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Book review A Year of Embroidery by Yumiko Higuchi

Book review A Year of Embroidery by Yumiko Higuchi, softback published by Roost Books. ISBN 9781611804720, price 14.99

I cannot think of anything better than stitching your way through the year. This small book gives lots of inspiration and ideas for doing just that. You’ll find stitch motifs for every month of the year with a seasonal theme. It’s more than just one project a month. There are 38 beautiful designs in all, three or four each month. Colour images are found at the beginning of the book and at the back you will find the instructions. Tools, stitches, templates for the designs and brief instructions for the designs. The latter have a reference page number to the appropriate colour illustration at the beginning of the book. Beautiful embroidery ideas.

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Book Review The Joy of Jelly Rolls by Carolyn Forster

Book Review The Joy of Jelly Rolls by Carolyn Forster, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214700, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A bumper book, compiled from Carolyn’s best sellers. It includes 44 gift projects and 24 quilts to make use of the ever popular jelly rolls for quilters. This is super value, especially if you do not have the previously published books. Gifts include patchwork and quilt home accessories such as coasters, bags, bunting, toys, hanging decorations and key fobs. The quilt designs include hand and machine sewing and use a variety of techniques. The latter are clearly explained with step by step instructions and good photographs. Backing, binding and finishing instructions are also included with templates. There is lots to love about this book including good tips and techniques. Projects I like include the patchwork dog, Manx log cabin mat, hanging fish, flower power coasters, Russian dolls, sunshine pot mat (my favourite), beach hut key fobs, thread pot and of course the quilts.

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Quilt Design And Problem Solving

Quilt Design is often about problem solving. It’s about making things fit into the mold or breaking that mold as the case may be.

When designing a quilt there are so many decisions you have to make before you begin. It is an ordered process and a process which can be learned. First decisions boil down to materials:

1. Which fabrics?
2. Which colours?
3. Which sewing thread?
4. Which batting?

I see so many questions on social media – do these fabrics go together? Does this look better than that? Yet there are formulas and guidance for which fabrics to choose and how to put fabrics together. Then you see really beautifully made quilts, but with the wrong colours, or poor fabrics, and even badly stretched ones.

Quilting takes time, so it is best practice to get to grips with the essentials. That does not mean following a colour wheel slavishly. You need to understand colour, in the same way you need to understand fabrics.

Once you have made these basic decisions and applied the rules, you open the door to fabulous design and all its glorious permutations and possibilities. That’s what I love about quilting. If you are just beginning, click this link to join my beginners’ quilting ecourse.

My latest quilt was a not-so-scrappy-scrappy-quilt. I wanted to use leftover scraps from two OBW quilts. I was faced with design choices and decisions at every stage. So I pause now and then and consider design principles and my options and work out the best way forward. That’s what design is all about. Scraps rarely come in uniform sizes and that has to be accommodated. I had some hexagons, rectangles and squares and I had to figure a way to use them all. I did, eventually. I am pleased with the result. Of course, I made more scraps along the way!

Why not learn to design now, the ecourse is available wherever you are, by clicking this link

If you need to see quilting in action, join me on a quilt retreat, workshop or holiday in the U.K., France or India, by clicking this link and scrolling through the pages.

Happy quilting
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Quilt As You Go Mage Vintage by Jera Brandwig

Quilt As You Go Made Vintage by Jera Brandwig, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing USA). ISBN 9781617454721, price 18.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

A follow on from the best selling Quilt As You Go Made Modern. Jera has come up with another winner, based on the ever-popular vintage theme. The book gives materials and tools, information on batting and quilt sizes plus everything you need to know about what is unique about this way of quilting. It has become one of my favourite techniques for working on a domestic sewing machine. It is far easier to join the blocks, having quilted them, than to quilt the whole top in one go. 51 classic vintage blocks (12 inches (30cm) square, nine projects and three joining methods are included. You can even make your quilt reversible. Easy to follow instructions and great photographs and line drawings. The book is suitable for all levels of quilters. Versatile and easy, qaygo can be applied to any quilt block. It is absolutely fantastic with quilts small and large, a cushion and a table runner. The smaller quilts could be used as wall hangings. There’s a little bit of improvisation in there too. Recommended.

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Book Review RSN Book of Embroidery

Book Review RSN Book of Embroidery, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216063, price 25 gbp available from www.searchpress.com

In one word wow. Any embroidery enthusiast will doubtless flick through this book hundreds of times. This beautifully illustrated hefty tome shows stitches, numerous examples of work and projects. You’ll find step by step stitch guides plus historical and contemporary interpretations of crewelwork, canvaswork, goldwork, whitework, blackwork, stumpwork, silk shading and bead embroidery. The blackwork section from Becky Hogg is my favourite. The stitch guides were previously published in the Essential Stitch Guide series of books. This resource also includes a section on mounting work. Lavish, informative, practical and inspiring – it forms the basis of a standard reference on embroidery from the highly acclaimed Royal School of Needlework.

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Quilts as an Art Form

art quilt Karen Platt

There are traditional or modern quilts and there are quilts that transcend craft and become art.

“I don’t get it,” he said, “who buys these things? Why would you put a quilt on the wall?”

