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PLANET PATCHWORK QUILTING BOOKBRIEFS, #20
May 2003

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.

Fabric Dyeing For Beginners
By Vimala McClure
American Quilter’s Society, 2003
Paperbound, 80 pages
Suggested retail: $19.95 

Fabric dyeing is one of those things that appeals to our primitive finger-painting urges. It’s messy, colorful, and very satisfying. Vimala McClure’s book for beginners, which grew originally from a popular magazine article, is just the ticket if you’ve been contemplating giving this a try. McClure approaches the somewhat daunting prospect of chemicals, rubber gloves, and stained sinks with enthusiasm, but also with practical sense. She knows that busy women need ways to fit these processes into their other responsibilities, and so breaks the processes up into small, manageable pieces that can be done over several days. Several different dyeing techniques are explored, including pickle-jar, fabric-fold, tie-dye, and stencil methods. The technical details are nicely balanced by photos of many styles of quilts that make us of hand-dyed fabrics.
 

Easy Paper-Pieced Baby Quilts
By Carol Doak
Martingale and Company, 2001
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Conventional expectations about baby quilts are even more restricted than traditional quilts in general. The baby quilt must be pastel pink or pastel blue (or perhaps yellow if you don’t know the baby’s sex), and the design must contain a distinct “baby” theme – blocks, or duckies, or some such. It’s refreshing then to see Carol Doak in this book defying these expectations with a collection of charming small quilts that transcend the clichés. Not that the quilts aren’t suitable as baby gifts – they’d be welcomed warmly by any new mother or mother-to-be, though she might want to put them on the wall instead of subjecting them to spit-up. Carol’s trademark paper piecing is the primary construction technique, and foundations for copying are provided, along with instructions on the entire quilting process. If I were a baby, I’d want to receive Carol’s lovely “Crazy About You” in rich gold tones, but for the more traditional there ARE duckies and baby blocks in here too!

 

Biblical Blocks: Inspired Designs for Quilters
By Rosemary Makhan
Martingale & Company, 2001 (2nd Edition)
Paperbound, 80 pages
Suggested retail: $22.95

This is a one-quilt book containing instructions for a beautiful sampler using a selection of geometric quilt blocks with Biblical names. The center medallion of this sampler is a large, on-point tree-of-life block, complemented by such stalwarts as Solomon’s Puzzle, Job’s Tears, and Joseph’s Coat. The results are lovely, with the book’s gallery providing examples in a variety of colorways, and templates for blocks and quilting designs. Quilt blocks are accompanied by appropriate quotes from scripture.


Hand Appliqué with Alex Anderson: Seven Projects for Hand Appliqué
By Alex Anderson
C&T Publishing, 2001
Paperbound, 48 pages
Suggested Retail: $14.95

Even if you’re a confirmed hater of “the ‘A’ word,” it’s hard to imagine quilting without the many beauties of appliqué. Alex Anderson’s primer on the subject is succinct but thorough, with good illustrations of sometimes difficult techniques. One nice touch is that the illustrations of appliqué stitching are provided in both right- and left-handed versions. The projects are appealing in their own right, and are designed to provide opportunities to experiment with all different types of appliqué, from needle-turn to stitch-and-flip. The final project in the book is a charming quilt called “Mittens,” featuring buttonhole stitching. If you’re looking to expand your horizons into appliqué, this is a great starting point.
 

Simple Fabric Folding for Christmas: 14 Festive Quilts and Projects
By Liz Aneloski
C&T Publishing, 2003
Paperbound, 64 Pages
Suggested retail: $19.95

This collection of fourteen fabric folding projects has the additional charm of avoiding the sentimentality that so often spoils Christmas designs. Bold, bright, and distinctive designs characterize these Christmas stockings, quilts, and home accessories that could be gracing your place come December. The folding techniques used are basic and easy to learn, especially from the thorough and well-illustrated instructions Liz provides. The projects are divided into three categories that should appeal to a broad range of tastes – a Country Christmas, a Fun Christmas, and an Elegant Christmas. The texture added by tucks, puffs, and points makes them irresistible. This is a great beginner’s book on fabric folding, with manageable projects and good instructions.

Shoreline Quilts: 15 Glorious Get-Away Projects
Compiled by Cyndy Rymer
C&T Publishing, 2003
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

This compilation of designs captures another place and season, the sunny summer beaches and shores as seen through the varied styles of dozens of talented quilters. These quilts use a wide variety of different techniques, explained and illustrated in great detail, and there are quilts at all levels, for beginners and veterans alike. My favorite of these is Flavin Glover’s “A Day at the Beach,” a traditional geometric rendering of the beach with its colorful umbrellas done in modified log cabin blocks. Bringing a smile is Ami Simms’ “Bikini Quilt,” dubbed by her mother “Boobs and Bellybuttons,” which is made in a kind of tessellated arrangement of hourglass blocks. And Elsie Vredenburg renders the lighthouses of Fundy in a wonderful profusion of snail’s trail blocks. This book will inspire you to raid your stash for beachy blues and browns and go dig out your flip-flops.

