Posted on

Progress and only two weeks into the New Year

Progress is sometimes hard to come by. No matter how hard you try progress can be elusive. This happens in all walks of life and it certainly happens in textiles.

Sometimes it’s that the ideas will not come (never suffer with that one), often it’s not having the right materials and occasionally you are stumped in great need of a technique that you do not know.

Experimenting can help overcome this – trying out different things and thinking outside the box.

This second week of January 2019, I spent launching a brand new, exciting range of snowflake fabrics. There are a total of 16 mix n match fabrics in my new permanent range. I am delighted with these.

I also made great progress with my latest Winter Inspirations quilt at last. I am trying to ignore another idea I have had for a second winter quilt until much later in the year. This one has not followed my initial sketches too closely. I tried out an idea that does not work either, but I have a final design. I am hoping it comes together quickly now and will be added to the website by the end of the month.

I was more than pleased to return to hand quilting this week and a UFO that has been sitting there for a few months. I am hand stitching a patchwork jacket using a running stitch. The wadding is silk and the front is a patchwork of fabrics with a blue lining.

I finished a cardigan and hat and started knitting a cabled waistcoat. I have altered the basic stitch pattern to make it unique to me. I think this really is the last of my Rowan lightweight double knitting wool bought in the 1990s!

Enjoy your creative projects, whatever you are making. See you soon when I will be telling you of my first speaking engagement at a quilt show in April.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2019

Posted on

On the 7th day of January 2019

January new ecourse

I keep reminding myself that we are still in the first week of January 2019 and this is not a race. January is not known for go-getters! I’m out of the starting blocks and winning the race.

Notwithstanding, I have so far designed over 20 new fabrics. 17 of them are snowflake designs. Not all quite uploaded yet but I am getting there. As if that is not enough for one week’s work, I have also designed the Winter Inspirations quilt and what I have done so far is looking fantastic. This quilt, following on from the Summer Inspirations and Autumn Inspirations quilts, consists of several techniques. It is part of my Quilt As You Learn patterns. There is little more inspiring or confidence building than learning as you quilt. The patterns are a mix of tutorial and step by step photographic and written instructions. I am aiming to have this new quilt finished by the end of the month.

The fabrics have been designed for this quilt, although I am not using every design. They are available to buy with or without the pattern. Earlier in the week I designed some new rust inspired fabrics. I am also designing other new fabrics for the quilt above.

Elsewhere I went out to an exhibition in Lincoln. The Land, Sea and Air exhibition, I found a little disappointing.

My own exhibition of mainly paintings with some small textile pieces that are framed is at The Montgomery 25th January – 21st February 2019. It is in the cafe, which is open to the public at all times the Montgomery is open, whether the actual cafe is serving drinks or not. All works on show are available for sale.

The Colour ecourse has been launched and is a fantastic course for anyone who wants to learn about colour for quilters and textile artists. Learn how colours go together, what is right and wrong and most importantly something that no course tackles to my knowledge, how to go beyond the colour wheel.

More next week, stay creative.
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2019

Posted on

Best of 2018 Review

Best of 2018 Review. Yes there were good things about 2018 but it was more of a year that did not go according to plan.

What was the plan? With the ugly three-headed monster known as Brexit looming, I planned to travel. Big time. Travel like I had never travelled before. See as many places as I could. Workwise I had travel plans – travel means inspiration.

What went wrong? Through no fault of my own, I had next to no travel money, so I made it to the one place I had pre-booked – Lisbon. I for one am sincerely hoping that Brexit can still be blown away and I retain my freedom of movement.

I introduced so many new ecourses, tutorials and even quilt patterns that I began to feel like a one-woman factory churning out inspiration by the bucket load to an audience that is increasing day by day. I am feeling a positive flow of energy to my work.

My new website launched this year and an Instagram account. Both looking good and receptive people building daily. Phew – but this is like a job within a job. I want to design and I find myself wrapped up in social media. It’s tricky.

So let’s look at a few highlights. The current New In page of the website is looking fantastic with my new range of quilting fabrics. There are now seven inspirations ebooks. There are now several quilts and patterns for sale. I have just launched the Colour For Quilters ecourse. This extends my work done between 1996 – 2018 on colour in gardening. Colour is my thing. I am still dyeing and now printing my own fabrics.

Do I have plans for 2019? It’s more work for little miss workaholic and I aim to build that audience and get positive vibes and sales with new products. There’s everything to play for. See you on the other side. Stay tuned for more exciting textiles and quilts.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018 (just!)

