Autumn is well and truly here and last week I finished the new autumn quilt, so it is already to launch. If you do not have the pennies to buy a finished quilt, I have also created a new quilt tutorial to go with this new design. All the work has been designed by me and I created the quilt myself from scratch. I set myself a few headaches along the way, but solved them so that when you use the tutorial, you will not have any problems. I had so much fun designing and making this quilt and know that you will too. It is my first quilt pattern for sale on the website.
The quilt itself is for sale on the website. It is a one-off unique sample quilt I made, so there is only one – grab it while you can.
I have also designed and made a new landscape quilt. I am loving the colours of this one, called ‘Pebbles On The Beach’ and the original is on sale here. You can find my methods for making this type of quilt in my landscape quilt tutorial. The quilt that I made for that tutorial is also for sale here.
I have still to write my knitting pattern up, and will be uploading several patterns to Ravelry shortly.
Meantime I am also working on a new Inspiration book – Autumn. The Churches Inspiration book is finished but waiting for me to finish off the textiles. Keep checking back and meantime why not check out the existing Inspiration Series? So much to inspire for art, textiles and more. These are all manual downloads as pdfs so that you can enjoy the photos. So much to keep me busy.
Am I doing anything else? Yes, I found an embroidery I started some months ago – that will be finished soon too.
Learn to quilt with Karen. If you follow me on social media, you cannot have missed the fact that I have been working on an exciting new quilt design. It’s new in more ways than one:
1. It’s the first quilt pattern I have written
2. It’s more than just a pattern – it involves several tutorials
3. You learn as you quilt building your skills
How great is that? This is a new style of quilting skill builder – one where you learn whilst quilting. This new pattern actually involves 12 skills and once you have mastered this one, there will be more patterns to enjoy with different skills. Because you are learning along the way – the pattern can be used in different ways. It also presents many options and variations for the quilter. Patterns can be found on the pattern section of the website.
I have been developing this new style of quilting for a year now. I’m hoping it is going to make a lasting impact on the quilt world. It should make it easier for beginners to achieve good results from the beginning and give them the confidence to build their skills quickly. For intermediate quilters, it offers a challenge to the established method of quilting and even advanced quilters might find a skill they have not yet tried.
This latest design concentrates on autumn (fall) in theme and colour. This will be available as a pattern and tutorials. The next design will be for spring. I shall be offering a special pack, launching exclusively on the website, for everyone who wants to join in and make the quilt.
It’s been a challenge to find a way to describe this new slant on learning to quilt. I have settled on the abbreviation QUILTSKI for Quilt Skills, to describe my methods. I do hope you will join me in this exciting adventure launching this week.
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.
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.
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
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.
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.
Quilt the Easy Way with my top tips for pre-cuts. Afraid your quilting skills are basic but want to make a quilt that looks good? Follow these tips for simple quilting ideas that anyone can do.
1. Pre-cuts provide ready-cut fabrics that anyone can use. One of the obvious mistakes beginners make is to not cut fabric accurately. In fact some quilters never master cutting fabrics. Sometimes even pre-cuts can vary but they are relatively accurate.
2. Use a good quality wadding. Some wadding can show through when stitching.
3. Use the same type of fabric throughout the quilt.
What can you make with pre-cuts?
Strip quilts are a favourite. They are not just easy but also quick to do. Simply cut your jelly roll (fabric cut into strips) to the required length for your project. Depending on the size of the quilt you are making, measure across, allow for the seam allowances and borders and start joining strips. You can join the strips vertically, horizontally or even diagonally. Just make sure you alternate which end you start joining another strip, otherwise the strips have a tendency to start going out of shape.
You can use strips as they are. You can slice the strips once sown together into smaller pieces. You can also make blocks. They are very versatile. You can also add more fabrics if you think the jelly roll does not have enough contrast.
If you are confident at cutting, you can buy a special strip ruler to cut strips of an equal width. There are many book available for strip or jelly roll quilting.
Strip quilts are great for beginners since they will give you the confidence you need. If you have joined your strips horizontally, try quilting the sandwich diagonally to add variety. Mark your quilt from corner to corner, then quilt at regular intervals. Or go for free-motion quilting if you can. Circles make a good contrast to the lines of the strip quilt.
Once you have mastered a basic strip quilt, try out some of the other ideas for using a strip. I combined strips and applique to make my Four Seasons Wall Hangings. The kits are available in the online shop
Discover different ways to quilt. Here’s my exclusive guide to quilting to help beginners upwards decide which types and styles of quilting they want to try.
Check out the eCourses page regularly for new courses and why not ask your quilting group to host me as a speaker.
