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Festival of Quilts Dyeing Countdown 5

hand dyeing Karen Platt

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

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Festival of Quilts Quilting Countdown 3

Quilting countdown for the festival made great progress this week. My aim last week was to finish more quilt tops, then in the last ten days before the show to quilt everything. The hot weather is still playing a part in how much quilting I can get done. Therefore I took the decision this weekend to actually start quilting.

It was therefore a week of straightening up, making borders, backing, pinning layers and actually getting on to that machine and quilting. This is the reason for the throat space and walking foot attachment. I highly recommend you get a walking foot if you do not already have one.

I had a slight hiccup attaching the walking foot. It just would not fit. When I re-read the instructions, I understood what I was doing wrong. I had removed the usual presser foot but not the foot holder. I also have the guide attachment to help keep stitching straight, but I did not attach it this time as I am following the triangles on the quilt itself.

I had attempted to quilt on the Singer Confidence without a walking foot – I am still trying to unpick it. It’s so annoying. I have to admit I was nervous. In fact that was the reason for putting off the quilting. I just had to bite the bullet.

I tested that my needle was not hitting the walking foot plate. I also tested a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric and off I went. It was just great I am relieved to say. Much easier than I imagined. I am not working on a full-size quilt, just a lap quilt. This is the way to start for all you beginners. My beginners ecourse will show you how.

When I am not on the sewing machine, I am quilting by hand. The hexagons is one new quilt design I am trying to finish for the show. If you wish to learn quilt design, this is the ecourse for you.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts 2018 Countdown 2

My second post about work for the Festival of Quilts 2018.

I was beaten by the weather last week. However I now have three quilt tops ready for quilting. The two dark OBW quilts, and the pink one featured here. That feels like an achievement.

It was a week of straightening off fabric, cutting borders and attaching. Sewing backing. I like this finishing off period. Somehow it is very calming in contrast to the frenzy of piecing. Although there is still the frenzy of making sure everything is ordered for the festival.

Before I change to the walking foot, there are at least two more quilt tops in preparation. I would like to get these finished too. I have about two weeks to work on these. That will leave me two weeks to quilt five quilt tops. Sounds like a plan.

Happy quilting everyone. See you on Stand C5 at the biggest quilt show of the year in the U.K., Festival of Quilts, NEC 8-12 August 2018.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts 2018

quilting design Festival of Quilts

The Festival of Quilts 2018 is fast approaching. It’s all systems go here as I prepare for my stand C5. I am finding it very exciting but nerve-wracking.

From one aspect, I am totally prepared – I will finish at least three quilts. From another aspect, these are totally not what I thought I would be doing. They are all OBW quilts. This has actually been a huge learning curve. I got waylaid by OBW, which at one point I termed One Block Nightmare. I have mastered it now, enough to write my own take on it. Maybe one day I will do another, but not now.

I am hoping to have time to inject ‘something of me’ into the work on the stand. I am essentially a designer. I make to try things out I am far more interested in the design than the quilt – colour, form, texture than producing a finished product. I originally designed 6 new quilts for the show – none of which are made yet.

Design spills over in my desire to create fabulous fabrics too. This is the week to get my paints out and create some unique fabrics for the show. I am so looking forward to this.

The other aspect of my work is to bring modern design into hand stitched quilts – this is a long process as I am doing all the hand stitching. I manage about two hours a day. Yes, I have sore fingers!

Finally, my output is to teach you what I know. I do that in my online freebies, through this blog, tutorials and my ecourses. Nothing gives me more pleasure than passing my knowledge on to people who want to learn. Come and meet me at the Festival of Quilts 2018, on Stand C5 and sign up for an ecourse or buy some fabulous unique fabrics, a kit or finished product.

The brand new quilting and patchwork ecourse for beginners is just been launched today at the special introductory and FOQ show price.

words and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
quilting design Festival of Quilts

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Looking After Your Sewing Machine

Looking after your sewing machine is the one things us quilters are apt to forget. We want to sit and stitch, but to do so effectively, your machine needs a little love. That means cleaning regularly.

How often is that? Recommendations vary from after finishing sewing for the day, to after you complete a project, to once a month and so on. It all depends on how often you use your machine and how long for each time you do use it.

Tip:
Sewing machines work better if they are used almost every day.

Modern sewing machines
A modern machine often has the advantage of you not having to oil it. It will have been oiled at the factory with sufficient lubricant. If you have an older machine, refer to your manual for how and when to oil. For most of us, that is the oiling taken care of.

