True Blue Quilts by Annette Plog

True Blue Quilts by Annette Plog, softback published by C&T Publishing (Kansas City Star Quilts). ISBN 9781617453403, price 17.99 in the U.K. available from

Quilts have a history and a tradition that can be brought up to date in contemporary style. Most quilts have a story, the quilts in this book hail from the American Civil War Years. The book is an education in quilt history, a lesson in bringing tradition into modern quilting and is also about all things blue.

Blue is one of my favourite colours and you might be thinking blues and white or contemporary blue gradations, but think again. You’ll find 15 wonderful reproduction quilts honouring an age-old tradition. The book helps you identify 19th century fabrics and discusses the designs. Sewing basics are included. The instructions are very clear and have excellent photographs and drawings.

Hoop Art by Cristin Morgan

Hoop Art by Cristin Morgan, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216360, price 12.99 available from

Embroiderers and hoops are a match made in heaven. Master basic stitches and basic projects with this stylish, easy-to-use book. Reusable, iron transfers are included for the motifs, which are based on botanicals, lettering and symbols. A book aimed at beginners that offers nothing to stretch the imagination sadly. Whilst I like some of the designs, I think this book needed a little more to attract serious stitchers. I find the title misleading as only the first 8 projects out of 20 are technically hoop art. Chapter two: For The Home and Chapter three: For You (with the exception of the pendant) are not technically hoop art at all. This book misses a real chance to take the user through the charms and possibilities of hoop art. 10 simple embroidery stitches and 20 simple projects does not cut it in today’s market even if the design of the book is wonderful.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 21

This is the final post from this website. In a week or so I am looking at launching the new website. Everything will be ready in that time anyway. It might take another week to take down this site and put the new one up. So there might be a transfer post to keep you up-to-date.

It was an eventful week where disappointment turned to joy as I worked out the design for my OBW (One Block Wonder) quilt. There will be a free tutorial on the new site and a paid for step by step guide too. It took 4 layouts to get this quilt right and at one point I was thinking that dying might be preferable to taking it all off the design wall and starting again. Then it clicked just what I needed to do to make it right. What a difference, at last it looked right. I am now in the process of sewing all the hexagons together, with a little surprise too. I cannot show it all to you because it is one of my quilts for FOQ (Festival of Quilts) 2018 Stand C5 – see you there in August 2018.

Did I mention design wall? There will be a free tutorial on the website about how I made my double quilt-sized design wall for 17 pounds (about 20 USD). Every quilter needs one of these.

My calming moments that balance my machine sewing (never the love of my life) is my hand stitching. I am now on the 4th block of the hand-stitched quilt. There will be a eCourse on this on the new website and all the eCourses so far and the eBooks are already up on the new website.

Looks like I have a 70 hour week ahead of me. So without further ado, I will say thank you to everyone who has supported this new website. Thank you to all of you who have already looked at my new shop on Etsy and checked out the store that is slowly building on there. Thanks to everyone who has checked out Artfinder for the store I am slowly building on there. If you could pop along and like the stores that would be great.

The new website will be and I am looking at a launch date around 10-20th February 2018, so I will let you know. Meanwhile enjoy stitching.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Quilt Traditions by Devon LaVigne

Quilt Traditions by Devon LaVigne, softback published by C & T Publishing (Kansas Star). ISBN 9781617455223, price 23.99 available in the U.K. from

What a wonderful way to learn traditional quilting. 12 great projects and 9 skill-building techniques. Each quilt has a story to tell. Good design is the basis of this interesting book. Perfect your quilting skills with strip piecing, half-square triangles, templates, paper piecing, machine appliqué and sewing set-in seams and curves. You can see how the harmonious colour selections enhance these wonderful quilts. Easy to follow instructions and clear photos and diagrams seem to make the process easier. I really enjoyed this book.

Floral Abundance Quilt by Deborah Kemball

Floral Abundance Quilt by Deborah Kemball, quilt pattern by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617456596, price 16.99 available in the U.K. from

A floral quilt pattern offering 9 blocks with 24 appliqué motifs to make a small quilt or to change any block into a cushion.Two colour ways are offered. Complete instructions and full-sized pattern sheets are included in a handy patten pocket. A basics section covers how to appliqué using needle-turning methods. Perfect if you love floral quilts.

Magic Add-A-Strip Quilts by Barbara H Cline

Magic Add-A-Strip Quilts by Barbara H Cline, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455537, price 19.99, available in the U.K. from

This is a great idea to make simple quilts look more complex. Basic blocks are sliced, a strip is added and magic happens. There are 10 designs to choose from, plus 20 variations. These simple techniques have endless possibilities. Often quilts look complicated until you understand how they are made. This book transforms simple designs into dynamic quilts. You’ll find everything you need to know – cutting, slicing, piecing, finishing. Each quilt pattern has a main photo, block size and finished quilt size, materials, cutting, construction, a large layout diagram and alternative designs. Finishing and binding techniques are given at the back of the book along with templates. A superb way to make simple design shine.

The Encyclopedia of Acrylic Techniques by Hazel Harrison

The Encyclopedia of Acrylic Techniques by Hazel Harrison, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215967, price 12.99 available from

An updated version of the successful book, which appeared in 2008. It provides an A-Z of acrylic techniques forming a concrete background to acrylic painting. If you wish to learn skills and techniques, this is the book for you. It is not a teach you how to paint book. The immense amount of illustrations by different artists and step-by-step demonstrations help you to acquire the knowledge of how acrylics work and what can be done with them. Acrylics are very versatile and can be used in many ways. You will learn just about all there is know on the subject from scumbling, glazing, resists and so much more.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 20

Another exciting week with so much happening. I opened an Artfinder store. Already have some followers and will be adding more products.

I also launched the second in the Inspirations Books for artists and textiles artists – RUST. This has been received well and joins the first book – SKIES. The their done – BARK is well under way. These books provide photographic inspiration and you can use the photographs to inspire your own work. They also include examples of my own work. Each book contains over 500 photos. I also started researching for another book. Lots in the making.

