Monthly Archives: March 2012

Make Your Own Fabric


Want to be a fabric designer?  Have photos that you want put on fabric, but they are larger than your home printer? Just want another option to commercial fabrics? Spoonflower is your answer.

While I have not yet used this company, I have a good friend who vouches for them. For one of her projects, an artist friend had a painting reproduced on Spoonflower fabric. She then quilted it for him. This would also be a great option for special photos of family members or from vacations.

They have several types of fabric available and your can purchase swatches ahead of time. With their cost of custom fabric being $16.20 per yard, it’s not a whole lot more expensive than the $11 we’re paying now for commercial fabric.


Copyright Connundrums


Over the last couple weeks, there has been a great deal of buzz on the Internet about quilting and copyright issues. The basic problem is that Kate Spain designed a line of fabrics that were used in a book by Emily Cier. The book is called “Scrap Republic.” C&T Publishing, the publisher of this book, also makes tote bags. They chose to use a photograph of a quilt, made with Kate Spain’s fabric, on a tote bag. They did not receive permission from Kate Spain, the fabric designer, prior to printing the tote bags.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. Rumors on the blogosphere say that Kate Spain contacted her lawyer and was suing both Emily Cier and C&T Publishing for copyright infringement. Kate Spain, however, says that no lawsuits were filed. C&T claims that, once they realized they’d made an error with the tote bag, they tried to contact Kate Spain to resolve the situation. They also stopped distributing the tote bag.

I’ve been following the blog posts and, as you know, there are two sides to every story. C&T seems to admit screwing up by not giving Ms. Spain credit for the tote bags. And Kate Spain seems to be delighted to have people using her fabrics in their quilts. So, honestly, I’m not sure where the truth lies in this controversy. I’ve enclosed links to both blogs if you’d like to make your own decision.

However the question of copyright leaves many of us confused. As a quilter, here are some of my questions:

1. Who owns the copyright to my quilts? I’ve been looking at fabric as a creativity tool (much like modeling clay or colored pencils). My first quilt was made entirely with fabric designed by Mark Lipinski. Do I have to give him partial credit for that quilt?

2. How do you keep track of the fabric designer? I often buy fat quarters with no selvedge edge. I have no idea who designed the fabric and it would be impossible to give them credit.

3. What happens if you mix fabrics? I just made a quilt that had more than 100 different fabrics that were black and white. Do I need to credit all the designers? Some of them? Just the designer of the border fabric?

4. Why doesn’t this issue come up in garment making? When you see someone interviewed on the red carpet, they are asked: “WHO are you wearing?” The dress designer is given credit, but you never hear them saying who manufactured the silk in the garment.

5. This can get really silly. Do we need to credit the thread company as well? Sometimes the thread makes a huge difference in the success of a quilt. Or how about the cotton manufacturer that provides the raw fabric to the mills?

To me, it seems only logical that the fabric design is copyrighted. Of course I should not scan my favorite quilt fabric in order to make mugs and mailbox covers. However, once I’ve paid for the fabric, I feel that the artist has been compensated and I can freely use that fabric in my creations. In my mind, it is the same situation as a designer making dresses — s/he has purchased the fabric for their design and is not crediting the fabric’s  manufacturer or designer.

Here are two views of the controversy between Kate Spain and C&T Publishing.

Check out this link for more information on fabric copyrights.

Mother Knows Best: Craft Gloves


A few weeks ago, I posted that I’d hurt my hands while I was quilting. Somehow I managed to strain my thumb while I was pinching fabric as I ripped out a quilt. My  mom, a long-time quilter, recommended quilting gloves. I found some at Joann’s and have been very impressed. They are comfortable and provide enough support to help me avoid injury.

A few days later, I was explaining to my nail tech how I’d injured my thumb. She discussed how she was in agony every night. Apparently she spent her days holding clients’ fingers steady by pinching their fingers between her thumb and index finger. She had an overuse injury similar to mine, except that her pain was several years old. I passed on the idea of craft gloves.

Surprisingly, she had a glove in her drawer and had never used it. She agreed to try it for the day. Two weeks later, I returned for a manicure and she was still wearing the glove. The first day, she noticed an amazing decrease in pain and had been wearing the glove ever since. She was ecstatic to have found such a simple solution.

These gloves seem to be widely available. The gloves I purchased seem to have been discontinued, however the ones shown below are similar.

Color Theory Class


Several months ago, I took a “Color Theory for Quilters” class by Louisa Smith. Although I was familiar with the color wheel and had tried a few experiments with mixing paint, before her class I knew nothing about color theory. This was an excellent class and I highly recommend it. (You can read more about this class the link below.)

