Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two Favorite Quilting Books

About 6 years ago I decided I wanted to learn how real quilters made real quilts (instead of the tied versions I'd been making till that time).  I borrowed dozens of books from the library.  The one I found the most helpful was The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig. They begin with the basics of collecting and caring for fabric, storage, drafting, cutting, planning a quilt, and calculating yardage. There are individual sections for various kinds of blocks, plus sections on borders, machine quilting, and binding. (I found other books to explain hand quilting.)  There's almost no question about quilting that I can't find an answer for in this book. The style of quilts pictured in the book tends toward traditional but the techniques will be beneficial for any quilter to know.

In a brief section called "Why Quilters Have to Collect Fabric," they mention how quilters so often try to justify their fabric purchases despite the responses of their spouses.  I love their views on the need for a supply of fabric.
We believe that we need to ... give ourselves permission to be involved in an art that requires working materials.  A fabric collection is no different than a stamp collection or a collection of fishing tackle.

In order to keep our inspiration and have ease in working through our design ideas, it is imperative that we have our fabrics around us.  In the case of quiltmaking, a complete palette of fabric is a necessary tool.  You cannot rely on the store to have the colors you need when you want them.  What is available at any one time may give you a very unbalanced use of  color and value.  In the case of scrap quilts, a collection gathered over the years produces the richest quilts.
I can attest to the frustration of not finding the color of fabric when I need it.  Colors go in and out of fashion.  Buy it when you see it!  (Not to suggest that I encourage hoarding -- just having available what you will use.)

Perhaps you would find The Art of Classic Quiltmaking interesting and useful.

The second book I love is Scrap Quilts:  The Art of Making Do by Roberta Horton.  I love scrap quilts and for me this book is invigorating.  She begins by showing the reader some traditional quilts made a century or more ago and then shows modern, scrappy options to make the quilts the reader's own.

She discusses design sources, fabrics (color, value, mood, proportion, etc.); pieced and appliqued quilts; folk art quilts; and includes a section on skills.

Early in the book she poses and answers several questions about scrap quilts.  Here's one.
Why does the use of a lot of fabrics make a quilt more interesting?

I love fabric, so quilts made with a lot of different fabrics give me more to look at, more to love.  I am forced to read the entire surface of the quilt to find all the variety in the fabric patterns and colors.  It's sort of like a treasure hunt.  In contrast, I only have to read one of the blocks in a repeat-block quilt if the fabric usage is duplicated.  It doesn't seem to matter how complicated and complex the construction of an individual block may be.  Once is enough!  That quiltmaker wasted a lot of effort to entertain me; there's nothing new for me to see.  A pillow or cushion would have consumed as much of my interest and curiosity.
If you love scrap quilts you may enjoy Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do.

This post is a contribution to Quilter's Favorites at Geta's Quilting Studio where you can find links to other quilter's favorites of all varieties - books, bats, fabrics, tools, etc.  Participate if you'd like, but hurry.  The last day to add your post is Thursday, May 16.



  1. Thank you for sharing your favorite books, Nancy.

  2. I don't have Roberta Horton's book, but I should because I'm always making do!!

  3. Those both sound like great books to have on hand - especially when you get to a "problem" quilt (which I happen to be dealing with now!) Thanks for the post!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I 'collect' quilt books... read them cover to cover, learn a ton, and drool at the pictures! :-)


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