From contemporary quilts to organization ideas to machine quilting and more, I enjoyed an eclectic roundup of books! —Jill Mead, editor
Fresh Quilting: Fearless color, Design & Inspiration ($26.95; Interweave Press, 2010)
I like quilts with clean, clear colors and simple shapes, so when a friend and co-worker recommended designer Malka Dubrawsky’s new book, I knew it would be a visual delight. I wasn’t disappointed. Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design & Inspiration is refreshing. Malka’s projects have an appealing, I-can-do-it contemporary look and each is designed to fill a purpose: coin purse, trivet, curtain, tote, and quilts, quilts, quilts. If you are new to quilting, you’ll find the basics of the art included with enough detail to get you on your way to success. If you’re more experienced, you’ll probably flip right to the 20 projects and start stitching. Besides step-by-step instructions for each project, Malka has included extras, such as step-by-step instructions for inserting a zipper in a pillow backing, 10 ways to (heart) improvisational piecing, and luscious full-color detail photos that show off quilting and finishing. Not one to shy away from strong color, she also encourages you to stretch your own palette choices by showing out-of-the-ordinary color and print combinations.
On my “to-make” list: Nate’s quilt, a 36”-square/ 36 block project for practicing freehand rotary cutting and improvisational piecing. Those two techniques don’t sound (or look) scary now.
Sensational Small Quilts 15 projects from Wall Hangings to Throws ($24.99; Krause Publications, 2010)
Edited by Christine Doyle
Think small, make it scrappy, and use up that stash! The 15 projects in Sensational Small Quilts fill a big order. These best-loved little quilts from Darlene Zimmerman, Maggie Ball, Glenna Hailey, Karen Snyder, and 11 other designers are compiled from other Krause titles for quilters who love to use every last scrap. The eleven projects range in size from table toppers to wall hangings to throws. One of my favorite features is the general instruction section, written by Darlene Zimmerman. It’s filled with the basics as well as tips and tricks. Learning how to twist the seam on a four-patch unit to make it lie flatter, making binding that’s a perfect fit, and binding a scalloped or curved edge are worth the price of the book.
Sew the Perfect Bag: 25 great projects from Sew News ($22.99; Martingale & Co., 2010)
There’s no such thing as too many bags. Just take a look inside your closet (or mine), or in my crafts room, or in my car…you’ll find bags for every reason, every season. This collection of 25 bag patterns could be a guidebook to the bag for every reason. You’ll find a shoulder bag for your I-pad or lap top, a baby bag for all your wee one’s necessities, beach totes, reusable grocery bags, and more. Each comes with step-by-step instructions and tips for successful sewing. I’m eager to try Simply Sashiko, a silk clutch that’s embellished with a stitching pattern that originated in Japan. I’ll learn a new technique while making it and have a lovely gift to give when it’s complete.
Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter: An Illustrated Guide to the Space of Your Dreams ($19.95; C&T Publishing, 2011)
Disclaimer: OK. I was sold on this book the minute I saw the title. I am a sucker for any book that will help me get rid of clutter and organize my studio.
The Skinny: Here you’ll find ideas for identifying what causes clutter, setting goals to deal with it, and organizing what’s left. Oh, did I forget the best part? Here it is: How to maintain the organization. (That’s the part that gets me every time.)
The book is filled with ideas: for what you need (good lighting, temperature, electrical system, and sound control are musts), storing your stash so you can use it, handling all the tools and trappings (books, magazines, UFOs) of quilting, and maintaining your space. There’s a section that deals with quilting-on-the-go (ideas for those who participate in workshops and retreats) and another that talks about storage and display.
Bottom line: I got some great ideas (room design, better lighting, fabric storage, packing for retreats), inspiration (to clean up my space and donate what I’m not using), and (my favorite) maintaining the space in an orderly way.
Free-Motion Machine Quilting ($24.95; C&T Publishing, 2011)
I’d like to be a great machine quilter. But, I don’t want to practice all that much. Silly, I know. After reading Don Linn’s Free-Motion Machine Quilting, I’m thinking there might be hope for me. I may not become e a great machine quilter, but possibly an OK machine quilter and certainly not without practice! The step-by-step photos and straight forward text offering advice such as …“If you do not move the fabric after the machine has taken 3 or 4 stitches, the thread will probably break, and you will have to start over again…” give me hope. Don hands out homework that he calls “Practice Exercise.” He shows you what problems look like (tension problems, stitch length problems) and then tells you how to solve them. His writing style is chatty, as if you have a quilting coach right in the room with you. Don patiently walks you through learning to draw and stitch designs one baby-step at a time, until suddenly you understand how to stitch feathers. You learn how to select designs that are appropriate for your quilt, and how to mark the quilt top. He provides inspiring photos of finished quilts and an eight-page quilting design gallery filled with designs to be enlarged to fit your quilt blocks.