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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

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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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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

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Exclusive – How To Really Cost a Quilt

Anyone who has studied business should be aware of how to cost a product. However, for some makers that are usually hobbyists or makers for friends or for anyone who is baffled, here is the ultimate low-down on how to cost that quilt.

A few guidelines to start with, which should go without saying but you’d be surprised! Ensure you are actually proficient enough to make a product for sale. Many times I have seen posts on social media saying ‘My friend wants to buy this. How much should I charge?’ Sadly the accompanying photo is one of a crumpled, badly made object.

Be professional. If you are not up to making a quilt at ‘for sale’ standard, then do not accept payment. If you can do it, then charge accordingly. Never think this is pin money or a hobby.

Business Practice
Far too many people think they can sell without telling the tax man. Do not do it. Even if it is for friends and family, you could be in violation of business law. Ask the taxman, they will tell you if you are taxable. Be aware that selling on Etsy, eBay, Facebook and other social sites means you can be found. Be honest.

Accepting A Commission
1. Can you produce exactly what the person is asking for?
2. Who is providing the materials? If it is the purchaser – you need to ensure they are providing you with top quality materials, or you need to exempt yourself from the results of washing etc with regard to different materials that shrink at different rates; thin, worn materials that might fall apart; material that might colour bleed. I much prefer to select materials myself.
3. Delivery – is it a realistic time schedule? Ideally you want to set the delivery date yourself but it must be agreed. If it is imposed upon you and you cannot meet the deadline, you could be in breach of contract.
4. Ensure you know what is being asked of you with regard to size, fabric, binding, and any other requirements.
4. You will need to be specific about cost. There is no reason, if you are producing a professional product that you should not charge accordingly. Quilting is a skill that is often under-rated. Some quilts are quicker to make than others.
5. Get it in writing and produce two copies, one for the buyer to keep and the other for your records. Ensure both copies are signed.

Working Out The Cost
There is much more to costing a quilt than one thinks (especially buyers!), so ensure you factor in everything.
A. Materials – fabric, wadding, quilt label, thread, one sewing needle, rotary cutting blades. Anything used in the quilt, which cannot be used is charged at cost. Some makers might factor in a small profit margin here. You have taken the time to purchase these goods and need to add shipping costs too. Things that are purchased but can be used several times over such as sewing machines and tools are assets and for these you would factor in a percentage of the cost of the tools and machinery you have had to buy to make that quilt – that specialist ruler, the longer machine. My advice is use the best fabrics available and charge accordingly. You are producing a heirloom, something that will last a lifetime and beyond. Include any embellishments such as buttons etc.
B. One day you will have to replace that machine. Factor in a percentage of your running costs, including servicing and repairs. Also factor in a cost for electricity and any other running costs. If you have a website or pay for advertising or exhibitions, then factor a percentage of these in too. It is a matter of working out how many quilts you will sell a year, dividing your running costs by that number and finding out the running costs per quilt.
C. Design cost if applicable including any meetings and delivery time.
D. Time to make the quilt – again be professional, charge the going rate. The minimum you should charge is the minimum hourly rate for your age. You might wish to add more for experience, complexity of design. If you are a slow quilter, you might like to charge the bare minimum. If it takes you 3 hours to do what it takes most people one hour, then one hour would be the charge. What I would not advise anyone to do is just charge 50 pounds or just times the materials by two or whatever nonsense someone has told you. This undermines professionals and demeans quilting as a whole.
E. Are you taxable? Take into account the amount you will have to pay in tax.
F. Do you belong to any quilting associations that you have to pay for? Factor a small percentage in.
G. Add delivery costs if the quilt is not being collected in person.
H. Profit margin? That’s your time spent quilting at the hourly rate you have set. If you are embarrassed about your hourly rate when questioned, then just give the price for the quilt as a whole. You might want to factor in a small percentage for extras.
I. What if things go wrong? So you thought that quilt would take 20 hours and the machine was not working right and you had to unpick. The truth is that it is hard to cost this in – your buyer is not to blame. It is however wise to factor in a couple of hours extra on every quilt so that over time, if things do go wrong or simply take longer than you thought, you are covered.
J. You cannot price-match major retailers and mass-produced quilts, so just concentrate on providing a unique quilt with a personal service, made with love. At the end of the day there is a limit to what the market will pay, but this may be much higher than you think if you have identified your market correctly.

Be aware of what is tax deductible when you declare your income:
If you are using part of your home to make a living, you can claim a percentage of heat/light/telephone etc. Know that if you use part of your home exclusively for business, such as a home studio that has no other purpose, that you can be liable for Capital Gains tax when you sell your home. So sometimes it is better to use the kitchen or spare bedroom. The products you buy to make the quilt are tax deductible as allowable expenses. The assets, you are allowed to take a percentage until such time that they are defunct, sold or replaced.

Copyright Karen Platt 2018