When our local arts council offered a Color Theory class on Saturday, I was excited to attend. The teacher was Etta Siegel, a graphic designer with 50+ years experience and a part-time instructor at Parsons School of Design. The first part of the 5-hour class was an explanation of how we see color. While this was mildly interesting, none of it was a game-changer. However I did realize that the reason it’s so hard to quilt black fabric is because black absorbs all the light!

The second part of the class was on color we see (RGB — Red Green Blue) and color we print (CMYK — Cyan Magenta Yellow Black). This explained how to get what you see on your screen to appear accurately on paper. This screen-printer discrepancy can be due to many things. I now understand the vast variety of papers that are out there, and the fact that ink lies different on each kind of paper. Also, I learned that people are viewing projects under vastly different light sources — for example under natural light (which varies during the day) or florescent lights — and that changes how the color looks. In addition, a CMYK mix of colors doesn’t always duplicate what’s on your screen (for accurate color, you’d need to order custom ink). This is important to quilters who are printing photos onto fabric and not satisfied with the output colors.

The class concluded with an introduction to the color wheel. We covered warm and cool colors, as well as pure colors, tones and tints. We also covered color schemes and how to select pleasing color schemes based on the color wheel. For quilters, an understanding of the color wheel is important for selecting quilt fabric, as well as for choosing thread color.

This is the most theoretical class I’ve taken since I started quilting. In some ways it was frustrating, because I’m used to fabric and touching my colors. However the information was incredibly useful and I know it will make me a far better quilter. Yesterday, as I was choosing my thread for a longarm project, I actually thought about the thread in terms of it’s relation — on the color wheel — to what I was quilting. I would recommend a color theory course to all quilters.

Information on Ms. Siegel can be found at

Special Delivery: Some Online Orders Take Longer Than Others


Recently I’ve been in fabric ordering mode. There was a particular line that I wanted and it was not fully in stock at any of the vendors I deal with. As a result, I ended up placing orders at Webfabrics, Hancocks of  Paducah, and eQuilter. All of the orders were placed late afternoon on Sunday, March 18th.

On Wednesday, I received the order from Webfabrics! It was complete and correct. Kudos to Three days from order to delivery is awesome, especially given that I ordered on a weekend. Their store is located in Virginia and I’m on Long Island, NY.

The next order to arrive was from eQuilter. That order was confirmed on Monday, March 19 and mailed the following day. Given that eQuilter is located in Colorado, that was reasonable turnaround.

The Hancocks’ fabric arrived on Saturday.  Their store is located in Kentucky. Basically, I was ecstatic to have received all three orders within a week. always offers wonderful service. I placed an order on Friday, March 23rd and it is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, March 27th. Their orders are almost always sent same-day and arrive within three days. They are the only vendor listed here that offer free delivery if you spend $35 or more.

I didn’t have such luck with Virginia Quilter. I placed an order on Monday, March 5th and ordered six kinds of Moda bias binding. They contacted me on Thursday, March 8th to say that they had discontinued one of the bindings and could only send half of the amount I ordered. The order was finally shipped out on Monday, March 12 — a full week after I placed the order — and they again contacted me to say they were missing half of the black binding I’d ordered. Their order arrived (incomplete) on March 14th.  I did receive the additional black binding a few days later. Needless to say, I’m looking for another source of Moda binding.

Although many people are hesitant about online shopping, it is sometimes our only alternative. Our local quilt stores, although wonderful, cannot afford to carry the large variety of fabric available online. The only problem I’ve ever had with online shopping is waiting for delivery, and I am constantly fine-tuning my list of vendors to only include those who provide great service.

It’s Tax Time!


I’m happy to report that my taxes are done, but I spent most of 2 months working on them. Why? Because my accountant had given me incorrect advice when I started my business in 2010 and told me I didn’t have to file until I had income. Nope. When I called the IRS, the nice lady explained that I had to “claim expenses in the year they were incurred.” My CPA was wrong.

Somewhere during my online travels, I read that many CPA’s know very little about small business. I now think that might be true. Regardless, we artistic-types tend to surrender all of our book-keeping and tax decisions to our accountants. We don’t understand what’s going on. We’re scared of taxes. And that makes us bad business people.

As I was looking online for tax advice, I came upon June Walker works with “indie’s” (ie: independent contractors). She has a very informative website. And she has a great book called “Self-Employed Tax Solutions: Quick, Simple, Money-Saving, Audit-Proof Tax and Record-keeping Basics for the Independent Professional.”

