Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. This month, we’re concentrating on the table. With the holiday season approaching, we’re looking for ways to decorate our tables and throw fabulous parties with a handmade touch.
Set the Table: 11 Designer Patterns for Table Runners for Martingale
Eleven different designers each contribute one table runner to this book–each with a different story to share about where their inspiration came from. From traditional blocks to improvisational piecing, this book offers a variety of techniques and styles. Table runners are quick to make, and since they’re smaller projects, easy to test out color combinations, block design, and practice your quilting. This book has easy-to-follow patterns and tips from the designers, so you’re sure to have perfect projects done in no time!
Handmade Hostess by Kelly Lee-Creel and Rebecca Soder for Stash Books
Authors Kelly and Rebecca set the table for 12 creative party ideas. Divided into chapters by season, the parties feature both sewing and no-sew projects to add a handmade touch to your shindig. DIY centerpieces, name cards, napkins, party favors, and table toppers are all on the list. Plus, each party comes with a signature dessert recipe. From holiday parties to bridal showers to summer bashes, these parties are perfect for all ages and incorporate fun (and cheap) personalized touches.
101 Fabulous Small Quilts by Martingale
You get the bang for your buck in this book featuring 101 small quilt patterns. Some of your favorite designers have created patterns for doll quilts, table runners, candle mats, wall quilts and so much more for your home. Featuring styles ranging from two-color quilts to scrappy designs, it’s easy to pull fabric from a pack of precuts or choose from your stash. Patterns contain full-size applique patterns and colorful diagrams for easy-breezy quilting!
Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. We’re looking for ways to use up some of our scraps before the holiday season!
Triple-Play Scrap Quilting: Planned, Coordinated, and Make-Do Styles by Nancy Allen for Martingale
Designer Nancy Allen is a scrap expert. She makes scrappy quilt accessible to everyone, no matter their skill level, the size of their stash, or their style of quilting. Each of the nine quilt patterns in this book are shown in three colorways–”coordinated scrappy,” “planned scrappy,” and “make-do scrappy.” Coordinated scrappy uses fabrics from one fabric collection, which is perfect if you’re a precut collector. Planned scrappy uses fabrics in a particular color scheme, which is especially great if you need a quilt to match a particular decor. And a making do quilt uses the fabrics you have on hand to get a true scrappy look. Nancy also includes helpful tips on buying fabrics and planning your fabric placement.
Scraps Plus One!: New Patterns to Quilt Through Your Stash with Ease by Joan Ford
Inspired by the striking contrast of red-and-white quilts she saw on display, Joan created a book around the idea of pairing scraps with white. This idea expanded to include scraps paired with black, scraps paired with a technique, and scraps paired with an inspiration print. All 20 projects in this book incorporate your stash of leftover fabric into organized and beautiful quilts! Joan combines personal stories, large diagrams, easy-to-follow instructions, and inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. After reading this book, you’ll be inspired to use your scraps in a variety of projects!
Scrap Quilts Fit for a Queen or a Kind, Twin or Lap! by Sally Schneider for Martingale
It’s hard to alter quilt patterns for the size bed quilt you need already–but with a scrappy quilt, it’s even more difficult to figure out how much fabric you need. Designer Sally takes the guess work out of the 10 scrappy quilts in this book by doing the math for you! Each beautiful quilt comes in multiple sizes, from lap to King! Get the yardage, cutting instructions, and number of blocks in each size so you can spend more time at your sewing machine than at the calculator.
Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. You can tell we have autumn on our mind by our choices!
Bewitched Threads by Need’l Love
If you love Halloween, this is a must-have book! The seventeen projects featured in this book use fall colors, spooky motifs, and warm textures. Decorate a small space with just a ghoulish table topper or a pumpkin-theme pillow, or dress a bed with a black-and-orange quilt. Friends and family will love the tiny creature bean bags or pumpkin candy box toppers in their handmade trick-or-treat tote. Whether you like sticking to just sewing, are a fan of wool applique, or love venturing into rug hooking or punchneedle, this book has a variety of techniques that will keep you busy the whole season!
‘Tis the Autumn Season by Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks for Martingale
Designers Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks showcase a charming collection of quilts and coordinating projects that evoke beautiful images of autumn. The 12 projects range from scrappy quilts to chunky applique. While some quilts are decidedly “fall” with their rich and dark colors and patterns, many projects can span the seasons or can be made in another color way for year-round decorating! This book also features great diagram and directions for piecing, using fusible applique, and working with wool. And as a bonus, a variety of scrumptious fall recipes are scattered throughout the book–snuggle up with your new quilt and enjoy the tastes of fall, as well!
I am not a follow-the-rules crafter.
I grew up dabbling in many different crafts and spent a little time after college working at a crafts store. Depending on what items were on sale (or what my discount could get me), I would bring home different crafts supplies every week. I made jewelry, knitted scarves, and even binged on cake decorating supplies. I loved experimenting. I loved seeing how a certain item would inspire an idea and eventually become something beautiful to show the world.
I was never a person to buy a book of patterns or read directions. I liked having a spark of an idea and working with the supplies to create the look I wanted on my own terms. I once scrapbooked a year of my life using burlap accents (not a common scrapbooking supply). I crocheted four 3D Star Wars figurines as a Christmas present without a pattern (or any idea how to crochet). And the amount of things I’ve used wallpaper for besides my walls is ridiculous.
