Machine Quilting For Beginners by Carolyn S. Vagts, softback published by Annie’s Quilting. ISBN9781590128602, price 12.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
A step by step guide to free motion quilting. Going from very basic to feathers and more challenging designs. Most quilters I meet want to learn or to improve their free motion quilting. There is one thing to learn – practice. This book helps you do just that. With clear photos and directional diagrams, it will take you through simple lines, hoops, leaves, swirls and doodles to beautiful feathers and curlicue designs. It includes basics, exercises and using guides. The basics section contains all you need to know about fabric, thread and setting up your machine. The free-motion exercises increase in difficulty, taking you from easy to expert in 20 steps. So feasibly you could go from beginner to expert in less than 3 weeks. Chances are you might need to practice a little more. The final section is about using rulers to mark your work. The work shown is not perfect and I believe that we have to let go of perfect when we free-motion. A handy guide to learning free-motion quilting.
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.
Organic Applique by Kathy Doughty, softback published by Stash Books. ISBN 978-1617458231, price 21.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
The intro chapters are more Doughty’s philosophy on life than quilting per se. I am very attracted to the colourful quilts and applique shapes in this book. I am particularly drawn to the organic flowers and plants. There are useful exercises for choosing fabrics. Instructions include basting, needle turn applique, EPP and hand quilting. You’ll also find a chapter on inspiration, although the photos in this are not very inspiring and poor quality. Design tips for those who prefer to use the book purely for inspiration and projects for those who need something more concrete to follow. If you are a Doughty fan and a lover of interesting fabrics and applique, you’ll most likely love this book. Something of a pot boiler perhaps.
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.
200 Crochet Stitches by Sarah Hazell, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781844489633, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.