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Book Review Blended Embroidery by Brian Haggard

Blended Embroidery by Brian Haggard, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617458095, price 23.99 gbp. Available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Always great to see a new book from this author. I love his style. This book covers how to blend the old and new, something Brian does to perfection. It covers inspiration, fabrics, stitch and projects. The introduction gives the story of Etta Mae and her trousseau. Seek and Find is all about finding things you can use in your work – it’s like treasure hunting. The projects are very satisfying. The Lacemaker is a very special piece; a small quilt with a beautiful lace edge and embellishments. There is a scissor holder and matching pincushion; a fabulous table runner; photo pincushions and sachets; a sewing butler including another pincushion, scissor holder and bag. There is also a gallery of work. Such a wonderful textile and quilting artist with a unique look. I recommend this book for its style and embellishments that could be applied to your own work.

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Book Review Quilts With An Angle Sheila Christensen

A Field Guide Quilts With An Angle Sheila Christensen, softback published by C&T. ISBN 9781617456411. Price 24.99. Available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Get started with tools, fabrics and basics. This book teaches angles – triangles, trapezoid, diamond, parallelogram and jewel, plus strip-pieced quilts and a primer ‘design your own blocks’. Each 60° shape section has great quilt patterns. The 60° shape is throughly explored through techniques and possibilities. Sheila has the same design philosophy as myself: one thing leads to another. Standard sizes make strips easy to rotary cut and piece. The colour section is basic with one glaring error, blue does not face yellow on the colour wheel. Basic quilting techniques include cutting, seam sewing, chain piecing. This book comes into its own when we get to the lessons. Great grids, instructions and quick reference charts, super blocks and fantastic quilts. Marks out of 10 – A plus for the quilt designs; as a designer myself I would still love to sit down and make most of these. Highly recommended as a thorough grounding in 60° shape, ease of use, inspiration for all levels and 15 wonderful quilt designs.

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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 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 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 Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell

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.

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Book Review The Anniversary Sampler Quilt by Donna Lynn Thomas

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.

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Teeny Tiny Quilts by Donna Lynn Thomas

miniature quiltsTeeny 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.

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Embroidery Book Review – Joyful Daily Stitching by Valerie Bothell

Joyful Daily Stitching Seam By Seam by Valerie Bothell, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455513, price 22.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com

Encouraging you to stitch a little every day, this book will be a big hit with embroiderers and lovers of stitch. Make samplers and treat the seam like a goddess. Use different threads and silk ribbons to produce creative work. First it shows you how to piece crazy quilting style. Next up are several embroidery stitches in step-by-step demonstrations but with small photos. I think this section could have been done much better. 500 stitch combinations are shown in full colour but without instructions, so you need to flip back to the embroidery stitch section to see how to do the stitches. I think there is enough here to keep beginner embroiderers happy, I am just not that keen on the layout of the book.

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Book Review Braided Bargello by Ruth Ann Berry

bargelloBook Review Braided Bargello by Ruth Ann Berry, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 978-1617454042, price 18.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

I have always loved Bargello needlepoint, so it is natural that I love bargello quilting. It can be a great use of colour, so I find it fascinating. It is one of those fabulous quilt techniques that achieves a very complicated look, whilst not being too difficult to make. Braided Bargello takes bargello one step beyond, it’s like ordinary bargello with knobs on – knots, or twists and turns. There are 16 projects in the book from bed-sized quilts to smaller projects. In Basic Bargello Construction, the author looks at fabric, cutting, designing and constructing as well as mitred corners. If you find the design chart in this section a little confusing, it becomes very apparent what you need to do if you look at the projects. All projects are accompanied by clear charts and easy to follow instructions. Interesting projects, but on most I wanted to make slight alterations as there are what I call stop lines to the designs – in very obvious places and I would wish to continue the curve. I also thought that many of the colourways were not to my taste. There is also a gallery of work.