I was provided a copy of the eBook version of Amy Smart (Diary of a Quilter)’s book Fabulously Fast Quilts for review purposes.
Lucky me! This book has the same look and feel to Amy’s popular blog, with bright and happy projects that are designed to come together quickly.
The book is divided into sections, each of which use a technique that can speed up the quiltmaking process: Strip Piecing, Quick Corners, Slick Slicing, and Stack, Slice and Shuffle. The patterns also make use of precuts in many instances – another way to cut time from the process.
Amy introduces these techniques with some basic how-tos, and then we get to the projects!
I wouldn’t say there is a huge variety in the projects, but they’re all quite appealing, and this book would be a great one for a newer quilter.
I chose to test out the Buzz Saw block described in the Modern Buzz Saw pattern. Whenever you’re trying out a new pattern, it’s a good idea to do a test block first so you can work out any design kinks or discover things you may have overlooked when you first read the pattern.
For example, I didn’t really read the directions very closely and didn’t realize that I needed an additional strip of background fabric to make the Buzz Saw block. I just grabbed two sets of Layer Cake squares and got to work.
I also discovered that this block works best with a higher contrast between the main fabric and the background AND the fabrics you choose shouldn’t have a strong repeat in them (like the scissors print in my test block).
I’ll definitely be making more projects from this book, and I would recommend this book as a good addition to anyone’s quilting library – it’s got some simply-designed quilts that have lovely impact and are quick to put together, making them appealing to beginner and advanced quilters alike. Win/win!
Alright my VMQG peeps! Another great book to check out for you!
I ran out and bought myself a copy of The Modern Applique Workbook by Jenifer Dick as soon as I heard it was available. I tend to stalk the publishing websites for things I might be interested in, and this one was at the top of my list. I am the type of person who prefers hard copy books to digital (hurrah for full color pictures!) and I have to say that this is one of my favorites.
The Modern Applique Workbook
As most you know, I have been having a love affair with applique. My first quilts were applique, and it is a skill I am always pulling out in the course of my quilt making. I always seem to find myself using raw edge techniques, which are fine, but I have always wanted to brush up on my turned applique. There are some projects that a good crisp turned block would be much better than raw edge. Even the stitch and flip interfacing technique just doesn’t have the same look. Jenifer explains step by step her techniques for perfecting the turned edge applique and securing the pieces with the invisible zig zag method. A big reason I was drawn to the book was Jenifers introduction. Her journey into modern applique is very relatable, we have all had one of those ah-ha moments when a technique just works and becomes more than you ever thought it would.
So what is modern applique? Jenifer lays it all out for you in an easy to understand, straightforward manner. From tools to fabric selections (she includes batiks! AWESOME!), Jenifer is able to create a modern aesthetic while maintaining a balance with the traditional roots of the technique. Her instructions are easy to follow and the diagrams and pictures are clean and concise. She even includes a well rounded section about fabric prep-whether you pre wash or not, it has useful tips and tricks for fabric prep. The first 60 pages are so are all instructional and specific to the technique, which is fantastic because as far as I can tell it covers everything you could possibly need to know about Modern Applique.
The technique itself isn’t anything new, applique has been around for a very long time, but the process is broken down in an easy to follow, detailed step-by-step way that makes this book beginner friendly. I have other books outlining a similar process, but it seemed so daunting I never even tried. Jenifer’s writing style practically drags you by the arm and shoves you into a chair with the supplies, and holds your hand through each step, after which you look and say “Oh my gosh WHY did I not try this before?!” she comes across as upbeat and friendly, very easy to read! from sharp points to concave curves and ovals, you get everything you need to make the quilts in the book, including a well rounded and easy to understand section on reverse applique. Her bias tape and straight grain tape techniques are to die for as well. This is one I am adopting into my repertoire of techniques immediately!
OKay, onto the projects!
The Modern Applique Workbook includes a variety of projects in different sizes for you to try out your newly learned skills. Each project has a forward that includes tips on fabric choices and a list of the techniques used, as well as the page references for each, making going back to look stuff up super easy. The photography is wonderful, you get a full shot and a detail shot of each quilt, as well as specific quilting and binding tips and instructions for each quilt. That has to be one of my favorite details in the book, that each quilt is explained individually from start to finish, instead of the cookie cutter “Basic quilt making and finishing” chapters in most books. Don’t get me wrong, they are useful and probably industry standard, but the individualized attention to each quilt really makes THe Modern Applique Workbook stand out.