Elsewhere I finished sewing all the half hexagons and started looking at putting the One Block Wonder (OBW) quilt together. Although this is kind of secret at the moment, as it will be on Stand C5 at the Festival of Quilts (FOQ) 2018, I’ll share a sneak preview as I am not going with this design. In quilting also, I have started a hand stitched quilt that I shall be launching as a sew-along.

I expect my next two weeks to be taken up with organising and uploading photos of work to Artfinder, Etsy and my own new website. There has to be time for designing and making quilts too. Enjoy your creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Make Your Own Medallion by Erin Burke Harris

Make Your Own Medallion by Erin Burke Harris, softback published by Lucky Spool Media. ISBN 9781940655291, price 24.99 in the U.K. available from

Medallion quilts are very popular for their design is an easy way to arrange blocks on a quilt. This book has directions for 30 blocks and 12 medallions plus 6 quilt designs. The blocks have cutting instructions for up to six interchangeable border widths. The medallion centrepieces come in a variety of sizes. The patterns show how easy it is to change the borders. The book is designed as mix and match, providing ease of use and inspiration. Solid advice and design is found in this primer for medallion quilts in chapter one. In chapter two you will find the blocks with excellent instructions on materials, cutting and how-to. The blocks however are pretty standard fair – half triangles, lone star and drunkard’s path that you will no doubt have encountered elsewhere. Still, it’s good to have 30 blocks in one place. Finally in chapter three there are the excellent instructions for making the six quilts. Well illustrated – but the photography is slightly dull, includes beautiful line diagrams for the quilts.

The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden

The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216025, price 14.99, available from

Comprehensive directory of stitches with clear photographic reference and easy-to-follow diagrams. 200 embroidery stitches in all for cross or chain stitch, couching, canvas work, laid work, drawn thread work and decorative stitches. They are arranged according to use. This book should be on every embroiderer’s bookshelf. It is particularly useful to beginners or those wishing to enlarge their knowledge of stitches and expand their embroidery work. There is a stitch selector and embroidery essentials. Alternative names for the stitch are given where known as well as usage and notes. The front cover says ‘pages lay flat for ease of working’ – this is incorrect – the pages do not lay flat. For lay flat pages you must select the spiral-bound version. This book has been previously published and is an updated edition.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 19a

What a bumper start to 2018. I experimented with lots of materials – Tyvek, Texture Magic, puff paint, gesso, zapping Lutradur, using the heat gun and soldering iron. Lots of fun, but I have to say most of this is of course mixed media and not very useful in quilting. I liked playing with the Tyvek best though. I also created an Appliqué panel, but have still to sort the threads for stitching. You are welcome to join the eCourse where I am teaching all about designing quilts

I am stitching the half hexagons for the first OBW quilt. I realised there were a few issues with the lining up of the fabrics, so on some of my hexagons the matching up of the pattern is not as good as I want it to be. When I get it on the design wall, I shall be able to assess it better and sort the design so that this has least impact. Next time, I shall take even more care to line up the fabrics accurately. This is a rather time-consuming quilt, so I need something to hand stitch in the evenings. I am designing a new design for a hand stitched calico quilt, made in patches that will become a Quilt Along. Very excited about this. Just waiting for new needles to arrive. If you are not into hand stitching, I shall also be doing a Quilt Along machine stitched quilt.

I have two Inspirations Books almost finished – Rust and Bark. Full of inspirational images and some very interesting work. I also have an Advanced Photoshop eCourse almost finished.  Looking to launch all 3 in the next 7-10 days.

All in all a great creative week. The new website is coming shortly, stay tuned. Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017.

Butterflies, Bees and Bugs by Sally McCollin

Transfer & Stitch Butterflies, Bees and Bugs by Sally McCollin, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213239, price 14.99 available from

50 insect motifs providing a great resource for anyone who stitches. Choose a motif, transfer it to your design using the iron-on transfer sheet and stitch. You’ll find 32 stitched samplers offering over 50 embroidered designs together with 32 reusable iron-on transfer sheets. There are notes on the stitches and threads used to create each of the motifs and guidance on all you need to create them. Project ideas have been suggested to get you started. The front of the book is in colour and shows the examples and thread keys clearly. The stitches used are shown as how-tos with clear photos. The transfer sheets are line drawings at the back of the book. Anyone who loves bugs, will love this.


Robin Vizzone’s Peculiar Primitives

Robin Vizzone’s Peculiar Primitives, soft back published by C&T Publishing (Kansas City Star Quilts). ISBN 9781617454844, price 21.12 available in the U.K. from

Primitive, folk-style stitching is on the up. Harking back to a time when slow stitching was the norm, this book presents 12 imaginative designs to embrace your inner soul. Imperfect is ok, it is the message, the look, the handmade that is inspirational. Create dolls, quilts, wall hangings, cushions, runners in wool, appliquéd and hand embroidered in stitches from your soul. Quirky characters abound. Find out how to make and use a stain for dolls. Beautifully photographed, but this is not just a book to look at, though that will give you a great deal of pleasure, it’s a book to inspire your own creations. There is a pattern sheet at the back of the book.

Sweet & Simple Wool Applique

Sweet & Simple Wool Applique, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617456176, price 19.99 available in the U.K. from

This is a great beginners’ guide to wool appliqué. It shows diagrams of appliqué methods and clear embroidery stitches to embellish your projects for the folk look. It is what it says sweet and simple. Projects include notebook cover, quilts, table runner, cushion (pillow if you are American) and a needle book. Out of the 15 projects, there are 6 pincushions, a few too many perhaps, but those ideas could be used for other projects. For example, the honey bee pincushion could be enlarged and repeated to make a wall hanging or quilt. One pear template could be used to make a quilt too. One has to use one’s imagination – the inspiration is there – it’s how you use it that counts. Clear instructions and photos and there is the bonus of template sheets too, easily traceable on good quality paper. The designs are by various quilt artists.

