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November 2002

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

Christmas Cats and Dogs: Quilts to Celebrate the Season
By Janet Kime
Martingale, 2002
Paperbound, 112 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Although it’s probably too late for most of us to start a Christmas quilt project for this coming holiday, it’s not to early to plan ahead so we know what to buy at the after-Christmas fabric sales!

Janet Kime’s Christmas Cats and Dogs is well, just TOO cute. I want one of each of the eleven quilts, and then I’d like to throw in the ornaments, stockings and all the other great stuff in this book. There are angel versions of both cats and dogs, sweet appliqué and patchwork projects all in Christmas theme. Janet never crosses the line from cute to cutesy, she just brings us projects of our most-loved pets in not-too-difficult form. Although I’m unmistakably a cat person, my favorite quilt is Redwork Airdales. Maybe I could crank out a few doggie ornaments before the 25th.

Christmas at That Patchwork Place
Edited by Mary Green
Martingale, 2001
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $22.95

Christmas at That Patchwork Place offers us a slew of holiday inspired projects by some of the most popular designers. There are appliqué projects, stained glass technique, paper piecing -- pick your favorite! Each design offers something distinctive, so you’re sure to find something to your taste in this cheerful book.

Favorite Little Christmas Quilts
By the Editors of Miniature Quilts
Chitra Press, 2001
Hard cover, 32 pages
Suggested retail: $14.94

For those of us who like to think and quilt small, we can have our merry little Christmas with Chitra Publications’ and the editors of Minature Quilts magazine’s Favorite Little Christmas Quilts. These tiny wonders range from an under 12- inch round Santa moon quilt to a tiny Bear Paw to a paper pieced snowman photo collection. The largest dimension of any of these designs is 25 inches, but each one packs big visual punch. If you’re a miniature enthusiast and love Christmas, this book is definitely for you.

Rowan Patchwork and Quilting Book Number 4
Ruth Eglinton and Pauline Smith, editors
Rowan Yarns, distributed in the U.S. by C&T Publishing, 2002
Paperbound, 110 pages
Suggested Retail: $19.95

The Rowan Patchwork books are an interesting hybrid. Part art book, part catalogue, part how-to manual, put together by a trans-Atlantic quilting mafia of great talent, these books (or magazines, as they prefer to call them) give very intense pleasure. They are a showcase for a new flowering of “glorious patchwork,” to steal a phrase, under the nurturing auspices of Kaffe Fassett and Liza Pryor Lucy, and featuring new quilt designs by both British and American quilters. Number 4 contains new work by Fassett and Lucy, as well as American sisters Mary Mashuta and Roberta Horton, and a sprinkling of lesser known but also talented quilters. They are presented first in a casual gallery in domestic settings, then later as part of detailed instructions for constructing them. In between there are several pages displaying Kaffe Fassett’s latest fabric collections, and a charming featurette on one of the contributors, Liza Prior Lucy. The quilts in the collection are mostly traditional in the sense of being geometric, but the exquisite color selection and artistic sense that infuses them makes them stand out from their ancestry. Lots of inspiration here!

15 Two-Block Quilts: Unlock the Secrets of Secondary Patterns
By Claudia Olson
C&T Publishing, 2002
Paperbound, 112 pages
Suggested retail: $26.95

One of the most fun things about working with quilt blocks is that you never know what surprises you will encounter. Two relatively plain looking blocks can yield a dynamite quilt design by the interaction of their elements, creating an entirely different secondary pattern. Claudia Olson takes this basic geometric phenomenon and makes a science of it. By studying various quilt block designs, she discovers the secrets of why some blocks work well together and others do not, and shares her knowledge with us. The result is a series of striking new geometric designs made from familiar favorites. The lion’s share of this book is given over to detailed project instructions illustrated in full color, and Olson’s color choices are varied and interesting. I particularly like the quilt “Dublin Square,” which combines Dublin Steps and Town Square blocks. This book can teach you a lot about the social lives of quilt blocks.

Laurel Burch Quilts: Kindred Creatures
By Laurel Burch
C&T Publishing, 2001
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Like Mary Engelbreit, Laurel Burch has a distinctive and immediately recognizable artistic style. I got familiar with her work when picking out whimsical ceramic cat earrings for Lynn’s birthdays or other occasions, and always felt cheered by the bright color and fanciful forms of her artistic universe. As with anything this assertive and unique, you can tire of it, but somehow you can always come back to Laurel Burch and recapture the magic you felt when you first encountered her. It’s a delight, then, to see her expand her artistic media into fabric with this book, Kindred Creatures. Mythical, magical horses, dogs, cats, birds, and butterflies gather in myriad combinations to form these breathtaking designs. As you might expect, Laurel doesn’t limit her effects to fabric alone. These quilts are appliquéd and embellished with paint, fabric stamps, wire, and any other material that comes to hand. Despite the very clear and detailed instructions, there is lots of room for individual expression as you work on these quilts. This isn’t a book of pastels or tea-dyes but a bright, bold excursion into a fantastic dream world.

Magical Four-Patch and Nine-Patch Quilts
By Yvonne Porcella
C&T Publishing, 2001
Paperbound, 48 pages
Suggested retail: $14.95

Great creativity is sometimes born of impatience, and this seems to be the case with Yvonne Porcella, who says she never has made a large quilt using a repeated block because “I do not like the precision required to measure and calculate fabrics to make a large quilt.” Instead, she thinks up magical numbering schemes, fiddles with brightly colored strips of fabric, and makes eye-popping quilts out of simple elements. In this book she shares her clever techniques in great detail and with lots of examples. Some reviewers have carped that Porcella departs from her usual bright primary palette in this volume, but it is nowhere written that an artist can’t experiment with other styles and appeal from time to time to other color sensibilities. The primary purpose of the book is to teach a highly formalized technique, and the variety of color choices shows that it works as well for country plaids as for high contrast. 

Rotary Heirloom Quilts
By Nancy Brenan Daniel
American Quilter’s Society, 2002
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $21.95

If you’re a traditionalist in your taste in quilts, but not in quilting techniques, this book is a good combination. Daniel acknowledges her debt to earlier rotary cutting and quick piecing pioneers, and offers some new techniques and refinements. She also devotes a few well-thought-out pages to the effective use of color. The quilts themselves are beautiful – especially the scrappy yet elegant “Gretchen’s Trumpet Vine.” The book contains 15 complete projects that can be rotary-cut and quick-pieced.

Foundation Borders
By Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood
American Quilter’s Society, 2002
Paperbound, 128 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Hall and Haywood have a lot of experience together teaching and writing about foundation piecing. This new book focuses on techniques for doing paper-pieced quilt borders for a variety of styles. Borders aren’t mere afterthoughts; they can make or break a quilt, and H&H give them the care and study they deserve. The book contains a well-done primer in foundation techniques, and dozens of creative border designs, both traditional and contemporary. Perhaps most important, the authors provide a series of questions to ponder as you decide what kind of border you want. Includes paper foundation templates and lots of color photos.


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