Posted on

New Year New Quilt and Fabric Products Launched

I said I had a lot to finish and add to the website before the New Year and I am almost there. Just the new ecourses to add – Colour Confidence For Quilters and Hand Embroidery For Textile Artists. Looking forward to launch those before New Year’s Eve.

Yesterday I launched the new Bells of St. Clements quilt for sale. Alongside it the quilt pattern and tutorial was also launched. It is a bright and cheery design. This is the latest pattern in my Skill Builders and is also the Summer Inspirations quilt. You can see the quilt here and the pattern is here

I am also working on venues to offer courses in person again in 2019 anywhere in the country or overseas if possible. Some courses are listed on the website. Remember you can travel with me to India for blocking printing workshops in Jan 2020. Sign up here. You can also sign up directly on the Colouricious website. They have been running tours successfully for more than 10 years.

Ready to launch are 17 new fabrics inspired by stained glass and tiles. These fabrics are unique and designed by me. I am listing them now under digital fabrics on the website.They are most suitable for the Cathedral Windows projects and tutorial.

As you can see I am concentrating on offering more fabric for quilters and more ecourses, patterns and tutorials for quilters and textile artists. It’s been a tough year but I am convinced that with my new, unique products and supplies, I will gain a foothold in the quilting market.

Just yesterday I block printed my first fabric for my new Winter Inspirations quilt that will be launched very soon. This will sell as printed panels and as metreage as well as a quilt kit. It is also hand dyed first, then block printed by hand.

I am looking forward to meeting many of you online, or in person throughout the New Year. Wishing everyone all the best.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Posted on

December Quilting Fabrics New Products Added

New quilting fabrics have been added to the store this week.

It seems to have been a very long week. I have managed to get some hand dyed cotton scrims into the store. I then added some digital fabrics, which are always very exciting.
Do take a look and tell all your friends.

Scrim is such an interesting fabric. It takes the dye very well. It is great for textile art projects. In the spring I have a new range of colours planned. One of my most popular fabrics is the undyed scrim. It could be used in art quilts or landscape quilts.

The digital fabrics can be printed onto many types of fabric including cotton, linen and silk. They are available direct from me size A3 or as metreage, which is sent out for printing. How I would love one of those printing machines. Please note that the new kaleidoscopes print as a square not as A3, unless you order metreage.

But it is the design of the fabrics that interests me most. Pattern design and surface design thrill me – colour, arrangement and elements all coming together. You cannot follow my work and not understand pretty soon that I love digital design. Playing with my photos and being able to print out my creations or sell my designs as fabric and more, has brought me great joy for many years now. I have no doubt that my digital designs will become a main feature on the website.

The scrim and other hand dyed and undyed fabrics can be seen here
They make superb gifts for anyone interested in crafts, handmade and making.

The digital fabrics can be seen here

I hope I can get back to working full time on my own work and concentrate on my livelihood in the New Year.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Posted on

New December Product Launches Textiles and Art

New December 2018 sees the launch of new textile and art products. This month has got off with a big bang. It isn’t fireworks. It’s all about what is new in my store.

The latest product was added on 1 December 2018. The art prompts inspiration ecourse This is an excellent way to get creating every day for 12 months for just 60 gbp. You’ll find a dedicated, closed fb group page plus booklets for every month. Lots of ideas to keep you creating throughout the year.

New knitting patterns have just been added to my Ravelry knitting pattern store. Keep checking back because a backlog means I am adding new patterns now. You will not want to miss the newest shawl pattern I have designed.

Those are the latest launches, so what does the rest of December have in store? The latest quilt will be finished and published as a quilting tutorial and pattern. The quilt itself will also be on sale. The next quilt is designed. I am hoping to get that launched this month too – that’s the Winter quilt design.

I shall very shortly be uploading the Winter Inspirations ebook. If you are looking for a Xmas gift for someone creative, this is perfect. Just 7 gbp for enough inspiration to keep you going for years. The Inspiration Churches ebook will be launched too and would also make the perfect gift.

Last of all, I think, I have another two ecourses to launch shortly – Colour for the Quilter (beyond the colour wheel) and Creative Hand Stitching. Check for details on the website.

Don’t forget that there are already many products already on the website – supplies, ebooks and ecourses that make the perfect Xmas gift for all your friends. You can also visit my Etsy store or artfinder store for gifts. I sure could do with the support.

Words, work and images Karen Platt 2018

Posted on

Sketchbook Work For Quilting Ideas

Sketchbook work is great for quilting ideas. You can work out blocks, motifs, collage, save templates and all sorts of things in a sketchbook.

