I love to research, experiment, and teach. As many of you know, I initially taught myself how to sew by reading Sewing for Dummies in 2006 so that I could make doll clothes. Although I made some cute initial projects:
I tried tackling garment sewing for myself and got frustrated quickly. In 2010, I decided to make my then-baby a quilt to commemorate her moving from a crib to a bed. I took several classes from Jill Rimes, who at that time had a brick-and-mortar quilt shop. She taught me how to use the rotary cutter and how to sew a quarter inch seam without pinning. She also introduced me to free motion quilting. This is my daughter’s “big girl quilt,” made with a Singer home sewing machine (during which I got so frustrated I literally pulled out some of my hair).
After this project, I was absolutely hooked! I started taking classes and looking for helpful, interesting books and websites. Out of all the books on quilting that I have collected, I present to you my top 5 books:
1. Elizabeth Hartman’s The Practical Guide to Patchwork
Not only do I share the same fabric aesthetic with Elizabeth Hartman, but each project in this book introduces and teaches a specific quilting technique. For example, her “Snapshots” quilt introduced me to the concept of strip piecing whereby you sew strips together and then sub-cut them into useable units. “Little Leaves” took me through the basics of fusible appliqué in a very simple-to-follow way. Although I did not make “Little Leaves,” I used Elizabeth’s appliqué method to make my on-point Christmas Quilt. “Valentine,” although I have not made any version of this quilt, introduced me to the basics of foundation piecing. Finally, “Sunspot” opened my eyes to using traditional quilt designs and turning them on their heads – literally – to create more modern spins on old favorites. This book uniquely shows each pattern in a variety of fabric choices; for those new quilters who have a difficult time seeing the pattern separately from the fabric choices benefit greatly from this added information.
2. Camille Roskelley’s Simplify
Camille Roskelley, together with her mother, Bonnie Olaveson, have designed some of my favorite “transitional” fabrics for Moda. In this book, Camille Roskelley introduced me to the joys of precut fabrics. This book encouraged me to think about how to use these precut fabrics to make the piecing part of the project faster and more efficient. I have made adaptations of several of her quilts shown in this book, and learned about turning blocks on point and how to make the math work in doing so in “spot on.” She introduced me to the snowball block method and showed me how versatile it can be. The photographs reveal lush fabric stashes and glimpses into her family’s life. Because my daughter is so important to me, and because we craft together, I feel a kindred spirit to Camille Roskelley and her designs.
3. Fresh Quilting by Malka Dubrawsky
Malka Dubrowsky lives in Austin Texas and teaches fabric dyeing (something I have not yet tackled) and improvisational piecing. I had the great honor of having lunch with her last week. Fresh Quilting, her first book, is incredibly well-written, and the first part of the book provides concise instruction on basic sewing techniques. Again, I share Malka’s color choices. She also helped me think about systematically buying fabric to increase my stash. Finally, she provides great advice on relaxing and enjoying the process of sewing and quilting, urging sewists to just go with their instincts. Malka has also designed several fabric lines for Moda, which I would describe as “transitional,” and are based on her fabric dyeing background.
4. Diane Gaudynski’s Quilt Savvy
If you aspire to machine quilt fancy heirloom quilts (which I do!), you will love Diane Gaudynski’s books. Diane was one of the pioneers into machine quilting and, in winning awards for machine quilting, opened the door for quilters wanting to break the hand-sewing mold. Her work is traditional, and this book provides wonderful ideas on how to combine quilting designs into something spectacular.
5. Angela Walter’s Free-Motion Quilting
Angela Walters has made a name for herself in recent years as a long-arm quilter and teacher. In this book, Angela sets out common machine-quilting designs and sets out to show the step-by-step mechanics of each one. My daughter and I have spent hours sketching these designs on white boards, iPads, and large pieces of paper. When I am stumped as to what I will quilt on my finished top, I often turn to this book to get my creative juices going. Quilting is a skill just like handwriting. It is learned by practice. This book provides a perfect primer on getting started.