I seem to have mounds and mounds of quilt scraps in the form of strips, so I was eager to see the newest book by Australian quiltmakers Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe, Quilts On The Double: Dozens of Easy Strip-Pieced Designs (Martingale & Co., 2008). Graphic designs in bright colors really call out to me, so I'm a big fan of Judy Hooworth... I just love Hooworth's Razzle Dazzle Quilts -- such great use of color!
This book promised to show "dozens of strip pieced designs" -- and you know, it delivers. I mean, look at that one on the cover... it looks exciting and fun and challenging. But, once I read through the technique section, I realized it's quite simple. For one thing, Hooworth and Rolfe use a lot of striped fabric (uh oh, another reason to start collecting a new variety of fabric) and a lot of those pieces in that cover quilt are actually large sections of striped fabric. But the technique boils down to this: you sew two strips of specific widths together, and cut triangles from the strip sets. From the various combinations of strip sets, you get different sorts of triangles ... and the book shows you how reassembly into blocks creates all sorts of amazing patterns.
The trick, really, is in how you place color and using some consistently-sized strips so that when you assemble the triangles into squares, they look mosaic-y, not jumbly. Not that there's anything wrong with jumbly...I LOVE jumbly... but the appeal of this book to me is that it takes something that COULD be confusingly jumbly, and shows you how to organize it into something bold and dramatic and graphic.
I'm making this sound more complicated than Hooworth and Rolfe do. But the result, in the book, is that by varying in small ways a basic strip-piecing technique, you can get tons of really dramatic quilts. Oh, and the "on the double" part -- as you cut triangles from the strip sets, you end up with two different triangles. So the book shows you how, from that one strip set style, you can use one type in one quilt and the second type for a totally different quilt with a totally different look, or use them together and incorporate the differences into the overall pattern for even more complexity.
You all know I'm all about the quilt picures -- and this book doesn't disappoint. There are not only very striking quilts shown, but lots of clear color diagrams to illustrate the various options for assembly of the triangles to create all sorts of different patterns.
The book definitely features bright colors and bold stripey fabrics, because that is clearly what these authors love. But the technique would work just as well with pale fabrics, florals, reproduction vintage stuff, you name it.
I can hardly wait to start piecing my strips.