book reviews

Book Review: Beginner's Guide to FMQ

FMQ by Natalie BonnerBeginner’s Guild to Free-Motion Quilting by Natalia Bonner is a great way to get started if you have been hesitant about learning this skill. She gives a good complete guide of what materials, equipment, and techniques needed to confidently quilt your project. The book begins with essential tools you need. Suggestions of the types of needles, threads, machine feet and fabric are explored. Explanations and pictures make choosing easy. She gives tips on what common tools you can substitute for the ones suggested. For example, regular safety pins can be substituted for quilter’s pins for pin basting.

FMQShe defines different types of battings “the filling between the quilt top and backing in the quilt sandwich.” Each batting type description has a useful manufacturer recommended space distance between quilting lines. This is super useful in deciding which type of batting to use.

Next, she moves on to preparing for free motion quilting. Different types of basting techniques to assemble layers are explained. How to adjusting thread tension to obtain beautiful stitches. These are just of few of the helpful tips.

To help take the fear out of free motion quilting, she shows how to practice quilting techniques on paper and how to make quilt samples. Now it’s time to quilt that quilt! The rest of the book is devoted to step-by-step visual tutorials of over 50 quilt patterns. A great feature is the full sized patterns at the end of the book of different designs including all-over patterns, motifs, and borders. I can’t wait to try some of the techniques.  FMQStill nervous? Afraid you might ruin your quilt top? Not to worry, this book has 6 complete modern quilt projects. The experience and beginner free motion quilter will find a lot to like about this book. It’s easy to follow instructions makes this book an easy read for those who want to try free motion quilting and are hesitant to get started.  Thank you C&T Publishing/Stash Books for giving this book to our guild to review. Someone will be the lucky winner at our next meeting’s raffle!

Retreat Door Prizes

I received the most wonderful box of books in the mail from Potter Craft! Sadly they're not for me to keep, but we'll be giving them away as door prizes this weekend at our second ever PMQG retreat this weekend. If you're an attendee you'll have a chance to win one of the following books or many other lovely prizes donated by PMQG sponsors.

Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis is full of "English paper piecing projects you can take anywhere." Since English Paper Piecing (EPP) can make use of such small pieces, I appreciated the section on "Making the most of scraps." Other tips I found useful were the pages dedicated to creating a travel tool kit, since having a dedicated set of tools to grab sounds much smarter than my current flurry of racing around the house, desperately trying to find needles, templates, and everything else needed for EPP.
Although it seems like many people I know (myself included) utilize EPP for hexies, I feel like I know fewer people that use other shapes such as triangles, diamonds, half hexies, squares, rectangles, and more shown in this book. Seeing templates in these less common shapes along with projects made from them is inspiring and opened my eyes to some new possibilities with EPP
I felt that the resource section at the back of the book was especially good, with several pages of black and white quilt patterns that could be copied and used for color placement practice, and a plethora of actual size templates. 
Several projects caught my eye, especially the Tanuki Striped Throw. This throw is made from a puzzle piece combo of two diamonds and two squares stitched together to make a larger unit. I love the creativity of combining these different shapes together!
Glorious Patchwork by Kaffe Fassett is full of the vibrant colors and  patterns that we expect from Kaffe, set in fun quilt layouts that enhance the beauty of the fabrics used. 
Glorious Patchwork is arranged by color schemes, and although I usually think brights when I think Kaffe, it was fun to see a variety of color palettes represented here. The book starts with a section on pastels, and even though I wouldn't normally consider myself a pastel fan, I really enjoyed these quilts.  One of my favorites from this chapter, the Herringbone Baby Quilt, actually uses leftover pieces from one of the quilts earlier in the book, and I really love that "use it up" philosophy. 
Following chapters are Circus, Leafy Gardens, Antique Stone, and Renaissance. Of course I was drawn to the brighter colors of the Circus palettes, but it was also fun to check out all the color schemes and the different patterns represented. This book also contains many templates in the back as well as patterns for foundation paper piecing and other quilting resources.
Dare to be Square Quilting by Bob Davis has the perfect combination of whimsical design and tips for efficient piecing. The quilts are designed for beginners and every pattern in the book is made up of squares and rectangles. I love the owl on the cover as well as the skull pattern (called Basket Case), but I also really enjoyed the more abstract pattern Two Left Feet, which consists of lines that seem to double back on themselves to form open squares and rectangles. Moving through the book, there are also patterns for a whimsical stag and a giant alarm clock.
After the section on quilts there are smaller projects which, due to their construction of squares and rectangles, have a great modern, clean look to them.  Pillows, table runners, placemats, and aprons are represented, as well as one of my favorite projects in the book--the Gridlock Grocery Getter shopping bag. This would be a great book for anyone starting out or who likes to make fun, pictorial quilts, or anyone who likes the clean lines and negative spaces of modern quilting.
Modern Log Cabin Quilting by our very own Susan Beal is definitely a guild favorite and a great one for every quilter's library. This book celebrates a basic block and so many wonderful, creative layouts and alternate ways to use it.
Even though I've had the chance to review this book before, it was fun to read through it again to see what I've missed. The Modern Cross pattern that graces the cover is a beautiful classic for full sized or baby quilts that is a great pick whenever you need a simple, beautiful quilt. One thing I was excited to find was a pattern for a t-shirt quilt. Several people have been asking me lately about them, and besides a vague idea about the need for interfacing, I really had no idea where to start!  
Another quilt that jumped out at me was the Northwest Modern Quilt. It does look very modern with its large expanses of negative space, but after examining how it was put together (starting with a rectangle rather than a center square) it surprised me what a different look it was from a "typical" log cabin block. Besides a great variety of quilts, Modern Log Cabin Quilting also contains patterns for napkins, coasters, pot holders, pillows, and more.
While not solely a quilting book, Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts has a wealth of information that any fabric lover would enjoy, in a large, beautiful, coffee table worthy book. 