 

Beautifully Quilted with Alex Anderson
By Alex Anderson
C&T Publishing, 2003
Paperbound, 56 pages
Suggested retail: $16.95

After color selection, the most difficult design challenge in quilting seems to be the selection of a quilting pattern that compliments the primary design. Quilters agonize over this question, knowing that they will be putting a lot of time and fingertip wear into the quilting process. Alex Anderson, in her sure-footed and inspired way, takes on this problem in her new book, offering a combination of simple guidelines and specific examples that should help give the beginner confidence. Anderson suggests a number of sources of inspiration, including other quilts, books, and other decorative arts, such as stained glass. The book provides a number of traceable quilting patterns, as well as detailed instructions on how to draw your own. Like her other books, this one also includes a few projects on which to try out the ideas presented. If you’re looking for help in choosing quilting designs for your quilts, this is an essential addition to your library.

 

Block Magic, Too: Over 50 New Blocks from Squares and Rectangles
By Nancy Johnson-Srebro
C&T Publishing, 2003
Paperbound, 112 pages
Suggested Retail: $26.95

For you rotary cutting fans, Nancy Johnson-Srebro, despite a promise to her family that she would take a break, has brought out a sequel to her very popular Block Magic of two years ago. The unique thing about Johnson-Srebro’s block designs is that they are all made from two simple shapes – squares and rectangles. As such they lend themselves to easy rotary cutting techniques for quick construction. Detailed instructions for cutting and sewing each block are included for four different sizes, ranging from six to twelve inches, and the blocks are charming and original. Augmenting the blocks are 10 quilt designs (which she calls quilt maps) which use the blocks in the book. My favorite is Granny’s Cupboard. These cute and whimsical blocks are great fun!
 

Radiant New York Beauties: 14 Paper-Pieced Quilt Projects
By Valori Wells
C&T Publishing, 2003
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested Retail: $24.95

Valori Wells is a woman of many talents, a photographer as well as a quilter, and with a keen eye for color and line. The designs and colors of her new book featuring the New York Beauty block are absolutely luscious – deep and rich and complex, with a new surprise and delight on every page. This demanding block, like its sister the Mariner’s Compass, presents difficulties in construction (matching points and all that nonsense), but Wells has the answer – paper piecing – and the book provides foundations for the quilt projects and gives permission for their reproduction. The book is sprinkled with “mini-lessons” on specific techniques, and with the author’s photographs, especially of plants, from which she gets many of her inspirations. All I can say after drinking in the beauty in this book is “Wow!”

 

Quilting in the Morning Calm: Floral Delights from Ancient Korea
By Shirley MacGregor and Sheila Steers
The Carriage Trade Press, 2002
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested Retail: $26.95

For a number of years, Shirley MacGregor has been bringing us the beauties of the Far East rendered as quilts through her “Manhole Cover” books, which feature designs from the streets of Japan. In this volume she and her co-author (and a bevy of volunteer quilters) have provided a variation on the theme, borrowing floral designs from 16th century Korea and rendering them in appliqué. The book is a rich cultural mix – part history, part biography, part art – held together by the stories of the quilters and their quilts as they brought these lovely designs to life. Basic appliqué instructions and patterns are included for making some of these quilts. The most spectacular of the quilts is a rendering of the “two pumpkins” design by Madelaine Hutchin of Sussex, England, but all of the quilts are lovely, and as usual with the books from Carriage Trade Press, very different.
 

Americana Quilts
By Sandy Bonsib
Martingale & Company, 2003
Paperbound, 80 pages
Suggested retail: $22.95

Sandy Bonsib begins by putting the original quilts in this book into the context of American folk art, which is her definition of “Americana.” The primitive style and distinctive colors, including the yellow patina of age, of America’s folk art, are incorporated into the designs of 10 projects. Despite being traditional, all of the quilts are fresh, due to an original twist (circular American flags) or a flash of whimsy (dancing dogs and chickens). The projects are well-illustrated, with full instructions, and a general quilting section at the end covers everything from seam allowances to labels. Templates for the appliqué elements of these quilts are also included. All in all a delightful group of projects.
 

Snuggle Up: 8 Lap Quilts to Warm Your Home
By Beth Kovich and Retta Warehime
Martingale & Company, 2002
Paperbound, 64 pages
Suggested retail: $19.95

Snuggle Up Quilts is a collaborative effort by two talented quilters, Beth Merrill Kovich and Retta Warehime. Together they have assembled eight appealing lap quilts that will become objects of affection in no time. From “Crossing Paths”, a criss-cross sixteen path variation to “Coffee and Cream” to “Beach Glass” their designs offer surprises among some favorites patterns.

And, as they are quick to point out, these quilts are all just the right size- not so small you can’t be cozy under them, but not so large you’ll never finish the project.
 

Elm Creek Quilts: Quilt Projects Inspired by the Elm Creek Quilt Novels
By Jennifer Chiaverini and Nancy Odom
C&T Publishing, 2002
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Fans of Jennifer Chiaverini’s best selling novels will likewise enjoy the book which offers patterns based on the stories of the people of Elm Creek. Seven of the twelve quilts were designed by Jennifer herself, and a special bonus the book’s introduction provides a pictorial insight into her family and their “for real” story. If you’ve not yet traveled to Elm Creek via the novels, you’ll still find lots to enjoy in these twelve imaginative designs.


