Quilting a new project is such an exciting thing to do. There is something extra special about starting something new. My new project is one made from fabrics joined together years ago that I lost interest in. The fabrics are lovely for children, but I really do not know what possessed me to buy them. It was my first foray to the quilting show FOQ and I completely lost it. I came home with so many bags, I got stuck on the aisle in the coach. I also found that the bags were too heavy to carry. I ended up removing the belt from my raincoat, threading all the bags onto it and hauling it over my shoulder. I never did that again, honest.
An Easy Starting Point
So I had a starting point. Colour-themed fabrics already joined in strips. For quilting a new project that can be a bonus or a headache. For years these pieces had remained in the ‘don’t know what to do with that’ pile. That’s thankfully small! Then I saw this block with just two colours and thought, my joined strips would look great in that.
Then the contrast was a problem. I had some blue but it did not look right. It lingered for almost a month. Then I found an off white. It goes with everything and is not as stark as white. One of my golden rules is to never make too stark a contrast. This block forms part of my Beginners Quilting ecourse, so come and join the fun.
So I am almost there and enjoying every second of it. When the shops re-open I shall be able to buy the blue threads I need to finish two more projects. The tunic I showed last week now has a front and back. Just the sleeves to do.
Quilting hand stitched clothes was one of my intentions when I started quilting a few years ago and I am now making my own quilted clothes. The work of Kathy Knapp is awe-inspiring as well as inspirational. Highly desirable wearables that do not look too quilt-like but are made in the same way as a quilt is the way forwards.
An ideal way to use fabric scraps is the art of quilting hand stitched clothes. Small shapes from scraps can be joined using English paper piecing (EPP). We all seem to have more scraps than we can manage. EPP has blossomed into techniques such as millefiori. Small pieces are used to create stunning patterns. Depending on the size of your project, you’ll use quite a lot of them when making quilted clothes.
English Paper Piecing
I have a curious way of making EPP. Instead of gluing (yuk) or tacking (time-consuming), fabric shapes are pinned to card or paper templates. This makes the process quicker. Templates are unpinned as I go and I therefore use less templates too. Wrong sides together, the pieces are whip stitched. It is quite forgiving as long as you are fairly precise.
I enjoy the rhythm and restfulness of quilting by hand. Good light is essential. A magnifier is useful too.
Octagons and kites are being used in my current project. The kites are joined in fours, making shapes that join onto the octagons. The octagons are quite large, so the project, although hand sewn, is coming together quite fast. The templates came free with a quilting magazine. Free downloads are also available on websites.
At the moment it’s more every day wearables than outstanding art. This is a tunic in the making.
A wardrobe clearout produced a pile of clothes that I no longer wear. They are all beautiful fabrics. So it’s scissors and seam ripper fun time. The plan is to produce wearables. The fabrics have been colour coded. Devore velvet, silk, jacquard, embroidered pieces; all just waiting for new creations.
An ecourse is planned, see all the quilting ecourses
Art Exhibition and Art Residency Online – two separate events hosted online this week. I feel very happy to have been invited to take part in two exhibitions. They are both happening on Instagram, so if you are not on there it is worth joining. I usually post daily on my account karenplatt_textiles but these events are not on my own pages, they are on Instagram art pages, see below.
It’s the first time I have had an art residency online. My sixth art residency in all (the other three being at venues around the UK – Brison’s Veor, Cornwall; The Clocktower, Sheffield (twice); Burton Agnes in Yorkshire and Sheffield City Centre.
The residency takes place on Instagram #transientresidence
It runs from 15-19th March 2021 and I plan to post once or twice a day, early morning.
Work from my digital manipulation art with the theme of Tunisian Doors can be seen throughout the residency. If you like what you see, you can also buy the ebook from my online store
This also takes place on Instagram and I feel lucky to be a part of this digital art exhibition exploring Earth Patterns. When in the Tunisian Sahara I took quite a few photos of the sand dunes and I submitted one of my photos to this exhibition and was a successful applicant. The photo demonstrates the ever shifting sand and the patterns formed.
