I love books and as a self taught quilter I’ve relied on them to help me out. Yes, I own what I call pattern books, but the ones I keep going back to explain technique or inspire me. And some do both. If you click on the Books category elsewhere in this blog you’ll find other reviews of quilt-related books. Lately I haven’t found any quilting books that have wowed me enough to add here. I think the whole concept of books on quilting is undergoing a sea change, with the proliferation of videos on techniques and digital patterns.
I’m not the only one who’s a book junkie. Here’s a link to textile related books compiled by Textile Ranger. She leans more to dyeing and weaving, but suggests several helpful sounding titles for dating fabric.
Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts is one of my favorite books. My copy was a birthday gift, so I wasn’t concerned about value for money. However, at 175 pages and 11 chapters covering everything from quilting basics to design, with lots of techniques and patterns in between, this book is an excellent value. Unlike other modern quilting books, this one goes far beyond wonky log cabin blocks and a few large squares of solid fabric. In fact, some of the quilts illustrated come close to art quilts. This is not a book for machine quilting specifics as it spends only 4 pages on that topic, but the pictures of finished quilts will give you plenty of quilting ideas.
Since Modern Patchwork is a related book, I’ll highlight some of its pros and cons. Instructions are quite detailed for each pattern with tips to make your work more efficient. Two alternate fabric ideas are shown for each pattern, and the backs for each quilt are great. In fact I found myself liking them more than the fronts. (Note: Elizabeth Hartman has a free Craftsy class on quilt backs.) There are great tips about making a quilt sandwich (well, quilters will know I’m not talking about lunch) as well as other hints that may run counter to conventional wisdom. What I missed were yardages for different sizes of the quilts and some idea of influences on the author’s style. I realize these are optional but I find them helpful.
Another fave book, Intuitive Color & Design: Adventures in Art Quilting, actually covers many of the same techniques as Quilting Modern, including wonky angle piecing, soft curves, stitch and flip, and detail piecing. However, the quilts pictured are more arty and use less negative space. Also, the book’s emphasis is more on quilt inspiration and design. I especially like the chapter on ways to finish wall quilts besides binding them.
Twelve by Twelve which relates the saga of an online quilting challenge has a place by my bed. I dip into it at random. I guess it’s my version of a bedtime story. Each of the 12 participating quilters (all bloggers) is featured in a chapter about each of the 12 chosen themes. Those range from the concrete – chairs – to a concept – community. I just love how each quilter’s individuality comes through in her chapter, and how doubts, false starts, and difficulties are recounted. The 144 12 inch square quilts are in a traveling exhibit, so you may be able to catch them live, so to speak. I believe subsequent rounds done by this group are also traveling exhibits.
Quiltmaker’s Color Workshop is a revised (2006) edition of Color Harmony for Quilts by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. It analyzes color choices for 15 quilts that set moods ranging from subtle to ethereal. Each analysis talks about how the color palette sets the quilt’s mood; and gives palette, hue and value variations. If that weren’t enough, the authors suggest individual and group explorations of each mood, and include 4 quilt patterns. Many of the examples are from the late 1990s-early 2000s, but each successfully conveys a mood. I keep rereading this one to see how the illustrated hue and value variations affect my perception of mood.
The Experts’ Guide to Foundation Piecing: 15 Techniques & Projects is somewhat older (2006) but it pulls together 14 leading foundation piecing practitioners. There’s a description of the technique each one uses and a small sample to make with the technique. This book is all technique, but would be an excellent place to find a style of foundation piecing you like and try it. If you’re ambitious you can try projects by Cynthia England and Caryl Bryer Fallert.
I don’t know if today’s quilters know about Mary Mashuta, but I just love her books, especially Stripes in Quilts. I bought my copy second hand (it was published in 1996), but I see Amazon offers this as a print on demand book. I suspect the production values aren’t as good – no glossy paper, etc. If you want to explore ways to use striped fabric in quilts, this book will be your bible. The copious pictures (in color) really help make Mary’s points. I’d love to see her stash. Just don’t expect any quilt patterns. Fun fact – Mary is the twin sister of Roberta Horton.