Pure Watercolour Painting by Peter Cronin

Pure Watercolour Painting by Peter Cronin, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214359, price 15.99 available from

What a pleasure this book is. The kind that makes you want to pick up your paints and create a painting. This book helps you to master traditional watercolour skills to create watercolours with atmosphere. This course in a book gives tips on painting both indoors and out, painting from photographs, sketching, washes and a lot more. There are 5 step-by-step projects to practise your skills. This 144 page book is longer than many on the subject. It is filled with wonderful examples of watercolour. My only niggle is was the printing colour too dark or is this the real colour of the originals? They do look a little dull, which is a shame as the artist captures the light beautifully. Wonderful book.

Criss-Crossing Paris by F Sinclair & S.A. Hayes

Criss-Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair & Sally-Anne Hayes, soft back published by Film Rouge Press. ISBN 9780992792367, price 12.99 available in the UK from

What a wonderful way to remember and celebrate the beautiful city of Paris. You’ll see snapshots that inspired the cross stitch designs. Not just confined to pictures to frame, the designs include totes, purses, pouches and a lovely badge too. The designs are easily adapted to projects of your choice. There are charts and colour keys to work the designs on Aida or as counted thread, or the designs can be used by embroiderers in a more freehand way without a grid.

I love the concept of this book. However there seem to be anomalies, why choose a Fiat to cross stitch, why not Citroen 2CV, the classic French car? The pooch is sweet, but why not a French poodle? There are some nice touches in here, but not as Parisian as I thought it would be. One or two of the designs look a little clumsy in stitch too. Nicely designed book. There are 20 designs in all.

2017 review

Where did I go? What did I do? 2017 that was the year that…

I was busy sewing and quilting – creating lots of Cathedral Window quilting projects and launching the cathedral window ecourse

In September I launched my tenth ecourse Design in Quilting and Patchwork ecourse

I began stitching together my first art dolls that I had cut out many months previously. I finished 6 of those. I started sewing a new jacket. I finished the lining, still deciding on the outer jacket.

I designed and knitted so many projects including a dozen hats. Yes, I really had hat fever!

I photographed dozens more skies, painting them and launching the Inspiration Skies ebook

The next Inspirations book is almost finished – it’s all about rust. I have even started the third one, all about bark.

I visited the V&A, St. Paul’s, Big Ben and the British Museum and created fabulous digital art, which can be seen here

I discovered some National Trust, Art Fund and English Heritage properties that created memories and also supplied me with inspiration. Discovering new places and re-visiting some I have loved so well like Fountains Abbey. I also discovered much about my local landscape. Places I had never been to before included Keighley and Royal Leamington Spa. These all influence my work in one way or another.

I saw Picasso and Viking exhibitions amongst others.

Getting away from it all in Cornwall and Corfu and a handful of days out, again a great source of inspiration as I might think of it as getting away from it all, but my brain works even harder on ‘holidays’. The day out in Cleethorpes was memorable for miles of sand. I shall never forget the Humber Bridge either.

I booked a stand at The Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham, UK for August 2018 and am busy making ‘secret’ quilts for the show. Stand C5, make a date in your diary.

It was not all great, in fact two of the worst things in my life happened, but we have to concentrate on the positives and move forwards. One meant I had to find a new focus and let my plant books become a thing of the past – not what I had planned at all. However, it allowed me to concentrate on textiles and in particular, quilting.

Who knows what 2018 will bring. Am I ready? Just about. Three things I am sure of, there will be a new website (when I can twist my son’s arm), I shall be exhibiting at a major exhibition NEC Festival of Quilts for the first time in years and there will be lots more textile courses and inspiration ebooks. I am so looking forward to it. Wishing you all a Happy New Year and lots of happy memories.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Essence of Watercolour by Hazel Soan

The Essence of Watercolour by Hazel Soan, softback published by Batsford. ISBN 9781849944601, price 14.99 available from

I used to watch Hazel on Watercolour Challenge and was captured by not only her ability, but her enthusiasm. I even met her one day when she walked into the hotel dining room where I was staying. Her talent shines through every brushstroke. Discover and explore the secrets of watercolour for yourself. This book is full of Hazel’s unique paintings and clear instructions illustrate her techniques. Master and manipulate watercolour by learning the tricks of the trade. Catch the shimmering light, shadows and vibrancy of colour. Hazel explains the qualities of watercolour that can create thrilling art. Her subjects are plants, people, buildings and animals. Hazel has a wonderful style and whilst this is not a how-to book, it will stir you to pick up your brushes and have a go. It is what it says on the cover, all about the essence of watercolour. Highly recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 18a

I still knitted yet another two hats. I also made more half hexagons. Getting there for stage three of the first quilt for The Festival of Quilts, 2018 Stand C5. I also made a start on quilt number two for the Festival. I am cutting hexagons for this also, but it is a very different design. The blade in my rotary cutter is not old, yet I was having difficulty with it cutting through two layers of fabric, so I have ordered new blades. Just got the panels cut, but now need to cut through 6 layers and make hexagons. Waiting for supplies.

Of course, I can always make a start on another quilt. The fabric came for quilt three and I am still arranging the design in my head. I am planning kits and patterns for these quilts at the Festival. I am also planning a Quilt Along to be launched 2 January 2018.

The skies inspiration book is now just about there and will be launched this week, hoping for tomorrow as the paintings are all photographed now. The rust inspirations book is also well on its way.

I have prepared a review of the year for in between Xmas and the New Year. I am assuming you all might be too much in Xmas mode to bother with a post on Friday so look out for the one Xmas week. Wishing you all a wonderful Xmas and a Happy New Year. The New Year is already full of promising happenings – the new website dedicated to textiles – mainly quilting, the Festival of Quilts and much more. Hope to see you there.

