quilt book

I had a chance to ask Janet Clare about her new self-published quilt project book – Freya and Fred: a week full of quilts for a girl and her dog. This beautifully presented book full of imaginative and fun quilts and other projects is a joy to hold and view and I know many of the techniques and images will be inspiring us for a long time. 

Hi Janet, I love the concept behind this book – a little girl and her dog doing a week of activities – can you tell us a little about what inspired this idea?

Janet: I was inspired by the paper dolls and their clothes that I used to play with when I was little. Making an appliqué girl and getting to design a wardrobe of clothes for her was great fun! And then I felt she looked a little lonely so I got her a dog! Freya is my favourite girls’ name, but I had two boys- luckily I have two lovely nieces called Freya now!

You self published this book – is that correct?  … the photography and design of the book is simply wonderful – I love the quality of the paper too – can you talk about the process of going from idea to self publication?

Janet: Yes, I did self publish and made all the projects and took all the photos too. My friend Hayley is a graphic designer and she laid out all the pages for me and my lovely husband helped do all the technical bits that I am clueless about! My friend‘s little girl modelled for me. So, in no way did I do the book all by myself, I had a lot of help.

I’m so glad you liked the style of the book and the paper etc because I was very fussy indeed about all that and got the printer to order in the paper especially. The best part about self publishing was never having to compromise! So, I made my book my way and am very, very fortunate that others like it too!

In terms of the process I decided in January 2010 to write and self publish a book which would be launched at ‘The Festival of Quilts’ (the biggest quilt show in Europe, August at the NEC Birmingham), started a sketchbook (new project, new sketchbook!) and asked Hayley if she could help me and then worked round the clock for a few months to get everything made. Hayley, Tony and I worked ‘til the wee hours of the morning every night for three weeks. The files were taken to the printers and I waited and waited and then just the morning before I had to leave for Birmingham I picked my books up- there wasn’t a second to spare!

A couple of things about the illustrations and designs that really stood out for me were the jointed applique templates for Freya and her dog Fred, can you talk about how these came about, and what quilters can use these for?

Janet: The jointed appliqué templates were a brainwave of mine a few years ago. I was cooking dinner for the boys and trying to draw six horses all the same size but in different positions for my Horse blanket pattern.

It wasn’t going well, the dinner was spoiling and the boys were bickering when all of a sudden I just knew I only needed to make one horse that moved. The rest is history! I now have jointed movable patterns for a horse, rabbit, dinosaur, cat and dog and in my book there is a dancing ballerina and a moving Fred.

Using a jointed template for your appliqué makes them very versatile and makes every quilt truly unique. Just position the ballerina as you wish and then trace her onto some fusible web (Bondaweb) or onto your fabric and appliqué as normal. Re-position the template and start again! The templates can be turned over too so Fred can look left and right.

I have suggested photocopying the templates onto card before you use them and you could also enlarge or reduce them too. I have also used my templates for paper crafts and the boys have coloured them in and made little puppets to play with. My appliqué templates are very versatile!

I love that each quilt project is accompanied by a little story, recipe or additional craft project accessory – you obviously had a huge amount of fun creating the projects and concepts for this book – can you talk about your decision making process for each quilt?

Janet: I had the best time writing my book! I had so many ideas that I couldn’t fit them all in. In the beginning I decided to make ‘Freya and Fred’ a lovely object in its own right- the kind of book that you just loved to curl up with and take inspiration from. I was really determined not to make just a project book (although there are many projects to make in the book!) I also decided not to make the book for complete beginners- this meant I didn’t have to include very detailed step by step instructions but could assume some prior quilt making experience.

However I did want to explain my favourite techniques in great detail, so I took a lot of care over describing and illustrating how I use my appliqué templates and how I use free motion stitching to draw with my sewing machine. I hope I achieved this.

Once I knew the book was going to be about a week in Freya’s life the projects and ideas came very easily. I actually made the front cover of the book first and worked through it day by day until it was all done. I drew and painted in my sketchbook and looked at a lot of vintage toys and fabrics from the 1940’s and tried to capture that childish innocence. Writing ‘Freya and Fred’ was a pleasure from beginning to end, and I really feel it shows.

One lesson I have learnt though is to leave more time for the next book- so I’ve started it already! Hayley and I have a ‘book design’ meeting in our favourite bar planned- we’ve discovered that these meetings go better with a margarita!

Thanks so much Janet, I know a lot of people are going to love this book – can you tell us how we can get one for our friends?

Janet: Oh, I do hope you’re right! You can buy ‘Freya and Fred’ from: Etsy,  Amazon (UK) and Amazon (USA)



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Update … we are now offering a giveaway – so please leave a comment below to be in the running to win.

I am very excited to be kicking off the Blog tour for the C+T book Quilts Made Modern: 10 Projects, Keys for Success with Color & Design, From the FunQuilts Studio by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Today they join me for a behind the Scenes tour from their Fun Quilts studio. I asked a couple of questions to get the ball rolling… [Weeks has posted a little behind the scenes on her blog too]

What is the process of designing a quilt?

There are generally two ways that we design quilts. The first is to just sketch ideas, often with a sketchbook and a pen while we’re waiting somewhere. Many, if not most, of our designs start in the waiting room of doctors’ offices, on the bleachers waiting for our daughter’s swim team practice to end or on a plane somewhere. Sometimes we’ve seen something that has inspired the form but often it’s just intuitive. In this case, we don’t have any fabrics in mind, we’re just looking at forms. Once we have the form and proportions down, we look at fabrics.

