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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

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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

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Learn As You Quilt What’s New In Quilting

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Retrospective of Quilting Becoming A Professional Quilter

learn quilting Karen Platt

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.

Click the link for ecourses

Click the link for fabrics

Click the link for quilts

My ravelry store

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018
quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting dyeing retrospective Karen Platt

knitting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting textiles retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

quilting retrospective Karen Platt

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Colouring Fabric for Quilt Design How-To Colour With Markal Sticks

Colouring fabric is one way to be original in your designs and to create original motifs. It is a way of making marks. When it comes to colouring fabric, it seems to baffle people, as there are so many products to choose from.

Choose a marker or colouring medium designed for fabric.
Test it on your fabric following instructions and wash it. Dry and see what happens. Does it fade? does it run?
What do you have to do to make the medium permanent?

Markal painsticks are a favourite of mine:
1. Great artistic colour range
2. Inexpensive compared to other mediums
3. Nothing is needed to work with them, no gel, textile medium, not even water
4. Easy to use
5. Easy blending, there is also a blender marker
6. Minimum wastage – some of these sticks had been used before, and I made approx 50 oak leaves and you can see how little I used
7. Cure for at least 3-5 days then heat set
8. Pigment based and permanent

All you need is a stiff brush (the kind you would use with stencils). Draw your motif onto your fabric (I usually use a chalk pen). Wearing protective gloves, peel back the hardened layer on the painstick. Collect the peelings carefully, onto a paper towel – they will mark anything they fall onto if trodden in. Brush a little colour onto your brush and apply to the fabric. You can also use stencils. When not in use the painsticks harden over again. They go a long long way.

The simplest and best way to colour fabric. This is how I created the oak leaves on my quilt. Make sure you do not move your fabric with your messy hand! Brushes wash out with hot water and soap.

For more on colouring fabric, join the design ecourse by clicking this link

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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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

art quilt Karen Platt

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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Tips for entering the Festival of Quilts and Other Quilt Competitions

Shizuko Kuroha FOQ 2018

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

Designer Kaleidoscope Quilt Karen Platt

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.

This was another I just fell in love with, this time it was the colour and quilting that stood out for me.

The Cairo tentmakers were there this year and with my strong connections to Islamic architecture, ceramics and calligraphy, I could not resist.

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:

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.

The other was the incredible work of Kathy Knapp. It just took my breath away.

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.

I loved Phillippa Naylor’s miniature quilt, such tiny pieces, all so very neat.

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.