Best Wishes to you all for a creative New Year

Words, work copyright Karen Platt 2017

350 Knitting Tips & Techniques by Betty Barnden

350 Knitting Tips & Techniques & Trade Secrets by Betty Barnden, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215998, price 12.99 available from

Discover knitting know-how in a handy reference guide. Find out about equipment, materials, patterns, charts, design, techniques and assembly. I love the section on yarn and schematics. The techniques sections are accompanied by photos and the instructions are easy to follow. I did not learn anything from it, but then I have 50 years’ experience in knitting and knitwear design. I think this book is very suited to the beginner, especially the one who wants to knit, but does not quite get it. I was like that aged 10 when school and my mother had tried to teach me and failed. Then I just picked up the knitting needles and wool and taught myself. I don’t think I have ever put those needles down. I would have loved a book like this back then.

The Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques by Hazel Harrison

The Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques by Hazel Harrison, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216049, price 12.99 available from

A new edition of this watercolour painting classic. This reference book is so handy for tips, techniques and seeing wonderful finished work too. The examples of work are very well selected. Enhance or develop your own skills with practical advice. The step-by-step demonstrations allow you to use this medium to the full. This visual directory guides you through all you need to know about watercolour painting. It covers tools and techniques, picture making and themes – animals. buildings, people, flowers, landscape and still life. Highly recommended if you do not already have it.

Best Craft Books of The Year 2017

Of all the books I have reviewed this year, here is a mention of the ones I would truly recommend, want to be given or would give. In no particular order, but I will state categorically that Ann Small’s book really stood out and if I had to choose just one, that would be it. There were several in second place, including the bag book, bonded surfaces, intuitive colour, stitched shibori and the fabulous whitework book. If you did not buy them, ask Santa now – make that list.

The Bag Boutique

Beautiful Bonded Surfaces

Pioneer Quilts

Heirloom Teddy Bears

Layered Cloth

Intuitive Colour & Design

Stitched Shibori

Learn to Paint in Watercolour

Atmospheric Landscapes in Acrylics

Stitch, Fabric & Thread

Modern Triangle Quilts



Interpreting Themes In Textile Art by Els van Baarle and C. Martin

Interpreting Themes In Textile Art by Els van Baarle and C. Martin, hardback published by Batsford. ISBN 9781849944366, price 22.95 available from

Wonderful soft fabric texture to the intriguing cover of this book. Just 6 themes inside interpreted by two different artists working with cloth. This book amply shows how any two artists can begin at the same starting point, but take an entirely different journey to create a piece of textile art. The book covers The Creative Process- phases and choices, then the following themes: Graven Images, Walls, Pompeii, Yesterday Is History, Book As Object and Articles in Everyday Use. Both artists have their own signature styles, this book traces their approach and encourages the reader along their own path of artistic discovery.

I found the limit of 6 themes rather disappointing although there are a few more suggestions at the back of the book. Some of the ideas are inspirational but I would suggest that you familiarise yourself with the artists and their work before buying the book. What I enjoyed most was Els’ interpretation of Pompeii and Cherilyn’s interpretation of Books.

30 Gifts in 30 Days by Bendy Carter

30 Gifts in 30 Days by Bendy Carter, published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781590128503, price 8.99 available in the UK from

This book gets straight into the 30 projects without any pre-amble. The projects are graded for ability. You can clearly see the materials needed and the instructions are short for most of these quick makes. They are all crochet projects and my favourite one is the Dainty Lace Magnet Buttons. There is a crochet stitch guide at the back of the book.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 week 17a

Finally on Friday I got around to making half hexagons and working on that first quilt for the Festival of Quilts, NEC 2018. In fact all my birthdays came at once as I had not one but 4 great ideas for new quilts. Busy making now.

Still I found time to knit more hats. There is one more finished last night. I have almost run out of leftover bits of wool for the moment. I have a feeling the run up to Christmas will be quilt fever.

Enjoy your creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017


Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 16a

Lots to finish off this week – the first quilt for the NEC Festival of Quilts 2018 is top of my list as well as the first Textile Inspirations eBook. A week of computer problems set me back with work. I took advantage of that to take a few more photos of skies, like 585 in the book were not enough! I just love the sky. I am not madly trying to catch up because I still have problems with my arm, wrist and hand. I did not help that by knitting hats!

Yes, it’s where did you get that hat week. Whilst the computer was out of action for various reasons, I knitted 5 hats. I have photographed four of them. These were fun to make and have used up some of my stash. I always keep the left over bits of yarn. They are knitted spontaneously, I just went with the flow, using up what I had and designing the hat as I went along. I love the orange one best, but last night’s one was zingy pink with bits of orange, I love that too. Really taxing on the arm though. The knitting pattern will be loaded shortly and it’s a new style of pattern where it teaches you how to alter and make something your own. Trying to make my brain not things of socks, gloves or mittens. I did scarves two years ago, ended up with over 20 of them!

I trundled along to the Etsy local market on Sunday, not expecting to be thrilled, but I was – such a good market and so many lovely things to see and buy. As I have re-opened my Etsy shop, I hope to be there next year, if I get selected. Filling the Etsy shop is a bit of a bind, so many photos to take.

I shall now take myself into the sewing room and create gorgeous things. Enjoy your creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 15a

I finished knitting my mohair shrug and started a stole. When I started designing the pattern, I realised I might actually need to undo the shrug to make the stole long enough. When joining in the second lot of yarn, I realised that I actually had two shades of yarn. Funnily enough, I had managed to knit the shrug in one and the stole in the other even though they were from different small hanks, thank heavens for not mixing them up! Looks like the stole will be about 75cm (30″) long. I would have been happy to have it longer. It is looking good though.

I am still dithering on the first guilt for the NEC FOQ 2018 stand. My problem is leaves – there are so many things I could do with them, that I keep thinking yes that one, no that one, oh I know this, no that would be better.

Fortunately my room is now kitted out with a new sewing table and I feel a new momentum coming on. Leaves you have been warned. The hexagons, which are the third stage of this quilt are finished, but again, the corners and half hexagons still need doing. Depending on what I do with the leaves, I might need more hexagons. So it’s all stations go next week on the leaves. It has seemed like slow progress.

