Book Review A Perfect World in Ribbon Embroidery & Stumpwork by Di van Niekerk, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781844482313, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
It is always a pleasure to see Di van Niekerk’s wonderful work. Find new ideas and techniques that appeal to embroiderers and quilters alike. 17 panels introduce you to the techniques. There is a stitch gallery too. Each of the 60 design elements are shown with clear step-by-step photographs. Embroider the whole sampler as one, or choose motifs separately. Suitable for beginners upwards. Everything you need to know to create beautiful embroidered panels in a beautifully illustrated book. Includes instructions to embroider fantastic flowers and creatures such as dragonflies, bees and birds.
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 Head To Toe Winter Knits by Monica Russel, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216087, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com
You cannot beat 100 patterns for this price. A good variety of hand knitting patterns including hats, all manner of scarves and neck, wrist and leg warmers, cuffs, boot toppers, all manner of gloves and mitts plus headgear. From plain knits to stripes, cable, fair-isle, lacy and more. This book of big patterns has big appeal. Designs are mainly for women, over 90% with a few men’s designs and children’s designs. Clear photos and easy to follow pattern instructions.
Book Review Sew Beautiful Quilted Bags by Akemi Shibata, softback, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216308, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
What a fabulous book. 28 bags from Japan that you are sure to want to make. When it says beautiful, believe it. The author has a signature style that really speaks volumes. Elegant and stylish. Great bag shapes, beautiful fabrics, practical style. These are bags you will be proud to make and own. Different patterns include purses, pouches, shoulder bags, backpacks, cases, totes and more. There really is something for everyone. I think that, like me, you will want to make each one. It is often hard to find something different in the bag world, but this book offers a unique and distinguished feel. Learn techniques such as patchwork, applique, embroidery and beading. Use scraps of fabric and turn them into works of art. Clear instructions with colour diagrams and photographs. Full size templates are given where necessary for pattern parts but you have to trace them. The finished bags look fantastic but I do prefer to make fabric handles. There is also a lovely embroidery sampler and a sewing case in redwork. An applique collage is also included. In addition at the back of the book, you will find basic quilting techniques with personal tips. This includes finishing techniques and making covered buttons. There is a short embroidery stitch guide. Most importantly at the the back of the book you’ll find pattern sheets for all the projects – these are full size. They are to be photocopies or traced as the sheets are double-sided. I am happy to highly recommend this wonderful book. I cannot wait to see more of this author’s work in print. Don’t keep it to yourself, this is a book to buy for all your sewing friends and bag makers. Just as good as her first book, but a few less patterns.