Book review by Alex Turner
I liked this book so much that I am going to buy it for myself. Can’t get a much stronger recommendation than that!
The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the cover. Sounds obvious, I know, but the close-up of the quilt on the cover intrigued me, with its irregular shapes, unusual colours and interesting textures. The use of lower case letters for the title annoyed me, but that is probably just extra evidence that I need help to let go of rules and perfectionism. I needed this book more than I realised!
The photography throughout the book is beautiful, with a lot of close-ups showing more of the shapes, colours and textures that were promised by the cover. The graphic design is also different to a lot of other books – quite funky and fresh.
This book is a lot more than a collection of pretty pictures, though. The text is really readable and thought provoking – I even found the basic sewing information worthwhile and I usually skip right over that. If you are a person looking for projects and instructions, there are plenty in the book. However, I’m looking more for guidance and prompts than for instructions, and there was plenty of that as well.
Despite not wanting instructions, I decided that a book review wouldn’t be complete without a test drive of one of the techniques. I mucked around with a few ideas but finally decided to try the ‘Slice and Dice’ technique and make something inspired by the Shattered quilt.
I started with a dark blue shot cotton I bought on a whim when I was on holiday. I love the colour, but for some reason I have had trouble working into any projects. Since this is a 2 colour quilt, I added a bright turquoise for contrast.
I started off by dividing my background fabric into sections of varying sizes but all divisible by 3”. Then I cut all of the turquoise fabric into skinny strips.
The instructions recommended that half of the strips should be of even width and half should be tapered, but I was so excited that I didn’t read carefully and cut all of my strips tapered. It did make things harder once I came to the piecing, but the beauty of improvisational work is that you can always find a solution – it just might not turn out quite the way you expected.
I played around with the pieces until I got something I liked and started cutting and sewing. I tried the method in the book, which suggested careful placement and pinning, but as always I was in a hurry and couldn’t be bothered to take care. The result was that my blocks shrank more than they needed to, but it didn’t worry me.
To summarise my test drive: the instructions are very thorough if you need them to be, but they also make a good springboard to improvisation if that is more your style.
I’m really keen to try a few more ideas prompted by the book. The cover quilt, Stepping Stones, is calling my name …