To help with my quilting and textile designs, I have decided to create a design wall. It’s all usually done in my head, but I have always wanted a design wall, so I shall be making one next week. Best idea so far is cork tiles. I would love a white board too.

More about the new textiles inspiration ebooks on Friday, which should see the first one – Skies being issued. Rust will follow shortly and is looking great with 250 images of rust so far. Here is a snippet of some of the work I have created with my rust images. These books are all about inspiring you as an artist.

Have a wonderful creative week. Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Bag Boutique by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier

The Bag Boutique by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214304, price 14.99 available from

This has just become my number one all-time favourite bag book. I would hate to call Debbie a bag lady – but she sure knows how to put a great collection of bags together. Why has this gone to my number 1 spot?

20 excellent designs

pull-out, full size pattern sheet

superbly clear instructions

fabulous photos

excellent for beginner sewers up

I am tempted to say this is the only bag book you will ever need, but hey, there is always room for one more book, one more bag. There are no clasp bags included, all handbag (strap, tote or holdall type designs. Highly recommended. Superb to give to all your sewing friends, trust me they will love it. It’s an absolute winner.

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215448, price 9.99 available from

Mandalas, meditative embroideries in circles, created with different sized hoops. 24 designs are included, but you can use this as pure inspiration for your own designs. Simple stitch diagrams and keys plus a transfer sheet provide everything you need to sew the designs. The designs are also adaptable to clothing and accessories. Information is given on working with hoops and there is a stitch directory too. Simple yet satisfying.

Needle Lace Techniques by Hazel Blomkamp

Needle Lace Techniques by Hazel Blomkamp, hardback, spiral bound, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215189, price 12.99 available from

For hand embroiderers, this book provides 40 needle lace embroidery techniques with line drawing diagrams on square blocks as shown on the cover. The book is inspired by and uses Dillmont’s stitches  published in the late 19th century. Guidelines on how to use the patterns and instructions are given. What this book lacks is samples of the finished lace techniques. The book lies flat for ease of use.

Complete Guide to Dressmaking by Jules Fallon

Complete Guide to Dressmaking by Jules Fallon, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215721, price 15.99 available from

A fantastic resource for all dressmakers, especially suitable for those new to dressmaking. Learn all the skills and techniques you need with step-by-step guidance throughout the book. Take your garment-making skills to another level. From choosing fabric and thread to couture sewing skills, it’s all here in an easy-to-use format with clear photos and instructions. Please note that this book was also published as a hardback by another publisher. Includes all aspects of sewing including adapting patterns, cutting, pinning, seams, pockets, openings and closures, buttonholes, zips, sleeves, cuffs, collars, waistbands, cords, lace, frills, topstitching, working with stretch fabrics, hemming, linings and estimating fabric requirements. Great tips throughout the book too. An excellent resource.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 14a

I have been so busy I forgot it was time to blog! Midweek I put aside my new knitwear design, as I really need to concentrate knitting 4 different patterns across one row, and was feeling rather tired. Instead I picked up the mohair I discovered in a charity shop in the summer. I had started knitting another shawl on the way home in the coach, but decided that was not what I wanted. So now it has turned into a short cardigan or shrug. It is almost finished already.

My fingers are rather sore from quilting hexagons. I have one more lot to do and then this will be attached to the rest of my new quilt. This is the first design for FOQ 2018 at the NEC, so I don’t want to reveal too much about it. It is coming along, but hexagons take a long time to hand stitch. Enjoying the process so much.

The rest of my week was spent writing the skies book. All the 585 photographs are in there already. Might make it 600 photos. Now I am painting skies and writing tutorials and tips to finish the book. There will be at least one felted sky and a textile too. I am hoping for a 1st December launch for this. Very pleased with it so far. I could not resist a peek at my photographs for the next one I have planned RUST – won’t be as many photos I thought to myself, so I had a look and there are well over 500 images I have taken. I love experimenting with rust, so expect some good tutorials and samples of work too.

I have been clearing out and tidying the spare room. After three years, I have decided that yes, I shall work in there, much better than always having a load of work on the kitchen table and quilting takes up so much room. Jiggling everything however and making space is not fun.

Enjoy your creative week. Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 13b

More hexagons for quilting, more hand knitting, slowly.

My week has been dedicated to one of those on the spur, follow the feeling moments. That was to create a new set of Inspiration books for artists – be it painters, ceramicists or textiles. I started with skies, seemed appropriate as I have so many photos of them. I am up to 370 in the book so far. It will be a downloadable pdf, and unlike most of my work, you will be allowed to use the photos to create paintings, felts, textiles and so on, but you are not allowed to share or distribute the actual photos or ebook themselves. In addition to the photos, in the ebook I have given my thoughts on paintings and textiles and how one can replicate the photos in a creative way with examples and techniques. I hope people find inspiration in it all. I have certainly loved photographing the sky and making the book. It should be ready by the beginning of December at the latest.

This is part of an ongoing series to complement my work and help those that get stuck with ideas, or how to translate ideas into creative work. Next up will be Rust. So looking forward to that. I have at least half a dozen books planned.

I finally bought a light pad, and although my example of the leaf looks a bit iffy, I thought I would share it. I am rather pleased with the light pad. The blurry pic is the leaf under the paper. The left hand leaf is the one done on the light pad, the drawing on the right on the card is drawn around the leaf. I spent a few minutes testing out the results in colour.

Remember I shall be changing the website shortly so stay tuned please. Lots of preparation in the background. Have a wonderful creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Sew Layer Cake Quilts And Gifts by Carolyn Forster

Sew Layer Cake Quilts And Gifts by Carolyn Forster, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213772, price 12.99, available from

Layer cakes are pre-cut squares and can be used to make quilts with minimum cutting. You already have a 10 inch (25cm perfect square) in co-ordinated fabrics. In this book you will find 9 quilt designs to use these, employing a variety of essential patchwork and quilting techniques. There are also 9 fun gifts, easy to make and using scraps if you wish. Clear photography and instructions are included. All the basics are here from cutting to laundering. Recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 13a

The hexagons expanded a little, the knitting grew a little. Overall progress was not the word of the week, exhaustion was.

