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Book Review 50 Little Gifts compiled by Susanne Woods

Book Review 50 Little Gifts compiled by Susanne Woods, softback published by Lucky Spool. ISBN 9781940655338, price 20.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Easy Patchwork Projects To Give Or Swap’ this book is just that. A compilation of useful projects to use up scraps. Pouches, potholders, purses, baskets, keyrings, bags of all sizes – all with one thing in common – colourful patchwork. The projects are from different designers, and many are the usual organiser projects, mats, baskets, zipped purse and so on, but this book brings 50 such projects together and makes a super gift itself. Each project has a colour photo – clear instructions, with an at-a-glance box of essentials showing Size, Materials, Cutting and Tips. There are clear line drawings where needed and mini tutorials. I like the triangular log cabin pincushion, patchwork dog and passport holder. You’ll find a basic guide to embroidery at the front of the book and templates at the back; some are actual size, some need enlarging. Good patchwork fun.

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Professional Designer Quilter – A Day In The Life of Being A Quilter

one block wonder quilt Karen Platt

Professional Quilter – A Day In The Life of Being A Quilter

You can be forgiven for thinking ‘I could do that’ or ‘What a wonderful life to quilt all day long’. However, as much as I enjoy it and I really do, there is so much more to being a quilter than sewing.

Whilst it is true that some quilters use other designers’ patterns, I decided at the very start (being a textiles designer anyway) that I would have to design my own quilt patterns.

I do not have a typical day, my days vary so much. My day often starts in the middle of the night when ideas come to me unbeckoned, or perhaps beckoned subconsciously. These days if I do not jot them down, by the morning they are lost. I let ideas ‘brew’, it does not do to jump straight in. See my design ecourse by clicking this link – believe me you too can design.

I usually start with social media – promotion is key to any business and it is often the hardest part. You have to identify and know your market and how to tap into it. It’s more than just keywords, it’s a slog that could do with an army working on it – but there’s just me. I sometimes spend about an hour a day promoting my business in one way or another. On Sundays I write this blog. Did I mention I am a 24/7 workaholic?

Much of my work involves intense research. I am a born researcher and believe it informs my work, allowing me to reach beyond the obvious.

If I am starting a quilt, I might spend a morning choosing fabrics, longer if I cannot find what I want. More and more, I am leaning towards only using my own fabrics. Any successful business has to have a USP – a unique selling point.

I might draw, doodle, play with Photoshop, paint, sew – to test ideas, strengthen ideas or just play and hope something clicks. This is all part of the process. Then it is all down to sewing. I have one machine, so if I am working on more than one quilted piece, I might do all the straight stitching, then all the free motion.

I must admit, I find most of the sewing quite tedious, but I am much more at ease with it these days. In the evenings, I concentrate on hand sewing for another two hours. This could be a hand stitched quilt, jacket or just hand finishing binding.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Retrospective of Quilting Becoming A Professional Quilter

learn quilting Karen Platt

Retrospective of my quilting life so far. My professional quilt life began just 21 months ago but the retrospective goes back much further to my humble beginnings.

I never thought of being a professional quilter. I don’t have any connections. Heck I could not even follow a quilting pattern, nor sew a straight line. That’s the very reason I know I can teach you how to quilt. I did it the hard way – I taught myself.

I am a professional, fully qualified and experienced teacher. I had always been interested in making things. I still am rarely seen without knitting needles and have designed my own patterns since the early 90s. For the past ten years I have dabbled with hand dyeing yarn, threads and fabric.

At the same time I became a self-published author of gardening books. I was very successful, particularly in the USA and Australia. I became a professional gardening speaker, speaking up and down the west coast of America.

About ten years ago I went back to college to study art and design. Chiefly I wanted to learn to draw. The year before I had studied ceramics and fallen in love with it, but there was no way I could afford nor house a kiln. So I was thinking of doing fine art. Then I became very interested in digital art and I have had some success in that field. I developed unique ways of manipulating photos. My interest in photography extends to decades ago. As does my interesting in painting and art.

After that I took a morning course in Japanese Folded Patchwork and fell in love with this hand sewing method. I was developing textiles at the time but my interests have always been broad.

In late 2011 I went to a stitch show and bought some fabric for quilting. I had no idea what to do with it. I eventually put it together for tiny pram quilts and made lots of mistakes. That was final then. I’d never make it as a quilter. Quilting books completely baffled me. However I had not bought one lot of fabric, I had bought four lots falling in love with the colours. This fabric languished for some years. In 2012 I thought it was a shame not to use the fabric and started a quilt, but got stuck and it became a UFO.

I continued to sell gardening books, paint and create digital art. I did an art residency.

In 2013, I made four quilted place mats. I found them difficult to do and I forget how many hours they took me. I moved house and it became more difficult to dye. I was still living from the sales of my gardening books and had more to write. I lived in Tunisia for much of the time producing art and writing gardening books. I also wrote a book on Tunisian textiles. I was making embroideries and textile art and still do.

My interest in digital art deepened and everyone keep saying the designs would make great quilts. I kept thinking, maybe, but I am no good at quilting. It was not until late 2015 I tried to quilt again, making a knitting needle holder. It was a hobby I was struggling with. I had at least three garden writing projects on the go. I was approached by a publisher to write for them also. I made a couple of bags and a couple of dresses. I would tense up every time I did sewing, waiting for something to go wrong.

Dramatically in late 2016/early 2017 through no fault of my own, I was left without the means to earn a living. I was told my stock of books had been destroyed. I had no money to replace them. I took stock of what I could do, and my immediate thought was stitch. I set out to become a professional quilter.