When I interviewed for my job as web editor for the Meredith crafts group, my boss asked me if I knew how to sew. Now, sewing was never a craft I dabbled in. I’d done a little embroidery and hand-sewing, but I’d never touched a sewing machine. It worked out perfect! Since I didn’t know how to sew, I made the ideal candidate for helping them start the blog HowToSew.com. Through that project, I’ve not only touched a sewing machine and learned how to work it, but have successfully sewn quite a few projects for my home. But quilting was a different challenge.
Starting in January, our staff began our Passion 48 projects. (Read more about it here.) Every week, we spend an hour making a quilt for ourselves. For someone whose never quilted before, this was an overwhelming project! I chose my project–a small Dresden Plate wall hanging. After a week of working on it, I decided I couldn’t follow the pattern. I started making a bunch of Dresden Plates in different sizes for what was now a throw. I added hand embroidered accents and am now making a scrappy pieced binding. It looks nothing like the original project (you can see the difference below). But it is something that I’m proud of and that fits my personal style.
While making this first quilt, though, I had a million questions. Not surprising for most of you, I’m sure, quilting is not a craft you can start on without knowing the basics. Knowing how to sew was not enough. Quilting has a language of its own and can involve some pretty complicated techniques. I luckily work with an amazing group of quilters who love to share their quilting knowledge, and they were so helpful answering my questions and showing me how to do things. But my questions did get annoying, I’m sure. I asked them to suggest a great book I could bring home to read to help me learn.
In an act of serendipity, we’d just published the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Quilting: Second Edition. You can buy your own copy here. It’s like learning from a friend. It’s published by my creative and knowledgeable coworkers with the same language and style of the magazines that I work with on a daily basis–it was such a perfect way for me to learn! Plus, the book is filled with beautiful photography and really detailed step-by-step photos, so I can easily see the techniques (great for someone like me who doesn’t necessarily like to read instructions all the time). It even has great diagrams, like the machine quilting diagrams below. I’ll be referencing these soon!
The book is divided into 16 chapters with everything from basic tools to cutting to binding and finishing. It breaks up each step in the quilting process for an easy reference guide. I started going through the book page by page since I had questions about each part of quilting, but the chapters and the index at the end of the book make it easy for me to look up a specific technique quick, so I can get back to sewing. It has loop book binding, so your pages lay flat without flipping, which is nice when I need to set it down next to my cutting board or sewing machine. It even has blank pages at the end of each chapter for me to take my own notes.
One of my favorite features of this book are the handy measurement, yardage, and size charts. I don’t like math very much, so it’s great to have a chart I can scan quick or bring with me to the quilt shop. They have charts for everything you can imagine. I can tell you how many 4″ half-square triangles I can get from 3/4 yard of fabric in two seconds. Or how big my twin bed quilt needs to be to have a 10″ drop and a 10″ tuck. They even have a calculator for determining the yardage you need for a mitered border–no matter what size your quilt is!
This is absolutely my to-go guide for quilting. It’s a book that will live on my shelf my whole life (unless they come out with a Third Edition!). It not only taught me the basics, but I know it will be something that I can keep coming back to learn new techniques for an upcoming project or even to brush up on my basics.
Visit the Moda Fabrics blog to see what other designers are reading right now and what book inspired them to start quilting! Plus, Moda Fabrics is giving away 6 great new books–enter to win on their blog!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our week filled with book reviews! What books have piqued your interest? Let us know in the comments! —Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, senior editor
Flowers, Hearts, & Garlands Quilt ($26.95; American Quilter’s Society, 2011)
When I picked up this book, one of the Appliqué Masterpiece Series, I was hoping it offered advice for improving my satin-stitched appliqué. It does that, but offers so much more. Liz Jones’ technique for free-motion-basting appliqués before satin-stitching around them is a “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of technique that uses paper stabilizer, spray starch, and a light box to guarantee perfect appliqué placement without using any fusible web. Liz shares construction and supply tips, 32 appliqué designs, and 42 quilting motifs to make your own version of her award-winning (and stunning!) Hearts and Garlands appliqué sampler quilt.
A Notion to Celebrate! ($14.95; Leisure Arts, 2011)
Maybe it’s the fond memories I have of my great-grandmother helping me make Christmas ornaments with straight pins, sequins, and foam balls. Or maybe it’s the fact that the cover of this book looks like an incredibly yummy box of chocolates. Either way, I was drawn to Melissa Bickle’s book full of faux confections and other decorations for multiple occasions. How-to photos show you how to use foam shapes along with bits of ribbon, trims, buttons, pipe cleaners, rickrack, ribbon rosettes, pom-poms and more to make 16 projects. My favorites? Cutie Cupcakes, Melissa’s Candy Box, Firecracker Flowerpots, and Gingerbread Goodness. And for Thanksgiving, I’m definitely going to make Melissa’s fool-the-eye pinecones made from chocolate brown grosgrain ribbon.
Simple Graces: Charming Quilts and Companion Projects ($28.99; Martingale & Co., 2010)
At American Patchwork & Quilting, we’re known for our color options, a second version of the original quilt showing how different it can look when made in other fabrics. So I was excited to see acclaimed designer Kim Diehl’s take on this concept. As she says, “…because so many quilts hold the promise of becoming so many different things, why should any of us have to settle upon just one?” Instructions are included for eight quilts plus additional projects created from each quilt’s pieced units or appliqué motifs. All of the quilts and projects (which range from embellished tea towels and eyeglass cases to door hangers, doll quilts, and pincushions) are constructed using fabrics in Kim’s signature warm, homespun, scrappy palette. Don’t skip the general quiltmaking instructions—they’re packed with useful tips and specifics for Kim’s preferred construction techniques.