I collected a few leaves (ones with good veins), gathered a lot of ideas (some of which I have already forgotten). I found inspiration in local scenery. I worked on a new digital image. It has not quite come together, but there are aspects of it I love, the tree in the bottom left.

I tried shopify, but don’t think I shall use that to make the new website.

When I did have some energy, I devoted it to changing the workroom around. This is work in progress. Reorganising everything takes time. Finding space for everything is the difficult part. New beginnings are forming slowly but surely.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 12b

I find myself making hexagons. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They have their advantages and disadvantages. There are plenty of free downloadable templates on the internet. I love that you can pick them up and put them down, that they are truly portable. Yet I find them time-consuming and even at (7cm) 3 inches across rather fiddly. In my sewing rhythm yesterday evening, I just got carried away and almost sewed all six sides together on two. I got to the third side and thought hey, what am I doing???

I started a sketchbook and a digital sketchbook on leaves and autumn in particular. As I said in the last post, this is a yearly theme for me, but since it is done yearly, it is all on separate sheets, so time to bring all the ideas together in one place, or rather two – traditional drawing and digital. Part of my new website will be building online resources for design in quilting and textiles.

I am making progress with the new knitting pattern, more about that next time.

Have a super creative weekend everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 12a

When you think something is finished and then realise it just will not do. Sewing the binding and border onto the red Cathedral Windows quilt, I cheated and sewed without pinning or anything. Thought I could do it. The quilt had other ideas and the gremlins made sure that the binding was not the same width. It had middle-aged spread! It’s ok I said, continuing and it just got worse. I had sewn all sides, in good faith. I mean, why stop when you know it’s wrong?  The next morning it was unpicking time. Boy that took a long time. My little clips arrived. So here I am clipping it, worked fine. Looks so much better and I have one side hand stitched in place for the border on the back. Happier about that. Always better the second time around. We live and learn.

It was unpicking time with the cardigan too. Never knit or sew when you are too tired. Tired seems to have been the theme of the week as I woke in the early hours every day and even earlier this morning. I am at the point of joining my second pattern in and things get more complicated but more interesting with this knitting pattern I am writing now. Concentration is a must.

Just a snippet of quilting today from my new project for the Festival of Quilts 2018 at the NEC next August. Some great ideas brimming. Some experimentation with leaves – needs working on, but I can see it in my mind’s eye now. Great idea for some mini quilts at the show too.

Watching the sky – still one of the most inspiring things most mornings and some evenings. Nature is such a source of inspiration. Being happily creative is a source of endless joy. Have a wonderful creative week.

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 11b

A week of endings and new beginnings.

Endings (finished projects) I finished the quilted bed headboard cover. Still slight problems with making it as stiff as it needs to be. The second lot of Vilene arrived but was still not stiff enough. Anyway it is in place now, and some time in the future, I might try for a third time to get the right weight Vilene. Annoying that no-one stocks it locally and there are too many weights with confusing names.

I also finished the border and binding on the Cathedral Windows quilt. This is on stand by for FOQ 2018 as I might need it on the stand. So pleased with this.

Yes, I finished the shawl I started a few weeks ago with a border. Hated this yarn bought at a mill. Fell in love with the colours, but you only had to breathe on the yarn and it broke. It was also spun unevenly but I think unintentionally – like a beginner trying to spin an even yarn. So I found myself winding off large chunks to keep the yarn and even thickness.

New beginnings (new projects) I am starting my first full-size quilt (maybe, working as I go) for FOQ 2108. Very exciting as I try to bring something new to quilting. So much has already been done, that this is almost daunting, but I am up to the challenge. I have decided not to release this work until nearer the show. That way when it is released to the Press and seen at the show it will be fresh and new.

I also started a new cardigan design. Again I am going for something totally new here. Tking a new angle on pattern design.

Also new is the website coming shortly. I have finally decided (almost) to change to the website for my textile and quilting work with a dash of art. Courses, work for sale, books will all be on this site. I say almost because part of me still want sot create a quilting only website. Looking forward to all this.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Make 1-Hour Gifts

Make 1-Hour Gifts, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453687, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from

We don’t always have 9 to 5 to sew, so if time is short you will love this collection of 16 fun projects to sew in no time at all. The designs have been chosen from different designers for their ‘giftability’. Quick makes use up your stash or even scraps to make beautiful gifts. The photography is superb, the instructions are clear. You’ll see at a glance the project, materials and cutting, followed by the foolproof step-by-step instructions. See how to insert a zip, make a drawstring bag, sew patchwork, applique and more. Includes gifts for babies, women and home and a unisex bow-tie. Bags, baskets, bibs, scarf and headband are some of the projects. Colourful, fun yet practical and easy for beginners. I love the apron and the coasters. Projects have appeared in other books, so make sure you do not already have these first.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 11a

I did a little stitching, quilting and knitting and a lot of hurting, so progress was slow and I’ll show what I achieved in Friday’s blog.

Today I want to talk about my visit to Bradford yesterday. The first stop was Cartwright Hall in Lister Park, with its gorgeous Mughal gardens, boating lake and trees. The hall is an imposing building that now houses the Art Gallery and from this year features a David Hockney gallery. We admitted that we are not really Hockney fans, but as we left we both said we enjoyed the gallery. There is a screen showing how he paints on the iPad. Fascinating stuff. The art gallery also has a print room where all the famous names in that media are hung – Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Riley to mention a few. There are also two painting galleries. Upstairs there were some fine examples of Indian saris and textiles.

We stopped by the boating lake and sat in the warm sunshine to have lunch. Nice paninis. The cakes looked good, but we both decided we were too full.

On to the next stop – Bradford Industrial Museum. I can get very excited about cogs, looms and spools. There were also 3 showcase period houses and much more. There were printing presses too. I loved it. We were just about to leave when some of the machines were set in motion. Whilst I know these places were no picnic to work in, they are a joy to look at. Inside there was an added bonus of a textile exhibition by a group of local artists called Flax.

