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How To Use Sketchbooks For Art and Craft Ideas

How to use sketchbooks – we all know they are for sketching or drawing but do you really make the best use of your sketchbooks? This week in my feed, a fellow artist was pondering whether to throw away her sketchbooks that she felt disillusioned with. I am going to attempt to answer that question.

How to use sketchbooks
Sketchbook page for my ancient history textiles inspirations ebooks

The Purpose of Sketchbooks

First of all – what is a sketchbook for? First and foremost it should be for working out ideas, jotting down ideas, working through a problem such as shape, layers, colour. Many people are too precious about their sketchbooks because they see them as finished work. So if we look at this problem of throwing away from the angle of an ideas book, it makes it all the easier.

As a student I was taught never to erase nor to tear pages out of my sketchbook. As a textiles teacher, I am with that up to a point.

Having just moved my workroom around for better use of space, I went through my sketchbooks this morning. I have 4 A3 sketchbooks. This was the preferred size at the college I went to. It’s a good size, but no good for en plein air work. Two of the sketchbooks are spiral bound, the other two are not. On the whole I prefer spiral bound, but if you are a painter or felter, or even a textile artist like myself, you might prefer it perfect bound so that you can work across the page with ease. Spiral bound is also the best for people who love to make additions and stick fabric samples in etc. I have half a dozen A4 sketchbooks and zillions of smaller sizes. In the past year I seem to prefer to work with A5 or smaller, often with handmade paper in a zig-zag format.

sketchbooks for textiles
My student sketchbook

I like to theme my sketchbooks and return to them to fill them at intervals.

River Don sketchbooks
My River Don sketchbook

So I would further break down the query:

  1. Is your sketchbook separate sheets of paper that you can tear one out without missing it?
  2. How old is the work? We always say ‘keep it’ because you will be able to see how far you have progressed. This is apt up to a certain amount of years or number of sketchbooks. When you have several years of them, you will have progressed so far that your early work might be rendered useless.
  3. Can you re-use it? In collage or working over it? Is anything worth salvaging?
  4. Do you have the physical space to keep them all?
how to use sketchbooks
One of my first ever sketchbook pages that I would happily work over and cover
how to use sketchbooks
Another early one I still like

It’s Personal

It is entirely your decision. You might be that person who needs a clearout to breathe fresh air and feel the creativity filling their lungs. On the other hand, you might be that person that finds infinite ideas within the pages of their numerous sketchbooks.

Partly it depends how brilliant you are from the very first sketchbook. I am not a natural at drawing, so there are some pages in my first sketchbook that I shall cover over. There are others I would never get rid of. There is no rule, it is your work, you do with it as you wish. Best not to make the mistake of throwing it out and wishing you had kept it though.

I would always keep photographic references if they are still applicable to my themes and ideas of work.

photographic page
Photographic references can always be a springboard for new work

I would also keep work that I still like even if I cannot think of a way to use it in my current work

working out colours
Work I like

I would also always keep colour references and ideas

colour page

Photograph it

If you are unsure but want to get rid, photograph it. You can always print it out or use it digitally. I kept this page, but also used it digitally in my work.

how to use sketchbooks
page from my ancient history series of Inspirations textile ebooks

There are lots of ways for how to use sketchbooks and to re-purpose sketchbook pages. So think before you throw away, but don’t be afraid to discard work if you have outgrown it. See more of my work on the website I am currently writing an ecourse on sketchbooks and digital sketchbooks. My favourite sketchbooks are those of Maggie Grey, some of her work can be seen here

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Forthcoming TEXTILE Work and Changes

Forthcoming textile work and changes almost sounds foreboding. In every life there comes a time when change is necessary. Ever since my son handed my website over to me to manage the technical side, I have found it very challenging indeed. He has stepped in when things were beyond my experience. Yet I now find the Paypal buttons are not functioning and that this happens with increasing frequency. So I am exploring other avenues to sell my work. I got tired of Etsy, it does not work for me. The downside is that with the website goes the email and blog, so I would have to rearrange things very carefully and it will take a while yet.


My textile, quilting and Photoshop ecourses have been available on Craft Courses for about two years. This is the side of the business I wish to expand with more unique textile and inspiration ecourses. So I was lucky this week when I had a forced rest and then the heat got to me, that I had an idea for 12 new ecourses. So look out for those in the very near future. They would include my inspiration ebooks in a totally new format and learning experience, so that would take care of those. How to create some of the work shown below will be a part of the new ecourses.


So that leaves my textile artwork and the few craft supply materials that I sell. I think I shall offer these in the next few weeks at a reduced rate, hopefully to clear all stock. Some are on this page. If you click to buy and there is no Paypal button, please contact me through the website contact or through facebook. I can send a Paypal invoice.