The exhibition features digital photographers who have explored this theme and launches on Instagram on March 19th 2021 on @aghaveyaprojects
Other works on Tunisia (there are travel ebooks and ebooks on Traditional Dress and Woven Textiles) and the Sahara which can be found online might also be of interest.
These are just two positives from Covid 19 this week. If it were not for the pandemic, I am sure there would not be so many online opportunities. If you miss the online art exhibition and art residency
Pictorial Quilts ecourse has just been launched. The third in a series of quilting categories. 100 designs, colourways plus 10 layouts are included for you to create fabulous pictorial quilts.
After traditional and modern quilts, most quilts fall into this popular category but many people mistakenly call them art quilts; which for the purposes of exhibiting, is a different category entirely. Nine times out of ten, when you see the word ‘art quilt’ what it usually is, is a pictorial quilt.
These ecourses ensure that you can correctly categorise your quilt but more importantly give you 100 designs as a springboard so that you can see exactly the type of quilts that are called pictorial.
All designs are all original Karen Platt designs in the pictorial quilts ecourse. Solve all your colour problems in an instant. Alternative colourways are given for most designs, so you can never get your colours wrong ever again.
Improve your quilting with all the tips, techniques and know-how. You can find the ecourse on the website
When I was not writing this new ecourse, I did EPP (English Paper Piecing), which is one of the hand quilting methods I enjoy the most. It’s great whilst watching the cricket. I am not sure at this stage whether to make this into a bed throw, a quilted jacket or a quilted tunic. Stay tuned to see how it grows.
Quilting is a joy during lockdown. Not only does it occupy the hands, it occupies the mind too. Quilting is such a joy at any time, but I am grateful for creativity during lockdown. Whether hand or machine sewing, it is a saviour.
It has been a varied week as I have flitted between creations like a magpie. I think I am always looking for a bit of glitter. Something that shines in life. The silver lining of the clouds.
March the month of mad hares and perhaps mad hatters. Looking back on the achievements of this year so far, they are plenty. It has been mainly writing and hand quilting yet this past week, the sewing machine was in a whirr of activity.
Much more is planned and in the pipeline.
As One Project Ends Another Begins
The second quilted jacket was finished. Although a little smaller than I thought, I am pleased. There is always a thrill when a project is completed. Beads might look good in the centre of the Cathedral Windows, but thread would have to be chosen wisely to match.
The four wall landscape quilts made in 2017 have been unpicked and a new quilted coat is planned. Lining fabric will be needed.
The other project on the go is the indigo quilted jacket. The sleeves are coming together now. With the beautiful lining that was chosen, this would make a fantastic reversible quilted jacket.
Apart from quilted clothes, quilting on my oldest UFO is ready to go. Having made errors with stitch in the ditch on my first ever double sized quilt, it has languished for many years but is now all unpicked and now ready for take off.
When not quilting, writing occupies my time with a new gardening book. All will be revealed shortly.
There is always a new ecourse on the go too, usually quilting. More about that next time. Like I said quilting is such a joy. Catch up with the quilting blog every Monday for quilting ideas, ecourses and information on the website
Apparently the Festival of Quilts is hoping to go ahead in July. I shall not be attending this year owing to Covid, I think it is too soon.
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021.
Contemporary Quilting ecourse follows on from last week’s Modern Quilting ecourse launch. It’s another in the 100 designs series. Let me first explain the difference. I talked about modern quilts last week – the negative space and clever quilting and minimalist look. Contemporary quilts tend to use traditional techniques with a twist bringing a modern look to them. For example, that classic log cabin might just have become wonky.
It’s great for traditional quilters who want something more fitting for their home but do not like the look of an actual modern quilt. Of course you can like both, I know I do. It’s also perfect for people who are very clever at piecing because you can use technically challenging piecing, not necessarily working in standard blocks.