However, every sewing machine needs cleaning. The exterior is easy to keep clean. Just wipe with a damp cloth. It is also advisable to keep your machine covered, out of direct sunlight and not in extremes of temperature.

Even the best sewing cotton thread makes tiny particles of ‘dust’ called lint. Lint gathers in and around the bobbin case out of sight. Again refer to your manual for cleaning. Basically you will be removing the plate (keep the screws safe) and usually the bobbin casing. Use the small brush that came with your machine to clean any lint. Never blow the lint, this will disperse it and it may go into the machine, where it should not be. Also clean the back of the sewing needle and where the spool of cotton sits.

N.B. If you are using fleece it will cause more lint that quilting cottons.

This will enable your machine to run smoothly and there should be no problems at your yearly service.

Sometimes your machine will become noisy or may even skip stitches. If you have not cleaned it for a long time, check to see if a good clean makes a difference before ringing a service engineer.

Copyright Karen Platt 2018

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New Products Six Month Retrospective of Art, Craft and Textiles

New products – a look back at the last six months. I have worked so hard on my core skills of writing, teaching and publishing. Here are the new products:

The last six months have seen me create a brand new website of new products

In the last six months, I have launched six new ebooks providing inspiration for artists in every field. These include numerous photos you can use to create your own work, no matter what kind of artist you are. The ebooks also include examples of my work (these cannot be used but can inspire). The six titles are
1. Skies
2. Rust
3. Bark
4. Lichen
5. Coast
6. Stone and Strata
They can all be viewed here
The next title in preparation is Desert.

My digital work receives a lot of interest. The question I am most asked is ‘How did you do that?’. To answer that I created an Advanced Photoshop ecourse. It is Advanced in that it takes a few processes but is still simple to use and produce the effects I do. You can purchase it here.

As my main focus is now quilting, there are many ecourses and tutorials I have created for quilters. I am still finishing the writing of two ecourses for hand quilting, which will be launched shortly together with a beginner’s quilting course. I have been busy hand dyeing and rust dyeing fabric too. I intend to expand the range further. These are found under the supplies section of the website.
A future focus will be an ecourse in colour and themed work.

My main focus for the next two months is getting ready to take part in the Festival of Quilts for the first time and to showcase my ecourses and quilt kits. You will find me on Stand C5, come and say hello.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Quilting Is Fun And Enjoyable For All

Why is quilting fun? Two weeks have gone by without a blog post. I apologise – the first week was missed because I was in fabulous Newcastle, discovering Hadrian’s Wall. I thought I had wifi, but it was iffy in the hotel, so that plan fell apart. Then I simply forgot the second week! It’s been hell on wheels here. So normal service is resuming today.

I have been stitching I promise. So this week’s post is all about how much fun it is to quilt. I do so love quilting on so many levels. Sometimes we look at incredible quilts and doubt our own ability – just keep going, you will learn with every quilt you make.

1. Choosing fabrics is part of the fun. Try to keep it within what you would use in a lifetime.
2. You really can indulge your love of colour.
3. Quilting is for all – no matter what your experience, you can achieve finished products on one level or another.
4. You can play with design – each quilt can be totally different from the last. So the enjoyment is endless.
5. You can sit at the machine for a few minutes and achieve something.
6. Hand quilting is totally portable.
7. Everyone has a favourite bit – whether it is designing (that’s me), piecing or actual quilting, binding etc. Just enjoy the process. Start small.
8. You want to go wonky – yeah, you can be wonky. Wonky log cabins, wonky houses. Wonky can rule.
9. Every day can be a quilting day.
10. There is always something to keep your interest – new techniques, new fabrics, something you have not tried yet.

What is your favourite bit of this exciting craft?

On my travels I spotted these quilts at Beverley Minster.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Quilting Sewing Machines Buy The Best You Can Afford

Quilting sewing machines is all about using the best tools to help you on your way. I am often struck by just how expensive quilting can be. Buying sewing machines is the biggest single expense. You might be tempted to cut corners with your budget as well as snipping off those corners to turn a piece! Let me persuade you that this is not a good idea.

Sewing Machines
Yes, any sewing machine can do straight stitch. Technically that is all you need for quilting, so why not buy the cheapest machine you can afford? Cheaper machines tend to not be able to cope with the demands of quilting. I had a Singer Confidence when I started and because I sewed infrequently, it lasted 7 years. When I started stitching more, it had problems. It did give me the confidence to sew. Sadly Singer machines are not what they used to be. I will never buy another. I upgraded to a Brother and the difference is amazing. Sadly we cannot all afford a Bernina.

