Go green with these books that help you use your fabric scraps.
Simply Charming: Small Scrap Quilts of Yesteryear ($26.95; Kansas City Star Quilts, 2011)
Tara Lynn Darr
I prefer making small quilts, and the scrappier the better. I cut 1-1/4”, 1-1/2”, and 2-1/2” squares and strips of all fabrics I buy and then store them in resealable plastic bags. This book, from designer Tara Lynn Darr, shows how to use those tiny bits and pieces of fabric that many people throw away! It showcases 20 small, scrappy quilts–the largest quilt is only 24×27-1/2”–and most are made with squares, rectangles, and triangle-squares using basic quilting tools (rotary cutter, mat, and ruler). Although quilts in the 112-page, full-color book are made with Civil War-era reproduction fabrics, they can be sewn using any small- to medium-scale fabrics. Traditional not your thing? Try using solids for a contemporary look. Not sure of a particular color palette? These little quilts allow you to experiment with various color combos without committing the time or yardage required for bigger quilts. Sprinkled throughout the book, Tara’s 18 helpful hints will benefit both new and experienced sewers. Making small quilts is addictive, and once you start sewing them I bet you will stitch more than one!
On my “to-make” list: Mountain Pathways (page 43), Juliana’s Jewels (page 67), and Living off the Scrap Basket (page 84)
—Jody Sanders, assistant editor
Scrap-Basket Sensations: More Great Quilts from 2-1/2″ Strips ($24.99; Martingale & Co., 2011)
Author Kim Brackett encourages readers to think twice about leftover fabric. She cuts all her scraps into more manageable 2-1/2″ strips that she can easily store and eventually use to make fabulous quilts. This book, a follow-up to her popular Scrap-Basket Surprises (Martingale & Co., 2008), offers 18 quilts that you can make using 2-1/2″ strips. If you’re not convinced how versatile these strips can be, you will be after seeing Kim’s takes. From stunning stars to floral motifs to interlocking designs, ideas abound. Although my stash of fabric strips is fairly, I plan to try out some of the patterns in this book using precut strips.
On my “to-make” list: Flowers for Nana Girl (page 21), Over and Under (page 30), Picnic (page 69 and on the cover)
—Maria Charbonneaux, staff writer
Trash to Treasure Pineapple Quilts ($23; FPI Publishing, 2010)
Gyleen X. Fitzgerald
Create something from nothing–that’s what author Gyleen X. Fitzgerald challenged an online community of quilters–and now readers–to do. This book contains seven pineapple quilts made using 1-1/2″ strips (which she calls “noodles”) cut from fabric scraps. The author’s quilt, Ends with Love, contains a hodgepodge of scraps with no precise color placement plan in mind, and that’s something I find really liberating. She says, “The whole point is to have fun as you sew with rapid abandon. Let’s just keep sewing noodles into pineapple blocks and then into a one-of-a-kind pineapple quilt until they’re all gone. The plan is to live free of scrap clutter forever.” The book also outlines how to use the Pineapple Tool (sold separately) rather than paper piecing the blocks.
On my “to-make” list: Ends with Love (page 11)
—Maria Charbonneaux, staff writer
Looking for an inspiring read? Check out what I’m reading right now.
Sew Charming: 40 Simple Sewing and Hand-Printing Projects for Home and Family ($24.99; Potter Craft, 2010)
Cath Derksema and Kirsten Junor
How often can you envision the perfect fabric print for your project…if only you could find it? Cath and Kirsten of Prints Charming, an Australian fabric design studio, show you how to screen-print your own fabric in their latest book. In addition to easy-to-understand, step-by-step photos outlining the screen-printing process, I love that there are 12 screen-printing patterns–including heart, bird, and starburst motifs–on pullout sheets. If printing your own fabric isn’t your thing, don’t fear. Plenty of the 40 projects don’t require the technique, and the ones that do include screen-printed designs have tips for using already-printed fabric. So much of what I sew is for my home, so I really appreciate that the projects are broken up into eight chapters centered around rooms: nursery, girl’s room, boy’s room, adult’s room, living room, kitchen, and outdoor living. Another bonus? Many of the projects feature stunning hand embroidery, which is called out in beautiful detail photos. Talk about eye candy!
On my “to-make” list: Brooches (page 64), Starbust Quilt (page 82), Lampshade (page 105)
Circle Quilts: Create Dramatic Medallions from Strip-Pieced Rings ($27.95; C&T Publishing, 2011)
I first saw examples of Colleen’s head-turning circle quilts when I learned about her new Quilt Shaper product for round quilts at Fall 2010 Quilt Market. To be honest, paper piecing intimidates me a little bit. Stitching, trimming, folding, unfolding…it can be tricky to keep all the steps straight. This book has great step-by-step photos that show you not only how to paper-piece arcs for these stunning quilts, but also how to chain-piece them quickly using a technique Colleen calls Power Piecing. This section is a great reference not only to make the eight projects and 11 color options in this book, but for any paper-piecing project.
On my “to-make” list: Liberty Star (page 28)
We love how Pamela White, a reader from Nanaimo, British Columbia, modified the Night & Day pattern from the February 2007 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting into a king-size quilt that’s 120″ square. Check out her version in the I Am A Quilter column on page 8 of the June 2011 issue!
The original pattern is 98-1/2″ square, but Pamela’s version is 120″ square. She made 44 extra blocks, expanded the borders, and enlarged the corner blocks to make her larger version.
If you don’t have a copy of the February 2007 issue, you can now purchase the Night & Day pattern from the quilt’s designer, Toby Lischko of Gateway Quilts & Stuff.