You can treat the whole quilt as a blank canvas and not in a traditional way at all.
What Does the Contemporary Quilting eCourse Offer?
100 quilt designs designed by Karen Platt
Alternative Colourways for those who find colour a challenge
10 layouts with more suggestions
Tips, Techniques and Ideas to ensure that you build your skills and have everything you need to understand contemporary quilting. If you want a head start in contemporary quilting, purchase the ecourse now from the website
THEBUMPER START TO THE NEW YEARCONTINUES
It’s the end of week six of 2021 and this ecourse is my fourth new introduction of the year. Like the modern quilting ecourse, it has been in the planning stage for some years. I am so happy to bring it to fruition.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
You think I am having a rest? Chance would be a fine thing. I am well into preparation for a new and glorious gardening ebook. Well, three actually, but one at a time, I am sadly only one woman.
Two quilted jackets are nearing completion. Just one more and they all go into a Quilted Jacket Making ecourse. One shawl has been finished this week and another half finished. I have knitted many over the years and think I might do a Shawl Collection pattern ebook.
Then I must find time to finish the Egyptians Textile Inspirations ebook, third in the series; not to mention the Medieval Dress Textiles ebook, both started at the very end of last year.
Lockdown? What lockdown? It’s just time to create. See you next week.
Modern Quilts 100 Designs eCourse Learn Something New. In 2019 I wrote the ecourse for all types of quilting. This arose as the result of being in a group online where many quilters seemed confused by the quilting categories.
The first ecourse looking at individual categories is modern quilting ecourse. This differs from the overview in the other ecourse. This new modern quilting ecourse has an original format that includes modern quilts 100 designs, alternative colourways and 10 layouts.
In other words it concentrates on ensuring you understand the modern quilting category and that you see plenty of samples and gather the knowledge to make a modern quilt or indeed, design your own.
This modern quilts ecourse is unique. It consists of
100 quilt designs designed by Karen Platt
Alternative Colourways for those who find colour a challenge
10 layouts with more suggestions
Tips, Techniques and Ideas to ensure that you build your skills and have everything you need to understand modern quilting. If you want a head start in modern quilting, purchase the ecourse now from the website
BUMPER START TO THE YEAR
By the end of week five of 2021, this is my third new introduction of the year. Gosh, I need a holiday 🙂 Of course, I started writing this ecourse and designing the quilts from 2019 onwards, so it has not magically appeared, it has been two years in the making.
In addition I have been knitting and quilting other projects, more about that next week. I am close to finishing two quilted jackets. Join me next week to see what I have been working on. You can also follow me on Instagram karenplatt_textiles (this includes all my work – quilting, textiles, travel and gardening) and on facebook
New garden books and an art exhibition for January 2021. That’s the way to kickstart a year.
It all started in that in between time betwixt Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Looking back at all that was achieved and pondering on what is to come. A plan of sorts – but I am always very flexible. Gardening was not on my mind. Then someone purchased Emeralds and Silver Lining and looking back I discovered unfinished garden books.
Roses launched two weeks ago. Gathering together all the images and writing short descriptions of the plants is pure joy.
Dahlias was completed at the weekend, making this the second new garden ebook of the year. It’s full of fabulous photos and can be used by gardeners, but like roses can also be used by painters and crafters for inspiration.
More new garden books to come.
ART EXHIBITION On Friday 29th, the month was rounded off nicely with my first art exhibition of the year. I am part on the Virtual Art Fair. This is the second time I have been selected to exhibit with them.
What will February bring? Two jackets should be completed. I am held up a little by bursitis in my left hand. Yesterday saw the start of another long planned gardening book, so I hope to finish that perhaps in March. More quilting ecourses are planned, so watch out for launch. Modern Quilts will probably be the first.
As a follow-on from last week’s article about arthritis, I purchased a TENS machine and new compression gloves. Both are helping with the pain but I need to be careful what I do when.
