Book Review Quilting On The Move By Alistair Macdonald, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 971782214489, price 7.99 available in the UK.
Part of the Love To Sew series, this book is all about English Paper Piecing for hand quilting. There is a brief introduction, materials and tools section, basic techniques, projects and templates without a seam allowance but actual size. There are 18 projects in all, suitable for beginners upwards. The beauty of EPP is that it is entirely portable and easy to do anywhere in a few minutes grabbed here and there. I found the photos slightly on the dull side, and unclear on the bias binding attachment images. The basic techniques section only covers making hexagons, bias binding and inserting a zip. Good projects include a hobby bag (looks more like a pencil case to me), tea cosy, pincushion, make-up bag, man’s scarf, table runner, peg bag, tablet case and so on. All small projects using hexagons and other shapes.
Book review Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454967, price 19.99 in the UK available from www.searchpress.com
Subtitled ‘Dynamic Quilts Made With Line & Shape’ this book promises much. Every quilter wants to make dynamic quilts. It begins with ‘Where You Are’ and goes on to the usual tools and materials section but with some very good tips, then ‘Color, Pattern and Repetition’ sadly basically colour wheel stuff, ‘Ruler Made Stripes’, ‘Mat Made Stripes’, ‘Polka Dots’, ‘Triangles’, ‘Chevrons’, ‘Checks’ and finishes with ‘Putting It All Together’ plus resources. An outstanding line in the introductory chapter for me is ‘I hope you can begin this quiltmaking journey with a willingness to fail’. As a teacher I encounter so many students who expect to succeed from day one, who become despairing at their failures. Maria Shell understands my philosophy that all making is good on one level or another. The sections are basic geometry work with good ideas for quilts and techniques. Even the ‘polka dots’ are not circles but squares and strips. Some design ideas and how to work out your design as well as construction. Brief but interesting. I have come to know the term ‘improv’ as working ad hoc, but this book does work more to grids, so I am not sure it was wise use of the word ‘improv’ in the title. I think Experimental Patchwork would have been a better title.
Book Review The Anniversary Sampler Quilt by Donna Lynn Thomas, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454554, price 24.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
There’s a story behind this quilt made to celebrate forty years of falling in love. It includes 40 traditional blocks and 7 keepsake settings. This book will also help you commemorate and preserve the memories of the special events in your life. The 40 blocks tell the story, they are given in ten chapters. Each of the 40 blocks is used twice. You’ll also find General information and Speciality Quiltmaking Skills to help you put the blocks together. The separate quilt settings help you to celebrate different events. Choose blocks that have special meaning to you, to design your own remembrance quilt. Great diagrams and photos and the quilting instructions are easy to follow. Every block in this quilt is a treasure. Some you might know such as Dresden plate, others you might not have tried. Together they make a superb quilt. Full instructions and assembly are included.
Book review Five Minute Watercolour by Samantha Nielsen, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782217046, price 8.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A tempting cover with the glorious qualities of watercolour for all to see and a mastery of the ever-difficult green. This book offers learners ‘Super-quick Techniques For Amazing Paintings’ claims the cover. Its small size belies the fact that this book contains 55 exercises to enhance your familiarity with watercolour. Practice is the key states the artist in her introduction and that is true of everything. As painters we tend to want to create a masterpiece straight away. Often with watercolour, we quickly become discouraged. It does not behave how we want it to. Will this book help? It begins with tools – you’ll find suggestions for choosing the right tools. The next chapter is about techniques. This is all about washes, blending colour, lifting colour, glazing, edges, blooms and brushwork. The book moves on to applying those techniques. I liked the pages on skies best in this section, especially the image of Pamela Harmois’ Beach Walkers, which is very inspiring. This section includes the essence of the book in that it gives five-minute chosen themes for skies, rocks, trees, water and waves, landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, floral. These are a little lacking in instruction and are just images with a short introductory text. There are more ideas for quick ways to paint night scenes, the four seasons, people. The final section is Take it Further, which gives suggestions for improving on your new-found skills. If you wish to make watercolour part of your everyday activities, this book might well show you the way. Yet I feel it is only old techniques dressed up as something different. You might be inspired by the numerous sketches, but they are hardly finished artworks. Interesting and worth a read. Any artist will improve if he paints daily, given he understands the techniques and how to apply them.
