quilting books

Reviewed by Julie: Julie is a slightly unhinged fabric junkie! She is also stitching and crafting obsessed. As well as being addicted to tea. And cake. She is mumma to three beautiful little girls and cares deeply about the world they will inherit. She blogs at Procrasticraft.

Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration: 20 New Designs with Historic Roots (Published by Stc Craft / Melanie Falick Books)

When Kathreen first offered me the chance to review this new offering from the doyenne of the modern quilting movement, I jumped at the chance. I had not yet seen the book, or for that matter read or heard about it but hey, it’s Denyse Schmidt, it can’t be anything other than amazing right? Yes, I did have HUGE expectations! But, she is an extraordinary artist and a woman whose work I have long admired. In this new tome, I have found myself far from disappointed. I think she may have just upped the ante in terms of how highly I regard her work. The sensibility of style, colour and composition in Schmidt’s quilts very much appeal to me.

The book is of high quality. The publishers have gone for a clean layout on thicker than standard stock with a hard cover, which combine to make this book look and feel luxurious – if nothing else, it would be a good coffee table decoration. However, there is so much more to it than just prettiness.

This book contains quilts for all levels of skill and experience, from the straightforward Postage Stamp through to the curvy and intricately pieced Snake Trail, there is a pattern that would appeal to almost any quilter. I find books by this author to be well written and simple to follow. No fluffing out the pages with wordy instructions, just straightforward, easy to follow steps. Included with the instructions for each quilt are notes on fabrics, tips for sewing and references to technique pages.

The author has taken the time to provide a background story on the quilts in the book. She has presented the history or a little personal story about the origins of the quilt or block pattern along with her thoughts – read the tale about Albert Small, the explosives handler from Ottawa. These anecdotes intrigued me and left me wanting to know more, they were almost insisting I go off and do my own research (which I did, I’m a curious being and these small snippets were too much of a temptation)…

In addition to the patterns and the tales, the “Tools, Materials & Techniques” section at the back of the book provides thorough notes on many different skills as well as interesting advice and tips on specifics like dealing with sharp points, dog ears and stay stitching. I imagine that even a proficient quilter could find handy hints here to increase their capability.

The overall nature of this book invokes a sense of going slow. It aims to inspire us to take a breath, examine the roots of our craft and perhaps experiment with time-honoured techniques and handwork -to buck the trend for faster, easier, instant… instead to explore the “communal aspect of the craft” and discover stories along the way.

This book has inspired me to stitch and in the collaborative spirit encouraged by the author, my own version of the Basketweave quilt (see below) was created from scraps and repurposed fabrics with the assistance of my four year old daughter and friends, both old and new.