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Planet Patchwork Bookbriefs are published in newsletter form and distributed by e-mail to subscribers to the Planet Patchwork Update List, as well as being published here on the web. If you'd like to join our Update List, you can subscribe here.

BookBriefs provides subscribers thumbnail descriptions and reviews of new (and sometimes not-so-new) quilting books on the market, along with links to where the books can be purchased through The Planet Patchwork Quilters' Bookstore. (Just click on the title or the link provided.) All prices listed are retail. We offer discounts on most books.

Reviews by Rob and Lynn Holland

All Through the Woods: Quilted Projects from the North Country
By Cori Derksen and Myra Harder
Martingale and Company, 2001
Paperbound, 80 pages
MSRP $22.95

When Cori and Myra say the “north country,” they mean it. Friends of 22 years, these two women live with their families in Winkler, Manitoba, in a rugged rural environment that is reflected in these eight quilted projects. Using both appliqué and piecing techniques, including paper piecing, the authors provide a charming collection of quilts, wall-hangings, and pillows on outdoorsy themes, populated by moose, bears, beavers, ducks, fish, and their forested, mountainous surroundings. Like all good quilting books, it contains basic instructions on the techniques involved, as well as finishing instructions. One useful page contains tips for adding your own details to the simple basic designs to give them a personal touch. They also provide information on adding sleeves or tabs for hanging, and on signing your quilt. A section in the back provides the appliqué patterns and some paper-piecing templates. While the themes are natural, the style is folksy and whimsical, including a portrait of Overall Sam fishing from his canoe.

Replique Quilts: Appliqué Designs from Favorite Photos
By Chris Lynn Kirsh
Martingale and Company, 2001
Paperbound, 80 pages
MSRP $24.95

Chris Kirsch took a Caryl Bryer Fallert technique for reproducing photographic images in fabric, made it her own, refined it, and finally coined a name for it ­ replique ­ a combination of “accurate replicas” and “machine appliqué.” This book is not about another method of photo transfer, but rather about accurate rendering of images from the real world in fabric through appliqué. At first Chris used it to create quilts of houses, of which there are numerous in this collection. Later she went on to apply it to images of animals and flowers, and just about anything you can imagine. Making these quilts involves mastering a “tedious, but not too difficult” technique for transferring a photo image to a pattern, then sewing the fabric to the back of the pattern. In order to assure success, Chris provides a couple of very basic beginning projects that she insists the novice complete to master the technique. Then you can move on to whatever projects seem achievable, including rendering your own photos. While I am not a big fan of photographic representational quilts, I find many of these to be quite lovely and technically amazing. The book is very thorough and well-organized, and includes a section on finishing instructions.

The Simple Joys of Quilting: 30 Timeless Quilt Projects
By Joan Hanson and Mary Hickey
Martingale and Company, 2001
Hardbound, 160 pages
MSRP $29.95

Quilters are a clever lot, and one of the ways in which they display their cleverness is in refreshing the quilting tradition. Despite the innovations of photo transfer, raw edges, photographic realism and free-form art, some of the most satisfying quilts remain the repetitive ones made from simple shapes. And I never grow tired of new books that celebrate and continue the very traditional roots of quilting. Joan Hanson and Mary Hickey do exactly this, and as if to underscore it, organize their very practical book by the shape of the pieces used to make the designs ­ squares and rectangles, different kinds of triangles, and finally shapes which require templates. The results are stunning, as page after colorful page restates the wonderful aesthetic pleasure derived from the play of color and value, the warmth of traditional imagery such as hearts and stars, and the boldness with which a strong geometric pattern can transform a room. This book is intended as a comprehensive introduction to quilting, and would make a great gift for a beginning quilter. The instructions are clear and replete with diagrams, and the writing style is light, with lots of personal and family stories interspersed among the quilts.

Scrap Frenzy: Even More Quick-Pieced Scrap Quilts
By Sally Schneider
Martingale and Company, 2001
Paperbound, 96 pages
MSRP $24.95

Scrap quilts, while they are a favorite with many people, quilters and non-quilters alike, are tricky. While it might sound easy to make a quilt out of a bunch of different scraps, the process goes a little against the grain. As Sally Schneider points out, we’re not really comfortable working with colors that don’t “go together” or coordinate, and unless we pay attention to value and other design elements, it is very easy to end up with a quilt that looks like a hodge-podge. The other tricky thing about working with scraps is that they’re messy and require a lot of fiddling ­ taking them out, ironing the pieces, cutting, putting them away. Whew! Sally Schneider has answers to both of these pitfalls in this thoughtful and beautiful collection of projects. The quilts are informed by a strong design sense which unifies the scrappy materials, and she provides many practical tips on how to prepare your scraps in advance for future projects, thus taking much of the tedium out of starting a new quilt. She also provides an amusing but practical list of ways in which to collect scraps, which includes everything from going to local yard sales to participating in internet swaps. This is a good one for all you scrappers out there!

Petal Play The Traditional Way
By Joan Shay
American Quilters Society, 2001
Paperbound, 112 pages
MSRP $21.95

Although she says she doesn’t like gardening, Joan Shay has been making flowers bloom for years through her books on Appli-bond appliqué. In this her latest book, she goes a step further, combining her charming fabric flowers with traditional quilt designs, to make delightful hybrid creations. She was originally inspired by a double wedding ring quilt that she realized provided perfect frames for magnolia blossoms. She took off from there and provides us plans an techniques for combining such things as bright poppies and the “Road to California” pattern, and purple coneflowers with log cabin blocks. Beginning with good solid general instructions on quilt-making, the book goes on to provide detailed plans for 10 projects. The final chapter is a gallery of challenge quilts made using Shay’s method, and they are quite stunning.

Stack-n-Whackier Quilts
By Bethany Reynolds
That Patchwork Place, 2001
Paperbound, 135 pages
MSRP $22.95

For those of us who adored and rotary cut ourselves silly with Stack N Whack, there’s great news. The unbelievably talented Bethany Reynolds has given us “Stack N Whackier Quilts” to provide us with more hours of great fun and incredible quilts.Just in case you missed the whole first wave, Stack N Whack is a technique that utilizes one medium-to-large print fabric cut in prescribed ways then sewn together to create a kaleidoscopic effect, usually something that in no way resembles the original fabric except for the colors! Got it now?

Once you grasp the basic techniques, which are well-explained and illustrated with clear, color photos, you are ready to progress to the designs with which you can amaze yourself! Even the easy projects (Karen’s Transparent Star, Fan Quilt, and Novelty Windows) produce seemingly intricate results, but when you move on to the intermediate and advance intermediate projects, you start moving into the unbelievable range. 

Obviously aware that this technique has been widely used in quilt classes, Bethany offers sample lesson plans for a variety of teaching scenarios. If you haven’t tried one of these projects, now is the time to start with either of Bethany’s great books.


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