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Foolproof Quilting For Beginners

Where do you start with quilting? If it all looks so difficult and you are having difficulty getting started in quilting, there is help at hand. For years I would stare at quilting books and magazines totally bewildered. Quilts can look so complicated. Most of them are not. The trick is to break them down into bite-sized pieces. Even better there are foolproof ways to quilt for beginners.

It is important to recognise your sewing skills and to work on something you can finish. Build your sewing and quilting skills and improve as you learn. Concentrate on your strengths. If you are confident with one aspect of quilting – make that shine. Get one quilt finished and you’ll be hooked.

1. Work with plain fabrics if you find it easier to begin with Kona have a wonderful range of plain fabrics. I know I would love to have a fat quarter or more of every one. There are plenty of outlets in the U.K. for these fabrics and new colours are introduced regularly.
2. Introduce pattern with easy-to-use pre-cuts. You have lots of choice from strips to squares and if you are not so hot on cutting, this is a good way to start that first quilt.
3. Keep the design and colour choice simple at first.
4. Decide whether the design or the quilting is most important. This will depend on your own individual skills. Consider taking the design course.
5. Look for simple ways to cut your fabrics that have a magic complicated effect.
6. Work on small projects that you can finish in a day or a weekend.
7. Try quilt as you go – it’s an easier way to complete a quilt. There is a tutorial coming up soon.
8. Short of time but still want to quilt? Try number 7 or try hand quilting that can be done in short bursts like EPP. See our guide to different types of quilting.
9. Build your skills – once you can piece in straight strips or squares, try dividing the squares and piecing triangles.
10. If piecing is not your thing, try a multi- coloured background and applique.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Sewing Book Review Lagom Style Accessories

Lagom Style Accessories by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216070, price 7.99 in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

20 Scandinavian-inspired projects to sew. Lagom is a Swedish philosophy for balance. Nicely designed projects, but I did think some of them looked for Swedish than others. There are projects to fall in love with here. Use stash and scraps to make simple designs that can transform your home or make perfect gifts. Step by step instructions are accompanied by excellent photos. Full-size templates are included too. You’ll find a basic techniques section. Favourite projects for me are the apron, plant pot cover, tote bag, apple kitchen set and the fabulous fabric basket.

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Exclusive – Beginners’ Quilting 10 Top Tips For Quilt Making

hand dyed quilting fabric

Beginners’ quilting? Where do you start? What basic equipment do you need?Quilting is an ancient craft that can be created by hand or machine. With hand sewing it can be as simple as fabric, needle and thread.

Here is my top ten of what you need:

1. Fabric anything from plain calico cotton to hand dyed fabrics or commercial fabrics. I would choose cotton over polyester or mixes every time, however I do like to experiment with other fabrics. Check out our exclusive hand dyed fabrics

2. Whether hand or machine, choose good sewing needles appropriate to your fabric. Hand quilting needles are tiny and take some getting used to.

3. I would choose cotton thread over polyester in a suitable weight for your project. Opt for hand quilting thread if you are hand quilting. For embellishing your quilt, we have a range of undyed threads in cotton, wool, linen and silk.

4. Wadding – small projects can use felt but it is usual to choose a special batting or wadding. I do like the cotton wadding. There is a wide range of natural and synthetic wadding available. It is mainly a matter of choice. For bed quilts, choose the best you can afford. For wall hangings, many people opt for polyester.

5. Scissors – the best you can afford that are kept ONLY for cutting fabric.

6. Pins – you will most likely need more than one type. Long straight pins are useful for piecing. Curved safety pins are useful for basting the quilt layers.

7. Cutting requires either good scissors, but to be more accurate (and you know that is the byword of all quilting) you will need a rotary cutter. Feeling flush? Invest in an Accuquilt cutter or similar.

8. Cutting also requires rulers. Use a quilt ruler to cut accurately along with a cutting board.

9. Markers – I use a Hera marker.

10. Templates – make your own or buy. Mylar sheets are a good choice.

Check out the guide for types of quilting.

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Textile Book Review – Making Faces by Melissa Averinos

Making Faces in Fabric by Melissa Averinos, softback published by Stash Books. ISBN 9781617455445, price 22.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Draw, Collage, Stitch & Show’ this book is just that and you need to bear that in mind. It gives you the techniques and know-how to make faces on fabrics, so it does not matter if you like the style or the drawings, you will be using the techniques to develop your own creativity. The book is divided into four parts named in the subtitle. Chapter One is about drawing and proportion – where does your nose fit into that face? Tips for drawing and positioning features. It is on a very basic level that is excellent for beginners. Chapter Two – selecting, cutting and positioning fabrics for a collage face. Chapter three is about stitching the collage in place.Chapter Four contains projects to try out your skills. A cushion, tote, wall art, embellishing a shirt. The book finished with a Gallery of work, both by the author and by students. It skims the surface using basic techniques that are detailed enough for anyone to have a go and produce reasonable results.

