So, we get this small box of books and we admit to being just a little tainted by the “been there seen that” attitude at the time. How refreshing to unpack book after book and continue to say, “Crap, I’d have paid for this one!” And that’s what we’ve got here, the books we’d have gladly dished the dough out for. Check them out for yourself and see what they do to your inspiration factor. And your wallet. You can thank us later.
SkyQuilts: 12 Painting Techniques-Create Dynamic Landscape Quilts
C&T Publishing, 2011
Softcover, 96 pages, Pattern Insert, $29.95
It’s been way too long since we’ve seen Mickey in print, about a dozen years, actually. When she first released SkyDyes with C&T back in 1999, it left us panting for more—more gorgeous, glorious painted skyscapes, more pretty clouds and rich storms. The book was what we consider a quilter’s eye candy. (And while it’s not in print anymore, it’s easily available as an eBook download.)
Now we’ve been gifted with the Mickey sequel, SkyQuilts, and we’re not at all disappointed or tired with her incredibly beautiful painting techniques which turn blah white poplin into something you’d be lucky to see outside of your window (that’s if you happen to have a beachfront lot in Malibu or Martha’s Vineyard).
Mickey takes us into her toolbox of transparent and opaque paints, brushes, stencils and inspiration and shows us how to work her magic. Yes, it’s true that Mickey’s been selling her SkyDyes creations for years and if you don’t want to do the DIY with her techniques, you can make life easier and buy her yardage. But think about how artistic you’ll feel, how your own creativity can use those techniques for your own purposes? After all, the expansion of our skills should be the ultimate goal of anyone beyond the intermediate quilter level.
Adventures in Design: The Ultimate Visual Guide-12 Spectacular Quilts-Activites & Exercises
C&T Publishing, 2011
Softcover, 144 pages, $29.95
If there’s a quilting rock star who sings to the designer in us all, it’s Joen. Really. Her books on color have taken what is Amityville terrifying for many of us and turned it into CandyLand. Part of what makes her books work so well is her absolute abdication of presenting her own quilts as examples for her lessons and instead tapping her talented friends and students for what they’ve done, including some of the most recognizable names in our corner of the q-niverse. And yes, she’s sprinkled a few of her own glorious quilts for us to enjoy and absorb.
As she writes, “Because you relate to art uniquely, it is important to have a broad spectrum of designs for you to refer to while exploring your design ideas.”
The book is organized by sections. Section One explores the principles of design: line shape, color, value and more. Section Two is her Blueprint for Superb Designs and Section Three brings it all together with additional design approaches.
If you’re at all interested in going beyond the basic block choice and really working through some incredible tutorials on design, grab the book. There are tons of exercises to put into play for her lessons. And on those days when you just don’t feel like putting the pedal to the carpet (or hardwood, or laminate, or tile) you can passively absorb the best design inspiration recently found between two covers.
Modern Quilting Designs: 70+ Free-Motion Inspirations-Add Texture & Style to Your Next Quilt
Bethany Nicole Pease
Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
Softcover, 112 pages, $21.95
Somebody must have heard our whining.
For a few years now we’d see modern style quilts up close and personal only to find either boring stitch-in-the-ditch quilting where it wasn’t helpful or an all-over free-motion pattern that was better-suited for a traditional quilt. When, oh when, would we finally see some free-motion designs that reflected that fabulous modern aesthetic we were drooling over?
Well here it is, folks. Bethany’s quilt designs, employed in her second generation longarm quilt business, finally tap into the same feel that we enjoy in modern patchwork efforts. Yes, a few of them are tried-and-true meandering filler designs, because hey, they work on almost everything. But then she also has these wild, geometric doodles which show off her understanding of the linear nature many modern quilts share. She’s got funky feathers (no it’s not catching, but you might want it to) and moving fillers reflecting the vistas she’s surrounded with. The book is really a collection of doodle sketches that you can easily translate into free-motion work. And with more than 70 of them to get you thinking, you’ll have plenty to play with.
The only complaint, and it’s a really small one because we do understand that the purpose of this book with strictly to provide quilt designs, is the lack of quilts worked with this magic. After all, it would be fun to see how these ideas are wielded on fabric and batting. But, as we said, it’s a small complaint because it’s like saying a romance novel is too romantic.
A Field Guide to Fabric Design: Design, Print & Sell Your Own Fabric-Traditional & Digital Techniques
Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
Softcover, 160 pages, $24.95
Did we save the best for last? Possibly. But at least we know that this one is hitting new frontier and that makes it notable.
Over the years we’ve written a little about how to become a fabric designer. Seems like most of the up-and-coming pattern designers in our biz aspire to designing fabric too one day. And the q-biz is responding by hosting fabric design contests in a consistent way over the last year. This Field Guide might very well be the first mainstream published book in our neck of the woods to address this very interest.
Tapping into the experience of some of the more popular fabric designers (think Tula, Denyse, Amy and Jenean for example—and it’s because we know them by first name that we can bestow them with “popular”) Kimberly (of True Up)explains in great detail and with lots of visual examples how fabric design works, what the technical aspects are (repeats, spacing and motifs) and how to work with today’s tech tools to create multiple collections. Oh, and there’s the stuff about color and types of fabric that fill in the knowledge gaps too.
What we really like about this book is that Kimberly assumes from the start whoever picks it up and follows its guidance will become a big enough name in the q-world to warrant her information on licensing and copyright. That’s just cool!