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Book review Beginner’s Guide to Linocut by Susan Yeates

Book review Beginner’s Guide to Linocut by Susan Yeates, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215844, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A slim yet good guide to linocuts for beginners at a very reasonable price. Every step is explained and you will quickly be able to make prints. Try your hand at 10 projects by using the full-size templates. You can also inject your own creativity and make your own designs. Find out about linocut, materials, workspace, techniques, projects and templates. Discover how to draw, cut, print and repeat. Great step by step instructions with colour photos making it so easy to follow. Fun projects. I found the section photograph to linocut very interesting. This book covers more than just the basics, including working with text and two-tone prints, printing wrapping paper, gift tags and cards, labels, colour blends and printing on fabric. Recommended for beginners.

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Sketchbook Work For Quilting Ideas

Sketchbook work is great for quilting ideas. You can work out blocks, motifs, collage, save templates and all sorts of things in a sketchbook.

The templates and a leaf from my autumn quilt were sitting on my sewing table. Actually I had removed my tool box from the sewing machine because the extension table is attached. Templates and the leaf were in the toolbox tray so as not to lose them.

Then I thought, I should create a little sketchbook to keep these safe and record the quilt. Now, it is best to do this before you make the quilt, not afterwards! However, I had designed it on odd bits of scrap paper and as I went along. I wanted a record of it.

I looked for a spare sketchbook, but alas no. You’ve already seen what I was doing with junk mail envelopes a little while ago – the C5 long ones. I also had quite a few large envelopes, I think they are D-something, anyway slightly larger than A5 paper size. This size would be perfect.

My main aim was to gather together key elements of the design and to save the templates. The centre of the quilt is log-cabin based, a leaf motif and hand stitched hexagons. So these were the elements I wished to record in my sketchbook.

I glued together envelopes for sturdiness and taped them together with washi tape. That wide one with the foxes kept tearing. Hexagons and log cabin designs were created in pencil crayon. Magazine images were cut up as hexagons – this was great fun and gave me an idea for another quilt. On these pages I also created pockets for the templates. I might add more in future – fabric scraps etc from the quilt. I found some thick card to make a cover and bind it all together.

I am now starting another sketchbook for my next new quilt.

You can see the quilt tutorial here and the quilt is for sale here.

Words, work and images Karen Platt 2018

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Book Review Stack & Cut by Sara Nephew & Marci Baker

Book Review Stack & Cut Hexagon Quilts by Sara Nephew & Marci Baker, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454691, price 24.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com

38 kaleidoscope blocks and 12 quilt settings. This book includes information on tools, cutting, selecting fabrics, planning and block design, binding and more. You can see all 38 blocks at a glance at the beginning of the book. They vary from a simple mix n’ match or the lamp design to the more complicated Flash Dance and Dew. The quilt designs, vary from two- to -eleven block designs, plus a three block design in the round and other designs. There are also triangle designs and border designs. The book explores the usual 6-layered fabric technique to produce kaleidoscopes. The block designs are shown as line drawings only. The instructions are given for making a wedge. The quilt designs are shown as finished quilts and as line drawings in colour. The quilt designs mix and match block design, settings and colours. The projects include a table runners, wall hanging, small quilts such as lap size and larger quilts. The designs are shown in a variety of fabrics and with alternatives. Templates are given at the back of the book. If you are not already in love with hexagon quilts and their potential, you will be after looking at this book. Absolutely superb.

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Book review Just Stitch by Lesley Turpin-Delport

Book review Just Stitch by Lesley Turpin-Delport and Nikki Delport-Wepener, softback published by Metz Press. ISBN 9781782216810, price 14.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Originally published in South Africa, this book is all about stitching with a theme of flora and fauna. It appears to be a reprint from 2008, so be aware if you already have the book with a different cover. The book starts with materials, techniques including wire-edged applique, Barbola (unwired stumpwork) and more unusual techniques such as three-dimensional forms. The projects are fantastic, not the simple projects often found in books, but real projects that a stitch artist would make. However, the instructions might not be comprehensive enough for some. They are certainly not step-by-step. The three-dimensional gerberas are a favourite. The cover is a Bougainvillea. The projects are colour-themed. A double-paged spread of related objects is given as inspiration, followed by the projects for that colour range. The effect is ruined by poor photo-editing. The templates at the back of the book need to be enlarged and are detailed. An inspiring book that would have been a lot better if someone on the editorial team knew how to edit the images – they are dull, and injected a better layout. I feel the projects with these instructions are beyond the beginner. This is a book for those who already understand three-dimensional embroidery, as such it is very good.

