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Book Review Painting Expressive Landscapes by Carole Robson

Painting Expressive Landscapes by Carole Robson, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215530, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A hallmark of this work is semi-abstract landscapes in watercolour and mixed media. The latter is water-soluble media and collage. The book is well illustrated with wonderful paintings, which should offer much inspiration. Flowing media are used to capture the essence of the natural landscape. You’ll find information on paint consistency; the usual watercolour techniques such as wet-in-wet and washes; pigments and their properties; colour and tools. There is also a section on ‘expressive techniques’. The author states these are not new and began with Turner, but mention should also be made of Ann Blockley, who has made many of these techniques her own. I love Carole’s paintings of her local landscape, although her work is very reminiscent of Ann’s to a point. Yet there is much here that is Carole, and for that I am glad. She is an experimenter and is pushing the boundaries. I like the abstracts and the use of digital art too. There are three step-by-step projects: Woodland with Silver Birch; Wayside Verge and Beach At Sunset, which explore the techniques. Fabulous images and easy to use.

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Book Review 200 Crochet Stitches by Sarah Hazell

200 Crochet Stitches by Sarah Hazell, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781844489633, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

crochet

Discover new stitches and ways to work with crochet. For all levels, this book includes a fabulous directory of stitches and techniques. It is so easy to use. Clear step-by-step photos guide you all the way. A wonderful array of stitches to add a little oomph to your crochet projects. At a glance stitches at the front of the book are divided into stitch type. Getting Started takes you through everything you need to know from materials and tools to basic techniques. For each stitch, you will see a clear photograph, at least two step-by-step photos and a chart. There are too many stitches to single out, but I always love the waves and picots, the cross-over stitches and more. Lots to try out and beautifully presented.

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Book Review Modern Art Quilts by Sue Bleiweiss

Modern Art Quilts by Sue Bleiweiss, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 978-1617456817, price 22.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

This book includes Art & Design, Inspiration, Tools & Materials, Techniques, Putting It All Together, Projects, What’s Next? and an appendix for dyeing fabric. There are 7 projects to make and templates are included. The book concentrates on fusing and quilt as you go. This is a book for absolute beginners. It gives a basic introduction to the elements of design with very basic exercises. The inspiration section is also very limited. There is a good example of an artist statement. However, with everything that is already available on every subject broached in this book, there is a wealth of better information and examples to be found. I was disappointed.

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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 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.