Let’s look at a few problems with cheaper sewing machines:
1. Tension – getting your tension right can present a problem
2. Throat space – this was the reason I upgraded – fitting that full-size quilt into the throat space of a cheap end machine is going to cause problems – we will look more at this next week.
3. Durability – a cheap machine is just not designed to take the tear and wear of daily quilting.

Price is the main factor for many of us when choosing sewing machines. It is the reason why I chose the Singer Confidence. The 7470 at around 300 gbp seemed enough to pay to learn the basics of quilting and do my dressmaking. If it had not had technical problems with the computer side of things, I might still be using it. However, putting my first full size quilt through it was a nightmare. So I was almost relieved when it broke down.

What to buy? My, those sewing machines are expensive! It is not uncommon to pay more than 2,000 gbp for a sewing machine. Obviously, most of us are restricted by budget and my budget was much lower than that. I have to admit that I went to twice my budget for a dedicated quilting machine with that extra throat space. I do not regret it. What does annoy me is that with many of those machines, we are paying for fancy stitches we will never use. I did not get the machine of my dreams, but I do have a far superior machine to the one I had. Choose a sewing machine that’s right for you. Here are some tips to help you:

A. Test drive it. Buy from a reputable sewing machine specialist – speak to them, get a demonstration and try out the machine. Take a quilting sandwich and see how the machine handles the layers, not a single fabric.
B. Most manufacturers run offers from time to time, especially when a new model is coming out – you might get a bargain price on the older model. I saved 300 pounds and got a bundle of accessories as well as an extra accessory and the store had a bonus offer too, worth a total of over 120 pounds.
C. I would avoid online retailers for the most part. My machine was under guarantee, but the online retailer would not honour it.
D. If you do not have a sewing machine specialist retailer near you, many manufacturers have machines at exhibitions for you to see and try.
E. Talk to friends – what do they use? What do they really think about their machine?
F. Decide how often you sew, if you also want to embroider and choose a suitable machine.
G. Look for bargains on gumtree/ebay – people who have bought an expensive machine and decided it is not for them.

What is a quilting machine?
In general a quilting machine has a wider throat space, comes with feet that a dressmaking machine does not and has features that the latter does not. Usually it will have a better auto feed system. Quilting machines tend to be more expensive but the features are worthwhile.

Domestic v industrial
All domestic machines are intended for occasional use. None are guaranteed for use by a business. Consider an industrial machine – they are intended for daily use. Unfortunately, you’ll see the words ‘heavy duty’ on cheap machines. Juki are reliable and sturdy but tend to be straight stitch machines only.

Longarm
A longarm is probably most quilter’s dream machine for quilting full-size quilts. They take a lot of space and start at around 6,000 gbp.

Many reputable sewing machine retailers can offer finance, spreading the cost of buying your machine. Always check the small print.

Words copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Textiles Update Hand Knitting and Quilting

My current textiles work in progress and finished work. Just a quick pictorial update on what I have been making so far this month. I have knitted the back and half a sleeve of a wool sweater I have designed. It is my signature textured style. I am undoubtedly in love with cables. The knitting pattern will be available shortly.

The rest of my textiles work was all quilting. I made a crazy quilted picture. I have decided I like it the other way round, but it was designed this way to fit a frame, so this way it will stay! I added embellishments and it will have a narrow ribbon border so that it fits the mount. Easy enough to do – draw the mount size on paper or fusible wadding/interfacing/web and add half inch all round. This is your design space. Add fabrics as desired and stitch in place.For this piece I worked without any kind of interfacing and added fabrics one by one.

I am also working on a new oranges and lemons quilt, but have not photographed yet. Just finished the cutting stage. Today I started making fabric decisions for a new quilt to be mounted onto a canvas box frame. I was going for blue but changed my mind and I know just what fabric is missing now. Thank heavens for stash.

In the evenings, I continue to work on my hand stitched calico quilt. One border is finished and the quilt is now sashed. Plenty of sore fingers there.

These finished textiles quilt designs and more will be on my Festival of Quilts Stand C5 8-12 August 2018. See you there.

Yes, textiles design often looks as messy as that pile of fabric 🙂 I do stash neatly, honest!

Happy making.

Designs, photos and words copyright Karen Platt 2018