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My quilt guild is fairly large with around 150 members, and it has a large library of quilt-related books and materials. Though the local public libraries also have collections, the guild library boasts far more with about 350 items. Primarily books, the collection also includes stencils and a few videos.

The books mostly include the expected, pattern and technique books for traditional pieced and appliqued, block-style quilts. Members use the collection for inspiration and instruction, as well as for specific patterns.

This guild year I am on the library committee and have had the pleasure of taking an inventory and ordering a few new materials. My hope with these purchases is to provide inspiration to stretch members' creativity and increase the joy they gain from their stitching.

Follow me over the fold for reviews of five of these books, as well as favorites from my personal library.

Reviews of Guild Library Books


Quilters Playtime by Dianne S. Hire (no link for this author)
As the name implies, this book wants to make quilting more fun with a set of games. The games range from tiddly winks, pick-up sticks, tic tac toe, and musical chairs, as well as several others. A lot of the techniques include sewing blocks and slicing, and then resewing parts from a number of blocks together. Others include fusing and machine applique.

The resulting quilts are interesting, fun, and refreshing, and they give me an "I wanna try that!" feeling. Frankly, a lot of books with offbeat techniques don't make me feel that way. In fact, this one looks like so much fun, I bought a copy for myself.



Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston
Marston originated the term "liberated quilting" and uses it to describe her freeform, improvisational process. This 2010 publication by the favorite author/quilter takes readers through nine processes to create fresh quilts without patterns. From liberated log cabins and wonky stars, recut blocks and sashing, and truly wild geese, she shows how to make parts that can be combined in various ways. The final two processes, Liberated Medallions and Liberated Samplers, show how the parts can be combined in multitudes of ways for a new look.

Throughout the book, photos of finished quilts, diagrams of stitching and cutting instructions, and tips provide the reader with everything they need to begin liberating themselves from traditional patterns.


Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman
My sister bought this book first, and excitedly showed me through it and some piecing she had started inspired by the book. I love the quote on the book's back cover: "No such thing as a mistake!" So many of us, as we learn to quilt, focus more on our mistakes than on our victories. This is a sure way to kill pleasure and creativity.

This book's philosophy carries the no-mistakes theme all through. The author's cheerful attitude takes the reader from sewing strips cut without rulers, joining strip sets, slicing them across and apart, framing, and rejoining. The resulting quilts are thoroughly original and, to me, reminiscent of architectural studies. A bonus is the chapter on using orphan or ugly blocks. Once they are sliced up and re-pieced with slashes and strips, they aren't recognizable anymore, but are reborn.


Quilts Made Modern by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr
Unlike the three books above, this book uses purely traditional processes. However, it does so within the styling of "modern" or "contemporary" quilts. Sections on design and construction sandwich the section of patterns, making this a more traditional book just by its arrangement. The patterns in between also show multiple colorways and information to make each quilt in varying sizes.

The patterns themselves allow quilters of differing skill levels to try simple Chinese coins, transparency, curved piecing, and different kinds of applique. Few of the quilts use a typical block style, and though the patterns are modern in this regard, no one would mistake the quilts for another art or textile genre.


Men and the Art of Quiltmaking by Joe Cunningham
This exciting book provides a gallery and artist summaries of about thirty male quilters, as well as several patterns. The men's comments on their introduction to quilting, their creative processes, and why they quilt are not very different than you would hear from most women. But culturally we often are surprised by men who quilt, and some of them discuss others' reactions, as well.

The photos of the quilts reveal a variety of styles. Some show traditional block-pieced quilts, others focus on applique, while others veer into the art quilt world. The common thread, in my opinion, is the boldness of color and form. While the author may have chosen these quilters specifically for this quality, it stands out to me in a way a collection of women's quilts might not.


Reviews of Books from My Personal Library


As I thought about this diary, I thought about the books in my own library. I've acquired 50 or 60 over the last eight years that I still own, and I've probably donated another 15 or 20, books I decided I no longer needed.

I looked at my shelves the other day and wondered which ones I'd keep now, if I could only have a few. Four of them stood out for different reasons.

The Ultimate Quilting Book by Maggi McCormick Gordon is one of the first books I owned. At 448 pages, it is survey of classic quilts, including patchwork and applique. Antique and contemporary quilts are shown in high-quality photos with discussion of pattern, layout, and the histories of them. The last half of the book focuses on techniques.

Scrap Quilt Sensation by Katharine Guerrier is another favorite. The author takes color a completely different direction from the antiques of the prior book. Rich blues, purples, and greens dominate, with warm colors as accents. Block styles are more fluid in nature than in traditional quilts, but she uses all the traditional techniques. This book helped me look at color and format in whole new ways.

I checked Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do out of the public library dozens of times before I finally had for a copy of my own. Roberta Horton shows fabric and color combinations to honor, not imitate, antique quilts. As a fun addition, the latter part of the book also discusses story quilts and how to compose them. I find this book fascinating and refer to it over and over for inspiration.

Finally, Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig's The Art of Classic Quiltmaking is a classic unto itself. It serves as a how-to resource for a variety of technical skills, but it also discusses color and composition, as well as other topics necessary to the skilled quilter.

Where do you buy books?


Ideally we would all buy books at our locally owned book stores. Most of them won't carry a large selection of quilting books in stock. A lot of quilt shops have a variety of books, also. But they might not be the books that will spark our interest. The truth is, we do buy books online, both for convenience and pricing.

Most of the library books were purchased using my membership with AQS, American Quilter's Society. The annual membership fee included a discount for AQS show entry, a bimonthly magazine, book discounts, and other benefits. With the purchase of six or more books, I received a discount of 30% off the list price.

Another great source for books, which does not require membership and often sells AQS publications, is Connecting Threads. This site sells fabric and notions as well as books. One of the things I like about their bookstore is the ability to look "inside" the books, as well as to read summaries of the contents.

I acquired many of my own books at consignment, second-hand, and thrift stores, as well as my guild's occasional auction. I always look when I am in these stores; you never know what you'll find.

Do you have favorite books or bookstores for your quilting adventures? Are there "best" books for learning techniques or processes, for learning color theory or design? Share with us!

Poll

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