The templates and a leaf from my autumn quilt were sitting on my sewing table. Actually I had removed my tool box from the sewing machine because the extension table is attached. Templates and the leaf were in the toolbox tray so as not to lose them.

Then I thought, I should create a little sketchbook to keep these safe and record the quilt. Now, it is best to do this before you make the quilt, not afterwards! However, I had designed it on odd bits of scrap paper and as I went along. I wanted a record of it.

I looked for a spare sketchbook, but alas no. You’ve already seen what I was doing with junk mail envelopes a little while ago – the C5 long ones. I also had quite a few large envelopes, I think they are D-something, anyway slightly larger than A5 paper size. This size would be perfect.

My main aim was to gather together key elements of the design and to save the templates. The centre of the quilt is log-cabin based, a leaf motif and hand stitched hexagons. So these were the elements I wished to record in my sketchbook.

I glued together envelopes for sturdiness and taped them together with washi tape. That wide one with the foxes kept tearing. Hexagons and log cabin designs were created in pencil crayon. Magazine images were cut up as hexagons – this was great fun and gave me an idea for another quilt. On these pages I also created pockets for the templates. I might add more in future – fabric scraps etc from the quilt. I found some thick card to make a cover and bind it all together.

I am now starting another sketchbook for my next new quilt.

You can see the quilt tutorial here and the quilt is for sale here.

Words, work and images Karen Platt 2018

Posted on

Quilt Pattern Making costs

Autumn Leaves quilt pattern

Quilt pattern making takes a lot of time, experimentation and ideas. There’s a lot said about the costs of making a quilt, but what about the costs of being a quilt designer? We all have followers looking for ideas – the ones who copy and purchase elsewhere, hoping no-one spots them as a free rider. Many designers offer some patterns for free to try to encourage buyers. I always think this is false economy and the idea of a non-business person. People who want freebies end there, they do not suddenly dip into their pocket and start paying out.

Please understand that most businesses do not happen overnight. Most have spent years and countless thousands building a website, brand, designing before they even set up shop. Of course, there are those that dip their toes in and maintain a job, part or full-time whilst creating. I am a full-time designer maker, so I have given all to my craft, in the hope of making a small living. If I don’t sell, I don’t eat – it is as simple as that.

The costs involved in running a small business are:

Website domain, design, hosting, email, back up and these costs can vary enormously. Mine are minimal, I have a back-up drive and I am fortunate that my son helps with website design.
How you are going to sell patterns, quilts etc needs to be considered carefully in the light of VAT on automatic downloads and soon to be on physical goods. If we Brexit, the hard-earned limit achieved mostly by the work of one brilliant lady, Clare Josa, will be wiped out. So you might be forced to use Payhip or similar to send out patterns and cost that in too. Then you might have fees such as PayPal or stripe fees, it all adds up.
Software for design if needed, personally I do not use it currently.
Memberships – it’s good to belong to established groups etc to get noticed but also to have a sense of belonging. You might also wish to subscribe to industry standard magazines.

All this adds up to several thousands pounds a year. Divide by the price of a pattern, and you are left with how many patterns you need to sell, just to break even – that’s no profit yet at all.

Imagine your overheads are 1500 a year – that’s quite conservative and assumes you are working from home not a rented studio. If your patterns are 12 pounds each, then you need to sell 125 patterns a year to break even. That sounds like nothing if you are not used to selling. So let’s put it into context – the average paperback book from a good publisher sells only 2000 copies a year and it is in just about every book shop, physical and brick and mortar imaginable. You are one person with a small website lost at sea.

If you need outside help producing patterns such as editor, graphic designer, tester – these are not cheap and have to be costed in too. One thing you will always have to spend on is the fabrics to make a sample quilt and this is expensive (unless you are fortunate enough to have a company provide them for you). I am not. I spend well over 120 pounds on a test quilt. Then there is the wear and tear on tools including your sewing machine, at some point they all need to be repaired/replaced and if you have not factored a small percentage into every pattern, then you have no money to do that with. I still have not added anything for my time. Add these costs to the above and you can see with fabrics etc alone and no outside help, I need to sell another 10 patterns to break even.

