Friday, January 04, 2008
Book Review: Make Your First Quilt & Piecing the Piece O'Cake Way
Recently, a friend asked me what book I would recommend to someone who wanted to start quilting. This question was especially timely, as two new books from C&T Publishing that looked promising for beginners landed on my desk just before Christmas .
"Make Your First Quilt with M'Liss Rae Hawley" looks like it was intended to be a short guide, rather than a full reference for the beginning quilter. This is physically a small book (6 x 9 inches), and as instant references go, it's not bad. It has basic information on quilting tools, preparing fabric, rotary cutting and pressing, and finishing techniques. Quilting is taught through 9 basic blocks: rail fence, log cabin, ohio star, and similar traditional patterns.
My problems with the book are that it doesn't do enough in any one direction. For a true beginner, there really isn't the detail on small matters that a baffled newbie would probably want or need. The illustrations are small and, for a true beginner, there are probably not enough of them. Even without that detailed information, I'd hope to find photos of gorgeous quilts to inspire and motivate a new quilter. Unfortunately, those aren't here either. I've loved M'Liss Ray Hawley's fat quarter books for their great use of a few fabrics and essentially simple patterns to create really stunning quilts. But this book just doesn't have the exciting visual and emotional impact those previous books do.
Instead of this book, I'd point a beginner toward Quilts, Quilts and More Quilts by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes. It's still the best all-around basic quilt book out there, in my opinion.
On the other hand, I'd highly recommend "Piecing the Piece O'Cake Way" by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins. This attractive book covers the basics (color and value, tools, to pin or not to pin, chain piecing, fussy cutting, and a lot more) and it does so in the context of 27 different quilts. The quilts themselves are illustrated with terrific instructional photos and diagrams, as well as gorgeous photos of the quilt projects. The quilts were obviously designed to appeal to a variety of tastes, as well. Another strong point of this book is the common sense and humor of experienced quilt teachers Goldsmith and Jenkins. They give clear advice on matters such as what to do if your blocks don't match and how to handle getting overwhelmed when you're fabric shopping, If you or your beginner friend want to start off with piecing, this book would be a great start.