This week instead of sharing work, I wish to offer some practical advice on Quilting of Crafting and Solutions For Arthritis Type Pain.
Obviously, you need to see a GP and get a proper diagnosis because arthritis covers a multitude of sins from auto-immune diseases to related problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and they often need different treatment. I chose to write about this subject because so many self-diagnose and that is dangerous.
There are things we can do that cost nothing or very little and will help. There are also rather expensive remedies that are not scientifically proven. It’s more that they work because you believe in them than anything else.
It is almost inevitable that repetitive movement of any type leads to pain. It is your body’s way of telling you to stop. That’s the first thing to understand. The second is that pain is subjective and it is best to take your mind off it.
If you have been quilting for an hour, then you need to stop and move. In fact before you start quilting, or doing any repetitive movement, do the following Quilting or Crafting and Solutions For Arthritis Type Pain:
A. hand exercises (these can vary depending on the problem, so as I said, get a diagnosis) follow a GP’s or consultant’s advice.
B. hand massage – you can do this yourself, look for reflexology
C. try Rosemary Conley’s 7 Day Slim, I rarely get past Day 1 but that alone is worth it
D. Keep your hands warm
I find it best to divide the hours I work. So I might machine stitch for 45 minutes, then get up an move. Massage again or do hand exercises and if I feel I can continue, do another half hour.
It’s best to admit that your body after a certain age, can no longer act as if it is 21. Work with your body. Stop before it starts to hurt. So if you think you can sew for two hours, only do one. Quilting is hard on the hands, neck and back. If you are in serious pain, you need to rest the affected body part for at least a week, maybe longer. Consult a GP.
Change task – if you have been sitting, if you can, stand and cut, or iron.
Listen to your body – it is telling you to stop. The idea is not to use something that allows you to continue. This is applicable to osteoarthritis and repetitive strain or carpal tunnel. If you continue, basically you just do more damage until you could lose the use of your hand.
If you cannot continue and it bothers you, soak your hands in warm water, take a bath, read or do something that is not using the part that hurts. REST.
Some find alternate cold/warm therapy useful.
OVER THE COUNTER
None of the over the counter medications are scientifically proven to do anything. No matter how many tell you these work. In most cases they are extremely expensive and if you take them to be able to continue work, then see 2. above. Like all medication they can have unwanted side effects. Also if they are not prescribed, you might continue to use for longer than you should or use more than you should. So think twice about using them for Quilting or Crafting and Solutions For Arthritis Type Pain. You need specific treatment for your type of arthritis, which falls into two groups – inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Some types of arthritis are auto-immune, others are not. I will mention a few
Glucosamine – there is little evidence that it works. It can have mild side-effects like stomach and bowel problems. It is also thought to cause weight gain and possibly insulin resistance. Some people with osteoarthritis swear by it, but they have never been given a placebo, so it could be entirely psychological.
Capsaicin Cream – used for nerve pain, and again some swear by it. Price can be quite hefty, although it seems to be available on prescription in the UK. Trials (N.B. very small trials under 200 people) seemed to suggest that it might help osteoarthritis. Apart from a burning sensation often felt by around 30% when applying the gel, it seems to have no side effects. However, you need to apply it 4 times a day. As a block I would use a TENS machine below.
CBD oil – one of the most expensive over the counter medications. Trials on animals not validated on humans. Can adversely affect arthritis drugs that have been prescribed.
Turmeric – again not proven as limited trials of very small numbers of people. Heartburn and dizziness were reported in one trial that found people you walk with less pain. Keep the dosage low. I think this is best taken as a tea.
Black Pepper – has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s use is a ‘may help’ at best and only in early stages.
NSAIDS – there is now plenty of information available that NSAIDS are to be avoided. They cause stomach ulcers. This is also where it is essential to know which type of arthritis you have, as they were prescribed mainly for rheumatoid arthritis. These include aspirin, ibuprofen and voltaren. There are numerous names and the USA uses different names to the UK. All worsen osteoarthritis. They have rather nasty side effects, often with prolonged use.