Quilts are made of 3 parts, often referred to as a sandwich
The quilt top
The wadding or batting in the middle
The pieced top is usually referred to as patchwork
The quilting is stitching by hand or machine usually through all 3 layers
A quilt is normally a bed sized quilt, but these days there are far more uses of quilting in wall hangings, clothes, home accessories including anything from mug rugs and coasters to cushions and sewing machine covers plus quilt sizes ranging from mini to King Size bed quilts.
There are different types of quilts
Block quilts have existed from the 1800s at least and are still extremely popular today. There are many traditional and modern block patterns. Take a look at our Block Design eCourse.
Applique is also a traditional quilting technique.
Historical methods of quilting include Cathedral Window Quilting and Japanese Folded Patchwork. Take a look at our eCourses on these two subjects.
Whole cloths or traditional hand stitch quilts are heirlooms. They take a long time to make, but are worth it. See our modern slant on a hand stitched calico cloth quilt in the eCourses section of the website.
Modern or Contemporary
With the advent of freeform quilts – informal designs and free motion machine quilting, this art form has really taken on a free spirit again. We offer a number of eCourses on modern methods of quilting including design eCourses and tutorials using traditional hand stitch methods or computer design.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some methods of putting a quilt together:
A method of adding cut shapes to quilts to the surface of the quilt top. There are several types of applique. This can be done n formal blocks or informal designs.
Technical ability: Confident beginners to Advanced
Technique: there are various techniques of machine or hand stitching shapes to the quilt top some more complicated than others. You need to find a way of cutting and piecing the shapes to the surface. Hawaiiian quilts are a form of appliqué. There is also reverse appliqué – Mola is a form of reverse applique. Broderie Perse is another type of appliqué.
A freeform design that conveys a beautiful image or a message. This type of quilt is usually a wall hanging and can use traditional or modern methods.
Technical ability: Intermediate up
Techniques: often involves multiple techniques including appliqué, free—motion or hand stitching, embroidery, hand-dyed fabrics, text and more
As challenging as you want it to be, a chance to show off your ability
Improvisational quilts are ones which are not bound by rules and often include freehand cutting and innovative piecing.
Landscape quilts are art quilts that mimic the landscape, they often rely heavily on stitch and using the right fabrics.
Photo quilts use your own photos, transferred to fabrics.
Repetitive blocks are an easy way to create harmony. Blocks are often referred to as units. They are used in traditional quilting.
Technical ability: Beginners to Advanced depending on the complexity involved. Simple blocks can be made using geometric shapes.
Technique: accurate straight stitch quarter inch seam. Piecing can be more challenging depending on the design and include matching points
Versatile including anything from two colour simple striped blocks up to the exhilarating challenge of Double Wedding Ring or Dear Jane quilts or Sampler Quilts which contain different blocks.
Attic Windows Quilts are another type of block involving an optical illusion using a frame to give the effect of windows.
Simple blocks are an excellent introduction to traditional quilting.
Cathedral Window Quilting
A type of quilting that requires no wadding, so is often referred to as a patchwork method
Technical ability: Beginners to Intermediate
Technique: Accurate hand stitching. Can also be machine stitched, but I do not find it any quicker. Accurate cutting and folding to ensure all the ‘blocks’ are the same size
Design can be varied to offer challenges
A style of irregularly-pieced quilting. Shapes can be random or follow a design pattern. Embellishments are usually added including buttons, beads and embroidery. Unusual fabrics such as velvet and lace might be introduced.
Technical ability: Confident beginner up
Technique: Accurate piecing of different shapes.
You need expert knowledge on how fabrics behave and if they will behave the same when washed.
English Paper Piecing or EPP for short
An easy way to achieve precision. If you are struggling with accurate seams, inset seams or matching up shapes – this is the way to do it.
Technical ability: Beginners
Technique: easy accurate piecing using whip stitch
Challenging depending on the design but easy to accomplish accuracy. Hexagons are a favourite of EPP
Bonus: portable. These days you can repeat your template easily in software and print out as many templates as you need in the size you want. Templates are removed once the top is completed.
Foundation Paper Piecing or FPP for short
Fabric is stitched to paper or muslin forming foundation pieces. It’s another accurate paper piecing method. When you look at perfect points – this is the way it is done. Patterns that look complicated can be achieved easily with this method from triangles to picture quilts. The paper pieces are numbered for piecing.
Technical ability: Confident beginners to Intermediate
Technique: accurate machine piecing
Easy to accomplish complicated designs.