A Thread Runs Through It: The Quilts, The Stories, The Steps
By Barbara Dieges
Collector Books, 2002
Paperbound, 112 pages
Suggested retail: $19.95

Another storytelling and quilt project combination, A Thread Runs Through It takes history and old photos to spin a fine story thread to link a dozen plus quilt projects. Barbara Dieges tells the story of Anna Maria Saller, supposedly born in 1839. Tracing the story of Anna Maria’s life through her quilts, Barbara manages to bring both the character and the quilts to life. Overall, an interesting and well done book.
 

Cozy Cabin Quilts from Thimbleberries: 20 Projects for Any Home
By Lynette Jensen
C&T Publishing, 2002
Paperbound, 144 pages
Suggested retail: $28.95

For those who can’t get enough Thimbleberries, (and who can?) Lynette Jensen’s latest book gives us more of those wonderful quilts and projects we all clamor for. Using getaways and retreats as her theme, she celebrates in these 20 projects those moments to remember- family gatherings, quiet times, nature and vacations. It’s easy to see why Thimbleberries are so popular.

 

Flannel Quilts
By Sandy Bonsib
Martingale & Company, 2001
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

In the things we love department, Flannel Quilts by Sandy Bonsib’s features seventeen too adorable ways to use flannel. Starting with the “Playful Puppies”, Sandy uses flannel in clever and imaginative ways. There are two kinds of heart quilts, some baby quilts, and some very vivid interpretations of traditional patterns. Of course, Sandy’s plaid quilt that features her beloved flannel nightgown stitched atop squares of other family favorite flannels is quite amusing, and just demonstrates how that good feel of flannel really gets next to our skin!
 

Quiltscapes
by Rebecca Barker
American Quilters Society, 2003
Paperbound, 80 pages
Suggested retail: $19.95

In keeping with the mixed-media theme, you’d probably recognize Rebecca Barker’s beautiful paintings even if you don’t know her name. Her lovely quiltscapes, so named for the stunning combinations of quilts and soothing landscapes have become famous on paintings and notecards.

This AQS book offers us not just the lovely paintings, but instructions for the quilts as well. Not surprisingly, the scenes and the quilts lean heavily toward the traditional, but at least one of the 24 patterns will speak to you. Although I like each design. I tend to gravitate toward the very patriotic Fourth of July and the very imaginative Fish, which shows a rowboat afloat on a sea of quilted fish

As hurried as most days are, there’s something very appealing about the calm, quiet feel that surrounds Rebecca’s artwork.


Strips and Strings: 16 Sparkling Quilts
By Evelyn Sloppy
Martingale & Company, 2003
Paperbound, 96 pages
Suggested retail: $24.95

Okay, quilters. Who doesn’t have a stash of scraps? It’s just so hard to toss those leftover pieces, that most of us have some accumulation of stuff we’re not sure what to do with.

Evelyn Sloppy starts with helping us figure out organized ways to use our bits and pieces of fabric to create bright and beautiful quilts. Extending the traditional concept of string piecing ,but moving beyond the usual to deliberately slice, dice and extend the design. Evelyn uses brights, plaids and everything in between to create 16 very distinctive quilts.She also offers us tips for preventing our quilts from becoming hodge-podge works and shows us how to use every scrap to make something spectacular.


Handprint Quilts: Creating Children's Keepsakes with Paint and Fabric
by Marcia Layton
Martingale & Company, 2003
Paperbound, 64 pages
Suggested retail: $18.95

Just when it’s time for the year-end classroom quilt, this book arrives! Giving a completely different meaning to hand quilting., this book is one of the freshest and most imaginative things we’ve seen in children’s quilts for some time. Long-time preschool teacher and director Marcia Layton has given us something truly clever and unusual. Using handprints, Marcia creates dinosaurs, butterflies, giraffes, fish, cats, dogs – you name it. Add in lots of design tips and explicit instructions, and you have a great new book. My favorite is the bee quilt, but it’s hard to resist the lions and tigers and elephants that are also created completely from well-placed handprints. A real original that will help you make something memorable.


Triangle Tricks: One Easy Unit, Dozens of Gorgeous Quilts
By Sally Schneider
Martingale & Company, 2003
Paperbound, 80 pages
Suggested retail: $22.95
 

Although few quilters can claim to have a dynamite quilting technique flash before them on a ski lift, we’re sure glad that Sally Schneider did. Using a clever “block A, block B” combination of squares and rectangles sewn and cut to make triangle units, many trianjglular uints a nd resultant combinations are created. Since triangles are made without much of the usual fuss of extra cutting and point matching which frequently vex quilters.

Ten quilt patterns feature this technique, making stars, pinwheels, diamonds and other imaginative constructions. The chart shows cutting sizes for finished blocks ranging from 2inches to 12 inches for lots of flexibility. If that’s not enough, there’s a Quilt Gallery of eleven more design possibilities ranging from novelty prints to batiks—something for everyone.

 

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