I learned to do Cathedral Window Quilting and wrote my own tutorials for quilting. I started to design my own stained glass fabrics for it. It was a slow process, being hand quilted but I was still so wary of sewing machines. By March 2017, I taught my first quilting classes. I developed online classes for people to take wherever they live. I moved into landscape quilting on the machine, designing my own quilts and writing up tutorials. I took the advice of friends and turned some of my digital designs into quilts also.

It was not until August 2017 that I finished my first bed-sized quilt, that UFO started five years earlier. I used my talents in design and colour to get me through. My challenge was mastering my sewing machine. I did and my latest design features free-motion sewing. Perseverance got me there in the end.

I developed more tutorials and ecourses including design. I challenged myself to make three kaleidoscope quilts this year, to prove that my skills are there.

My next stage is to use my own fabric designs to continue my quilting journey with my own quilting designs. So there you have it a retrospective of my bumpy quilting journey that might never have happened if circumstances had not forced it. Design is still my driving factor but I don’t hate sewing any more, I have embraced it. I don;t get stuck any more, I have perfected my sewing skills. I am making quilts for sale. I did FOQ 2018 to dip my toes into the quilting market.

Click the link for ecourses

Click the link for fabrics

Click the link for quilts

My ravelry store

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting dyeing retrospective Karen Platt

knitting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

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Book Review Braided Bargello by Ruth Ann Berry

bargelloBook Review Braided Bargello by Ruth Ann Berry, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617454042, price 18.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

I have always loved Bargello needlepoint, so it is natural that I love bargello quilting. It can be a great use of colour, so I find it fascinating. It is one of those fabulous quilt techniques that achieves a very complicated look, whilst not being too difficult to make. Braided Bargello takes bargello one step beyond, it’s like ordinary bargello with knobs on – knots, or twists and turns. There are 16 projects in the book from bed-sized quilts to smaller projects. In Basic Bargello Construction, the author looks at fabric, cutting, designing and constructing as well as mitred corners. If you find the design chart in this section a little confusing, it becomes very apparent what you need to do if you look at the projects. All projects are accompanied by clear charts and easy to follow instructions. Interesting projects, but on most I wanted to make slight alterations as there are what I call stop lines to the designs – in very obvious places and I would wish to continue the curve. I also thought that many of the colourways were not to my taste. There is also a gallery of work.

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Book Review Creative Collage by Clare Youngs

collageBook Review Creative Collage by Clare Youngs, softback published by Cico Books (RPS), Maetetc.com. ISBN 978-1782494898, price 12.99 available from https://makeetc.com/collections/mixed-crafts/products/creative-collage

An inexpensive, informative look at paper collage using materials that are easily to hand. I love Clare’s choice of subjects, materials and the way she approaches collage. She uses scrap paper, fabric, magazines and photos to create her incredible artwork. The 30 projects are wonderful, I liked them all, and loved more than a few. This book gives you basic collage techniques. There is information on tools, techniques, how-to, composition, layering, stamping and colouring. This collage book is great for beginners. Make cards, pictures, notebooks, gift tags, journals and even home accessories. You will come up with your own unique artworks. Wonderfully illustrated throughout. I saw Clare’s work on social media and knew this was the book I wanted and it has not disappointed. Clare has a great sense of colour, layout and more, her work is inspiring. Find out how to start, create impact, use those pieces of paper – cut, copy,transfer and arrange. Instructions are general and can therefore be easily adapted to any size. It’s full of professional tips. The photos and line drawings make the projects easy to follow. Templates to enlarge are given at the back of the book – but why not make your own unique animals with your drawings? Use this fabulous book as a springboard. All the family could get together on these projects. I am happy to recommend this book.

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Create Your Own Improv Quilts by Rayna Gillman

Create Your Own Improv Quilts by Rayna Gillman, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617454448, price 23.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Modern Quilting With No Rules and No Rulers’this book shows you how to improvise to make modern quilts. It includes modern design, getting started, improvising in different ways, inspiration and a question and answer section. It’s all about cutting freehand, letting go of perfection, not following patterns but creating and experimenting. Rayna’s favourite two words are the maxim of many a designer ‘What if?’ In this book she looks at playing with shape. You’ll come to understand the way a designer’s mind works. It’s not quite 1,2,3, it’s more 1a or 1b, what if, oh yes 1c is better. It’s about looking at possibilities and knowing which one makes the best quilt, or if you have enough ideas for a series. Includes Improv Paper Piecing without patterns, wonky blocks and even using leftovers. There is an inspirational gallery too. Recommended.

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Book Review Quilting Row By Row by J White and E Hamilton

quiltingBook Review Quilting Row By Row by J White and E Hamilton, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617455926, price 20.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Skill building quilting in a row is designed to take you from beginner to expert. Each row involves different skills and techniques. Sometimes piecing a quilt can become a little monotonous or even boring – with this method, you stay involved and interested because you are doing different things each row. After tools and basic techniques, this book gets down to business, presenting 11 fun rows to quilt. Each row has full instructions and pictures. All the skills are seen in box, for example “using the 45┬░angle on a ruler”, or “accurate cutting”. You’ll learn too many techniques and skills to mention in detail but amongst them are Dresden Plates, Pinwheels, Paper Piecing, On Point, Flying Geese, Machine and Reverse Applique, Sashing, Borders and Finishing. There are also two bonus quilt designs. Great skill builder and a lot of scope for injecting your own ideas.

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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.