a quilting class and did not know about faster methods that are more precise. I am haunted by “the lost quilts of Lucy Boston”—the other quilt designs she had dancing in her brilliant, artistic mind but that she did not have time to finish, even though she lived to be 98 years old.

Luckily, if you are bogged down with EPP, you can switch to an easier method and get better seams, better intersections—and finish sooner! I have heard from many quilters who are finishing their quilts thanks to English Paper Piecing RESCUE on the All About Inklingo blog.

As a little thank you for reading this far, Monkey and I are hosting a draw! If you leave a comment on this blog post, you will be entered in a draw for a $25 Inklingo Gift Certificate. $25 is enough for Hexagons, Triangles, Winding Ways, Storm At Sea, Baskets, Castle Wall, Clamshell, Hunter’s Star, Log Cabin, Rose Dream, Yin Yang or another shape collection listed under the Shop tab. And $25 is almost enough for Double Wedding Ring, Dresden Plate, Orange Peel Deluxe and other designs too. You have until midnight on April 28th to leave your comments.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Even the pricing makes quilting more accessible to everyone.

Inklingo is growing. I can see the day where a big company will buy the patent and I will sew just for pleasure again. In the meantime, I am introducing new Inklingo shape collections almost every month, sharing lessons and videos on the blog, and having fun with quilters on Facebook.

Aren’t we lucky to be quilters in the twenty-first century? I hope you will subscribe to the All About Inklingo blog and like Inklingo on Facebook. Let’s take the rest of the journey over the mountain together.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story, Nan.  

Linda,  thank you so much for being a Guest Blogger. I made a quilt using Inklingo and it was featured in the February 2014 issue of The Quilt Pattern Magazine. You can view a picture of it as I have posted it as my cover page on my Facebook page. This is all wonderful information and I know one lucky reader is going to enjoy winning an Inklingo Gift Certificate. How cool is that? So everybody, it is time to start talking and leave those comments.

 I will be introducing May's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Crystal Marie

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Crystal Marie

I am delighted to introduce Crystal Marie today as she is a wilderness-dwelling granny, quilter/crafter, and freelance writer/proofreader. After spending nearly 20 years in public health, she 'retired' in 2002 and moved to the mountains where she works from home, primarily creating custom memorial quilts from clothing.

Crystal learned to sew as a small child and even won a ribbon in the adult division at the County Fair for baby doll pajamas she made when just eight years of age. Although she's been sewing for over 50 years, Crystal didn't get serious about quilt making until about a decade ago. She now specializes in custom memorial quilts but has made over 100 others, both professionally and for family and friends.

Crystal is married to Joel Horn, author of Impossible Beyond This Point, the inspiring and entertaining true-life adventure of his family's struggle and triumph creating a self-sufficient life in their wilderness paradise. This remote location presents numerous challenges to the home-based entrepreneur but off-site employment is not practical, so family members have capitalized on their strengths and circumstance to create their own opportunities.

Crystal was blessed with four children and now has 11 grandchildren, as well. In addition to enjoying the grandkids and creating custom memorial quilts, Crystal proofreads patterns, writes for a few sites online and shares on her blog, The Best 50 Years.
Please join me in welcoming Crystal Marie!

Thanks for the opportunity to guest blog, Nan! Being I know many folks would like to generate income from home but may face seemingly-insurmountable logistical obstacles, I’d like to talk about working from home despite your location and share a little of my experience.
Working from Home in the Wilderness
I live in the middle of nowhere – truly. And I’m not just saying that because I’m in a small town or out on a farm and it feels like the middle of nowhere. I really do live in an isolated location where the nearest neighbor is about four miles away as the crow flies, our vehicles are parked nearly two miles and 1,200 feet in elevation above our place, and we usually get snowed in for several weeks each winter. Not the best logistics for a home-based business but we all work from home, nevertheless. How? Well, let me explain…

The Birth of a Home-Based Business in the Boonies
It all started back in the 1960s when my husband’s parents bought a remote mining claim and moved with their three young boys from the Los Angeles area to far northern California. Both were jewelry artists and their plan was to mine gold, make jewelry and have a mail-order business. In the early years, they did mine gold and make jewelry but due to the logistics of their location, the mail order business never materialized and most orders came in person in the form of custom commissions.
After the boys grew up and took over the business, they expanded to include sterling silver, started providing small-scale casting services for other jewelry designers, and also created a line of rock climbing jewelry. Dependent on consignment arrangements with various gift shops and in-person appearances at local events, sales were understandably slow…very slow. And then came the Internet and the opportunity to fulfill their parents’ dream of a mail order business in the boonies.
Initially, they built and operated their website on a dial-up connection over a radio link phone, which they were able to upgrade to a satellite connection after a few years. Sales grew steadily over the years as more and more people began shopping online and now we ship jewelry to customers worldwide. My husband recently published Impossible Beyond This Point, the true story of their move to the wilderness and the beginning of the life we all live now.

