(Editor’s Note: We asked GenQ Community Editor Scott Hansen to give us his thoughts on three books that have recently hit the quilty scene, each by a powerhouse designer with a distinct style. He’s also a designer in his own right, and it’s interesting to see how a design-oriented person sees something in a book that some other type of quilter or sewist might not. If you’ve seen any of these books, tell us what you think of them.)
By Scott Hansen
STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book, 2012
Hardcover, 160 pages, $29.95
Although this book has been out for a few months, it is still worth checking out. Heavier on text than photos, it makes you feel as if you are sitting down with Denyse and having a very intense conversation about her love of historical quilt designs. And after meeting Denyse and talking with her at Quilt Market just a few weeks ago, this book is just like a convo with her: calm, serene and passionate about quilting. She talks about how she has pulled many vintage concepts into our time, infusing their original elements and thought processes into a modern take on quilting. And even though it is heavy on text, the photos are divine. Minimal and modern, without a lot of clutter, the quilts take center stage.
One of my favorites is the giant Courthouse Steps quilt that looks very traditional until you notice there are breaks in the red and white logs that create an overall secondary design element that is so not your traditional Courthouse Steps. It brings a freshness to the quilt, and the tiny strip of red calico buried in the solid reds and oranges adds a groovy bit of whimsy. Then there’s the Streak of Lightning quilt that’s done with only two fabrics (or so you think, until you get to the bottom, where some “making do” was done).
This is probably not a beginner’s book because the illustrations in the directions are minimal and on the small side, but in the back there is a vast general discussion of different quilting concepts and techniques that could be a good resource (again, though, heavy on the text and light on the illos). We do think it is a great source of inspiration and reference to our quilting roots. It is hardbound and beautifully laid out, which makes it a wonderful coffee-table book you could use to educate your non-quilty friends who make fun of cutting fabric up and then sewing it together again. (Heathens.)
Softcover, 144 pages, $24.99
If you are ever lucky enough to meet Tula, you will know what we mean when we say that this book is so “her.” From the first pages, we noticed that all the usual “stuff,” such as legal boilerplate, dedication and thanks, etc., just isn’t there. (We later found it in the back of the book.) How typically untypical–and a sign of her passion for quilting–that Tula jumps right into the dazzling photos and styling by Elizabeth Maxson and Christine Polomsky, a quick intro on Herself and then straight into the gorgeous quilts and projects.
Instead of drawings, her tips section includes some very good tutorial pictures that help get her methods across well. And because Tula is a fabric designer as well, there are a couple of quick reviews about choosing fabrics and a fun little look into fabric design basics.
Have we said that the photos in this book are a dream? Imagine your very favorite Pinterest photos and then triple that love factor! All 10 of the quilts were beautifully quilted by Angela Walters, the “it” girl of machine quilting. And then there are 10 non “quilt” projects that are clever as can be.
It is nearly impossible for me to pick a few favorites, but we could start with the cover quilt Beanstalks, the Zigzag Rag Pillow, and the One Eye Open sleeping mask. Oh but then there’s the Fairy Tale Lane quilt, the Shattered Glass quilt, and the very sexy peek-a-boo raindrop Shower Curtain. But what about the Cuckoo Clock? Yes, a Cuckoo clock out of fabric…but wait there’s more.
So, buy or don’t buy? Are you serious?
Chronicle Books, 2012
Hardcover, 176 pages, $27.50
Chock full of Jennifer’s signature Sis Boom style, this book is not so much geared for quilters as it is for the home and the general sewists amongst us. There are even some non-sewing projects that you could make with some of your non-sewing friends. (You know, so you could slowly turn them over to the dark side of fiber obsession.)
This is Jennifer’s second book, and it’s packed with visual inspiration and wonderful photography by Tim Geaney. He’s been working the New York fashion scene for decades, so you know it is topnotch!
I love the diversity of projects in Happy Home, from the simple Everything Is Coming Up Roses basket that only requires a basket, a hot glue gun, and a pile of artificial flowers to the more complex hexie-loving Playful Pattern Pillow. My faves are the Dream a Little Dream canopy panache (finally, a word for that half-curtainy thing that hangs over royal beds) and the fitted Posh Party tablecloth and napkins. I also love the Crocheted Pillowcase, but confess to being a little disappointed that the directions were on the weak side, and sort of slid into a reference to an online site of how-to videos.
Being truthful, I’ve gotta say the directions in general are geared more for an experienced sewist than a newbie, and there could be more illustrations to make things clearer. However, you can’t beat this book for exuberance and passion for living life in a cheerful , happy home! If you want a strictly quilting book, this isn’t for you. But if you want inspiration and a punch of cheerfulness on a dreary day, this book will fill your day dreaming of Caribbean breezes. Now all you need is a Pina Colada.