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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.

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Embroidery Book Review – Joyful Daily Stitching by Valerie Bothell

Joyful Daily Stitching Seam By Seam by Valerie Bothell, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455513, price 22.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com

Encouraging you to stitch a little every day, this book will be a big hit with embroiderers and lovers of stitch. Make samplers and treat the seam like a goddess. Use different threads and silk ribbons to produce creative work. First it shows you how to piece crazy quilting style. Next up are several embroidery stitches in step-by-step demonstrations but with small photos. I think this section could have been done much better. 500 stitch combinations are shown in full colour but without instructions, so you need to flip back to the embroidery stitch section to see how to do the stitches. I think there is enough here to keep beginner embroiderers happy, I am just not that keen on the layout of the book.

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Quilting Book review – Quilted Throws by Sanae Kona

Quilted Throws, Bags & Accessories by Sanae Kona, softball published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216292, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A delightful collection of quilting projects based on traditional techniques. These include patchwork, EPP and appliqué using traditional motifs such as hexagons and techniques such as log cabin. There are 28 projects including bags, throws, punches, table runners and more. All practical and useful with a timeless beauty. You’ll see photos of all the projects at the beginning of the book, followed by tools, materials and techniques. The latter section is detailed and illustrated by many photos, albeit small ones. The instructions are good. Each project has a materials section, a project diagram, cutting instructions and step by step illustrated construction steps. This book teaches so much – techniques including broderie perse, mitred corners and more. You use different shapes, so it covers much of what you need to learn about quilting whilst you are making wonderful projects to enhance your home or give to friends. Only a few of the project instructions are in colour, the rest are in black and white. There is a pull-out template sheet.

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Progress Update – What Is Coming In The Next Month?

This is a progress update of new products and more. Even the smallest progress has to be acknowledged as a step in the right direction. Even though I am not quite where I wanted to be, I am making progress towards that goal.

Last week I added my first in a new series of Learn As You Quilt patterns and tutorials. You can find all the tutorials here. This week I almost completed two new ecourses that will launch this month – the long awaited one on COLOUR, and a new one on DRAWING FOR TEXTILES. These will be launched any time now here.

I made progress with my new quilt – tiny half square triangles have been made. A few problems to solve there. One round of triangles stitched into a row is not as long as the quilt, so I have to make a decision on positioning. Also still do not have the wadding yet.

There are now two knitting designs finished but not written up and launched. I have started another of my hats. I am thinking I might try payhip for the patterns although Ravelry seems the obvious choice.

The UFOs are mounting, so I must get those tackled this month. It is going to be a busy time. Number one on the list is the hand stitched quilt, it is so near the end and will allow me to launch the Hand Stitched Quilt tutorial.

I am also starting the Winter Quilt, the second in my Learn As You Quilt tutorials. I am very excited about this project. It will, of course, include the things I love about winter, but not be a Christmas quilt. I am not fond of quilts that you can only use for a short space of time.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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New Quilts and Quilting Tutorials From Karen Platt

Autumn is well and truly here and last week I finished the new autumn quilt, so it is already to launch. If you do not have the pennies to buy a finished quilt, I have also created a new quilt tutorial to go with this new design. All the work has been designed by me and I created the quilt myself from scratch. I set myself a few headaches along the way, but solved them so that when you use the tutorial, you will not have any problems. I had so much fun designing and making this quilt and know that you will too. It is my first quilt pattern for sale on the website.

The quilt itself is for sale on the website. It is a one-off unique sample quilt I made, so there is only one – grab it while you can.

I have also designed and made a new landscape quilt. I am loving the colours of this one, called ‘Pebbles On The Beach’ and the original is on sale here. You can find my methods for making this type of quilt in my landscape quilt tutorial. The quilt that I made for that tutorial is also for sale here.

I have still to write my knitting pattern up, and will be uploading several patterns to Ravelry shortly.

Meantime I am also working on a new Inspiration book – Autumn. The Churches Inspiration book is finished but waiting for me to finish off the textiles. Keep checking back and meantime why not check out the existing Inspiration Series? So much to inspire for art, textiles and more. These are all manual downloads as pdfs so that you can enjoy the photos. So much to keep me busy.

Am I doing anything else? Yes, I found an embroidery I started some months ago – that will be finished soon too.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Learn As You Quilt What’s New In Quilting

Learn to quilt with Karen. If you follow me on social media, you cannot have missed the fact that I have been working on an exciting new quilt design. It’s new in more ways than one:
1. It’s the first quilt pattern I have written
2. It’s more than just a pattern – it involves several tutorials
3. You learn as you quilt building your skills

How great is that? This is a new style of quilting skill builder – one where you learn whilst quilting. This new pattern actually involves 12 skills and once you have mastered this one, there will be more patterns to enjoy with different skills. Because you are learning along the way – the pattern can be used in different ways. It also presents many options and variations for the quilter. Patterns can be found on the pattern section of the website.

I have been developing this new style of quilting for a year now. I’m hoping it is going to make a lasting impact on the quilt world. It should make it easier for beginners to achieve good results from the beginning and give them the confidence to build their skills quickly. For intermediate quilters, it offers a challenge to the established method of quilting and even advanced quilters might find a skill they have not yet tried.

This latest design concentrates on autumn (fall) in theme and colour. This will be available as a pattern and tutorials. The next design will be for spring. I shall be offering a special pack, launching exclusively on the website, for everyone who wants to join in and make the quilt.

It’s been a challenge to find a way to describe this new slant on learning to quilt. I have settled on the abbreviation QUILTSKI for Quilt Skills, to describe my methods. I do hope you will join me in this exciting adventure launching this week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Book Review Modern Quilts by Riane Menardi et al

Book Review Modern Quilts by Riane Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton and Heather Grant, softback published by Stash Books (C & T Publishing). ISBN 9781617455988, price 33.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

I know so many traditional quilters, but modern quilts are so very interesting, not only from an artistic and design viewpoint, but also that most of us live in modern homes and these quilts fit better into our lifestyles. Subtitled ‘Designs of the New Century’ this book reveals modern quilt design. It explains the role of the Modern Quilt Guild and showcases some of the best modern designs. The history of modern quilting is tackled in chapters dealing with the stages: Before 1998; 1998-2004; 2005; 2005-2008; 2009 each highlighting key years and developments and finally the movement becoming mainstream. It’s a brief written history, fabulously illustrated with incredible quilts. That’s the focus of the book – the quilts. You’ll see simplicity, minimalism, deconstruction, blocks, text, colour, early improv, geometrics, pictorials and much more. No patterns, no how-to, just visual delight tracking the early beginnings of modernism right up to today.