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Quilting fabrics. What is best for quilting?

Quilting fabrics seem to confuse many, especially newcomers to the craft. Here I explain the difference in cottons and why it is generally best to stick to quilting cottons for quilting.

Quilting fabrics
Freedom fabrics quilting cottons

COTTON

Cotton is a fibre that is processed into different types of fabrics. Some are more suitable to quilting than others and are known as quilting cotton fabric. This is generally to do with weave and weight. Quilting cotton is a medium weight fabric that tends to hold its shape without undue stretch. This makes it perfect for quilting, usually without the use of starch. It is stable and less likely to fray.

Even within the category of quilting cottons you will find slight differences in weight. Generally speaking quilting fabrics have a thread count of at least 60 – 65 per inch. I love Moda fabrics and many of their fabrics are of a slightly lighter weight, but very easy to use as quilting fabrics, for which they are intended.

Quilting fabrics
Moda quilting cottons Voysey collection

Cotton Lawn is another lightweight fabric that is also useful for quilting. Think Liberty Tana Lawn.

Just remember that not all cottons are equal and not all cottons are suitable for quilting. Cotton fabrics vary greatly in quality and price.

Poplin is more suited to dressmaking. In general you need to avoid high thread count such as Egyptian cotton and most cotton sheeting. Tight weaves make quilting more difficult, especially hand quilting. Quilting cottons generally shrink less than some other cottons. Fabrics are also less likely to bleed, so it is worth seeking out quilter’s cottons and paying a little bit extra for them.

Avoid sateen finish. Sadly most of the digital printers now enabling home designers to print their own fabric seem not to supply quilting cottons. I would also avoid polycottons. Quilting takes a lot of time, buy the best fabric you can afford.

On the home printer you can buy cotton sheets to print from your computer. I have a number of designs that I print in this way and feature in my quilts.

quilting fabrics
Moda William Morris metallic fabric

ALTERNATIVE FABRICS

There are a number of other fabrics which are suitable as quilting fabrics. You might wish to try a linen and cotton blend or a silk and cotton blend. My favourite alternative fabric is to buy quilting calico and hand dye it.

Pure wool is another alternative that is mostly used in folk type quilts and applique.

If you can afford it, silk is a wonderful quilting fabric.

BACKING

It is worth making a special mention for backing fabrics. Not least because there is a common misconception amongst quilters that the back of the quilt does not matter. However, this is the part of the quilt often against your skin, so just because it is not seen, does not mean that it does not matter. I pay equal attention to front and back. I am very fond of double sided quilts.

Generally speaking if your quilt top is pure cotton, then your backing should also be pure cotton and preferably of the same make and manufacture to ensure the same behaviour with regards to washing and shrinkage. Some manufacturers make extra width so that backing can be cut as a whole piece if desired. You can join pieces when needed.

quilting fabrics
quilt back using the same cotton fabrics as the front with a different design

MIXING FABRICS

If you mix fabrics, make sure they behave the same and shrink at the same rate. This also applies to any embellishments such as ribbons that are on the quilt. Mixing fabrics is often better when applied to art quilts as opposed to bed quilts.

You can see the quilt patterns, kits and designs on the website

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Quilting A New Project Lap Quilt Wall Quilt

Quilting a new project is such an exciting thing to do. There is something extra special about starting something new. My new project is one made from fabrics joined together years ago that I lost interest in. The fabrics are lovely for children, but I really do not know what possessed me to buy them. It was my first foray to the quilting show FOQ and I completely lost it. I came home with so many bags, I got stuck on the aisle in the coach. I also found that the bags were too heavy to carry. I ended up removing the belt from my raincoat, threading all the bags onto it and hauling it over my shoulder. I never did that again, honest.

Quilting A New Project
Quilting A New Project

An Easy Starting Point

So I had a starting point. Colour-themed fabrics already joined in strips. For quilting a new project that can be a bonus or a headache. For years these pieces had remained in the ‘don’t know what to do with that’ pile. That’s thankfully small! Then I saw this block with just two colours and thought, my joined strips would look great in that.

Quilting A New Project
Quilting A New Project

Contrast Fabric

Then the contrast was a problem. I had some blue but it did not look right. It lingered for almost a month. Then I found an off white. It goes with everything and is not as stark as white. One of my golden rules is to never make too stark a contrast. This block forms part of my Beginners Quilting ecourse, so come and join the fun.

contrast fabric
contrast fabric

Almost There

So I am almost there and enjoying every second of it. When the shops re-open I shall be able to buy the blue threads I need to finish two more projects. The tunic I showed last week now has a front and back. Just the sleeves to do.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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ebook Traditional Tunisian Dress Launch

