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

The New England Quilt Museum Quilts: Featuring the Story of the Mills Girls

by Jennifer Gilbert.
C&T Publishing, 1999
Paperbound, 96 pages.
Retail Price: $22.95

Fall brings with it thoughts of leaf tours, and the most storied leaf tours occur in New England. This same area has lots of great quilts, too, so it is no surprise that New England is also the focus of a super new book, The New England Quilt Museum Quilts. Although my daughter immediately fell in love with the cover quilt that features butterflies in '30s prints, I did my usual and gravitated toward the story rather than the photos. The photos are great, of course, but so are the stories of the mill girls. Many of the quilts of New England started in the hands of these textile workers, the women whose work produced the literal fabric of many lives. For those who are enamored of the history of quilts, this book is a must have. Included with all the wonderful pictures and text are the directions for reproducing five of the quilts in the museum collection, including the butterfly cover quilt. 

Carrie Hall Blocks: Over 800 Historical Patterns

by Bettina Havig
Collector Books, 1999
Hardbound, 204 pages
Retail price: $34.95

Another favorite for quilt history lovers and antique quilt collectors is bound to be Carrie Hall Blocks: Over 800 Historical Patterns. (And I thought 100 blocks in one book was impressive) This is an incredible assembly of vintage blocks, based on the 1935 book, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt. Even more incredible is that one person researched and collected all eight hundred blocks herself. Appropriately, the blocks were given by Madame Hall to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in 1938. For anyone who loves quilts this is a wonderful reference for both identification and reproduction. It's a real treasure from AQS, and a worthy addition to your permanent collection.

Women of Taste: A Collaboration Celebrating Quilt Artists and Chefs

Jen Bilik, editor.
C&T Publishing, 1999
Paperbound, 112 pages.
Retail price: $24.95

Take a quilter and a well-known chef, stir gently and you have the fifty fabulous results that are showcased in Women of Taste: A Collaboration Celebrating Quilt Artists and Chefs. Piggybacking on the huge popularity of the Full Deck Art Quilts, this project of Girls, Inc. appeals to our visual and gustatory senses. There is a nice balance of text and photography, and I found the stories behind the quilts as appealing as the artistic results. It's one of those books that even your non-quilting (or non-cooking) friends will appreciate. Leave it out on your coffee table and see what happens.

Modern Redwork Designs

by Betty Alderman
Collector Books, 1999
Paperbound, 96 pages.
Retail price: $16.95

My first attempt at needlework of any kind was a little pre-framed, single color embroidery project that I did when I was five. So it's no surprise that I have a special fondness for the latest entry in the everything-old-is-new-again category, Modern Redwork Designs by Betty Alderman.There are some small tea towel projects as well as more ambitious undertakings, so even if you just want to dabble in redwork there's something for you. The author's Sunbonnet Sue alphabet is adorable, and could be a small or large project depending on how much you enjoy this type of needlework. 

Treasury of Crazyquilt Stitches : A Comprehensive Guide to Traditional Hand Embroidery Inspired by Antique Crazyquilts
by Carole K. Samples
Collector Books, 1999
Paperbound, 208 pages.
Retail price: $26.95

Another amazing recent release is Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches by Carole Samples. This is a real encyclopedia of basic crazy quilt stitches and innumerable variations, all cataloged by type. The considerable accompanying text offers encouragement, information and support. It's an awesome collection of every crazy quilt stitch imaginable, along with sufficient accompanying text to clarify the duplication of each stitch. Additionally it offers a look into one woman's personal needlework journey. The only disappointment is that most of it is not in color, which is understandable when you consider today's printing costs. But if you're really into crazy quilting, this book won't gather dust on your shelves. It's valuable as an inspiration and a reference, and it's interesting reading even if you never tackle a crazy quilt yourself.

Quilts from Europe: Projects and Inspiration
By Gul Laporte
C&T Publishing, 2000
112 pages, $24.95

Quilt books based on geographical regions are not likely to be traditional, since the old chestnuts such as log cabins and samplers are made everywhere and are timeless. The most traditional thing in this book featuring selected European quilters is the first group of whitework boutis quilts by Renee Gosse of Provence. Boutis is similar to trapunto, but it is reversible. Renee's section contains, in addition to her beautiful work, a detailed description of how the technique is done.