Voltarol and other gels – these are NSAIDs in gel form. Again they should not be used by people who have ever had an ulcer, have asthma or allergies. Also if it is nor recommended by your GP, do not use for more than 14 days, and contact a GP if you feel no relief after 7 days.
It is much safer to find relief from hand exercises/massage if appropriate.
These are normally given for Rheumatoid arthritis, and can be short acting or longer acting, up to six months. Personally I would not want steroid injections. I believe it is something best avoided. Steroid tablets rather than injections seem to be associated with weight gain. In the short term both affect the body’s immunity.
Some things can help with Quilting or Crafting and Solutions For Arthritis Type Pain:
Compression gloves can work but buy good quality and not cheapest available. I use a pair of fingerless compression gloves, ones I bought in the USA in 2000.
I am just in the process of investing in a TENS machine. Again buy a reputable one, Med-Fit supplies the NHS. Compared to the over the counter medications you can buy, a TENS machine is comparatively reasonable. They are much cheaper on Amazon.
Look at your diet. Will it help if you change it?
Lose weight if you need to
You might feel you cannot exercise at all – but the message is use it or lose it. Look for gentle exercise and keep moving. Swimming and cycling are good for osteoarthritis. Do strength exercises. Gentle dancing is brilliant and uplifting.
You could also look at ergonomic gadgets such as rotary cutters/chairs, how you sit and stand and posture in general. Use your body weight to rotary cut, not pressure from your hand.
DISCLAIMER I am not a GP. I have written this because I was appalled that people recently recommended many of the over the counter remedies to someone in a quilting group. I write from personal experience. I am not associated with any product. You follow my advice or not at your own free will. Best advice is speak to your GP before you do anything at all.
Designing textiles from scratch is not always as easy as you might think. Not only do you need a great idea, you need to be able to follow it through to a finished object or even a series.
You need to know how to transfer your ideas from your head or from sketches on paper to something concrete and practical or decorative.
There are many techniques, many fabrics that you can use, so sometimes it is hard to make a start. Often we start and get stuck.
My design ecourses can help you negotiate your way through design, this one is on textiles
Moving Through Mud
Designing textiles from scratch is sometimes like moving through mud. You can get bogged down with indecision, stuck with an idea that will not flow or find it impossible to bring things to fruition.
However if you are like me, I only get stuck when I am faced with a decision on how to proceed, usually based on a lack of technique. So it was with my current jacket project. I had started fine and sat and stitched each evening until I had made 80 hand stitched diamonds. Joined them together in rows.
Then came the crunch: What comes next?
I am not bad at decisions, I usually sort things fairly quickly. However, for every designer there comes a time when they get truly stuck. Was this the right decision? Would that have been better? Will this work? Is my technique bad?
I made a decision to use a type of folded patchwork around the edge, I have not got there yet, and might never. First I started on a central panel for the back to liven things up a bit.
I cut enough pieces for five different patchwork shapes. Then I lost a piece, stitched a piece a bit off centre and lost interest. All along there was a nagging doubt. Was it what I wanted?
Having finished another project, I returned to this design problem yesterday. I laid out the pieces and thought does it look right? Part of me said yes, part said no. No decision there. Then I thought once more, what else can I do? I could stitch some more diamonds but that was not what I wanted. I stared at it for a few minutes and decided it was worth finishing.
The pieces are all just about stitched in place now. Of course I need odd shapes to attach in between them at the sides. I draw my own templates. Then I still have to make a decision on what goes around the edge, not to mention quilting it.
It might take a while yet, but I am on the move. Meantime I cut the fabric for jacket number three.
I also finished a sleeveless top. I was hoping to have the pattern uploaded to Ravelry today, but it will still take a day or two. It will be my 10th knitting pattern on there.