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Quilting Book Review – Southwest Modern by Kristi Schroeder

Quilting Book Review – Southwest Modern by Kristi Schroeder, softback published by Lucky Spool Media in the USA. ISBN 9781940655284, price 24.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

18 beautiful modern quilts inspired by travel in the Southwest from Maria to New Mexico. Ancient motifs are transformed into contemporary quilts. This book contains imagery from the Southwest used to inspire and inform the design process. In truth the travel seems to have informed colour and little else. The fantastic scenery and imagery is not found on the quilt designs. I found it quite disappointing in that respect, and felt that the idea to marry the quilts to the travel idea was a little lacking, just a story to find a hook for the book. Nevertheless, the actual quilts are stunning and the book is beautifully produced with stunning photos and easy to follow instructions. There are templates at the back of the book.

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Exclusive – Quilting Books Worth Buying

Here is a list of quilting books I have found to be really useful, with the reviews I wrote about them if applicable. It is a work in progress, starting with the most recently released books. I will add to the list as new books come out, so keep checking back please.

Quilt Traditions by Devon LaVigne. ISBN 9781617455223. What a wonderful way to learn traditional quilting. 12 great projects and 9 skill-building techniques. Each quilt has a story to tell. Good design is the basis of this interesting book. Perfect your quilting skills with strip piecing, half-square triangles, templates, paper piecing, machine appliqué and sewing set-in seams and curves. You can see how the harmonious colour selections enhance these wonderful quilts. Easy to follow instructions and clear photos and diagrams seem to make the process easier. I really enjoyed this book.

Pioneer Quilts by LL and K Triplett. ISBN 9781617454653. The authors are the proud owners of a large quilt collection from their pioneer grandmother. They are documenting their historic collection for all to see and enjoy. In this book, you will find 30 quilts from the famous Poos collection. These are photographed in detail. 5 projects give instruction for you to make a quilt from an antique design. The book begins with an introduction based on historical research and diaries from the 1800s about life on the Plains and migration west. There are superb reproductions of the quilts, each with a description. The 5 patterns have been re-created for the modern quilter and are suitable for the intermediate skill level. The large Delectable Mountains quilt is c. 1850, Wild Goose Chase from c. 1875, Cake Stand from c.1890, Red and white Nine Patch from c. 1870 and Double Four-Patch Crib Quilt from c. 1880. You’ll find everything you need to know to make these 5 wonderful quilts. They are not my favourites from the book however, but each of these quilts is a piece of history.

Artful Log Cabin Quilts by Katie Pasquini Masopust. ISBN 9781617454509. Katie is one of my favourite quilt authors. She has the most wonderful ideas. If you are thinking traditional log cabin quilts, think again. This book takes you from inspiration to a modern interpretation of log cabin quilts. Make free-form blocks from any image. Contents include history, inspiration, grids, fabrics, cutting, construction, quilting and finishing plus a gallery. There are lots of ideas for composition. The book has easy to follow instructions and is illustrated throughout with fabulous images of work. A simple design idea that works and will transform your quilting. It doesn’t, however make me think of log cabin quilts, but very very artful, yes. Great designs, great use of colour, fabric and stitch.

Modern Triangle Quilts by Rebbecca Bryan. ISBN 9781617453137. 70 pieced triangle blocks make bold, geometric designs to play with in your quilt-making. There are 3 basic triangular shapes used to make blocks. These are used singly or joined to make diamonds or larger triangles. You’ll also find 11 sampler quilts that are simple to piece with no set-in seams. Explore bold, dynamic design, colour, visual texture and balance. Enhance with stitch. I love the Upstart quilt (I would have put this one on the front cover). It is dynamic and a very adaptable design, as shown in Skylines and Facets. At the back of the book are fold-out template patterns. The instructions are clear and I would expect this to be one to be a bestseller.

All Things Quilting with Alex Anderson. ISBN 9781607058564. Don’t know how to quilt? Want to learn but can’t get to classes? Here is a superb book to help you along the journey. Few sit down and create a masterpiece straight away, but this book will certainly iron out a few wrinkles. Learn all about materials, tools and techniques. Found out how to design, draft, cut, piece, applique, construct, quilt and finish. Expand your quilting horizons no matter what your skill level. This is not just about tips and measurements, this book encourages you to play and think before committing. Includes great photography and easy to follow instructions throughout. An absolute classic.

