Book Reviews – Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science and Uncommonly Corduroy

Reviews by Gaye Collins

Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science – by Alexandra Winston

Quilt Lab Front CoverI recently had the opportunity to review this interesting book. At first glance my interest was peaked and drawn to the blending of science and sewing; one of my own special interests. Many of the visual presentations in this book show atomic structures. This form of illustration and design for quilting was a novel approach.

The introduction to the book talks about the authors connection to science and how she wanted to incorporate these structures into her modern quilts. She moves onto a chapter that defines geometry and its variety of shapes. She discusses what is a rectangle, a triangle; what are the formulas to create various sized rectangles, triangles, circles and angles?

The next chapter discusses special angles and how to make these on a grid. A few tips are included with a small list of essential tools needed for designing and sewing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.39.33 AMThe fifth chapter has a well laid out Design Process for creating your own quilt design through to the point of sewing. This was my favourite section in the whole book. The steps in this process moved from inspiration, to design, to turning the design into a workable quilt, to picking colours, fabric and finally sewing. She also includes a chapter on a quilt finishing method.

The remainder of the book is divided into four sections: small projects, rectangles, angles and circles. Each containing three projects.

In my opinion, the projects presented are not for beginning quilters. The directions assume knowledge that many beginners lack. Some of the projects contain so many steps that even an experienced quilter might be turned away.

Overall, I find this an interesting approach to quilting. I like the Design Process. I like the look of some of the projects but I don’t like the way the directions are presented. I also find some of the projects are far too many pieces to arrive at the finished product.

Would I read this book? Yes!
Would I purchase this book? No!

Quilt Lab  photos reprinted from Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science by Alexandra Winston.  Published by CT/Stash Books.

Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns and More – by Stephanie Dunphy

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.45.34 AMFrom my very first glance, I found this book to be beautiful! The cover photo immediately caught my eye and inspired me to want to look into this book. The photos inside also inspire one to want to try every project.

This book begins with a Creative Ode To Corduroy; a fun poem. It moves into a section that presents some tips for success, some terminology, some bag making tips and some quilt making tips. Very useful for the following projects.

The majority of the book is split into two sections: bags and scarves which contain seven patterns and quilts which contain nine patterns.

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Each pattern has a vibrant photo of the project with clearly written instructions for completion. At the beginning of each project is an anecdotal comment which peaks the readers interest.

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The projects can be handled by both beginners and advanced quilters. I really found this a luscious book; simple and complicated at the same time, user friendly and wonderful to sit with and read just to get inspired.

Would I read this book? Yes!
Would I buy this book? Yes!

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Uncommonly Corduroy photos reprinted from Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns and More by Stephanie Dunphy.  Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.

One response to “Book Reviews – Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science and Uncommonly Corduroy

  1. Thanks for the reviews, Gaye. I’d like to add my thoughts on Quilt Lab, which I purchased for myself. It seemed too perfect a combination of science/math geekery and quilty goodness not to be part of my quilting book collection.

    I would agree that this is NOT a beginner book. It’s very math and geometry intensive and if that sort of thing breaks your brain, then you may want to prep yourself to dig into the reaches of your mind for grade 11 algebra class before attempting some of these projects.

    If you’re a mathy-type quilter, though, I think you’d love this book. The projects, to me, are just flat-out cool and unlike anything I’ve seen before in a quilt book. The school tote is pretty fabulous, covered in triangles pointing every which way; there is a “states of matter” quilt that has a similar theme of triangles pointing in all directions to represent solids, liquids and gasses.

    My favourite project in the book is the “calculus” quilt, which has 4 different wave patterns across the quilt. Not for the faint of heart, though. The piecing looks tricky. “Echo”, which is a graphic representation of sound, is a pretty awesome little wall hanging and involves freezer paper and piecing curves.

    Thanks also for your thoughts on Uncommonly Corduroy. I actually just finished up a small quilted item made from corduroy (not a project from this book, however) and it is definitely not a typical quilting material but adds a lot of interest to projects.