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Book review Wedge Quilt Workshop by Christina Cameli

quilt bookBook review Wedge Quilt Workshop by Christina Cameli, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN, price, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

It’s always nice to see a new quilt book that presents something really different. This book is dedicated to wedges and ways in which to use them. The book is divided into Basic Round Construction, Round Variations and Beyond Rounds. In the introduction, you’ll see photos from the Volckening collection of quilts. You’ll discover wedge basics, rulers, shapes, possibilities and formulas. In the first chapter, you’ll see all the essentials, information and avoiding the pitfalls of construction. The projects hone your new found skills. Instructions are clear and easy to follow with great photos and line drawings. In chapter two, you’ll learn some variations on the theme. These tend to be fabric oriented i.e. scrappy, two colour wedges and not variations on using wedges in innovative design ways. Another three projects follow. Chapter three is about designing wedges that are not in the round. There is no design instruction as such, this section goes straight into five more fantastic projects. That’s ten projects in all of varying sizes. The book finishes with some basic quilting techniques such as machine applique and setting in a circle. There are some ideas for quilting. The afterword explains the creative making of the Sacred Heart quilt. A very enjoyable and informative book on quilting wedges.

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Book review Stitched Memories by Tilly Rose

bookBook review Stitched Memories by Tilly Rose, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215653, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

What better than taking a walk down memory lane and creating crafts? Each project is a treasure trove of memories. Vintage cloth, found objects and embroidery combine to create textiles that tell a story. Shabby chic keepsakes that make a house a home. Discover layering, collage and other fabric skills to create meaningful artworks that celebrate your most treasured memories and perhaps even become family heirlooms. This book includes design inspirations, tools, objects, techniques and 15 wonderful projects. The projects include a needle case, cloth book, stitch bobbin, journal, quilt, stamped fabric, wall hanging, hoop art, panel, book cover, book wrap, purse, heart, patchwork and tags. Practical projects that anyone can achieve. A wonderful book for all lovers of vintage and country style.

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Quilt Pattern Making costs

Autumn Leaves quilt pattern

Quilt pattern making takes a lot of time, experimentation and ideas. There’s a lot said about the costs of making a quilt, but what about the costs of being a quilt designer? We all have followers looking for ideas – the ones who copy and purchase elsewhere, hoping no-one spots them as a free rider. Many designers offer some patterns for free to try to encourage buyers. I always think this is false economy and the idea of a non-business person. People who want freebies end there, they do not suddenly dip into their pocket and start paying out.

Please understand that most businesses do not happen overnight. Most have spent years and countless thousands building a website, brand, designing before they even set up shop. Of course, there are those that dip their toes in and maintain a job, part or full-time whilst creating. I am a full-time designer maker, so I have given all to my craft, in the hope of making a small living. If I don’t sell, I don’t eat – it is as simple as that.

The costs involved in running a small business are:

Website domain, design, hosting, email, back up and these costs can vary enormously. Mine are minimal, I have a back-up drive and I am fortunate that my son helps with website design.
How you are going to sell patterns, quilts etc needs to be considered carefully in the light of VAT on automatic downloads and soon to be on physical goods. If we Brexit, the hard-earned limit achieved mostly by the work of one brilliant lady, Clare Josa, will be wiped out. So you might be forced to use Payhip or similar to send out patterns and cost that in too. Then you might have fees such as PayPal or stripe fees, it all adds up.
Software for design if needed, personally I do not use it currently.
Memberships – it’s good to belong to established groups etc to get noticed but also to have a sense of belonging. You might also wish to subscribe to industry standard magazines.

All this adds up to several thousands pounds a year. Divide by the price of a pattern, and you are left with how many patterns you need to sell, just to break even – that’s no profit yet at all.

Imagine your overheads are 1500 a year – that’s quite conservative and assumes you are working from home not a rented studio. If your patterns are 12 pounds each, then you need to sell 125 patterns a year to break even. That sounds like nothing if you are not used to selling. So let’s put it into context – the average paperback book from a good publisher sells only 2000 copies a year and it is in just about every book shop, physical and brick and mortar imaginable. You are one person with a small website lost at sea.

If you need outside help producing patterns such as editor, graphic designer, tester – these are not cheap and have to be costed in too. One thing you will always have to spend on is the fabrics to make a sample quilt and this is expensive (unless you are fortunate enough to have a company provide them for you). I am not. I spend well over 120 pounds on a test quilt. Then there is the wear and tear on tools including your sewing machine, at some point they all need to be repaired/replaced and if you have not factored a small percentage into every pattern, then you have no money to do that with. I still have not added anything for my time. Add these costs to the above and you can see with fabrics etc alone and no outside help, I need to sell another 10 patterns to break even.