My Business in the Wilderness
I’ve been sewing since before I can remember so creating a sewing-based business was a natural fit. But it didn’t happen overnight and didn’t even happen on purpose! After moving to the wilderness in 2002, I took up quilting thanks to Alex Anderson and Simply Quilts. Remember that satellite Internet connection I mentioned earlier? Well, we had satellite television at that time, too. Anyway, I’d been collecting fabric for decades so had plenty of material on hand and regularly acquired more, along with all the basic tools and then some. I even bought a short-arm quilter and frame. I would have preferred a long-arm machine, of course, but remember that everything has to come down almost two miles of trail.
I initially thought I’d like to quilt for others, which I actually did for a short time. But getting quilt tops from customers and then getting them back to the customers was impractical, to say the least. Then in 2006, my DIL asked me to make a memorial quilt for her mom and I discovered my passion. Now I devote much of my creative energy to creating custom memorial quilts from clothing for folks who find me through my website, I still have to deal with the logistics of getting the clothing here and getting the finished quilts back out, but creating these keepsakes is worth the extra effort.
In addition to quilting, I do some writing and proofreading. My long-term goal is to publish memorial-quilt-specific patterns and maybe a book to allow anyone with beginner-level sewing skills and equipment to create their own memorial quilt. And I freely share my expertise every chance I get – there’s no way I can create all the memorial quilts that need to be made and I’m happy to help others be successful in this labor of love.

More Businesses in the Middle of Nowhere?
But let’s not stop there! My SIL happened upon a business opportunity that is proving a win-win on several fronts. Last summer while removing random-length sections of ancient barbed wire from trees, she was trying to figure out what to do with it all – it’s sharp…and rusty…and of absolutely no use to us. Coincidentally, she discovered around the same time that people were listing rusty barbed wire on Etsy and other folks were actually buying it! Who knew? So she opened Rough and Rustic, where she sells barbed wire and all sorts of other things gleaned from around the homestead and elsewhere. Not only are we cleaning up stuff we no longer want or need, we’re sending it to folks who do want these items.
While this mail-order type business may seem like a logistical nightmare from our remote location, being we already had a packaging/mailing system in place for the jewelry business and already travel the 50 mile round trip to the PO once or twice a week anyway, adding to the outgoing packages was no problem. And during heavy-snow winters when everything has to be taken out 5+ miles on snowshoes, we’ll just put the Etsy shop on vacation and only mail out the lightweight jewelry orders.

So if you’re looking to create a home-based business but face obstacles, don’t despair! Evaluate your options starting with some basic questions. What do you enjoy? What talents and skills do you already possess? What materials and tools do you already have on hand? What systems or infrastructure is already in place that you can use or build on? Brainstorm possible options until you find something that fits and then go for it!

Crystal - thank you so much for sharing your story. You have truly learned to make the most of your situation. It sounds fascinating except for tromping in snow.That is not something this Florida girl wants to do! 

I hope you all have enjoyed Crystal's blog. We have two more bloggers this month and I know you will enjoy meeting them as well.  

I will be introducing May's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...


Monday, April 7, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Maria Hrabovsky

I am so pleased to have Maria Hrabovsky as my Guest Blogger today. We met in 2010 when I submitted my first pattern to The Quilt Pattern Magazine. When it was accepted, Maria was so gracious and encouraging, I knew immediately that I had a new friend. Little did I know that we would soon be working together. She is a delight and I hope you will enjoy her words of wisdom. And so Maria, I turn this over to you.


I am absolutely delighted to be a guest blogger and I thank Nan very much for inviting me. My name is Maria Hrabovsky and I am a quilter, quilt teacher, pattern designer, writer, former elementary school teacher, and owner of the Quilts for Sale ( website plus blog and the Maria Michaels Designs site plus blog ( Although my blog, Maria’s Quilt Scraps, is active, my quilt pattern website is currently under reconstruction. I am also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Quilt Pattern Magazine, a digital publication also known as TQPM. 