Quilting Is My Therapy by Angela Walters. ISBN 9781217455162. I have admired all Angela Walters’ books but this one has me mesmerized. That gorgeous cover is soft to the touch and I keep stroking it – it is almost like a piece of fabric. This is a collectible book of the stitches and quilts created by this amazing machine quilt artist. See how she chooses free-motion stitches to adorn her quilts. Such a magnificent book with incredible knock-out photography. Includes beginnings, hand to machine quilter, going pro, go big, back to the future, about the author, Special detail has been paid to extra thick paper and a cover with flap and it is simply superb in a word. It’s like stitch combining to accommodate the quilt design and enhance perfectly with stitch. Sharing her fabulous skills for all to see what they too can achieve. This is all about the beauty of quilting, highlighting the stitch. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it. Angela does it so fine. It is not a step-to-step free-motion instruction manual, but Angela talking about her incredible journey to be one of the best quilters. Highly recommended.

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Quilting Book Review – Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood

Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood, softback published by Interweave. ISBN 9781620333372, price 20.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Modern and exciting improvisational methods of quilting. Great on design, colour and machine quilting with projects you’ll want to make. This is the sort of book where you want to start making immediately. The projects look fresh and usable and are based in tradition. This book introduces three improv piecing techniques and traditional techniques such as log cabins and needle turn appliqué to marry old and new with a complete twist. There are 18 projects in all with a wide range of appeal. The book includes Creating With Strips, Strata and Slice and Insert improv methods. There are design tips and information for quilting on your home machine as well as special instructions for piecing curves, sewing triangles, quilt as you go, needle turn appliqué and hand quilting. Instructions are very clear and beautifully presented and include at-a-glance Materials, cutting and finished size, construction and excellent photographs and diagrams. Projects include baby quilts, cushions, throws, table runners, coasters, wall hanging, table mats and quilts in different sizes. Recommended.

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Exclusive – How To Really Cost a Quilt

Anyone who has studied business should be aware of how to cost a product. However, for some makers that are usually hobbyists or makers for friends or for anyone who is baffled, here is the ultimate low-down on how to cost that quilt.

A few guidelines to start with, which should go without saying but you’d be surprised! Ensure you are actually proficient enough to make a product for sale. Many times I have seen posts on social media saying ‘My friend wants to buy this. How much should I charge?’ Sadly the accompanying photo is one of a crumpled, badly made object.

Be professional. If you are not up to making a quilt at ‘for sale’ standard, then do not accept payment. If you can do it, then charge accordingly. Never think this is pin money or a hobby.

Business Practice
Far too many people think they can sell without telling the tax man. Do not do it. Even if it is for friends and family, you could be in violation of business law. Ask the taxman, they will tell you if you are taxable. Be aware that selling on Etsy, eBay, Facebook and other social sites means you can be found. Be honest.

Accepting A Commission
1. Can you produce exactly what the person is asking for?
2. Who is providing the materials? If it is the purchaser – you need to ensure they are providing you with top quality materials, or you need to exempt yourself from the results of washing etc with regard to different materials that shrink at different rates; thin, worn materials that might fall apart; material that might colour bleed. I much prefer to select materials myself.
3. Delivery – is it a realistic time schedule? Ideally you want to set the delivery date yourself but it must be agreed. If it is imposed upon you and you cannot meet the deadline, you could be in breach of contract.
4. Ensure you know what is being asked of you with regard to size, fabric, binding, and any other requirements.
4. You will need to be specific about cost. There is no reason, if you are producing a professional product that you should not charge accordingly. Quilting is a skill that is often under-rated. Some quilts are quicker to make than others.
5. Get it in writing and produce two copies, one for the buyer to keep and the other for your records. Ensure both copies are signed.

