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Book Review – Free Motion Quilting by Jenny K Lyon

Free Motion Quilting From Ordinary to Extraordinary by Jenny K Lyon, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617456374, price 23.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘3 Steps To Joyful Machine Stitching in 21 Days’, this sounds like a challenge I need to take. The book is separated into chapters: Inspiration – a look at what inspires you; Before You Take A Stitch – the basics of needles, batting (wadding), sewing feet and great tips for setting up your workspace; 21 Days Of Practice to build confidence in twenty minutes a day; Five To Learn On involves more practice on set projects such as postcards, a panel quilt, quilting from the back; quilt as you go and a panel for a Denim jacket. Your Personal Quilting World – all about finding yourself and enjoying your work plus a stunning gallery of work, motifs and more. This book is for the not so confident free-motion quilter. Jenny has us thinking about density, scale and repeats. It is not a how to do stippling or other set patterns, it is more about finding and creating your own motifs. By week three, you’ll be making small projects to show off your skills such as placemats, a small quilt, hot pads and a larger quilt.

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Book review Adventures in Paper Piecing by S E Sharp

Adventures in Paper Piecing and Design by Sarah Elisabeth Sharp, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 978-1617455575, price 23.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Get set to go with foundation paper piecing for quilters with step by step instructions and design exercises. This book includes The Method, Design and Prompts providing a detailed overview of foundation piecing, building blocks, design and how to get your creativity flowing. Foundation paper piecing enables the quilter to craft intricate designs. You’ll find everything you need to know from paper, needles and tips on fussy cutting and mirrors. Enjoy the quirky houseplant designs that let you get comfortable with the process. In the design section, you’ll see how to transform a photograph into a foundation paper piecing design. The 7 design prompts give you ideas for design. Examples and patterns are given by the author, including quilt construction for each prompt. There is also a crash course in repeat design. Some great patterns and templates here including a double wedding ring, various plants, animals and much more.

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Book Review – The Art of Mixing Textiles in Quilts by Lynn Schmitt

The Art of Mixing Textiles in Quilts by Lynn Schmitt, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617455407, price 24.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

A sumptuous cover with the subtitle ‘using wool, silk, cotton and home decor fabrics’ so this is textiles as in fabrics, not techniques. There are 14 fabulously coloured and exciting projects in this book, including pin cushion, bolster pillow, throw, table runner, needle case, tote, wallhanging and quilts. You’ll discover fabric guidelines, how-to’s on wool applique, double-fold binding, embroidery and favourite tools of the trade. The projects show the materials, block size, construction, methods, assembly, templates and finishing. The projects explore a wide variety of piecing and applique techniques. Lynn encourages you to engage in quilting with a free spirit, a willingness to embrace eclectic fabrics and come up with something a little bit different. This is a book that really appeals to the designer in me.

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Book Review Free Spirit Block Party

Free Spirit Block Party, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, price 23.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Take a bunch of modern quilt designers to design 40 quilt blocks and 5 samplers for the best kind of block party. The sampler quilts are pretty but quite ordinary in layout but with 40 quilt blocks, you can make lots of sampler quilts of your own design and perhaps come up with some blocks of your own to individualise your designs. This books is all about inspiration and possibilities. All the blocks measure 12 inches and assembly is given for each one. Techniques vary from foundation paper-piecing to simple patchwork or applique. Free Spirit fabrics are used but you could substitute. The templates are available in the book but also downloadable as printable pdfs. The 40 blocks are based on classics such as Log Cabin, Windmill or Orange Peel. I like the selection of blocks. You will see the block finished in fabric and as a colour line drawing with written instructions including materials needed, technique, cutting and construction. I would actually substitute fabrics on some of these as the block does not work well in the chosen fabrics for me and lack definition. The blocks will work better with other fabrics. The Sampler Quilts have great quilting, simple arrangement of blocks. They are suitable from beginners upwards. At the back of the book you will find a techniques section including half square triangles, foundation paper piecing and needle-turn applique.

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Book Review Easy Precision Piecing by Shelley Scott Tobisch

Easy Precision Piecing by Shelley Scott Tobisch, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, price 24.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘A New Approach to Accuracy and Organization For Quilters’ I think this quilting book would intrigue most quilters from beginners to advanced. Accuracy and organization (as in order of sewing) come top of the list for many quilters I know. So what does this book offer? An Introduction to the system; quilt block builders and bases, precision tools, choosing preparing fabric, precision cutting, blocks and patchwork as well as projects. There are just 6 projects, all appealing. The introduction highlights 6 problem areas, but even as a beginner I never had the problems highlighted. I have however seen these questions come up in forums, so they are problem common. The book claims to be about effortlessly achieving precision. The block builder is for placement of fabric, the base is like a mini design wall and a place to stow away your blocks. Arrows indicate direction of pressing. This system, although to me seems a little over the top, is a lifesaver for preventing accidental knocking over of blocks and the order they were in. It is hardly time saving though. Same with sewing with headers and footers, for most projects this is unnecessary. Her techniques also make frequent use of basting glue, which I dislike immensely.