Like so many of us, I love quilts and quilting. There were no quilters or quilts in my family. I first heard and fell in love with them when my first grade teacher read us a story about our North American pioneers, which included their making quilts from scrap fabrics. Although it was many years later that I finally became a quilter, scrap quilts have remained my favourites. Part of the reason has to be that story, but the other part is the beauty of so many fabrics and colours used together.  -  By the way, I’m still the only quilter in my family, but I’ve made sure that everyone in it has a quilt.

I have often been asked what I most want to convey to quilters and do have a few things of importance. We quilters tend to shine spotlights on our tiny errors and think that they are immediately noticeable to everyone, when in reality, they are most often not. Need proof? One of my first quilts, Starburst and Diamonds (2002), was made up of 12 blocks. One set of blocks had 32 pieces in each and the other set had16. I didn’t realize until much later, that I had placed one of the 32-piece blocks the wrong way. I was devastated! However, not one person who saw the quilt ever noticed that error and one was a professional quilter while another was the professional photographer who took its photo for a quilt magazine. It was a good lesson learned early on. Do not point out what you feel are mistakes. Let people find them for themselves - that’s if they can find them at all! We should all accept our efforts, learn from them, enjoy them, and move on!

Here is a photo of my second version of that quilt. In this one, the blocks are all positioned the right way. This pattern is  based on two of the geometric designs my husband had drawn. (He has an art degree and taught high school art.) When I first began pattern designing, I based every pattern on his art. I design my own patterns now, too.

It is important to realize that a mistake is not always a disaster.  Rather, a mistake is a challenge to your creativity - and that creativity in solving or hiding your mistake, can actually lead to something better than you had originally planned. Most everything is correctable. Why do I say most?  Well, because after 29 years of quilting, I made a mistake I didn’t think was correctible. I had completely finished a quilt and when I was smoothing it out, I felt 3 lumps!  I had left 3 safety pins pinned to the batting inside my quilt! Finally, a disaster I didn’t think correctible. 
Then it occurred to me to snip into the backing of the fabric and remove each pin. Fortunately, the backing was a print. From the scraps, I matched the pattern in each area, hand-stitched each slit closed and hand-stitched small patches over each.  So far, those given the quilt haven’t found the patches, but I did break my rule in this case to tell them the story that goes with their quilt. I knew they would enjoy it. They did. They laughed at the fact that they have a quilt with a story, joked about it, and are enjoying the quilt, despite the patches. Granted, it would not have stood a chance in any kind of quilt judging, but that wasn’t its purpose. As the saying goes, “All’s well that ends well,” and this one definitely ended that way.
Remember that you are the only one who needs to be pleased with your work. If you are, others will be, too. Don’t be hard on yourself. I have a large tote bag that states, “Quilting is my therapy!” It truly is! We reap so many benefits from our quilting. Don’t ruin the therapy part! Be daring. Be creative. Most of all, have fun!
Another problem that quilters often mention is that they have made and given a quilt to everyone they can think of - family, relatives, friends, and even donated quilts to charities and made TQPM’s Kennel Quilts. They want to keep on quilting and support their habit, so what to do? Continue making them as gifts and for charities and try to sell some. Years ago, when my children were still young, I wanted to earn by selling my quilts, I couldn’t find a store that would accept them, not even on consignment. A few years after starting my pattern design website, I realized that the Internet provided quilters with a great opportunity, even those from small, rural communities who otherwise could not find a market for them. So, I started my Quilts for Sale site where I provide a venue for American and Canadians to sell them.There are other online venues for selling quilts, too. Take a look at all of them and see if they inspire you to try selling your work. Contact the site owners and ask all the questions you have. Quilts for Sale has provided me with the opportunity to get to know many quilters, all of whom are a pleasure to work with.

Enjoy your quilting and Nan’s blog and newsletter!
Thanks again, Nan, for having me. I have enjoyed it immensely.

Maria, Thank you so much for being a Guest Blogger. And not only is she a Guest Blogger, but she is a generous Guest Blogger as she is offering three patterns for her Easter Table Runner and napkins to some lucky readers.

In order to have an opportunity to receive this lovely pattern, all you need to do is make a comment letting us know your favorite Easter candy. I have to say - mine is jelly beans!!!! So just leave a comment by midnight on April 14th. I will use for the drawing for three lucky winners. Good luck and thank you, Maria.

I will be introducing May's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...