Both museums are free to visit, see Bradford Museums. I had hoped to make it to Bolling Hall as well but had to call it a day.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 10b

Hampered by health again this week but I was quilting again this morning, I am relieved to say. I made this Cathedral Windows quilt some time ago. However when I decided to add my red bird border (I had bought the fabric for a blouse and extra with the intention of adding borders to this quilt), part of my blouse pattern intervened and took a little chunk out of either side of my border. Ever since the quilt has been thrown over the back of the settee. One because it looks good there and two, in the hope that I might find a way around those missing chunks. The problem was that I did not want to reduce the width of the border, because that would chop off the birds’ heads. I tried to buy more fabric to no avail. Then I tried to buy a piece that matched one of the fabrics in the quilt. However the shop wrote to say they could not find it and re-imbursed me. Stumped. The fabric on the border was beginning to fray.

Back to square one, and then it occurred to me, cut out a square on either side where the notch of fabric was missing, and use the same fabric to create the binding. Hurrah. It is always good to use a fabric from the quilt for the border. No sooner said than done. Here it is being bound and I am taking the fabric round the back of the large border. I shall be using my Binding Buddy to get perfect mitred corners. As you will no doubt know, Cathedral Windows quilting does not require any wadding nor backing, but as I have added a border I am backing that and I am doing it in one piece.

I also finished my alpaca cardigan – feel ready for whatever winter throws at me now, with this cardigan and jumper twinset. All my knitting patterns are going up on Ravelry.

I dabbled with paint again too. This was a fun one with thicker paint, not my usual style. Time to start new projects, join me on Monday and see what I got up to over the weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Di van Niekerk

The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Di van Niekerk, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214427, price 17.99 available from

The combination of felting and silk ribbon embroidery is magical. Make felted backgrounds and enhance them with silk ribbon embroidery. Step-by-step instructions are included for felting and for making silk embroidered flowers and creatures. See how to wet felt with wool and silk embellishments; silk paper, needle felting or nuno felting. Learn the art of silk ribbon embroidery. There are 15 projects that also have step-by-step instructions, so this book is ideal from beginners upwards. Make a beautiful felted scarf with a silk ribbon embroidered detail; a throw with an embroidered border; a tablet or hot-water bottle cover, purse, handbag, sampler, spectacle case, wall art, bag, hold-all, bracelet or needle case. I like the projects, they have a contemporary feel. The sparrow on the purse is very special. For each project you see at a glance the materials you need with colour charts, needles, stitches and techniques, process, embroidery and finishing off. An illustrated gallery of stitches used in the projects is given too, clearly showing stitches such as French knot and how to make a rose, for example, with excellent large detailed line drawings in colour. The patterns are at the back of the book.  The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. Di van Niekerk is a well-known silk embroiderer and has joined forces with felter Toody Cassidy and used some designs from Chic Fusion in the book. The book was originally published in South Africa. This book is part of the Textile Artist series. Absolutely superb and highly recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 10a

Back to twice a week blogging. I attached the binding to the neutrals quilts, after making bias joins to ensure I had enough binding to go all the way around the quilt. You can do the math, but I also advise testing it physically to see if you have enough. It does not need pinning, just line up with the edge of the quilt and sew. The full instructions will be in the beginners’ quilting ecourse shortly. This one needs an insert of stiff Vilene, so it is not quite finished yet. The neutrals quilt is destined to be a bedhead cover and needs a stiffener to keep it upright, since the bedhead is shaped. I opted for a pull out liner of Vilene, but it is on order.

I also did the same binding on the Morris quilt, but this one is finished now. Sorry about the pic, a bit of handshake I think.

I have one more quilt to finish from a while ago. One of my Cathedral windows ones. Fabric is on order for that too.

I have had the urge to paint ever since I got back from Corfu and on Saturday I finally made a start. Very pleased with this work, but Sunday was a different day and although I finished 3 paintings, I am not sure I like any of them. I am using different materials for effect for a tutorial. I wrote up part of the tutorial and got some quilt design tutorials written up too.

I am now working on the fascinating innovative quilt creations for Festival of Quilts (FOQ) 2018. Very excited about this work. Can’t show you much of it, it is all hush hush for the show.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Drawing The Male Nude by Giovanni Civardi

Drawing The Male Nude by Giovanni Civardi, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214618, price 12.99 available from

An introduction to the drawing of the male nude. You’ll find numerous poses illustrating all the aspects of drawing nudes. A resource book and collection of drawings. This book includes structure of the human figure and the different methods of representation. It looks at using with different materials and the effect this has upon the look of the finished drawing. It looks at proportion and the difficulties encountered by beginners. The studies are all fairly simplistic line drawings, with a little spontaneity at the end of the book. Similar books have been written by the author, if you do not already have one, this makes a good introduction to drawing the nude.


One Day Doilies

One Day Doilies, softback published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781590127858, price 7.99 available in the UK from

8 doilies to crochet that take no time at all. Stunning designs, mostly lacy and openwork except for a more solid star and closely crocheted design. Different shapes and motifs mean you could be happy crocheting all 8. Instructions from beginner upwards. Clear photographs, clear written instructions, all using the same crochet cotton. Short stitch guide with drawings and a conversion chart. Excellent value.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 9

I quilted the neutral quilt top, then made a start going in the opposite direction to make large X’s. Would have liked to do large diamonds across two rows, but with five rows, there would have been one half diamond and I did not fancy that. Of course, this made small diamonds across the row anyway.

Got quite a bit of hand stitching done on the embroidery and I am well on my way up the first front of the cardigan. Just to remind everyone – this is the cable cardigan in angora to match the sweater already made.

It has been quite a while since I created some digital work. I had a go at abstracting a drawing with interesting results.

