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. All prices listed are retail. We offer discounts on most books.

The Ultimate Book of Quilt Labels
By Margo Clabo
That Patchwork Place, 1998
64 pages, $12.95

Quiltlabt.gif (12669 bytes)It's the little things that make the difference, even when it's the label on the back of a sizeable quilt. For those of us who tend to turn to the Pigma Pen and plain white muslin when that part arrives after we have spent hours and hours toiling on a project, help is here. Margo Clabo has created the Ultimate Book of Quilt Labels, and has packed it full of inspiration, technical advice and great ideas. She covers the gamut of label types, methods, and materials, offers lots of great suggestions within these categories, and even gives information on how to use your washing machine as a light table!

Although this book isn't a "trace and use" label resource, Clabo does direct us to some excellent sources for those, as well as offer a fairly comprehensive list of who to turn to should we wish more in depth information on each label type and/or need to order supplies. The full color "gallery" has great examples of quilts with creative labeling and was my favorite part.(Don't miss her 18 year old son's car quilt). Additionally, she points us to various web sites of interest to the quilter and crafter. All told, a very well done reference.

Wildflowers: Designs for Applique & Quilting
By Carol Armstrong
C&T Publishing, 1998
96 Pages, $22.95

Light tables and boxes are popular with these authors. Carol Armstrong uses a light box to do applique, a method which eliminates templates and/or freezer paper, and a few steps in the process as well. This is good, because the applique patterns in this book are for twenty-four very beautiful and intricate wildflowers, from the California poppy to the Wild Columbine.

Applique has always seemed to me to be a perfectionist's art, but Armstrong's philosophy takes a refreshing cue from nature, allowing "flowers that accept little imperfections, mimicking the effects of the wind blowing on a petal or a bug eating the end off a leaf." At least as interesting as the beautiful flowers are the "random" quilting designs that "tell the story of rain or wind, the falling leaves, or the buzzing trails of bees." If you've been looking for some fresh inspiration in your quilting patterns, this book is for you. As always with C&T the color photography is exquisite. Perusing this book is like taking a serene walk in a country meadow.

Stars in the Garden: Fresh Flowers in Applique
By Piece O'Cake Designs
That Patchwork Place, 1998
48 Pages, $15.95

"Stars in the Garden" is a pattern book for a single 70" X 90" quilt made of 12 appliqued blocks. The title comes from the block designs, which incorporate a star design in the center of each symmetrical flowery block. The authors include templates and tout the "applique overlay" to assist with the tedium of the task. The book is friendly and breezy and very thorough, and contains lots of drawings and full-color photos of the blocks. There are also instructions for a miniature version of the quilt, which would make a nice beginner applique project.

Crazy With Cotton
By Diana Leone
C&T Publishing, 1996
96 Pages, $21.95

This reprint of Diana Leone's popular book on memory quilts is timely with all the current rage for scrapbooks. What's special about Leone's designs is their use of crazy quilt technique in traditional symmetrical block construction, and her appreciation for theme and novelty fabrics. Indeed, her historical survey of "storytelling" prints is fascinating and opens your eyes to an appreciation of these traditional patterns which have been somewhat brushed aside by the current fascination with batiks and hand-dyeds. She's even able to get us to sympathize with (horrors!) cheater cloth.

Leone walks us through her very specific construction technique, which involves fussy cuts as center motifs for each block, surrounded by asymmetrical crazy-quilt piecing, and trimmed to be square blocks. The amount of variety that can be achieved with this technique is striking, and the book provides us with plenty of full-color examples. Leone is also conscious that this type of quilt is particularly suited for children's quilt projects, and obliges us with a section on doing the technique with kids.

Easy Paper-Pieced Miniatures
By Carol Doak
That Patchwork Place, 1998
112 Pages, $21.95

This is yet another volume in the "Queen of Paper Piecing"'s series of books on this technique. In some ways, miniatures are the ultimate way in which to use foundation piecing, as it provides the technique by which you can get all those little bitty pieces to hang together and not drive yourself nuts. Doak says her "goal was to create miniature quilts that appear difficult to make, but in reality are not." The minis are lovely, if somewhat relentlessly traditional. My favorite is Rain Bonnet Sue (and I'm no fan of Sue!) and there is also a very nice simple Amish design. There are 17 designs in all.

You don't have to own any of Doak's previous books, as this one contains complete instructions on foundation piecing and there is also an optional packet of ready-made paper foundations that can be purchased separately. If you've been planning to try this technique on a small project, or if you been tempted but also intimidated by miniature quilts, this just may be your ticket.

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