After departing Provence, but before leaving France, we are immediately swept into the world of European art quilts. The quilters in this book were selected from the best art quilters in seven European countries and their work displays the imagination and diversity of quilting there. Techniques range from watercolor to strip quilting and virtually all of the quilts are abstract compositions (though a variety of amusing birds do show up in the work of C. June Barnes of the U.K.) What struck me most was the strong design and color sense in these quilts. You'll find few timid pastels among this group. The book contains instructions for 14 projects.

Even More Quilts for Baby: Easy as ABC
By Ursula Reikes
Martingale/That Patchwork Place, 2000
80 pages, $19.95

Baby quilts of course are a special category -- they not only need to be appealing in a nursery but made with the knowledge they will be urped upon. This would be a good book for a beginning quilter because the author provides an extensive introduction to quilting at the beginning of the book and then plans and instructions for twenty baby/child quilts that are simple to construct and varied in color and design. You WILL find pastels in this book, but you'll also find bright primaries and subtle monochromes in the mix. All of the designs are traditional, but many with a twist. All instructions are illustrated with color diagrams and besides the many quilt photos there are several charming snapshots of the author's cats.

Lap Quilting Lives!
By Georgia Bonesteel
Martingale/That Patchwork Place, 1999
112 pages, $26.95

Georgia Bonesteel has made a career and a reputation out of lap quilting, and in this book, as she says, she returns to her "quilting roots." After an introductory section providing Georgia's own take on the "right tools" and the right knot, she presents instructions with full color photos and diagrams of an amazing variety of appealing quilts that can be done, through one means or another, in your lap. Georgia's taste has always been eclectic, and you'll find nice, manageable projects for a variety of occasions, from Christmas wallhangings to quilts made of toile, silk, and denim. Peppering the instructions throughout are all of the wonderful shortcuts and special techniques this master quilter has developed over her 25-year career. Georgia steals my heart with "So Dear to My Heart," a navy and white prairie-pointed beauty with red accents. It's exquisite.

The Quilter's Handbook
Edited by Rosemary Wilkinson
Martingale/That Patchwork Place, 1999
176 pages, $29.95

As its title implies, this is an ambitious book which aims to be a comprehensive introduction to quilting in all of its many glorious manifestations. Originally published in Britain, it begins with a history of quilting and ends with a page on "Quilting and the Computer." In between it presents material on just about every major type of quilt, from Seminole patchwork to bargello, applique, broderie perse, yo-yo quilting, Amish, crazy quilting and more. There are also sections on the pleasures of designing your own quilts, exhibiting quilts, and quilt care and conservation.

To accompany this dazzling array of topics there are 26 projects with complete instructions, diagrams, and where appropriate, templates. This book would make a great gift for someone just beginning to show the symptoms of quilt pox, or for someone more advanced looking for new ideas and techniques.

Travels with Peaky and Spike
By Doreen Speckmann
C&T Publishing, 1999
80 pages, $19.95

It is at once a sad and joyous happenstance that Doreen Speckmann's wonderful book appeared almost simultaneously with her death in Ireland last fall. One can't imagine a more appropriate place for Doreen's last dance than in a pub in Limerick, nor a more appropriate tribute than the capturing in this book of her unique spirit and her unmistakable quilts.

The quilts in this book, made using Doreen's patented peaky and spike technique, all reflect themes from her travels, mostly cruises, to the Caribbean and Alaska. The quilt instructions are interspersed with "tourist" photos of Doreen and friends, including one hilarious shot of the author in her snorkeling mask and gear, displaying shells she brought up from the bottom of the sea. Doreen had no pretense, and her quilts are beautiful and simple and relatively easy to make. They, along with her writing, express her love for the world and her marvelous sense of humor.


For hundreds more quilting books, reviews, and recommendations, visit the Planet Patchwork Quilter's Bookstore. 

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