So I took him along to The Festival of Quilts, and he got the hanging of quilts on walls as decoration, but he is still not convinced about the money side. Isn’t this just a craft that people do when they retire? Aren’t they just given away for free?

As I finished writing the beginners’ quilting ecourse and the quilting design ecourse and all the samples I had to make; I find myself free to follow my own path (more or less) and quilt what I always wanted to quilt.

I have said it before, that I came to quilting because so many friends said my digital art would make great quilts. I have still to use my digital art in that way, but now I am free to explore. Like knitting, quilts stand at the crossroads of art and craft. Original design alone does not make it an art form. Using art and design principles, like those I teach in the ecourses helps to distinguish a quilt as a piece of art. It’s also about breaking the mold of functionality and thinking outside the box.

Making money from any craft or art is never easy, but it is possible. I am hoping to make my mark on the quilting world for my innovative ideas and creative use of this medium.

A quilt artist uses traditional quilt techniques but also employs non-traditional ones such as digital or painting, dyeing or stamping, has a message or something to say. Modern quilting is big business.

You can find inspiration for modern quilting and other textiles in my ebooks

and on my workshops in the U.K., France and India

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Book Review Embroidered Treasures Birds by Dr Annette Collinge

Book Review Embroidered Treasures Birds by Dr Annette Collinge, hardback published by Search Press in association with the Embroiderer’s Guild. ISBN 9781782211327, price 20 gbp available from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Exquisite Needlework of the Embroiderers’ Guild Collection’, this book showcases the best embroidered birds from the extensive collection. The embroideries cover a period dating from the 17th century to the present day. From abstract to naturalistic, the variety is wonderful and the book covers many forms of embroidery from crewelwork to contemporary. The imagination, skill and detail in portraying birds will provide much inspiration to everyone interested in this subject. There is a brief history of the Embroiderers’ Guild followed by twelve chapters: Monochrome Embroidery; Metal Thread; Applied Materials; Machine Embroidery; Silk Embroidery; Evenweave Backgrounds; Bags; Art; Samplers; Fanciful; Birds From Many Lands and finally Stitches. A short paragraph of text opens each section, with each photographed piece of work having a title such as ‘Crewelwork Panel’ and descriptive text plus technique, date, place and size highlighted in a box. On some pieces, it also gives the maker’s name and who gifted the piece to the collection. All pieces have a EG number. I found the techniques of most interest, but this is not a book of techniques – it merely informs us of the technique used. Work as varied as rug hooking, felt applique and numerous embroidery techniques are included from all over the world. There is some overlap of the chapters, for in Chapter One on Monochrome, you will find Metal Thread and Silk Embroidery even though these have chapters of their own. Almost every manner of bird is to be found. This is a wonderful resource on how birds have been used to inspire embroidery over the centuries. Recommended.

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Book Review Tote Bags by Debbie Shore

Tote Bags by Debbie Shore, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216186, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Totes are so easy to make and this beginners book offers the bag maker some ideas to transform the basic pattern. It includes just two re-usable templates that can be drawn around and kept inside the hardback folder that encloses the paperback book. The easy to follow, step by step instructions are just about foolproof, the illustrations are very good. The book includes simple totes with alterations to a basic pattern by adding a bow, flap or a knotted twist of fabric. With the purse and drawstring bag, you have three basic patterns although the book claims there are 15 patterns. This is still good value for money however for the inspirational variations.

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Book Review Occasion Bags by Debbie Shore

Book Review Occasion Bags by Debbie Shore, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216193, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Debbie Shore provides insight into bag making. I love the format of this book – the package includes a paperback book and re-usable templates bound in a hardback cover. There are 15 projects to sew. There are only two templates however, and this has limited the scope of bag styles. Having a different fastening or flap is not sufficient in my opinion and the book desperately needed a wider range of bag shapes and sizes. The concept is however fantastic. Owing to the limited number of styles, I would say that this book is excellent for beginners. Get to grips with basic bag making. The projects include: curved, round and scalloped flap handbags; bow, curved, zipped, patchwork and scalloped flap, slim, chain strap clutches, cosmetic bag; fringed, piped, triple pocket handbags and a zipped purse. The illustrations are very good and the instructions clear and easy to use with step-by-step images for you to follow. The templates are drawn around and can be used time and again. You could change the size with a little initiative and add your own embellishments, however to me this is more like 4 patterns dressed up to look like 15 but still good value.

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Book Review Fabulous Facades by Gloria Loughman

Book Review Fabulous Facades by Gloria Loughman, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453441, price 24.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Create Breathtaking Results With Fused Fabric’, this book shows you how to take photos of facades and make quilts. It includes Design, Color (retained American spelling), Fabric, Creating a Pattern, Construction, Putting It Together, Finishing and Projects as well as a gallery of work. The book deals with a theme – the theme of facades – architecture, doors, buildings, skyscrapers, shape. Gloria explains how the technique can be applied to other subjects. All patterns are available as a download.
Looking at Gloria’s photos and finished quilts is very inspiring. Other artists work is included too. There are many examples of buildings from around the world. A detailed account is given of the method and techniques used. This is a fabulous addition to Gloria’s already published books. It gives practical information that is easy to follow accompanied by fabulous photos. Very inspiring use of photos to art quilts.