Working Out The Cost
There is much more to costing a quilt than one thinks (especially buyers!), so ensure you factor in everything.
A. Materials – fabric, wadding, quilt label, thread, one sewing needle, rotary cutting blades. Anything used in the quilt, which cannot be used is charged at cost. Some makers might factor in a small profit margin here. You have taken the time to purchase these goods and need to add shipping costs too. Things that are purchased but can be used several times over such as sewing machines and tools are assets and for these you would factor in a percentage of the cost of the tools and machinery you have had to buy to make that quilt – that specialist ruler, the longer machine. My advice is use the best fabrics available and charge accordingly. You are producing a heirloom, something that will last a lifetime and beyond. Include any embellishments such as buttons etc.
B. One day you will have to replace that machine. Factor in a percentage of your running costs, including servicing and repairs. Also factor in a cost for electricity and any other running costs. If you have a website or pay for advertising or exhibitions, then factor a percentage of these in too. It is a matter of working out how many quilts you will sell a year, dividing your running costs by that number and finding out the running costs per quilt.
C. Design cost if applicable including any meetings and delivery time.
D. Time to make the quilt – again be professional, charge the going rate. The minimum you should charge is the minimum hourly rate for your age. You might wish to add more for experience, complexity of design. If you are a slow quilter, you might like to charge the bare minimum. If it takes you 3 hours to do what it takes most people one hour, then one hour would be the charge. What I would not advise anyone to do is just charge 50 pounds or just times the materials by two or whatever nonsense someone has told you. This undermines professionals and demeans quilting as a whole.
E. Are you taxable? Take into account the amount you will have to pay in tax.
F. Do you belong to any quilting associations that you have to pay for? Factor a small percentage in.
G. Add delivery costs if the quilt is not being collected in person.
H. Profit margin? That’s your time spent quilting at the hourly rate you have set. If you are embarrassed about your hourly rate when questioned, then just give the price for the quilt as a whole. You might want to factor in a small percentage for extras.
I. What if things go wrong? So you thought that quilt would take 20 hours and the machine was not working right and you had to unpick. The truth is that it is hard to cost this in – your buyer is not to blame. It is however wise to factor in a couple of hours extra on every quilt so that over time, if things do go wrong or simply take longer than you thought, you are covered.
J. You cannot price-match major retailers and mass-produced quilts, so just concentrate on providing a unique quilt with a personal service, made with love. At the end of the day there is a limit to what the market will pay, but this may be much higher than you think if you have identified your market correctly.

Be aware of what is tax deductible when you declare your income:
If you are using part of your home to make a living, you can claim a percentage of heat/light/telephone etc. Know that if you use part of your home exclusively for business, such as a home studio that has no other purpose, that you can be liable for Capital Gains tax when you sell your home. So sometimes it is better to use the kitchen or spare bedroom. The products you buy to make the quilt are tax deductible as allowable expenses. The assets, you are allowed to take a percentage until such time that they are defunct, sold or replaced.

Copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Karen Platt Textile Blog

Welcome. This is the new blog where I shall be showing and discussing my textile work. My stitch and embroidery as opposed to quilting, which is in separate blog posts.

My stitch life began many years ago and is something I just have to do. It is a part of me. I cannot just sit, I have to stitch or knit.

The two pieces shown here began life as pieces based on ancient art. The essential ingredient is circles made by ancient man. However, I was not satisfied with either piece, and certainly the one on scrim was almost consigned to the bin on several occasions. Yet, I am not one to throw work away. Everything has a purpose, it is just that the purpose does not always reveal itself straight away. So both pieces sat in the drawer awaiting for the finishing of a book.

Then I started another book on lichen – containing mainly images for inspiration for textile artists. I began creating some work depicting lichen. Yesterday I was just about to start a piece on the embellishing machine with pre-felt and merino tops. Suddenly I had a feeling of deja vu. I went through that drawer and selected not only these two pieces shown here, but several others I could work up into something better than they are at present.

The first is worked on cotton scrim I lightly attached merino wool in several colours using an embellishing machine (you could use dry felting needles). I then stitched circles that almost disappeared into the merino wool. I was never happy with this piece. Yesterday I started enhancing the piece with more stitch and additions. It is looking better and I shall work on it today, then it will go under the embellishing machine once more.

The second piece is worked on hessian in the same way and this needs relatively little more to make it a finished piece.

My textile work for sale is online here

and my textile ebooks can be viewed online here

I shall shortly be adding a stitch and textile ecourse, current ecourses can be seen online here

All work is copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Textile book review – Small Art Quilts

Small Art quilts by Deborah O’Hare, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214502, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Explorations in Paint & Stitch’, this book explores the flourishing textile art quilt movement. This is ‘art quilt’ as in creating pictures on fabric and using wadding as a sandwich, not the Art Quilt Movement that uses quilting to make a statement. It explains techniques by hand and machine to guide you through the process. Step-by-step instructions reveal the techniques offering guidance for every level of skill. Close-up photography shows the detail wonderfully. Find out all about the materials for art quilting, inspiration, using photos, design, colour, painting on fabric and creating small art quilts then embellishing them. Finishing techniques and some templates are included. Another good addition to the Textile Artist series. Sadly nothing new, painting techniques have been covered in many books on textiles, but lovely work.