After reading this book — and I did read it from cover to cover — I felt like I had a much better understanding of record-keeping and taxes. It made me feel informed. Ultimately I prepared my own tax return, for the first time in 20 years, and felt empowered to manage my own business for the first time.

I have no relationship with June Walker, other than buying her book. And I’m not suggesting that your business doesn’t need accounting and/or tax advice. I’m saying that small business owners need an elemental understanding of the accounting/tax side of our business. And you don’t have to go any farther than this book.

Self-Employed Tax Solutions, by June Walker
Available at

Children’s NYC T-shirt Quilt


Here’s a cute quilt to remember a trip to NYC. It’s made from children’s souvenir T-shirts and using the NY Subway fabric from City Quilter. (This fabric also comes in white.) I love the way that the background recedes when you look at the quilt, yet is very interesting when you look at it closely. The fabric itself is a fabulous reminder of a trip to NYC.

The quilting is done with white thread. I more-or-less traced the subway lines in the background. There is freestyle quilting on each block.

(If you can’t see the photo, please visit my blog at

Children's NYC T-shirt Quilt

Gotta love that New York attitude!

Toy Story T-shirt Quilt


These T-shirts were purchased at the Disney Store. I knew they’d make a cute quilt for any child who is obsessed with Toy Story. The star fabric background was perfect for the space theme. For contrast, I used a lime green flannel backing and a lime green binding. I also used lime green for the quilting.

I’d partially pieced this quilt top and then set it aside. Last week I pulled it out, sewed the pieces together, and proceeded to quilt it. In my burst of efficiency, I’d forgotten that I was going to trim the squares and piece then at 45 degree angles. Shoot! Maybe I should make notes on my UFO’s so I don’t forget my plans!

As a result, there is too much space in between the T-shirts. Even if I didn’t show the T-shirts at an angle, I should have trimmed the inner sashing.

It’s still a cute quilt. Unfortunately — as I said — the design could have been better! However quilting is a learning process and I’m sure I won’t make this mistake again.

(If you can’t see the photos, please check my blog at

Toy Story T-shirt Quilt

"Woody" T-shirt

"Buzz Lightyear" T-shirt

AQS Lancaster — Show Review


If you wanted to see wonderful quilts, the AQS Lancaster show was not disappointing. I am in awe of the talent and creativity of these quiltmakers. The quilts were well displayed and inspiring. You can see the winning quilts on the AQS website (scroll part way down page).

AQS also had a wonderful website with great information on shopping and tourist attractions of interest to quilters. I can see where out-of-town visitors would have had lots to see and do. To top it off, the weather was gorgeous.

I have made several trips to Lancaster and it is usually cold at this time of year. This year, you could see the Amish and Mennonite people plowing with their horses, and the women tending garden wearing their long skirts. As usual, there was laundry drying on the clothes-lines, something that you don’t see much anymore. Although I enjoy seeing people with their horse-drawn carts, I am always nervous sharing the roads with them. Roads are 2-lanes and hilly, and you are making constant decisions about whether to slow down and stay behind a buggy or to pass it. But it’s part of the Lancaster experience.

I will admit there were a few annoyances at the show. Some were the fault of AQS; some were the fault of the venue.

1. Parking lot confusion. There were signs in the parking garage that read: “Take ticket with you. Pay before you go to your car.” Several of us were walking around with tickets, trying to figure out where and how to pay. According to the parking garage attendant, these signs had been there for awhile and were wrong. You paid, from  your car, as you drove off the lot.

2. Elevator out of service. Seriously. One of the two elevators was not working. There is no escalator between the main floor and the 2nd floor. (Quilts were on all three floors.) Needless to say, there was a long wait for elevators.

3. Restrooms on the second floor don’t lock. I took classes at the show in 2010. At that point, the 2nd floor restroom stalls had lovely long doors so you couldn’t see under them. Yes, the privacy was nice, but many of them didn’t lock. Guess what? The doors still don’t lock, so you’re barging in on women in the stalls. Sometime in the last two years, I would have thought maintenance could have made a trip to Home Depot and bought a few locks to fix the problem.

4. Show booklets are $1.00. Really? I don’t know of any other show that charges for show booklets.

5. Additional vendors? If things hadn’t changed since 2010, there was another large building containing vendors. It was a drive away. I could find no reference to these vendors. (Perhaps I should have bought the program book!) I’m not sure if they still existed or not.