Teeny Tiny Quilts by Donna Lynn Thomas, 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
I am slowly becoming more and more interested in miniature quilts. I was mesmerised by them at a recent quilt show. It is such a struggle on a domestic machine to wrestle with a gigantic quilt. Yet minis present their own set of challenges. This book presents fabulous images of 35 mini quilts and 12 wonderful projects. You are going to fall in love with doing this. Each pattern has two or three sizes to ease you into getting smaller and smaller. A bit like Alice in Wonderland! Note that if you are making miniature quilts for exhibition, you need to follow the organiser’s instructions on size. The book takes you through the basic supplies, fabrics and quilting basics. Useful information is found on triangles, on point, nesting, quarter inch perfect seams and finishing. Even if you are a beginner, there is enough practical information here. The projects are also graded for skill level. The projects are a delight, I love the thought that has gone into this book. The instructions and diagrams are first class. When you move onto the next level, it’s all about making the parts smaller. All in all a fabulous primer on mini quilts and one I am happy to recommend.
52 Playful Potholders to Applique by Kim Schaefer. Softback published by C & T Publishing. ISBN 9781617458019, price 14.99 in the UK available from www.searchpress.com
Applique potholders throughout the year with this fun quilting book. You’ll see all the designs at a glance. They consist of fun motifs, flowers, animals and food plus a few seasonal motifs. The gallery shows more designs and possibilities. You get three sets of instructions for making pot holders in different shapes. You’ll learn how to do faux mitred corners, make a simple loop hanger. 52 motifs are included to trace.
Book Review Stitch and Sew by Aneela Hoey, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617456398, price 22.99 in the UK, available from www.searchpress.com
31 embroidery and stitch projects that will have you drooling. Sew and embroider all manner of bags, clutches, notebooks with contemporary stitch designs. Aimed at the younger under 40 end of the market, this book is perfect for those who need to know all the sewing basics. You’ll find simple projects to hone your newfound skills. The basics and techniques section is comprehensive, making this a great book for the beginner. This section also includes all the embroidery stitches with diagrams and photos. It takes you through the notebook sampler page by page. The rest of the book is largely taken up by the projects. These have wide appeal, with easy to follow instructions and clear photography. You can download and print the patterns. It’s all about simple practical sewing and learning embroidery in a way you will love.
Book review Beginner’s Guide to Linocut by Susan Yeates, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215844, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A slim yet good guide to linocuts for beginners at a very reasonable price. Every step is explained and you will quickly be able to make prints. Try your hand at 10 projects by using the full-size templates. You can also inject your own creativity and make your own designs. Find out about linocut, materials, workspace, techniques, projects and templates. Discover how to draw, cut, print and repeat. Great step by step instructions with colour photos making it so easy to follow. Fun projects. I found the section photograph to linocut very interesting. This book covers more than just the basics, including working with text and two-tone prints, printing wrapping paper, gift tags and cards, labels, colour blends and printing on fabric. Recommended for beginners.
Book Review Stack & Cut Hexagon Quilts by Sara Nephew & Marci Baker, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454691, price 24.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com
38 kaleidoscope blocks and 12 quilt settings. This book includes information on tools, cutting, selecting fabrics, planning and block design, binding and more. You can see all 38 blocks at a glance at the beginning of the book. They vary from a simple mix n’ match or the lamp design to the more complicated Flash Dance and Dew. The quilt designs, vary from two- to -eleven block designs, plus a three block design in the round and other designs. There are also triangle designs and border designs. The book explores the usual 6-layered fabric technique to produce kaleidoscopes. The block designs are shown as line drawings only. The instructions are given for making a wedge. The quilt designs are shown as finished quilts and as line drawings in colour. The quilt designs mix and match block design, settings and colours. The projects include a table runners, wall hanging, small quilts such as lap size and larger quilts. The designs are shown in a variety of fabrics and with alternatives. Templates are given at the back of the book. If you are not already in love with hexagon quilts and their potential, you will be after looking at this book. Absolutely superb.
Book review Just Stitch by Lesley Turpin-Delport and Nikki Delport-Wepener, softback published by Metz Press. ISBN 9781782216810, price 14.99, available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
Originally published in South Africa, this book is all about stitching with a theme of flora and fauna. It appears to be a reprint from 2008, so be aware if you already have the book with a different cover. The book starts with materials, techniques including wire-edged applique, Barbola (unwired stumpwork) and more unusual techniques such as three-dimensional forms. The projects are fantastic, not the simple projects often found in books, but real projects that a stitch artist would make. However, the instructions might not be comprehensive enough for some. They are certainly not step-by-step. The three-dimensional gerberas are a favourite. The cover is a Bougainvillea. The projects are colour-themed. A double-paged spread of related objects is given as inspiration, followed by the projects for that colour range. The effect is ruined by poor photo-editing. The templates at the back of the book need to be enlarged and are detailed. An inspiring book that would have been a lot better if someone on the editorial team knew how to edit the images – they are dull, and injected a better layout. I feel the projects with these instructions are beyond the beginner. This is a book for those who already understand three-dimensional embroidery, as such it is very good.