Which brings me on to the main cost – one that is often overlooked, but absolutely necessary. Advertising. Word of mouth is great, but believe me you can be dead before anyone has said Karen who? Advertising costs big bucks and newbies often go wrong placing an ad here and there. Consistency brings results with advertising. So look at places where you can get your name around for free. You should plough some of your profits back into advertising and building awareness of your brand. How long is a piece of string? In my first year, I used my own savings to book a stand at the Festival of Quilts. The total expense including leaflets and accommodation of being there was over a thousand pounds. Whatever your advertising costs are has to be added into the mix and it is probably going to be your single most expensive factor because without it, no-one is going to know about you. That means over a 100 extra patterns before I break even.

I am already wondering why I am doing this!!! Then you have to remember if you are selling wholesale, you will be lucky to get 50% of the pattern price, so you have to double the number of items you sell to break even.

Do you earn enough to be taxed? Do you use an accountant? These costs too need to be factored in.

Then there is what you pay yourself. Forget the average wage, unless you are very lucky it is probably unachievable, at least in the early years. Minimum pay is a possibility, but unlikely that you would achieve it over the course of 37.5 hours a week for a year. The minimum wage in the UK works out at 15,269 per year (according to 2017 statistics). That is a low wage, difficult to live on. Even at this level, I would have to sell 1273 patterns. That is 25 patterns a week direct. Again it does not sound like much, but it is.

At my age and with my experience, it would not be unlikely to expect to earn 30 to 40,000 or more. But this would mean at least 50 pattern sales a week.

To cover my household costs and overheads I would need to sell at least 12 patterns a week before I even start to pay myself. It is an uphill struggle.

But designers sell patterns to magazines and must make thousands you say? Many patterns are obtained by magazines for free in exchange for ‘publicity’.

It’s hard to justify freebies. Please dip into your pockets quilters. It is hard to fathom why people are willing to pay for sewing machines, every tool imaginable and mountains of fabrics they are not even going to use, but that they expect a pattern to be free. So please be kind to pattern makers.

Take a look at my quilt patterns. Any support, no matter how small, not only means I can eat, but that you made my heart sing! Thank you.

Posted on

Blog Review of the Week

The blog is a review of my week. Sadly not only did I do something to my back but I am now struggling with energy levels. Despite that I have soldiered on a little and here is the blog with all the latest from your truly.

Where I hoped I would have had another quilt finished entirely – I am still sewing together 4 small strips of tiny half square triangles – not my best news of the week.

I have had better luck with knitting. Not only was I able to finish another hat and get the pattern uploaded to Ravelry but I have also started something that has been high on my list for a long time – a black lace sweater. I found that if I kept my arms as still as possible, I could knit for a while.

Otherwise it has been some writing, with ditto about keeping arms as still as possible! I just find it hard to rest, I have to be doing something. So I launched the fabulous Autumn Inspirations and started work on Winter Inspirations. If you are any kind of artist looking for inspiration or ideas, I am giving you oodles of that in the wonderful ebooks. All my own photos that you can use as you wish. They also contain some of my work.

Elsewhere, the Colour Confidence For Quilters ecourse is almost finished. I really hope quilters will take this to heart because people slavishly follow the colour wheel and I am here to show you that there is a better way to use colour.

One more ecourse almost ready is the Drawing For Textiles one. I am giving you a sneak peek of how you can begin to draw with my exciting new ecourse. So lots more still to come this month.

Meantime, I think I should lay down on a solid board! Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Posted on

Progress Update – What Is Coming In The Next Month?

This is a progress update of new products and more. Even the smallest progress has to be acknowledged as a step in the right direction. Even though I am not quite where I wanted to be, I am making progress towards that goal.

Last week I added my first in a new series of Learn As You Quilt patterns and tutorials. You can find all the tutorials here. This week I almost completed two new ecourses that will launch this month – the long awaited one on COLOUR, and a new one on DRAWING FOR TEXTILES. These will be launched any time now here.

I made progress with my new quilt – tiny half square triangles have been made. A few problems to solve there. One round of triangles stitched into a row is not as long as the quilt, so I have to make a decision on positioning. Also still do not have the wadding yet.

There are now two knitting designs finished but not written up and launched. I have started another of my hats. I am thinking I might try payhip for the patterns although Ravelry seems the obvious choice.

The UFOs are mounting, so I must get those tackled this month. It is going to be a busy time. Number one on the list is the hand stitched quilt, it is so near the end and will allow me to launch the Hand Stitched Quilt tutorial.

I am also starting the Winter Quilt, the second in my Learn As You Quilt tutorials. I am very excited about this project. It will, of course, include the things I love about winter, but not be a Christmas quilt. I am not fond of quilts that you can only use for a short space of time.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018