Saturday saw me make a decision for 2018 to be my European year. I want to see as much as Europe as I can. I do not even have a shoestring to travel on, so it will be fun to bring any of the plans to fruition. I also have some commitments here, so it cannot be quite what is in my mind or dreams. That would consist of a gap year, where I up sticks and live in Europe for a year. Unfortunately not possible at present. I have a few ideas to follow and see if anything works out for me.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Beginner’s Guide to Botanical Flower Painting

Beginner’s Guide to Botanical Flower Painting, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213109, price 12.99 available from

Michael presents a 6-stage process to painting any flower you like in detail. It’s a mix of traditional techniques and contemporary style to produce detailed flower portraits. There are sections on colour (including greens), drawing (simplifying the process into shapes), tone, composition and dissection. 12 excellent step-by-step projects are included with full-size tracings provided. Find out how to select, prepare and draw flowers and how to mix colours. Michael has chosen to depict favourite flowers with wide appeal – rose, calla lily, iris, magnolia and pansy amongst others. Throughout you will find Michael’s inspirational flower paintings. Achieve good results even as a beginner. This book is based on two previously published books.

Complete Guide to Acrylics by Lorena Kloosterboer

Complete Guide to Acrylics by Lorena Kloosterboer, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215745, price 15.99 available from

Techniques, tools of the trade, materials, expert tips, sep-by-step photos and examples of work make this comprehensive resource a must for all painters interested in using acrylics. 65 techniques are included. This book was previously published in 2015. Please note that included in the techniques are methods like ‘applying gesso’, ‘making a wet palette’ so they are not all actual painting techniques. Some of the techniques are step-by-step. They are useful for beginners and also include some advanced techniques such as pouring, grisaille, glazing, decalcomania and airbrush. In Form and Surface, she covers still life and capturing the surface of objects such as wood, fabric, flowers, skin, glass, animal hair, painting landscapes and water and so on. There is a superb step-by-step of painting a portrait and another of plaited hair. For advanced artists there is a chapter called ‘Be a Pro’. Unfortunately instead of taking the artist into the next level to explore skills and push the boundaries, this is a rather mundane chapter on giving your art a title, signing it, framing it and photographing it. The book is filled with colour reproductions of Lorena’s art and that of others. I was disappointed that in the ‘Keeping Acrylics Workable’ section there was no mention of Atelier Interactive, which are my acrylics of choice because you don’t need retarders or wet palettes. In other respects this book is comprehensive no matter what your budget, the author presents options in materials, in fact there are 45 pages given to this section alone. This book is great for building skills, no matter whether you are a beginner or more confident painter.

Creative Textiles Blog Year 2 Week 8

Sorry I have been missing for a week or so. I went away to Corfu, more about that in a minute. First, let me show you what I made whilst I was in Corfu. I knitted a purple shawl to my own design. I also started hand stitching one of my portraits. As always I totally fell in love with doing this again. I have not done one for a while, thanks to hand/arm and eyesight problems. So it was great to get a little done. I have changed my way of working slightly, introducing more fabrics.

I would also like to show you my purchases. I was very frugal – I had to be. I could not even afford to eat out. I grabbed a spinach pie every day for around 2 Eu and bought fresh bread and cheese. I could not resist this red braid in an ecclesiastical supplies shop and wanted to go back on my last day, but alas could not find the shop. The gift wrap was nice too. I also bought some olive wood buttons. Many of the shops are filled with rubbish aimed at tourists.

Corfu – land of blue and green. Blue waters sparkle silver, misty mountains changing colours, rows of boats upon the silvered sea. Coloured walls of Venetian buildings, warm against the sunshine. Byzantine churches with gold and silver icons, candle flames for prayers and hopes. Fortresses, art and gardens. So much to see, I enjoyed my week very much. I found so much inspiration.

I stayed at the Saint Nicholas Aparthotel and had a large bedroom and a separate sitting room with a sink, fridge and hob. A balcony ran the length of both rooms. In the grounds were a pool and bar. The hotel reception areas are well-designed and there are cameos of vintage artefacts and furniture. The staff were brilliant and I would recommend this hotel to anyone. It is in Gouvia, where Corfu marina and the Venetian shipyards are – not a tourist area as such. It is 8km from Corfu Town, 3 km from Dassia/Ipsos. All are easily reached by bus at the bottom of the hill, very easy to use and frequent even in October. You can also easily reach Mouse Island, Mon Repos (where Prince Philip was born) and other areas of interest on the blue bus. Green buses will take you to the tourist areas and further afield. I went into Corfu town three times, very interesting. It is easy to get lost even with a map! Local Greeks, especially in the shops will point you in the right direction. Sad that the Archeological Museum was still closed for renovations, but there was much to see.

I was pleased with everything I saw – Corfu Town with its busy but pedestrianised streets, the churches, monasteries, domes and galleries, the big beautiful blue sea, green gardens and mountain sides with their olive groves, historical remains and the relaxing atmosphere. Everyone was complaining about mosquitoes and I had huge bites. The only other thing I did not like was that on the main roads and around the city centre, there is quite a lot of pollution from motorbikes and old cars. However the traffic is nowhere near as mad as Athens.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Vibrant Oils by Haidee-Jo Summers

Vibrant Oils by Haidee-Jo Summers, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212539, price 15.99 available from

Inject freshness and vibrancy into oil paintings with Haidee-Jo’s style that demystifies the media to create contemporary work. Subjects include portraits, landscapes, still life and more. The book is aimed at any level from beginners to those looking for new techniques. Find everything you need to know including alla prima, colour and painting figures. 4 very good step-by-step projects are included – cafe scene, a female portrait, the boats seen on the front cover and a garden. The contents are divided into introduction, materials, inspiration, oils, drawing, alla prima, composition, values, colour, plein air, sketching, figures plus the projects and greys, lost and found (edges), your voice and the index. The book is highly instructional with excellent text – every word counts. Much of the painting is like cameos and the book is full of examples of her painting. I love the snow scene of the allotment, it is so fresh with excellent light. However, I personally find her work rather sketch-like and prefer my oils a bit more traditional. An interesting book none the less that I believe will deservedly have wide appeal. Of all the oil paintings books I have read, I think this is very useful.