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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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Quilts as an Art Form

Quilts as an Art Form

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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Designing Your Own Quilt

Designing your own quilt does not seem to occur to most quilters. Think of the millions of quilters around the world and how few actually design. It can also be said that some designers do not quilt, that goes for other textile areas too like knitting.

I am a hands-on designer and quilter. I do prefer the design aspect. I respect that you think you might not have the skills to design your own quilt, but those skills can be learned. Wherever you live, take a look at my ecourses

Top five skills designing skills (but remember they can be learned!)

1. Creativity

2. Understanding fabric, texture and placement

3. Strong sense of colour

4. Sewing skills

5. Problem solving

If you can piece and follow quilting patterns, chances are you can design your own quilt. Being a quilt designer is a bit like being a juggler. You also have to add in a bit of you, a bit of magic, something that makes your work stand out from the crowd. This comes with practice.

Of course you can design with software these days, which eliminates some of the skills, but learning to design is a fascinating subject and one I urge you to try. Designing your own quilt is so satisfying.

If you need a certificate, your choices are a University or C&G course. As funding is being withdrawn, I believe some of the C&G courses are ending shortly. Typically a University design degree will cost around 10,000 pounds. A C&G course Level 1 costs around 900 pounds for the academic year (i.e. not a full year). Both of these give you recognised qualifications.

My own Quilting Design course is a full 12 months for under 500 pounds and includes more than C&G Level 1. As a fully qualified and trained teacher, I develop my own ecourses
and teach in person too. I also offer a good range of shorter courses and skill-based courses. New courses are being added all the time.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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My Year Offering Quilting ecourses

Summer Quilted Wall Hanging Quilt Kit

As a quilt designer I have taken the route of offering quilting ecourses. There are also other routes I can pursue – the doors are open far and wide.

It’s one of the first decisions you have to make as a professional – which path to follow and build upon. I chose teaching because I am a fully qualified and experienced teacher. I wanted to bring ecourses within the reach of the many not the few. I have not cut corners, just costs.

I started offering quilt design ecourses just over a year ago to start in September 2017. My first group of wonderful ladies finish their ecourse in the first week of September. It’s all gone very well, with good feedback. FOQ helped to publicise the ecourses, the feedback and interest were fantastic.

So where to for 2019 and beyond? I am offering in situ courses in a number of places, and looking for other places to offer courses too, see the website under ecourses, the link is above. I am also working on videos to expand the desirability of the ecourses. If you are looking to learn, please take a look at that section of the website – so much more than just design, I cover many aspects of patchwork and quilting.

So where to next? One of my desires was to produce my own fabrics – costs are a little preventative, but I can still produce hand dyed fabrics, so I shall develop one-off art cloths to be used in quilting. The kits are developing too alongside a range of unique quilts. I am creating my own quilt style now. Ones that build quilting skills. This second year will be building on the good foundations of 2017-2018. Wish me luck! The culmination will hopefully be a show quilt at FOQ 2019 and better recognition for all my hard work.

I finished 2 full-size quilts, one almost full-size, 4 lap quilts, at least 3 art quilts and 3 Cathedral Windows quilts. I am working on a new skill builder quilt design.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
Karen Platt teapot quilt series

Karen Platt tea quilt series

Karen Platt elephant quilt

Karen Platt bird quilt

My Year Offering Quilting ecourses
Karen Platt Quilt along

hand dyeing Karen Platt

One Block Wonder Quilt Karen Platt

One Block Wonder Quilt Karen Platt

My Year Offering Quilting ecourses
strip quilting, pre-cuts
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Tips for entering the Festival of Quilts and Other Quilt Competitions

Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

Tips for quilt competitions including FOQ.
I know a lot of quilters at some point decide to enter a competition, so I wanted to offer some sound advice as a teacher and designer.

1. Follow the competition guidelines.
2. Ask the organisers if you are unsure about anything.
3. Design for the category you are entering – some shows will re-categorise your quilt if you did not get it right, others will simply reject it. So read the description carefully and follow accordingly. Here are the categories for FOQ 2018, check that they do not change. Other shows have very similar categories.
4. If it is not all your own work, if you had help in some way – say so.
5. If you used a pattern name the designer and pattern.
6. Understand the system of judging. Here is the link for judging for FOQ for example.
7. Take note of the way your quilt will be hung.
8. Check postage and insurance (these are sometimes included in the cost of entry.
9. Check the deadline for entry.
10. Check the deadline for submitting your quilt and for picking it up.

Ask yourself if you are ready to make a competition quilt. The standards are high.
1. How long have you been quilting?
2. Are you neat, accurate and precise?
3. Can you make a straight quilt with equal sides?
4. Can you design? Ok you can use a pattern, but in my book that is cheating!
5. Be honest about your abilities and work to your strengths.
6. Have you exhibited a quilt before?
7. Can you do it in the time available? It is best not to overstretch yourself.
8. Look at past galleries of quilts from previous shows, especially winners. It will give you an idea of the standard expected.

