Monday, 2 December 2013

Quilt Block Books

I treated myself to some quilt books from Amazon from birthday gifts last month.  I love buying books on Amazon.  There is something about getting that brown packaging in the post and ripping it open to find pristine shiny new books waiting for me that makes me happy. 

I spent a few hours late on Saturday browsing through them and then going back again to delve in deeper.  I picked two books on quilt blocks :  500 Quilt Blocks by Kerry Green and Lynne Goldsworthy and The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.  They couldn't be more different from one another. 

The first thing about both books that is noticable is the size.  500 Quilt Blocks is tiny.  It is a lovely size to have on hand at the sewing table and to leave out for inspiration but I'm finding it a little too small.  The book itself contains a how to section at the beginning which is very informative and concise, different coloured sections containing quilt blocks and variations of same (which is really lovely and helpful) in differing degrees of difficulty and 20 projects to make using these blocks. 

The five chapters are:
  • blocks for everyone 
  • simple blocks
  • intermediate
  • shapes and pictures 
  • patterns. 

Each block is photographed and then variations are shown and this is where I wish it was a little bigger.  As it is a small book approx. 6", the photos are small particularly the block variations.  Blocks are given in different sizes, 6" and 12" are common and even some in 10" and 14".  Each block has written instructions and the blocks themselves have a reference number which can be a little awkward. You need to refer back and forth between pages sometimes and it would be really nice if there was a spiral wound edition so it could lay flat. 

I think if I came across this book as a complete beginner I'd struggle with it in sections.  Templates are included and will need enlarging.  The blocks themselves are lovely and the variations are fun and likely to prompt even more variations.  The fabrics used are modern and the whole book has a lovely feel to it.  There is plenty in this book to keep a body busy for a while!

The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns has a very different approach.  It is huge in comparison.  It's a chunky hardcover that breaks the blocks themselves down into grids and number of units needed to make the blocks.  There are 2x2, 3x3 etc. and some of the blocks have grids 15x15!  The variety of blocks is enormous with over 4000 of them and they are presented with variations, historical context and source.  I really love this book. 

The blocks are presented in traditional fabrics so it would take only a little imagination to update them with more modern materials and there is a black and white base image provided with each block to help.  Already there are two or three blocks that have caught my eye that I think would be fabulous in a giant size.  There are no sizes given rather the base pieces required to construct the block are presented and you draft your own size.  This may seem daunting but I love it.  I like that part of quilt design.  The section on curved blocks and some of the more pointy triangles would be challenging and I like that too.  There is a section on drafting at the beginning that is mind boggling but I hope to spend some time over the Christmas getting to grips with that.

Even with all the challenges there are lots of straightforward blocks in this book from Log cabins to Stars to crossing designs.  This is a comprehensive book and I'm delighted with it.

So two very different quilt block books, approaching the subject from a different angle and both very instructional, sources of inspiration and enjoyable to browse through.  I would recommend them both!  I bought 500 Quilt blocks for £7.19 and The Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns for £29.02 both from  Any other book recommendations?  I know these will keep me busy for a while but Christmas is not far off afterall!

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