Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Friday, August 5, 2011

Can I learn Quilting from a Book?

The other day a friend was visiting with her teen daughter and mentioned that they were making a crazy quilt for the girl’s room. Mom was providing guidance, but the selection of fabrics and the embroidery work was all being done by the teen. We pulled out the crazy quilt I made a few years ago along with the wonderful old quilt I inherited from my mother who had it from her mother. We walked around and looked at the quilts hanging on the walls and I talked a bit about what techniques and materials that went into each.
The next day as we were watching the teen daughter swim at a competition – all of her kids are quite talented and compete at the national level – Mom admitted that she had never taken any quilting classes and was just winging it. Since I had a quilt-as-you-go project in my lap, I used it to explain a few fundamentals and then suggested a couple of books that she could purchase.
This friend is a language teacher, and hasn’t been at it for too many years, so she well remembers the days when she had to stay one lesson ahead of her students. With a few good references, you can teach yourself or your teen to quilt, and even an experienced quilter can benefit from a refresher on the “proper” way to do things, and the shortcuts that really work.
I have quite a selection of books on sewing, quilting, and other assorted needlework. I also devour several magazines each month looking for new techniques and ideas. However I have a few “go to” favorites for specific things. For crazy quilts I love The Crazy Quilt Handbook, Revised 2nd Edition by Judith Baker Montano. Not only does the author provide everything you need to know to get started with crazy quilting, she also gives lots of practical tips and includes an extensive stitch encyclopedia. The book is as much an embroidery class in a book as it is a guide to crazy quilting. 

For traditional quilting Fons & Porter are some of the best teachers and authors. That’s Marianne Fons and Liz Porter. Though they have published more books than I can count, their Quilter’s Complete Guide is a great place to start. The book is a great primer to read start to finish, and that is how it is organized beginning with tools, fabrics and colors for quilts right through binding and finishing your quilt. But it doesn’t stop there. Quilter’s Complete Guide goes on to explain advanced techniques in pactchwork, appliqué and design. The best part is that the book is organized in such a way that you can easily go back later to reference a particular technique or method.

The Quilter’s Ultimate Visual Guide is another solid reference and is organized more like an encyclopedia. Want to learn about curved piecing for example? That comes right after corner squares and before cutting mats. The illustrations really do make this book. Some of us are just visual learners and if you are one, this is the book for you.

I also find Quilter’s World a great magazine for traditional quilt designs, free patterns, and loads of quilting skills and technique lessons. 

For more modern quilting and fiber art I always turn to Quilting Arts. I don’t think I have every opened an issue of the magazine without finding inspiration.

All of the books I’ve used have been around forever and have served me well, but I’m sure there are plenty of new titles out there that I’m missing. I’m curious to know what books and magazines you love. Leave me a comment and share your favorites,  especially which publications you would recommend for beginning quilters.

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