The written instructions are detailed, yet flexible, which I like but others may find daunting, because there are no traditional layout diagrams. Any piecing is illustrated, but the applique itself is visually placed. That is the nature of applique, you are usually going off a photo, but because the pieces nest together so well you don’t have to worry about lining up overlaps exactly or ruining your project. It definitely add a planned improv feel to your projects, but almost guarantees that no two projects will look the same.
My favorite quilt is the cover quilt, Star Bright. Such a fun retro shape with a ton of flexibility in fabric choice and layout! I can think of a few fabric pulls for this quilt, the hardest part will be narrowing it down.
The Modern Applique Workbook
I am also really drawn to Mod. Again, a fun retro vibe without feeling like your wading through the shag carpet in your grandparents living room. The quilting in each is spectacular, both done by Angela Walters.
Fall is adorable and its a good thing everyone I know is having babies. FYI, you all get this quilt!
For beginners, Birds is a easy one to start with. Cute and fun, would also make a great gift!
Overall I would recommend The Modern Applique Workbook to anyone. Beginners will love the step by step, detailed instructions, and experienced quilters will love making the more complex shapes and adopting Jenifers techniques for applique.
Hello my VMQG friends! Stacey Day here, with another book review for you! Please enjoy responsibly!
Yesterday I sat down and pulled out my copy of Playful Petals by Corey Yoder. I love applique, and I love orange peels so of course I was keen to dive in. I was definitely curious as to just how many projects could be made using a single shape. Quite a few would be the answer. You can find some great pictures here on Corey’s blog.*
Corey uses the single petal shape in lots of fun, innovative ways. The book includes both quilts and matching pillows, which is fun if you want to have matching throw pillows with your lap quilt. (I can never have enough!) The quilts use a combination of piecing and fusible web applique to keep things interesting, and to save you from the monotony of just press, peel, stick, press, repeat. There are multiple petal templates included, so you could scale down a project if you wanted by choosing a different petal shape. Most of the projects are pre-cut friendly, and will tell you which precut in the fabric requirements, so getting started is as easy as grabbing that fat quarter bundle or layer cake that has been languishing in your stash and put it to good use. The petals are also scrap friendly. What a beautiful way to use all those little bits and pieces!
The writing is easy to read and understand. She outlines her process and includes a fun bit of history as to how she got started quilting and why she centered on applique. She explains her method and shows you different options for stitching the applique pieces to the background fabric. The stitching instructions also include tips for perfect stitched petal points. She also gives you a layout for optimal petal placement that you can refer back to at need. Her method uses less fusible web than you might think, and ultimately creates less layers to sew through in some of the multi-petal patterns. She also gives you tips on picking a good fusible web, choosing threads and the effects they have, and some tips for using pearle cottons and decorative stitching.
Corey also includes a great section on precuts and fabrics. Each of the common precuts has a small overview, and then she goes into other printed fabrics and how to use the different scale prints to your advantage. The fabric section may be a bit small, but it is to the point and includes all the information you need to help pick fabrics for the included projects. The finishing section is complete and her techniques are pretty standard, but she has included a fantastic pillow cutting chart! It gives you the backing sizes to cut for square pillows from 12″-24″, and a rectangle pillow as well. It’s super helpful when you want to resize your pillows.
This book is definitely beginner friendly. The technique is easy to learn and remember, and it can be applied to any shape not just petals. The patterns aren’t over-complicated, but they are fun! You could easily make a quilt in a weekend, and the pillows could be done as a same day gift for sure. The written instructions are very easy to understand and follow. The quilts are made of blocks with applique that are sewn together, making construction easy. It also makes it very easy to resize a project by adding or subtracting blocks.
My favorite quilt in the entire book as to be the cover quilt, Rainbow Petals. It is so fun and cheerful, the petals are plump and can only be described as jaunty! I can see myself making this to use in my nook (aka the armchair in the sewing room) to read under.
Second upon my favorites list, and another want to make, is Tossed Petals. This reminds me of a garden path strewn with petals. There are hundreds of cherry blossom trees in Vancouver, and the streets would be littered in blossom petals in the spring. This would be very fun to do with bright petals and a low volume background. The block is easy to construct and the layout is straightforward.
The tossed petals block is my favorite petal block in the book, so I decided to whip up a pillow following Corey’s instructions to the letter. I have been doing fused applique for years, I made my first quilts with fused applique and almost no piecing, and I still found some tips and tricks that make the construction that much easier.
