I have a few book reviews for you today. When Cico Books offered me a review copy of 'Hand Quilted with Love ' I was delighted as I've loved all of Sarah Fielke's other books.
Contrary to what the title suggests, it's a book about quilts that happen to be hand quilted, rather than a book about hand quilting.
The book hops about all over the place to include a real mixture of quilting techniques - everything from hand appliqué and hand piecing to simple and more complex machine piecing. It means that there's likely to be something for everyone and inspires you to begin to stretch out into areas of quilting you might not have tried before (for me, that's hand appliqué).
What I really love about this book is that, while it does offer a guide as to how difficult a pattern may be, it doesn't prescribe a skill level for completing the quilt, but encourages new quilters to have a go in a way that's warm, friendly and encouraging. My own experience of learning to sew was that I wanted to jump in and try whatever appealed most, irrespective of how difficult that thing may be - if you're new to quilting then you will almost certainly find this an encouraging book, which makes trickier things feel within your reach.
To this end, the techniques section is excellent - it's concise, but covers all the things you may need to know as a beginner to a particular technique (and possibly offers some new tips even to an old-hand). The colours and photography are beautiful - it's a light, airy book that's cosy to look through.
I have quite sober taste when it comes to fabrics, perhaps because of the gloomy English light, so the fabrics in Willyne Hammerstein's 'Millefiori Quilts' are closer to those that I'd naturally be drawn to (Willyne is dutch, although the book is published by Quilt Mania, so it's written in French with an English translation on each page). I realised when I posted a photo of one of the quilts from this book on Instagram that it was a treasure that others may not have come across. I bought my copy at the Festival of Quilts last summer. It is a stunning book that has frequently turned my brain inside out while trying to comprehend the cleverness of the designs.
This blue and red beauty called 'Wild is the Wind' meanders around in a pattern that at first looks simple until you study it close up and realise that there is an unclear logic to the way the blue piecing flows around the quilt.
I love quilts that have a sense of symmetry, but Willyne really plays with this. She will often fussy cut fabrics to create an intensely kaleidoscopic feeling of symmetry within a small area, but then place those pieced designs with no symmetry at all within the bigger picture of the whole quilt. Study the photos below and you'll get a sense of what I mean by this.
I frequently study these designs and wonder at whether Willyne plans out the quilts in full before she begins or if they are pieced as she goes. I normally comfort myself, as I'm returning the book to the shelf, that it must be the latter as if it's the former then her skillfulness is entirely beyond the realms of my comprehension and imagination. Either way, I'm now tempted to give some more improvised piecing a go to see what the results are.
I adore the layout of this book too. It's another beauty from Quilt Mania. I hadn't heard of Willyne Hammerstein before buying this book, but she's quickly become one of my quilting heroines.
Doesn't this look like a wonderful sewing room? I love how many different projects there look to be going on in it. My own hand-piecing is coming on slowly as the Easter break unfolds and comes into its last few days. I'll hopefully show you my progress in my next post.