Japanese Folded Patchwork
This is known as patchwork even though it does have a type of wadding, though it is usually felt
Technical ability: Beginners
Technique: Accurate hand stitching. Accurate cutting of circles to ensure all the ‘blocks’ are the same size.
A style of quilting that traditionally uses the clothing of someone you wish to remember or to give to someone as a keepsake. Photo quilts can also be a type of memory quilt.
Modern or Contemporary Quilting
Emphasis on bold colours, design, use of space enhanced by quilting stitches. These quilts often look equally good on the wall as on a bed.
Technical ability: Confident beginner up
Technique: can be as simple as lines breaking up negative space to challenging designs with multiple techniques.
One Block Wonder Quilts or OBW for short
A way of cutting and arranging fabric to produce a stunning look from just one fabric
Technical ability: Intermediate to Advanced
Technique: Accurate cutting of triangles with points
Challenging to find a fabric that will work. Challenges accuracy of cutting through several layers of fabric. Takes more fabric than other quilts. Can be boring to piece but can produce stunning results from fabrics you would not normally use BUT not every fabric works. See the tutorial on OBW from my own hands-on experience
Pre-cuts – squares, layer cakes, jelly rolls
Like strip quilting but you can cut into shapes
Technical ability: Beginners to Intermediate
Technique: accurate straight stitch quarter inch seam. Piecing can be more challenging if you cut your squares into triangles.
Lots of examples in the Quilting for Beginners eCourse
Quilt As You Go or Quaygo (or QAYG) for short
A simplified way of working on one block at a time, piecing onto wadding then quilting before you move on to the next block. Blocks are then joined together to form the quilt with minimal quilting of the whole quilt because the quilting has already been done.
Technical ability: Beginners
Technique: quilting on smaller pieces as you work that avoids having to do extensive quilting on the whole quilt.
Bonus: can be fitted into small sessions and you feel as if you have accomplished something because you have a pieced and quilted block.
These are quilts using traditional methods but including non-traditional materials such as denim. The seams are exposed on the front. They are assembled differently to traditional quilts.
Raw Edge Quilts
A type of quilting with exposed raw edges.
Japanese quilting with precise stitches that form designs. Special sashiko cotton is available in different colours. The fabric is usually dark blue (indigo). Sashiko quilts traditionally have no padding.
Scrap or Scrappy Quilts
A quilt that uses leftover bits, often in small pieces to make a quilt.
The selvedge (selvage) is normally cut off the fabric as it does not behave like the rest of the fabrics as it is woven differently. However recently, people have started putting selvedges together to form accessories or quilts. Nothing is wasted.
Strip quilting is an easy method and you can use pre-cut strips
Technical Ability: Beginners
Technique: accurate straight stitch quarter inch seam
Challenge yourself with a Bargello strip quilt. You could also try different ways to cut up strips once sewn together.
Seminole Patchwork is another type of strip quilting.
An Italian style of quilting that is ‘stuffed’ with padding to add dimension to the design, a bit like stumpwork.
Technical Ability: Intermediate
Technique: raised areas are formed by inserting padding
This guide is free for personal use only. The contents are not to be copied nor shared nor distributed in any way.
Copyright Karen Platt 2018
Welcome to the new website. This is now my new home for all things quilting and textiles. You’ll find quilting talk, professional tips, ecourses, ebooks, kits, patterns, supplies and finished quilts. Mark this page to follow my professional practice making and designing quilts. We welcome beginners to advanced quilters.
We aim to provide the information and know-how no matter what stage you are at in your quilting. We are an education based practice that provides tips and the knowledge you need to create wonderful quilts from designing your own to technique know-how. Our ecourses and ebooks contain all my hands-on experience. I am a fully qualified and experienced teacher with a background in education and I have been a designer since the early 1990s. I launched my first quilting ecourse in 2017 and a textile design ecourse in 2016. I also provide Inspiration Books for all designers. The focus is on enabling you to become a better quilter and to reach your potential. Tutorials start at just 10 pounds, techniques courses at 30 pounds and we have longer courses for design.
I work with both traditional and modern techniques of quilting, including using computer design. I aim to push the boundaries and make you think again just what quilting is all about.
Supplies include non-woven fabrics such as Lutradur, Evolon and Zeelon, Bondaweb, undyed threads for stitching and undyed as well as hand dyed fabrics and digital fabrics. Quilting patterns, kits and finished quilts – just check out the categories on the website. The eCourses and eBooks are my main focus.
You’ll also find my finished textile art. My digital art and paintings have found a new home on Artfinder
Other fabrics and makes can be found in my Etsy shop including more fabrics and rust-dyed fabrics.