My Scattered Blossoms Pillow
I picked some of my favorite blenders and prints for the petals, and I used a pair of fat quarters in Kate Spain’s Cuzco for the back and binding. That bright pink is my favorite! I used a simple orange peel motif for the quilting, and using Corey’s suggested sewing lines I quilted the entire thing without backtracking once. I chose to use a raw edge straight stitch to secure the petals. Mostly because it was way too late to pull out mymulti stitch machine. It came together easily and I love how it looks!
Overall these petals certainly live up to the description of Playful. It is beginner friendly and has some tips and tricks for the experienced quilter as well.
Until next time,
*I would like to note that it was next to impossible to find stock photos to use here. I finally stumbled across some on a Pinterest board that linked back to a file on Connecting Threads. I do not know the origin of the photos, but can only assume they were taken by the photographer who shot the book.*
Photos reprinted from Playful Petals by Corey Yoder. Published by CT/Stash Books.
My hero has a book that came out June 1, 2014. I read everything this person writes as it all contains great heart, a quirky way of looking at the world and thought provoking tidbits that I chew on for the rest of the day.
Our Modern Quilt Guild was asked to review Make & Love Quilts by Mary Fons and I put my name forward. I, however, could not wait and downloaded it as an ebook this morning.
OOOOOhhhhhhh, I am in heaven. Should I flip right through it and get to the gorgeous pictures? No, It was with great anticipation I read the dedication, the acknowledgements, the introduction, the notes on this book, and a brief history of quiltmaking. I wanted to be in the correct space to see the quilts. Did I say I love everything Mary writes? She may not know it, but I feel we are on a first name basis. She invited me to her book opening! Well, me and everyone who reads her column. I thought about using my aeroplan points to go.
My favourite quilt is in the book — the one that is on all the ads — My Dear, the nine patch with the wonderful row of rolling stone blocks. Oh and I want to make the 25 square block, Hello, There, and the flying geese quilt, Northbound, that is on the cover. And because I was reading and savouring every word I am not even through the book yet. Oh, I can go home and look at more!!!!
Okay, the nitty gritty. I am following the pattern for My Dear. I am making a quilt for my cousin with leftover fabrics from her mom. Her mom was a quilter; she made a quilt for my daughter when she was born. Our grandmother also quilted. See? Mary and I have a lot in common; we come from a family of quilters. I am hopeful this pattern will work with various sized scraps. Not too much commitment from any piece of fabric. Just need a minimum of 4 squares.
I read all Mary’s suggestions for choosing fabrics and pared down my original selection. I kept with the blue and red material. I may branch out if I run short. Not sure what colours I will make the rolling stone blocks.
Here are my sample blocks. I am in love with this quilt. The instructions are clear, if Mary has suggested a way to do something she always references back to the instruction and page number, and the numbers are correct; love that. I am enthused! Cut all the fabric!
I am paring down the size of the quilt for my cousin. Most of the quilts in this book are queen or king size. As Mary says these quilts are a commitment and you will not be able to finish them in a weekend. That is okay! I am savouring the journey. Each step of the process is to be celebrated and enjoyed. “Quilters are impatient people” but we do love each part of the quilt making process.
As I sew up this quilt I remember the strong wonderful women in my family, the pioneer women who created quilts that were utilitarian and beautiful, and the new generation of quilters starting out. My cousin will be able to wrap herself in this quilt and feel all the love I have for her. Mary Katherine Fons “Make + Love” — yes it is in every stitch, a complete gift, and a beautiful and thought provoking book.
Photos reprinted from Make + Love Quilts by Mary Fons. Published by CT/Stash Books.
Are you into creating miniature quilts? Well, this book may be for you. This book is comprised of 17 projects made from scrappy reproduction prints. This is Carol Hopkins second book on Civil War Quilts. Carol Hopkins has designed many quilts using reproduction fabrics.
Most of the quilts are small approximately 28 inches by 34 inches, block sizes average 3 inches. Two quilts are of medium size, 51 inch square, and 44 inch square, respectively. Each quilt has detailed instructions on how to piece the blocks. A brief introduction related to the Civil War describes the quilt pattern in each chapter.
With no previous experience in making miniature quilts, I decided that I would review this book and create a miniature quilt. I chose the Bonnet Ties quilt pattern. The quilt measures 27” by 33”, and the blocks are 3”by 3”.
This was also the first time I constructed the pinwheel block. Fabrics used in my version of the quilt were from the modern trend versus the reproduction fabrics used in the book.
The vibrant modern colours gave the quilt a different feel about it. Lesson learned during the quilt making process is that miniature quilts take much longer to complete than bed size quilts, and there is no room to make mistakes! After all blocks were sewn together, the quilt came to life.