The other method is the inverse. We start with a color or fabric or collection of fabrics that we love and we think about what form would show that fabric or group of fabrics to their best advantage. We both have to like it before it’s a go.

Some people also find it surprising that we select the backing, the binding and often the quilting pattern before we even prewash the fabrics. We’re very methodical and organized in this way. Each project has a basket with all of the parts in it as well as a worksheet with all of the dimensions figured out. Most of our quilts become patterns either published by us or in books or magazines so we have to be able to document the fabrics, techniques and measurements we’ve used on every quilt. In some cases we’ve even decided where we’re going to photograph the quilts and how we’re going to style them before we’ve even sewn a stitch.

What are the processes of designing a collection of quilts that hang together to both teach skills and give variety and appeal to a broad aesthetic?


We’re very aware that we will only get to write so many books in our careers so we are very careful in how we organize the collection of quilts that we show. We don’t just want them to look good together. For Quilts Made Modern, we actually developed a spreadsheet to ensure that we had good variety in techniques, palettes, sizes and fabric styles. In our minds, each design has to audition to be in the book. If there are too many quilts that are made with the same technique, we have to eliminate some. We want to have quilts made with modern prints, hand dyes, solids, retro prints and tone-on-tones. Some projects we wanted to hand quilt and others needed to be machine quilted. We wanted hand appliqué as well as machine appliqué. It would be helpful to the reader, we reasoned, to have some wall hangings, others in a napping size and others as bed quilts. We really needed that spreadsheet to make sure that we had all of our bases covered. It’s also paramount that our quilts not look like anyone else’s.

We also keep a board in the studio with swatches of all of the fabrics that we’re considering and thumbnail printouts of each design so we can see how the fabrics are going to look together once they are in a book and we can see that the designs aren’t similar to one another.

We decide what we think will be the most inspiring group of quilts for our readers and if we have to work harder or longer to make that group of quilts, we just live with that. Small Change took eight months to hand quilt but we really felt that there needed to be a modern version of hand quilting in the book so we just scheduled time every day to work on it. We want every quilt in the collection to be integral to the whole look of the book so if there’s one we’re not 100% enthusiastic about, we keep auditioning other designs until we come up with a group of designs, techniques and fabrics that looks really cohesive and strong.

In the back of my mind, I’m also thinking about the photoshoot and how the colors and forms are going to look in the book. Although Bill and I scout the locations for the photoshoots together, I’m in charge of styling and propping each of the shots. (Note: below you can see under the pen that we actually drew the shot that would become the cover of the book based on the scouting shots on the left).

We’ve had to eliminate fabrics that we love because we know that some fabrics aren’t very appealing when photographed at a distance and then shrunk down to fit on a page. Most of our readers will never see the original quilts so we have to make sure that they will look as good in print as they do in person.

Many people tell us that their copies of our second book, Modern Quilt Workshop, are tattered and dog-eared because they keep going back to it and rereading parts or looking at various designs. That’s what we are always thinking about: how can we put together a group of quilts and text that makes the reader want to go back to the book over and over again. We really hope that we’ve done that with Quilts Made Modern as well.

Thank you Bill and Weeks. Make sure to follow along on the rest of the tour… there are chances to win a copy – although we are not giving away a copy at this stop we are now offering a giveaway – please leave a comment here to be in the running – you have 48 hours to enter We are extending the giveaway until the end of the week (friday or saturday depending where you are in the world). Now closed – the winner will be chosen at random and then contacted via email. The winner is number 111 – congrats Kate – you have been emailed.

  1. July 25 WhipUp.net
  2. July 26 Sew Mama Sew
  3. July 27 CraftGossip.com
  4. July 28 boltneighborhood.com
  5. July 29 Generation Q Magazine
  6. July 30 Connecting Threads
  7. July 31 Craft Nectar


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Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home (Stash Books) by Camille Roskelley. C&T Publishing – Stash books – (October 16, 2010)

Camille Roskelley is one of lucky people who gets to play with fabric while staying at home and get paid for it! A fabric designer, quilt maker and now author, Camille is a talented and busy designer and mother of 2 boys. The quilts in her first book showcase some of her tips for simplifying your life with easy and fun quilts in a variety of sizes – mostly small – baby or table topper quilts (and cushions) there are a couple of slightly more challenging quilts – but mostly the quilts in this book are for the busy crafter who doesn’t have time for a lot of fuss and likes to squeeze in a quick quilt in amongst an otherwise hectic schedule.

I also like that Camille didn’t only stick to using her fabrics in her designs – instead she has branched out and used some collections by her fellow Moda fabric designers – and the quilts in this book use pre-cut fabrics – gotta love those! Also there are a rather large percentage of the quilts in this book catering to a more masculine palette – with 2 boys I guess thats natural!

Totally cute book – aimed at the busy or beginner quilter – with a range of simple geometric and traditional block designs – but with a bit of a modern slant.


book: city quilts

by kath_red on 12/09/2010

in Books, Quilting

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired By Urban Views By Cherri House. Stash, C&T Publishing (June 16, 2010).

Cherri house is known for her geometric designs using bold solid fabrics and in this book she takes these two main ideas and showcases her series of 12 quilts around a solid ‘city’ theme. She discusses her inspiration, her fabric choices and her design methods – and with her simple and achievable quilt designs this makes this book perfect for the beginner to intermediate quilter who wants a modern and fun design without a lot of fuss.

If you followed the City Quilts blog tour then you will have discovered a few gems along the way. Fat quarterly interviewed Cherri House as did naptime quilter, and true up discusses the fabric.

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