At almost 400 pages, this book contains so many tips and patterns on a range of sewing related topics such as fabric, setting up a sewing area, applique, embroidery, quilting, dyeing, and fabric printing. The books is organized with chapters on Basic Techniques followed by projects arranged alphabetically (to name just a few--animals, bags, clothing curtains, flowers, pets, pot holders, slippers, wall decor). As you might imagine, the back of the book is full of tips and techniques. There is even a cd included that contains templates and patterns.
It's pretty difficult to pick a favorite out of so many patterns, but two projects that I really like are the Cross Stitch Silhouette tote and the Bird Embroidered Pillows. I like that the needlework techniques are shown incorporated into finished projects (tote bag and pillow for these two). Sometimes when finishing a needlework project I can't think of anything to do but frame it and put it on the wall, so I enjoy these kinds of useful patterns and ideas.
Thank you so much to Potter Craft for providing these great retreat door prizes, and good luck to all of our attendees!

Book Review: Handmade for Baby

As crafters, we normally have a list of projects in progress as well as a list of ones we would like to start. I know for me that the excitement of a new baby, whether it's in my family or a friend's family, can definitely skyrocket a project to the top of my to-do list!

Handmade for Baby: 25 Keepsakes to Create with Love, by Charlotte Rivers and Emily Gregory, is full of fun projects to inspire you to create something for a baby in your life or your next charity project. Many of the projects include techniques or patterns that would work well for a child of any age or even an adult, such as the Hand Painted Storage Buckets or the Decorative Garland that would be great for a Baby Shower, as suggested, or for any party or room decoration.

The Hand Sewn Cushion shown on the cover is another project that would be a fun gift for anyone but would definitely be adorable in a baby's room. The addition of piping lends a sophisticated touch and the applique lends a bit of personality to the pillow.

Overall I would say that Handmade for Baby has a great combination of the whimsical and decorative, balanced with items that are not only beautiful but also useful. There are clothes for babies (hats, pants, booties, and a skirt) as well as wall decorations and bunting, cushions, a blanket and a quilt, toys, a soft book and quite a bit more.

While this book doesn't firmly fall into the quilting category, there is one quilt in it (a darling chevron quilt) as well as other quilter friendly projects such as an Applique Welcome Banner, the aforementioned cushion and storage buckets, and sewn Fabric Blocks. Beyond quilting, there are projects in many other mediums such as clothing construction, knit, crochet, painting, block printing, paper crafts, sewing with felt, and more. With cute projects and clear instructions, I think this is a great book to have in any crafting library.

The end of the book has a few great resources like sections on crochet and knitting basics. Following each chapter is an "inspiration gallery" which shows projects from that chapter with slight tweaks, such as changing the materials used or changing the finished size of a project to take it in a new direction.

Thank you to Interweave/F+W for donating copies of this title. Lucky winners will go home with this book at our February Retreat!

Book Review: Improvising Tradition

Just in time for this month’s improvisation theme a new book! Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood gives quilters a guide to easily develop improvisation styled quilts by using familiar traditional quilting patterns. Patterns like log cabin, coins, one patch, and rail fence are given modern makeovers using improvisation techniques.

The book is divided into three sections focusing on three improvisation quilting techniques: strip setting, strata, and splice-and-insert. First, she gives a tutorial with a clear overview of each technique. 

