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

We have also opened a bookstore for visitors from the United Kingdom, where they can buy quilting books off the net and have them delivered locally, thus avoiding the high shipping costs from the U.S. Links are provided below for each available book to U.K. visitors. The U.K. Quilters' Bookstore can be found here.

gardgate.gif (19631 bytes)Through the Garden Gate: Quilters and Their Gardens (US)
In the UK
Jean and Valori Wells
C&T Publishing, 1999
144 Pages, $27.95

By Rob Holland

As someone long interested in quilts and who has more recently rediscovered gardening, this book spoke to me. It is a beautiful and unique blending of two very different but related crafts. The mother and daughter Wells, of Sisters, Oregon fame (owners of The Stitchin' Post) have put together a lush collection of photos (all taken by Valori) of gardens belonging to well-known and not-so-well-known quilters and artists. There are nine gardens in all, including Jean's, and each garden is accompanied by an original quilt design and instructions for making the quilt. The photos are accompanied by interesting but unobtrusive narrative explaining the gardener's approach and interests, and at the end of the book there are applique and paper-piecing patterns for various of the quilts.

As both gardeners and quilters know, arresting and sometimes unorthodox color combinations are key to original designs, and if there is any one thing this book teaches it is to be bold and experiment with color. Another absorbing aspect of this crossover book is the many different ways in which the quilt designers have borrowed from nature and translated these gardens into fiber art. The quilt styles range from the watercolor "Vanilla Rose" of Catherine Bryan to Freddy Moran's bright primitive "Just Us Chickens."

If you're looking for fresh inspiration for your quilting or your gardening or both, this is one you'll want to have.

photoquilts2.GIF (22846 bytes)Fun Photo-Quilts & Crafts (US & UK)
By Ami Simms
The Mallery Press, 1999
80 pages, $19.95

By Rob Holland

Ami Simms, besides being one of the funniest quilters on the planet, has been self-publishing fun, interesting, and useful quilting books on everything from scrapbook quilts to improving your quilting stitch. In this latest effort she has turned her attention to photo transfer quilts, which are growing in popularity as another way to use all those millions of Kodak moments we all seem to have. Ami says there were more than 18 billion photos taken last year alone, and that number is only for the U.S.!

Fun Photo-Quilts & Crafts contains all the technical information you will need to transfer your photo images to fabric without harming the photos and without great expense. Her method involves a high quality transfer paper used with color photocopy machines, which she markets under the name Photos-to-Fabric (it's available in the Schoolhouse Enterprises Store at Planet Patchwork).

If the book were just a technical manual, however, it would be very boring indeed. Beyond the particulars of the transfer process, Ami writes cogently and entertainingly about how to select, size, and crop the photos, how to select fabric, and how to construct the quilt. Most importantly, she shares a bunch of good ideas about quilt design. The trick, you see, is not to make your quilt look like a police line-up or (horrors!) the family album. Selection of blocks and settings, borders, and special design features all make a difference in the effective use of photos in a quilt. One of the cleverest of the designs is the use of small photos in a watercolor design. There are also ideas for such things as vests and teddy bears with photo transfers. And how about a necktie?

If you've been interested in trying this technique, get Ami's new book.

rotcut.gif (17814 bytes)Rotary Cutting With Alex Anderson: Tips, Techniques, Projects (US)
In the UK
By Alex Anderson
C&T Publishing, 1999
Paperbound, 48 Pages

By Lynn Holland

If it weren't for rotary cutters, I probably would not be a quilter. The first one I bought had a blade that was smaller than a quarter and boy, was that a great little invention. It got the job done so much faster than scissors. I wish it had come with Alex Anderson's new book, Rotary Cutting -- I would have avoided many mistakes and much wasted fabric along the way. The photo of an Olfa cutter assembly would have kept my mechanically challenged self from having "leftover" pieces whenever I changed a blade.

This book covers the basics carefully, with great photographs to assist the reader in understanding EXACTLY what needs to be where when performing a variety of cutting manuevers. Alex includes some "magic numbers" to help you figure out how big to cut the fabric to yield the finished size you want, some basics about fabric and other important aspects of quilt-making. 
Topping off this slim but information-packed publication are seven projects that can be handled by a beginner. This book would be a great gift along with a rotary cutter, mat and ruler for someone who's getting started on rotary cutting, but it also is interesting enough not to bore those of us who have worn out at least a hundred blades already.

Mariner's Medallion: Using Paper Foundation Piecing (US & UK)
By M'Liss Rae Hawley
That Patchwork Place, 1999
56 Pages, $16.95

By Rob Holland

If you've always been intimidated by medallion quilts, admiring their precision and intricacy, and wondering how the quilter did such wonderful work, M'Liss Hawley's new book on the Mariner's Medallion may be what you need to boost your confidence and give it a try yourself.

This slim volume is basically a one-quilt book, the lovely Mariner's Medallion designed by the author and presented in a variety of colorways and variations in the book's gallery. M'Liss dissects every aspect of the quilt and breaks it into manageable pieces, most of which can be done with foundation piecing. If you took the time to follow each one of her steps in constructing this quilt, you would not only have a beautiful quilt, but have learned an enormous amount about the paper piecing technique. It's not just for blocks, it's for just about everything.

String Quilts with Style (US)
In the UK
Bobbie Aug and Sharon Newman
American Quilter's Society, 1999
104 pages, $18.95

By Rob Holland

Another venerable technique, string piecing, is given a fresh treatment in Bobbie Aug and Sharon Newman's new book. String piecing provides a way to break free of blocks (though it can also be used in blocks) and to add energy and surprise to your designs. Much of the energy in some African-American quilting stems from the string technique.

The book is broken into three sections. The first is a basic introduction to what the authors call "structured string piecing," which basically means the use of the technique within certain kinds of geometric limitations and forms. The second part applies the technique to a dozen sprightly quilt designs. One of the most interesting is the string Lone Stare, which gives this classic pattern  a new and scrappy look.

Part 3 is a tutorial on finishing the quilts, and as a coda there is a small gallery of additional designs to further stimulate your imagination. Very nicely done, with color throughout.

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                                          Four Wheel Drive for your Machine!

The Tutto Machine-on-Wheels is the strongest, most lightweight, and most ergonomically friendly of sewing machine luggage choices!

Read our review and check out the wide assortment of sizes and colors (and great prices) for this highly maneuverable carrier for taking your sewing machine across town or around the world!

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