Tips for quilt size
Each category in a competition has a size to work to. Measure carefully including binding if your quilt has it. For mini quilts or wall hangings, you could make a card template and check your size. Ensure if they are working in inches that you measure in inches, or in centimetres if that is what they have stipulated. Conversion can lead to inaccuracies. For example 12 inches (the size for miniatures) is normally taken to be 30cm, but accurate measurement means it is more than this, only marginally, but worth checking.

I have been a designer for over 40 years and offer ecourses in textiles and quilt design, workshops overseas as well as tutorials, blog and more. Online ecourses means you can enjoy them wherever you live.

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Festival of Quilts – Best in Show – My Choice

Festival of Quilts Dyeing Countdown 5

Festival of Quilts – these quilts were the best in the show for me. My choice not that of the judges. I often look at the winners and think why? Every person deserves recognition for entering – it is a huge feat to make a show quilt, so well done to everyone who entered. Apparently there were 700 quilts hung at this year’s exhibition. That’s quite some eye candy. I did not see them all, let alone photograph them all. Some I did photograph were not there for judging anyway – they were in the galleries.

I am going to start with one of those galleries, because the very best quilts I saw at the show were the work of Shizuko Kuroha, a Japanese quilt artist whose quilts are undoubtedly an art. Her gallery was simply amazing.

For me, nothing quite compared, even though many of the quilts were fantastic, Shizuko’s quilts were the highlight of the show. However, there were many I liked.

I loved this quilt but designers’ names were still hidden during the judging process, hence I do not know the maker. It was the roses that did it for me.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

This was another I just fell in love with, this time it was the colour and quilting that stood out for me.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

The Cairo tentmakers were there this year and with my strong connections to Islamic architecture, ceramics and calligraphy, I could not resist.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

If you have never seen the Cairo tentmakers, enjoy this documentary

I love Susan Briscoe’s book on the 1718 coverlet, so was very excited to see the interpretations at the show. My choice was not the same as the judges however. This was my favourite by Jennifer Fletcher:
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

Two favourites at the show were not wall or bed quilts but art quilts, the peacock by Nikki Parmenter, an incredible artist. In my humble opinion this kind of quilting simply does not get enough media cover at the shows.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

The other was the incredible work of Kathy Knapp. It just took my breath away.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

The show is very heavily traditional based and there were wholecloth quilts that were stunning. Sandy Chandler’s Cachemire was amazing. It is often difficult at the show, especially if you have never used one, to know what has been long armed and what has been made in the traditional way. Sandy is a longarm quilter.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

I loved Phillippa Naylor’s miniature quilt, such tiny pieces, all so very neat.
Festival of Quilts - Best in Show - My Choice

I could go on and on, but I will make the last image one of my own (the main image above), shown on my stand for the very first time. Visitors comments were ‘amazing, brilliant, fantastic, impressive’. My OBW quilt tutorial can be found online.

If you are thinking of exhibiting next year, why not join my design ecourse, wherever you live, this course is taken online at your own pace with tutor involvement and will help iron out the problems facing many quilters – colour, options, balance, arrangement and all aspects of quilt design.

Next week the blog will be all about my first year as a professional quilting tutor.

Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2018. Quilts copyright the individual makers.

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Festival of Quilts The Golden Rules of Exhibiting

exhibiting at FOQ 2018Festival of Quilts – my lowdown on the ins and outs, up and downs of exhibiting.

I exhibited for the first time at the Festival of Quilts this year that ended today 12 August 2018. I am sure it is a dream of many amateur quilters as well as professionals like myself. It was a huge learning curve and I had exhibited before both with knitting and gardening, but had forgotten some of the golden rules. So here are a few tips for all budding exhibitors:

1. Exhibiting is more about getting your name around than making sales

2. Basically you are ready to exhibit when your business has surplus cash and your accountant (if you have one) tells you that you have a large tax bill and it’s a good time to do a promotion

3. If you are a hobbyist, do not even think of a show like this – it is extremely expensive and not for non-professionals. You need a professional display and this is a learning curve.

4. What do I mean by expensive? The smallest stand will cost in excess of 1,000 pounds and you might only get a tenth of that back (like I said it is not about sales). Sellers deserve every sale because without them the show would not exist.

5. In addition do not forget electricity, card reader, hotel, travel costs to and from the show, food, parking (that alone cost me over 40 pounds for two nights when my helper came and insurance (obligatory). You will also need promotional materials and banners etc. reliable internet connection is charged as an extra. Do not make your leaflets and literature date or show specific.

6. Long days are hard on the legs, staring at the opposite wall if you hate this sort of thing. You have to be willing to engage often unwilling visitors and have stamina and a lot of patience. Just set up and take down are a nightmare. I think meeting people is the most enjoyable experience. A competition might engage people and be a talking point.

7. Don’t forget to get across your message and communicate.

8. A professional stand means potential customers will engage. No handwritten signs and make sure all quilts displayed are of a professional standard.