I am so pleased to launch my new ebook Traditional Tunisian Dress. When I returned to Tunisia in 2014 to write several books about the country I had come to love, this one was top of the list. I find Tunisian dress just as enchanting as the rugs that I am also in love with and wrote about in my book on Woven Textiles. In fact, this makes no less than six books I have written on Tunisia. The three guide books, the book on the Sahara make up the six titles. You can find all six including many others (current total 44) on my ebook page here

ebook Traditional Tunisian Dress

Traditional Costume of Tunisia

So here it is at last the ebook Traditional Tunisian Dress of fabulous embroidery, wedding costumes, hand embroidered dress for men and women, headgear and everything else. It is a feast for the eyes. It includes over 400 photos of Tunisian costume. Learn about regional differences, style and type of dress and where Tunisian dress is heading in the future. Discover the different types of dress. It has been a great pleasure to write about the different styles of dress and to meet some of the makers.

Woven Textiles of Tunisia

Allow me to remind you that this is the definitive book on Tunisian rugs, carpets and shawls.

Woven Textiles of Tunisia

Cathedral Windows

I think that was quite enough excitement for this week. However, my hands are rarely still and I finished my Cathedral Windows Quilted Cross that I started in February. It is the only piece I managed to finish this week as I have been confined to writing because of health. The unique stained glass window fabric is available in the shop.

Knitting Patterns

I have started to enter the single patterns from the Peak District Collection on Ravelry. The complete ebook is only available in my website shop but if you want a single pattern, then take a look at my Ravelry shop

Peak collection knitting patterns

See you next week

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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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

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Professional Designer Quilter – A Day In The Life of Being A Quilter

one block wonder quilt Karen Platt

Professional Quilter – A Day In The Life of Being A Quilter

You can be forgiven for thinking ‘I could do that’ or ‘What a wonderful life to quilt all day long’. However, as much as I enjoy it and I really do, there is so much more to being a quilter than sewing.

Whilst it is true that some quilters use other designers’ patterns, I decided at the very start (being a textiles designer anyway) that I would have to design my own quilt patterns.

I do not have a typical day, my days vary so much. My day often starts in the middle of the night when ideas come to me unbeckoned, or perhaps beckoned subconsciously. These days if I do not jot them down, by the morning they are lost. I let ideas ‘brew’, it does not do to jump straight in. See my design ecourse by clicking this link – believe me you too can design.

I usually start with social media – promotion is key to any business and it is often the hardest part. You have to identify and know your market and how to tap into it. It’s more than just keywords, it’s a slog that could do with an army working on it – but there’s just me. I sometimes spend about an hour a day promoting my business in one way or another. On Sundays I write this blog. Did I mention I am a 24/7 workaholic?

Much of my work involves intense research. I am a born researcher and believe it informs my work, allowing me to reach beyond the obvious.

If I am starting a quilt, I might spend a morning choosing fabrics, longer if I cannot find what I want. More and more, I am leaning towards only using my own fabrics. Any successful business has to have a USP – a unique selling point.

I might draw, doodle, play with Photoshop, paint, sew – to test ideas, strengthen ideas or just play and hope something clicks. This is all part of the process. Then it is all down to sewing. I have one machine, so if I am working on more than one quilted piece, I might do all the straight stitching, then all the free motion.

I must admit, I find most of the sewing quite tedious, but I am much more at ease with it these days. In the evenings, I concentrate on hand sewing for another two hours. This could be a hand stitched quilt, jacket or just hand finishing binding.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts Countdown 6

Karen Platt exhibition

Festival of Quilts. It’s the final countdown. The show starts on Thursday and I have to have the stand ready at the end of Wednesday for the big day. It’s been all work and no play here. I am well and truly exhausted.

I’ve done so much sewing of quilts, I am not sure if I can remember it all. I finished all the small textile quilted pictures. I even fitted in a new one yesterday. It was a week of ‘how do I finish this?’ Often we ask ourselves the question ‘Is this finished or does this need something else?’ Fortunately I found just what I needed. The bird quilt was enhanced with some applique.

I ironed again and folded all the hand dyed fabrics. Just that alone took hours and hours. I made labels for the work. I have dyed and cut more fabric.

It’s all looking good. There are one or two unfinished quilts but I am only human. The unfinished new quilt and hand stitched calico quilt will either go as samples or as photos – I have not decided which yet. It all rather depends on how it fits into the transport.

I have spent my day today designing posters for the back wall of the stand at the show and finishing the brochure. I also framed two quilts and blocked two quilts onto canvas.

Great news is I will be promoting the textile quilting holidays that I am leading. I am teaching in France in November this year – on the 5th for a week – quilting inspired by the Romanesque churches of the Charente region, and the following week, commencing the 12th, I am teaching cave paintings on a variety of fabrics.

In January 2020, I am leading a tour for block printing in Jaipur, India. Come and join me. See you on Stand C5 at the show.

I will try to blog from the show, but no promises.
Words, images and work 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