Next, she clearly explains different design options then continues with step-by-step instructions in the subsection called “Here’s How”.  

Afterwards, she follows up in each chapter with a variety of projects using each technique.  There's a total of 18 great projects from full sized quilts to small coasters. (Great ideas for our mini-quilt of the month theme!) 

As a bonus there are tips on free-motion and hand quilting. I especially enjoyed the explanation on her approach to the decision-making process of selecting a quilting design for a quilt. 
New quilters will be able to dive in and get started on making beautiful modern improv quilts with ease. They will find the sewing tips in the beginning of the book very useful. Experienced traditional quilters will be able to use familiar skills to easily venture into modern improvisation.

I saw several projects I want to make, especially the adorable mini coasters using the improv strata technique.
This book is beautifully laid out and well organized with bold color photographs and clearly illustrated color instructions. It even has a helpful index, which is something you don’t see too often in many current quilts books.  It’s a wonderful guide for modern and traditional quilters alike.
Thank you Interweave/F+W for giving this book to our guild to review. Someone will be the lucky winner at our next meeting!  By Secretary Veronica 

Book Review: Burda Style: Wardrobe Essentials

BurdaStyle Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials
(Interweave/F+W; $29.99; November 2014.)

Hi there! Secretary Kelly here to bring you a review of something a little different than quilting: BurdaStyle Sewing

Have you ever wanted to sew your own clothes? Have you seen all the amazing garment fabrics being produced by our favorite quilting fabric designers? Rayons, lawn, knits--they are all ripe for clothes sewing! 

In this new release from BurdaStyle the book takes some of the confusion out of Burda patterns and explains construction steps with how-to's and diagrams. 15 projects are included, from a simple peasant top to a more advanced yet classic twill blazer and trousers. The designs are all very classic and could be interpreted over and over. 

The book comes with a set of full printed patterns ready for tracing onto pattern paper. 

Also useful is the step-by-step section on how to use the patterns, answering questions like like what size am I, what do all these crazy symbols mean, and how do I match up directional fabric? 

I learned how to sew clothes before I started quilting, and yet I am still feel like a beginner. I think this book would be perfect for someone who has some garment sewing experience and wants to push their skills further. 

Thank so much to F&W media for sending us this book! I hope who ever wins it at our upcoming meeting finds a new handmade wardrobe waiting for them inside!

Book Review: artfully embroidered: motifs and patterns for bags and more

Artfully Embroidered: Motifs and Patterns for Bags and More
By: Naoko Shimoda
(Interweave/F+W; $24.99; November 2014)
Hello there! Secretary Kelly here to bring you a review of an amazing new embroidery book. I'll be honest, my embroidery skills are weak. I still have a WIP from 1996 of jungle animals waiting to be finished. (One day!) But this book makes me want to stitch all the things with simple yet stunning designs inspired by nature. 

I like how this book is set up-- not only does it have gorgeous embroidery patterns, but it also includes a little pattern to make something with it. Bags, purses, and pouches are used throughout the book. Instructions are clear and well-illustrated for bag construction and for the embroidery stitches themselves. 

Who can't see themselves in an adorable linen skirt with embroidery embellishments around the hem? I don't know, everyone should have a skirt like this!

I could have photographed every page of this book, but I restrained myself. The photos are beautiful, the projects inspired and I hope who ever wins this book at our next PMQG meeting will make me one of these little coin purses! (wink, wink)

Thanks so much to F&W media for sending us a copy of this book to give away. I hope all you stitchers check it out, it is one for your craft library.

Review: Kaleidograph, a fun design tool


We have an interesting little package today that has design fun written all over it. The Kaleidograph is a simple sack of colorful cards with shapes cut out but when you stack and flip the cards then slide them into the holder fun things start to happen.

The kit comes with several solid cards and then a bunch of cut outs in different colors front and back.

Here's a few little designs I played with but the possibilities are endless! Quilt block inspiration here you come! 

This kit is a circle and there is a hexagon kit too, visit their website to play with a virtual toy at  - there is even a community to share the patterns you make. 
This would be great for kids too! 

Try one out at our next sew day and win one at the guild meeting tomorrow! 

Thanks to Kaleidograph Design and Red hen books and toys  for sending us the giveaways! 

DIY Holiday Magazine

Are you the kind of crafter that dabbles? You might sew and knit and make jewelry? Well then F&W Media has a magazine for you. The premier issue of DIY Holiday is out with 25 projects to satisfy all your crafting impulses. 

This magazine has super cute projects to make and give for sewing, quilting, jewelry making, knitting and crochet.

There is even a super cute retro quilt by our own Michelle Freedman! 