There is a lot of ideas for pressing and so on and storing fabric. Useful information on grain, selvedge, bias, cutting and sewing machine tension. Basic common sense but I did not see anything new here.

Shows accuracy for making basic blocks such as squares, pinwheels and nine patches.

Clear instructions including photographs and line drawings for each project and good finishing techniques.

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Book Review Diary In Stitches by Minki Kim

Diary In Stitches by Minki Kim, softback, published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 978-1617456510, price 21.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Who does not love pretty things? Who does not love to sew? Add them together and you have the contents of this fabulous sewing book. Sweet things to make from pouches, wall pocket, sewing case, mini quilt, cushion and machine cover. Find basic techniques for transferring designs and supplies. The projects are charming and cute. Each one is beautifully photographed, accompanied by line drawings and clear instructions with templates. The projects might include a little traditional quilting in combination with modern patchwork and free motion stitching. There is also a stitches and patterns section for all the 65 motifs. In addition there is a Gallery of Project Ideas for using the motifs including pincushions, mats, framed pictures and bookmarks. A chic effect with simple designs that work well.

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Book review – Visual Guide to Art Quilting

Visual Guide to Art Quilting, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing), price 20.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

If you have ever wondered want an art quilt is, or how to make one, this is the book for you. Chapter 1 covers Design theory and inspiration; chapter 2 Supplies and tools; chapter 3 is all about fabric whilst chapter 4 will tell you all about surface design; chapter 5 delves into dimension; chapter 6 deals with quilting and chapter 7 rounds everything off nicely with finishing and presentation. There is also a glossary and index. Each chapter has mini essays by different quilters. Offers tips for beginners. Brief ideas on how to design, use colour, fuse, dye, paint, stamping, printing, texture, needle felting, overlays, cords, embellishments, creative stitch, thread painting, quilting by hand and machine, bindings, hanging options, sleeves and labels. Small bites of information but too brief for anything but beginners.

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Book Review Creative Thread by Jo Dixey

Creative Thread by Jo Dixey, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216872, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

This book was originally published by the author as ‘Stitch People’. In this book you will discover twenty stitch projects with a wide range of embroidery skills. Stitches and techniques are accompanied by step-by-step photographs. The projects include small items to more complex wall art. Each project embraces the theme of people. Templates are given for photocopying – you need to enlarge them. There is also a photo gallery of stitches used. The best of these are perhaps the people silhouettes, some outlined in running stitch, others embroidered adding a splash of colour. Other motifs include hands, faces, eyes.

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Competition Quilt Entry Date FOQ Approaches

The competition quilt entry date for the Fine Art Quilts at FOQ was earlier than the competition quilt entry date for the other categories. Friday 3rd May 2019 was the latest entry date for the Vlieseline Fine Art category. Not only that, it was also the final date for an image of the submission. I am afraid that counted me out of that category that I wanted to enter. I thought it was the date for the form only. There is always another year.

In all reality I think I prefer to just make quilts, and if there is one I want to select for a show, then I believe that is the way to do it. Since I decided to enter shows (I never imagined I would) my life has been taken over by not being satisfied with my work, which is not the aim. Trying to design for a show, by a specific date, just has not worked for me. I have discarded quilt after quilt as not making the grade in some way.

Even my latest quilt, which is probably the best I have made, I kind of rejected as not good enough today. So I am going to move forwards from here. A quick slapped hand and a good talking to and get on with it.

The deadline for all other entries for FOQ is 24th May 2019, so still time to finish what I had in mind for the Art category perhaps. I am working very hard. To be honest I find it very difficult to categorise my work, is it art, contemporary or modern? Anyway the pressure is off now. If you are not enjoying it, there is little point in doing it. So I have decided if I finish it, I will decide on entry, but from now on, I am not going to decide in advance and perhaps I can stop producing so many quilts that I worry about. I already have a quilt finished for the other show I am entering this year, so that feels good. Plenty of ideas on stream, a couple shown here for my next River Series quilts.

competition quilt entry
Competition quilt entry

You can check the categories and dates for FOQ here

Find out more about designing your own quilts here

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2019

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Book review Abstract Acrylics by Waltraud Nawratil

Abstract Acrylics by Waltraud Nawratil, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216506, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

An experimental approach to painting. Abstracts using a variety of mediums and methods that you can follow in 27 step-by-step projects. The step-by-step is brief and although there are photographs, they do not show every step. I would therefore recommend this book for experienced painters, and also for those who understand how different paints work – are knowledgable about the flow of paint etc. Some great examples of finished works and I do like Waltraud’s methods and style. She introduces you to a different way of working. For example with a palette knife and spray paint as well as actual leaves and petals. The book concentrates on interpreting the natural world in a beautiful way. Discover how to transform the reality of the landscape and flowers into interesting abstract paintings.