The attributes of vintage quilts change when using modern fabrics instead of reproduction fabrics.
So, if you would try a hand on miniature vintage quilts with a modern flair, this book may be for you!
Book photos reprinted from Civil War Legacies II: 17 Small Quilt Patterns for Reproduction Fabrics by Carol Hopkins. Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.
I had the opportunity to review another book for the VMQG. This time around I pulled Stack Shuffle and Slide by Karla Alexander.
Stack, Shuffle and Slide
I am not much of an improv quilter, not by a long shot. There is something about randomly sewing things with no plan that scares me. The one time I tried I ended up with a set of fairly symmetrical blocks that looked planned. Its this reason that when I started into Stack, Shuffle, and Slide, I could not put it down. I sped through the whole thing, and re-read a couple chapters, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Now, I have to be honest, I hadn’t heard of the stack the deck technique used for the projects in the book, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was a versatile technique combining structured techniques and modern improv cutting. The result is a quilt style suitable for any quilter and experience level.
Stack Shuffle and Slide patterns can be as structured or as improv as you want. The quilts themselves are very easy to customize. In fact, Karla includes tips for fabric selection and cutting ideas at the start of each. She also gives you her inspirations and why she chose to make each quilt.
Karla writes in a friendly manner that makes the instructions easy to understand. The patterns are well written and straightforward, with plenty of diagrams and illustrations to highlight key points in the techniques.
Her quilts are the perfect combinations of styles, so I am sure anyone could find at least 3 quilts in the book that they like (Go ahead, get the book and prove me wrong!) There are 15 quilts to choose from in a wide variety of sizes, and almost all of them can be increased in size by cutting some extra blocks.
The projects for the most part are simple, there are a few that are more complex, but the instructions and diagrams are well written, so as long as you aren’t rushing through you will be fine no matter what your skill level. The simple patterns are perfect for quick gifts or a day retreat.
Most of the quilts use smaller cuts of fabric so its really easy to pull from your stash. Prints, solids, it doesn’t matter, as long as you keep to the suggested values you will keep the essence of the quilt design.
Dot Dash Click
My favorite quilt is a toss up between Dot Dash Click and Simple Simon. Both have an eye pleasing aesthetic to them and I can’t wait to start pulling fabrics to see where it takes me.
Overall I would recommend Stack, Shuffle and Slide to pretty well everyone, but especially those quilters who enjoy the improv process or have always wanted to try but get stuck, like me! I think the stack the deck technique is simple enough for anyone to learn and use, and the number of patterns included means there is something for everyone. The book is easy to read and understand, the patterns are clear and well written, and her designs suggestions make it easy to tailor the quilt to suit your own personal tastes. An A+ in all categories!
Until next time,
Book photos reprinted from Stack, Shuffle, and Slide by Karla Alexander. Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.
What a busy life! Finally I made time to complete this book review! Book reviews for quilting, or any hobby, are much more interesting than those we had to write in English class. Here’s a quick snap shot of the book:
Brave New Quilts by Kathreen Ricketson, features many informative articles related to the basics of quilting from colour theory, fabric choices, and how to design quilts using modern techniques. The author incorporates modern art in designing the 12 modern quilts offered in this book. A brief note on each artistic period is outlined for each pattern. I recommend this book to all quilters, and readers alike, if you enjoy creating quilts with an out of the box flair.
For those that have difficulty in choosing colour combinations, myself included, many colour schemes are shown in each project.
This Peacock Blue quilt is one that I aspire to make eventually, amongst all my other quilting projects! I love the different shades of blues and ambers in this quilt. There is an ample amount of negative space for quilting, yes!
Using texts in quilts — I have a special person in mind for creating a quilt with words. The author teaches us how to design, and personalize text quilts.
Colour play, design play, and word play are just some of the exciting features of this book. I hope you get inspired and create with this brief book review!
Photos reprinted from Brave New Quilts by Kathreen Ricketson. Published by CT/Stash Books.
Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science – by Alexandra Winston
I 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.
The 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
From 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.
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.
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!
Uncommonly Corduroy photos reprinted from Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns and More by Stephanie Dunphy. Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.
I was recently given the opportunity to read and review a copy of Becoming A Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson, who you may (or should) know as the blogger behind Don’t Call Me Betsy. I love quilt books, and have amassed quite a collection. There are some I like, some I LOVE, and others that just don’t get there.
Becoming a Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson
Becoming a Confident Quilter is definitely in my Like shelf, and only because my Love shelf needs a bit of rearranging before I can move it on up there!
