Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book review – Sewing for all Seasons

seasons cover

This month I’m reviewing another wonderful book from a Portland author – what do they put in the water there?! Susan Beal’s Sewing for all Seasons was a year long labour of love for her. The idea came to be in the autumn, projects were designed for the proposal in the winter, she shopped for fabrics and sewed all spring, and finished writing everything in the summer.

seasons grid

Like her experience creating this lovely book, its 24 projects are divided up into the seasons of the year. The chapter for spring is made up of projects with bright colours and floral fabric patterns, summer has great projects for outdoors spaces and hot and sunny days, autumn brings cooler weather into its designs and uses wonderfully earthy tones and the winter projects are about celebrating holidays, gift giving and ringing in the upcoming new year.

The projects vary in level of difficulty from “easy” to “intermediate/advanced” and there is a wonderfully helpful techniques section at the beginning of the book.  I had a hard time deciding which project to try and finally settle on making the Nesting Canisters in the chapter for spring. It’s a project I’ve always wanted to make to help with tidying up my sewing space and now I had the perfect excuse to devote time to making some!

canisters

The instructions were super easy to follow and all three canisters were put together in no time.  I was missing one suggested tool, a binding tape maker, but I had no problem making the binding tape by hand using my iron. Now that I’ve made the canisters once, the pattern was written so well that I’m confident I will be able to make them again without referring to it.

jo-anne canisters

There are many projects in the books that I’d love to make for myself including the very pretty Spring Flowers Wrap Skirt as well as the Gardening Apron, and all of the projects would make for great gifts no matter the time of year.

projects grid

This is another book I would happily add to my collection!

A big thank you to Chronicle Books for providing the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild with a complimentary copy to review.  It will be the feature door prize at our December meeting!

Book photos reprinted from Sewing for all Seasons: 24 stylish projects to stitch through the year, Copyright (c) 2013. Published Chronicle Books LLC.

Photo of personally made Nesting Canisters by Jo-Anne Platt.

Book review – Quilting Happiness

book cover small
I’d heard many wonderful things about “Quilting Happiness” by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland and it was in my list of books to buy.  When Holly asked if I wanted to review it, I jumped at the opportunity.

My first impression of the book is one of a sense of community.  When I joined the VMQG, it’s what I was looking for and it was such a gift to have found it.  I felt at home the moment I sat down at my very first meeting and I felt the same way when I started reading Christina and Diane’s wonderful book.  It was akin to sitting down with a dear friend who just “got it” and understood this crazy passion we all share.  Even Christina’s dedication had me laughing, “For my mom, who taught me this valuable lesson: You’ll never notice it on a galloping horse.” As a quilter who can sometimes get caught up in the minutia of the mistakes we all make, this was such a warm welcome to the book.

dedication small

There are four distinct project chapters: Inspired to Quilt, Quilting for Yourself, Quilting for Others and Quilting Together. Throughout each chapter, both Diane and Christina share what inspires them.  What is it about quilting that most inspires you, fuels your passion and keeps you creating?  For me it’s the fabric – choosing it and seeing it in a gorgeously folded stack for the first time.  It’s the unlimited possibility that the stack contains.  The fabrics I’ve chosen for a particular pattern are all my own and no other quilter would choose the same combination.

In each chapter you’ll also find wonderful tips and ideas, as well as creative exercises and suggestions on how you might make your quilting life more fulfilling and a source of continuous happiness.  All of these are well thought out and can help readers to reflect at a deeper level on their love of quilting; perhaps even helping in seeing facets never considered before.  It’s all done in such an open and joyful way. There’s even a great quiz part way through the book called “Get to Know Your Inner Quilter” and based on your results, the authors make suggestions on which projects in the book might most suit your style.  Mine was spot on!

The instructions for each project are incredibly detailed – something which I appreciate a great deal, even as a more ‘experienced’ quilter.  There are colourful diagrams throughout and they are very easy to follow.  At the start of the book, it’s mentioned that the book isn’t necessarily for beginners, but between the detailed project instructions, the how to get started section and the amazing end chapter on tools and techniques, I think this would be a great, inspiring book for a beginner to pick up and dive into.

Before writing this review, I thought it important to try out one of the patterns.  Due to a crazy fall schedule, I chose the smallest and simplest, The Liberty Mini-Quilt Art.  I have a lovely bag of Liberty scraps and this was a great reason to dig into them.

The Liberty Mini-Quilt Art

The instruction listed for this short pattern are very concise and when the book directs you to use a particular technique, you’re able to find detailed information on how to complete it in the last chapter of the book entitled “Tips and Techniques”. I learned a great way to quickly assemble half square triangles!  I’ll confess that my biggest issue with quilting is accuracy in cutting.  The first of my two mini-quilts did not come out in the dimensions it should have, but that was definitely due to quilter error! I simply reminded myself of Christina’s mom and the quote about a galloping horse.  Having completed these small quilts, I’m excited to try the others in the book that have caught my eye.

Mini Quilts

I’ve also read two of the patterns from start to finish and even in simply reading them, I found them to be exact in their directions and the addition of the various tips and ideas make it not only a wonderful book to work from but one to simply read as well.  Not only will the book remain on my list of books to buy, it now has a lovely and inspiring spot at the top!

The Petal Pie Quilt

If anyone else has picked up the book, please share your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to reading them.

A big thank you to Potter Craft for providing the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild with a complementary copy to review.  It will be the feature door prize at our October meeting!

Book photos reprinted from QUILTING HAPPINESS: Projects, Inspiration & Ideas to Make Quilting More Joyful Copyright (c) 2013 by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland. Published by Potter Craft, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, LLC, A Penguin Random House Company.

Photo of personally made Liberty Mini-Quilt Art quilts by Jo-Anne Platt.