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Book Review Fussy Cutters’ Club by Angie Wilson

Book Review Fussy Cutters’ Club by Angie Wilson, softback published by C&T Publishing (Stash Books). ISBN 978-1617454462, price 23.99 available from www.searchpress.com Also available as an ebook

I must say first of all, that I am not a fussy cutter, yet I do admire those perfect cuts, arranged to feature the fabric. It is extreme fabric play. The book includes the basics, tools, suitable fabric guide, tutorials, colour, cutting, piecing and finishing. Tutorials include EPP, cutting to make a new repeat and other how-to’s. There are 14 projects to ensure you get to grips with fussy cutting. It’s all about the placement of the print within the design of the quilt. So you would cut out the motifs from the background print. Great projects include a nine-patch pot holder, coasters, pincushion, pouch, cushion (pillow), mini quilts and other quilts, table runner, place mats and totes using different techniques. The clear instructions are accompanied by excellent photos and line drawings. It did not set my world on fire, some of the colours and fabrics were off-putting but it is a good introduction to the techniques of fussy cutting and that’s what matters.

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Colouring Fabric for Quilt Design How-To Colour With Markal Sticks

Colouring fabric is one way to be original in your designs and to create original motifs. It is a way of making marks. When it comes to colouring fabric, it seems to baffle people, as there are so many products to choose from.

Choose a marker or colouring medium designed for fabric.
Test it on your fabric following instructions and wash it. Dry and see what happens. Does it fade? does it run?
What do you have to do to make the medium permanent?

Markal painsticks are a favourite of mine:
1. Great artistic colour range
2. Inexpensive compared to other mediums
3. Nothing is needed to work with them, no gel, textile medium, not even water
4. Easy to use
5. Easy blending, there is also a blender marker
6. Minimum wastage – some of these sticks had been used before, and I made approx 50 oak leaves and you can see how little I used
7. Cure for at least 3-5 days then heat set
8. Pigment based and permanent

All you need is a stiff brush (the kind you would use with stencils). Draw your motif onto your fabric (I usually use a chalk pen). Wearing protective gloves, peel back the hardened layer on the painstick. Collect the peelings carefully, onto a paper towel – they will mark anything they fall onto if trodden in. Brush a little colour onto your brush and apply to the fabric. You can also use stencils. When not in use the painsticks harden over again. They go a long long way.

The simplest and best way to colour fabric. This is how I created the oak leaves on my quilt. Make sure you do not move your fabric with your messy hand! Brushes wash out with hot water and soap.

For more on colouring fabric, join the design ecourse by clicking this link

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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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.