I really, genuinely enjoyed Elizabeth’s writing. I thought it was well thought out, greatly informative without overloading, and the quilt projects are fun and increase in steady increments from super simple to more complex in an easy transition. You can definitely tell that Elizabeth comes from an instruction background (she used to teach doctors how to use technology, not as easy as you might think it would be!). This book is perfect for the immediate beginner- if you have never sewn a quilt in your life, Elizabeth will get you going!
So lets review:
Elizabeth’s personality comes out in her writing, making you feel like you are sitting in a classroom listening to her speak. The instructions are clear and concise, easy to understand and follow along. The lessons are well thought out and in a logical order for someone to learn the basics.
The section on stash building is a refreshing change to the standard color wheel basics. She goes over how to choose fabrics, how to build a functional stash to pull from, and goes over the more common pre-cuts and how to utilize them. Elizabeth also covers the basic quilting tools you need to get started, plus some fun extras to make your sewing life a breeze.
X Marks The Spot
The project diagrams are clear and colorful, and easy to follow. Each project has a story behind it and how it relates to the lessons, and where it fall in your repertoire of skills. The construction diagrams are easy to read as well.
The sections on finishing your quilt is very informative and well laid out. Elizabeth covers various options for backing, basting, quilting and binding, and presents the information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. There is also a glossary of the most commonly used terms, advice on how to read a quilt pattern, and a resources for support and information for a new quilter.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to get started on a couple of the quilts. I would recommend it to any quilter, whether just starting their quilting journey or those who are well on their way!
I chose the “Modern One-Block Quilts” by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting to review, as it sounded like a great book to see what can be done with the traditional idea of repeating the same block to make it modern. This book does that and so much more. It’s a great book with amazing quilts that give a Modern spin on repeating the same block.
This book has 22 quilt projects each made from one repeating block. Some of the blocks are very simple and some are very complex.
The book starts with a very short “Sewing Basics” section. There are quick how-tos on making snowballs, half square triangles, and flying geese. The “no waste” flying geese instructions are great. I’ve seen them several times, but never know where to find them when I need it.
Then there’s a short page on “Finishing the Quilt” with a paragraph or two on backing, batting and basting. Binding gets two pages with instructions for making straight and bias binding. A good resource if you need reminding or if you are a new quilter.
There is really no information on quilting or even suggestions of how to quilt each project. But, in the full page pictures of the quilts you can see enough of the quilting on some of them for ideas on how you can finish your own.
Each quilt project starts with a full page picture of the quilt in a lovely setting, then ends with a full page picture of the entire quilt flat.
The instructions include 3 sizes for each quilt and the materials table and cutting table clearly give you requirements for each size. There is also an assembly diagram clearly showing you the layout of the blocks for each size of quilt.Most of the quilts in the book are made of solids and none of them have borders. The look is really modern and the colours chosen for the pictured quilts are very hip and current. Many of the quilts have a limited palette of 2 colours on a white or cream background. This may sound boring, but the quilts look really
I paged through the book to see if there were any quilts that I would actually want to make as that’s my criteria of a good book. There are 8 quilts that I really like in the book and another 3 that have interesting layouts that I’ll probably incorporate into future quilts. So I can say this book is a winner.
The instructions are clear, well presented. The fabric requirements and cutting directions are laid out in a table, then the sewing instructions are given step by step.
I decided to try out the “Squared Scraps” quilt to see what following the instructions are like. The yardage listed is quite generous, so you can make a couple mistakes and still have enough fabric to complete the size of quilt you select.
One minor complaint, they don’t tell you how many strips to cut for each element. For example, for the Squared Scraps quilt, you need 48 pieces of white that are 3 ½ by 9 ½. I wish they would say, “cut 10 3 ½ in strips, width of fabric, then cut them into 9 ½ in sections, each strip yields 4 segments.” That way you’d know how much to cut at once.
The sewing instructions are great and they even suggest what you can sew together before cutting if you want to strip piece some of the elements.
I got the baby size pieced on a Saturday using some hand dyed batiks.
I highly recommend this book. It is great for modern quilters and for traditional quilters who want to try something a little more modern. There are so many great quilts in it that are graphic, bold, modern and beautiful. The pictures are amazing, the instructions are clear for each size, and there are quilts that will appeal to all types of quilters.
Beginner quilters can find several amazing quilts that will be within their skill level, and experienced quilters can be challenged by some of the quilts.
Book photos reprinted from Modern One-Block Quilts: 22 Fresh Patchwork Projects by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting. Published by CT/Stash Books.