All prices gbp excluding p&p. Here are some of the pieces. Open to sensible offers. Please check the website for original prices and description. I am grateful for your support.

Ancient Queen embroidery 20.00

textile work
Ancient Queen

Blue Felt Hand Embroidered Cuff 14.00

textile work
Blue Felt Cuff

Deep Blue Sea Original Hand Painted and Embroidered 30.00

Forthcoming textile work
Sea Hand Embroidered textile

Hand Embroidered Lion 50.00

forthcoming textile work
Hand Embroidered Lion

Blue Hand Embroidered Queen 35.00

forthcoming textile work
Hand Embroidered Queen

Green Felt and Lace Cuff 14.00

Forthcoming textile work
Green Cuff

Whilst my little grey cells were working overtime, I had a terrific idea for a new textile piece to celebrate the place where I have lived now for seven years. I am looking to move, but what better way to remember this place that has been home than in a textile wall hanging?

That’s all for this week. It’s been a trying week, so very hot for two days and more to come. Tune in next Monday for more forthcoming textile work and see how far I have got with my new ideas. Check back every day for the offers of the day.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Dressmaking and Quilting Dresses and Quilted Coats

Dressmaking and Quilting is how I spent last week. I have been making dresses and quilting coats. This is my work in progress.

Quilted Coats

Mainly this has been a hand stitching project this week. I am near completion on the back of this new quilted coat but far from finished. This particular coat will feature in the forthcoming ‘Quilted Coats ecourse’. It is a piece of fabric that lends itself well to embellishments such as hand stitch, beading and yoyos. The latter are my new found joy.

dressmaking and quilting
Hand stitched and embellished quilted coat. A Karen Platt design.

The pattern will be available in the new ecourse and this is the third quilted coat to be included. I have not decided if it is the last.

The second quilted coat is still in construction. I finally bought the thread for it and I have also cut the linings for the front. I just have to be brave enough to start quilting now. It takes courage!

dressmaking and quilting
Second Quilted Coat


It almost seems strange to do dressmaking without quilting, but I have sewn a dress and almost finished a second one. I am very proud of my topstitching around the neck. I did not really have the confidence, but then thought ‘go for it’ and it was a success. This is William Morris Moda fabric.

dressmaking and quilting
My William Morris dress

The front of the second one was stitched together quite some time ago. When I had finished the other one, made with a pattern, albeit altered to fit; I realised how to finish the second one. The back was finished today. So there is just the neckline, armholes and hemline to do. A doddle.

dressmaking and quilting
Second dress almost complete

I am not a natural dressmaker, so this is quite an achievement. The dresses join the one I made last year, which I am wearing today. Each design is different. This week I discovered a wonderful quilted dress on Instagram, so maybe I might make a quilted dress.

Next Plans

Usually people want to know what Karen did next (Ha ha! What Katy did next was a favourite childhood book). Should I reveal all? It might be nothing more than finishing projects – after all there is the blue dress and quilted coats to finish. There is also the blue velvet coat that goes with that blue dress that I seem to have been making forever.

Will I have time to start something new? Tune in next week to see if I have a new project in my dressmaking and quilting life. I might just have.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Quilted Coat Completed Project Making Clothes

Quilted Coat completed project is actually two projects in one. This is not only the quilted coat itself, the first one I have made and completed. In addition it is part of an ecourse on making quilted coats. If you love quilting and enjoy making clothes, or even if you have never made anything before, take a look at my existing Making Quilted Jackets and shortly you’ll be able to buy Making Quilted Coats.


Now I can reveal the quilted coat completed project. Maybe I could claim it is three projects in one because this coat is not only quilted, it is fully reversible. That was a first for me, making a reversible garment. With my easy to follow pictorial instructions, this is a breeze to make. I am so happy with the finished coat.

quilted coat completed project
One side of the reversible quilted coat
quilted coat completed project
the other side of the reversible quilted coat


I seem to have more projects than hands. A team of little mice is needed to come in and do the sewing whilst I am asleep. The other quilted coat I have already stitched the quilt top for is awaiting some new thread. So that is in the pipeline. Two dresses are almost completed – they are both simply dressmaking and sewing, not quilting.

A few days ago I got a piece of my Cathedral Windows Quilting out, when I showed it on Instagram, everyone fell in love with it. It would make a panel for a quilted coat. It needs some thought as I would not be cutting into it.

Today, I cut the front and back of another coat. It was originally a curtain in my last home and has lived in a drawer, unused for seven years. It was therefore use it or lose it time. I plan to hand stitch this one and make some handmade embellishments.

quilted coat

Tune in next Monday and see how far I have progressed.

Words, work and copyright Karen Platt 2021