Which brings me on to the main cost – one that is often overlooked, but absolutely necessary. Advertising. Word of mouth is great, but believe me you can be dead before anyone has said Karen who? Advertising costs big bucks and newbies often go wrong placing an ad here and there. Consistency brings results with advertising. So look at places where you can get your name around for free. You should plough some of your profits back into advertising and building awareness of your brand. How long is a piece of string? In my first year, I used my own savings to book a stand at the Festival of Quilts. The total expense including leaflets and accommodation of being there was over a thousand pounds. Whatever your advertising costs are has to be added into the mix and it is probably going to be your single most expensive factor because without it, no-one is going to know about you. That means over a 100 extra patterns before I break even.

I am already wondering why I am doing this!!! Then you have to remember if you are selling wholesale, you will be lucky to get 50% of the pattern price, so you have to double the number of items you sell to break even.

Do you earn enough to be taxed? Do you use an accountant? These costs too need to be factored in.

Then there is what you pay yourself. Forget the average wage, unless you are very lucky it is probably unachievable, at least in the early years. Minimum pay is a possibility, but unlikely that you would achieve it over the course of 37.5 hours a week for a year. The minimum wage in the UK works out at 15,269 per year (according to 2017 statistics). That is a low wage, difficult to live on. Even at this level, I would have to sell 1273 patterns. That is 25 patterns a week direct. Again it does not sound like much, but it is.

At my age and with my experience, it would not be unlikely to expect to earn 30 to 40,000 or more. But this would mean at least 50 pattern sales a week.

To cover my household costs and overheads I would need to sell at least 12 patterns a week before I even start to pay myself. It is an uphill struggle.

But designers sell patterns to magazines and must make thousands you say? Many patterns are obtained by magazines for free in exchange for ‘publicity’.

It’s hard to justify freebies. Please dip into your pockets quilters. It is hard to fathom why people are willing to pay for sewing machines, every tool imaginable and mountains of fabrics they are not even going to use, but that they expect a pattern to be free. So please be kind to pattern makers.

Take a look at my quilt patterns. Any support, no matter how small, not only means I can eat, but that you made my heart sing! Thank you.

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Book Review The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques by Judy Martin

printmakingBook Review The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques by Judy Martin, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216452, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

This is a review of the 2018 edition. A new and updated edition of this classic bestseller. Printmaking is a wide subject with many specialisms. If you are unsure and wish to explore, this book is a good place to start because you can try out the different techniques. Discover and develop your skills is the key of this book. Information is highly visible with many illustrations throughout. Step by step demonstrations give you a real taste of the techniques. It covers tools and techniques, monoprints, linocut, woodcut, wood engraving, collage, screen printing, drypoint, mezzotint, etching, intaglio and lithography as well as some themes. It serves as an introduction so that you can get a feel for the techniques you wish to explore further. Linocut is one of the most popular techniques and has 8 pages in this section dedicated to planning, cutting, proofing and printing as well as printing in colour. Thorough and concise.

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Blog Review of the Week

The blog is a review of my week. Sadly not only did I do something to my back but I am now struggling with energy levels. Despite that I have soldiered on a little and here is the blog with all the latest from your truly.

Where I hoped I would have had another quilt finished entirely – I am still sewing together 4 small strips of tiny half square triangles – not my best news of the week.

I have had better luck with knitting. Not only was I able to finish another hat and get the pattern uploaded to Ravelry but I have also started something that has been high on my list for a long time – a black lace sweater. I found that if I kept my arms as still as possible, I could knit for a while.

Otherwise it has been some writing, with ditto about keeping arms as still as possible! I just find it hard to rest, I have to be doing something. So I launched the fabulous Autumn Inspirations and started work on Winter Inspirations. If you are any kind of artist looking for inspiration or ideas, I am giving you oodles of that in the wonderful ebooks. All my own photos that you can use as you wish. They also contain some of my work.

Elsewhere, the Colour Confidence For Quilters ecourse is almost finished. I really hope quilters will take this to heart because people slavishly follow the colour wheel and I am here to show you that there is a better way to use colour.

One more ecourse almost ready is the Drawing For Textiles one. I am giving you a sneak peek of how you can begin to draw with my exciting new ecourse. So lots more still to come this month.

Meantime, I think I should lay down on a solid board! Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Painting Book Review – Complete Guide to Watercolour by David Webb

Complete Guide to Watercolour by David Webb, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215738, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

From beginners up this book, one of an excellent series, provides all the techniques and essential skills you need to begin to understand watercolour and paint your first paintings. There is no doubt that watercolour takes skill and understanding and that how it works is key to being able to use it. Understand the medium, learn how to mix, apply and more. This great watercolour primer will help you achieve success. Washes, resists, colour charts, design and perspective, texture, step-by-step demonstrations and fabulous finished art. The only thing it does not include is a loose style.