9. Have someone with you so that you can have a rest, go and eat and use the loos without worrying about your stand.

10. Don’t believe everything people say about shows. There are lots of people who talk of nothing but theft at the shows, I did not have anything stolen. It is tough work and hard to recover the costs of exhibiting, no matter how hard you work. Sadly most people visit for ideas, yet the trade stands are the only reason the show exists. Have a range of items from low cost upwards to hopefully make sales. Above all enjoy it, it is an unforgettable experience. Just enjoy it.

Next week – don’t miss my pick of the best of the show.

Images have been posted in the Quilting Design Course fb group, for those who are members.

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Festival of Quilts Countdown 6

Festival of Quilts Countdown 6

Festival of Quilts. It’s the final countdown. The show starts on Thursday and I have to have the stand ready at the end of Wednesday for the big day. It’s been all work and no play here. I am well and truly exhausted.

I’ve done so much sewing of quilts, I am not sure if I can remember it all. I finished all the small textile quilted pictures. I even fitted in a new one yesterday. It was a week of ‘how do I finish this?’ Often we ask ourselves the question ‘Is this finished or does this need something else?’ Fortunately I found just what I needed. The bird quilt was enhanced with some applique.

I ironed again and folded all the hand dyed fabrics. Just that alone took hours and hours. I made labels for the work. I have dyed and cut more fabric.

It’s all looking good. There are one or two unfinished quilts but I am only human. The unfinished new quilt and hand stitched calico quilt will either go as samples or as photos – I have not decided which yet. It all rather depends on how it fits into the transport.

I have spent my day today designing posters for the back wall of the stand at the show and finishing the brochure. I also framed two quilts and blocked two quilts onto canvas.

Great news is I will be promoting the textile quilting holidays that I am leading. I am teaching in France in November this year – on the 5th for a week – quilting inspired by the Romanesque churches of the Charente region, and the following week, commencing the 12th, I am teaching cave paintings on a variety of fabrics.

In January 2020, I am leading a tour for block printing in Jaipur, India. Come and join me. See you on Stand C5 at the show.

I will try to blog from the show, but no promises.
Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts Dyeing Countdown 5

Festival of Quilts Dyeing Countdown 5

It’s been a week of dyeing. In my penultimate post before the Festival of Quilts 2018, I would like to show you some of the fabrics I have been dyeing for the show. All unique, all hand dyed, mostly one-offs.

I must admit not only is it a feat to be dyeing this quantity here in my kitchen and get it dried and ironed, but it has also taken it out of me and as I write, I am not feeling well. I have a little more to do and then I will relax before the show. Some of these fabrics are very large pieces and I think it is handling them when wet that is the problem for me.

Nevertheless I am cheered by the results. There is a lovely one drying at the moment. Mainly procion dyed, but also some turmeric dyed calico, I just love that sunshine colour. It is so happy.

I also managed to finish the three OBW quilts and write the tutorial, so that is great news too. It went up online today.

I pinned one new quilt to the design wall, this needs a design and some cutting I think. However, my main objective is to get the first quilt finished that I started for the show last November. I did not like what I had done and it was not until this week that the answer finally hit me. It also needed more hand stitching and with not feeling well, I have had to go slow. I am resigned to the fact, for the moment, that the other hand stitch projects might not be quite finished for the show, but at least, health permitting, I will get this new quilt finished.

The day is drawing near, I look forward to meeting you on Stand C5 for ecourses, quilts, fabrics and much more.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts Countdown 4

Quilting Progress
It seems like not much to report this week but progress has been made – it’s just that I was quilting and finishing quilts rather than, for me, the most exciting part of designing new ones.

As I post this Monday morning – Two black OBW quilts are completely finished. The third one, the pink quilt, is finished on the machine quilting front. I still have the binding to do.

I also started hand stitching a few more hexagons. I’ve gone through no they do not join, to yes they do, back to no they do not. I know how to get this to work, but I am exploring a different design for them.

Behind the Scenes
Apart from quilting, taking a trade stand involves a lot more behind the scenes work. Thinking about the design of the space, how to hang quilts, pricing up products. Remembering to order everything and have ready all types of hanging etc. This takes up so much time. This week I designed and had printed the leaflets. You can see all ecourses and tutorials here

What will this week bring?
With just under three weeks to go, I am tempted to finish another quilt. The first one that I designed for the show. This was going to be my showcase so it would be nice to finish it. First task with that is cutting more hexagons or as I said above, changing the design. This is a multi-technique quilt to give your skills a workout. Also on the work schedule are all the wall hangings that need finishing and mounting. That’s a priority too. I am also working on either a BOM, Quilt challenge or something that people can sign up to. I shall be designing this next week. I am thinking about a competition too – this is a great opportunity for visitors. It’s all working out so well. Stand C5 9-12th August at the NEC.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
Festival of Quilts Countdown 4

Festival of Quilts Countdown 4

Festival of Quilts Countdown 4