Win one of three copies at our holiday meeting on Thursday, December 11—just in time to make some holiday gifts for yourself or others! 

Good Luck! 
PMQG Secretary

Book Review: Quilt Essential

Quilt Essential
By: Erin Burke Harris
C&T Publishing Stash Books 2013
Hello All! Secretary Kelly here with another book review! This time it is all quilting! I go to the library a lot and check out all the quilt books they have (I hope I'm not the only one!) and I was lucky enough to snag this book for three weeks—but it was not long enough, because this is a go-to resource for all things quilty. Yep, it is an essential. 

All the photos are gorgeous and inspiring, a must for a good craft book! But digging a little deeper you'll discover answers to all your quilting questions. What is on-point setting all about, how do I care for fabric, what is a quilt sandwich, what are the differences in batting, how do I calculate yardage for borders and sashing? All answers lie within these pages.

The other thing I really liked about this book by Erin Burke Harris (who blogs at House on Hill Road) is that she interviews quilters who have a voice in the modern quilting community. Rita Hodge, Anna Maria Horner, and Blair Stocker are just a few who share their their journeys as makers. 

This book is for both brand-new and seasoned quilters, as it gives a fresh perspective on all the techniques we use in one handy guide. It just hard not to be inspired and learn something new flipping through the pages.

A big thanks to C&T publishing for sending us a copy to giveaway at the November meeting! I know anyone who takes this home will find a front-and-center space on the shelf for it.

Book Review: A Quilter's Mixology

A Quilter’s Mixology
By Angela Pingel
Interweave/F+W; $27.99
Hello All! Secretary Kelly here with another quilting book review! This time it's a beautiful take on the Drunkard's Path block by Cut to Pieces blogger Angela Pingel. There are 15 projects in the book, all based on this block, and it is so cool how such different projects emerge from the same block. My favorite is the medallion baby quilt in the photo below. It might be the color combination or the radiating medallion design, but I really want to make this quilt!

The book starts with a how-to section, which is helpful for those who have never cut out or sewn a curved block. I know they can be scary at first, but with a little practice and patience (and a seam ripper!) they are fun and make amazing quilts!

Not only are the quilts beautiful in all their curvy glory the quilting is pretty darn inspired too. The quilt below and several others were quilted by Krista Withers. 

Patterns for making curved templates are included, as well as lots of detailed instructions and helpful hints. I really enjoy Angela's eye for color—each quilt has a unique look even though they all employ the same block!

A big thanks to F&W Media for sending us a copy to review! One lucky PMQG member will win this book at our November meeting! 

Book Review: Mollie Makes Embroidery


 I've seen Mollie Makes Embroidery popping up all over the internet lately, so I was extra excited to review a copy for PMQG! This book contains projects from many different fiber artists, including Alyssa Thomas. The first half has projects, many based on nature, animals, or geometric designs, and the second half is all about technique.


Some of my favorite projects from the first half of the book are the animals, particularly the whimsical Polar Bear and Owl with Umbrellas and the Mama and Baby Owl projects. The variety of stitches and colors used in the various projects are very inspiring and make you want to go grab a needle and floss and get started!


The technique section covers all of the basic stitches with really clear pictures and diagrams. There are also sections on Crewelwork Embroidery (stitched with wool thread), Silk Ribbon Embroidery, Counted Cross Stitch, Canvaswork, Bargello, and Free Motion Embroidery. As quilters, we may have a special interest in the last two. I had only heard of Bargello quilting before, but the Bargello Embroidery in Mollie Makes Embroidery is quite striking and beautiful!


One thing I really appreciate about this book is the suggestions for the completed project. So often I finish an embroidery project and am not sure what to do with. I usually resort to hanging it on the wall or leaving it to languish forever in a drawer. Although various framed embroidery art is featured in this book, there are also projects for a runner, pillow, throw blanket, tea cozy, greeting cards, and even a phone case, among others!


I will definitely have to purchase a copy of Mollie Makes Embroidery for my own craft book library, because we'll be giving away this copy at our PMQG meeting tonight! All members will have a chance to win in the door prize drawing!


Thanks to Interweave/F+W for donating this review copy to PMQG


About the Authors
"Mollie Makes is a lifestyle and craft magazine for those who live and love handmade.Mollie Makes brings readers the best of craft online, a look inside the homes of the world’s most creative crafters, tutorials on inspiring makes, round ups of the most covetable stash and tours of the crafty capitals of the world. For more information on Mollie Makes, please visit"

Book Review: Sunday Morning Quilts

Hello, Kelly here! I had the pleasure of perusing the quilting book Sunday Morning Quilts, published in 2012. This book is proving to be a go-to classic. One lucky PMQG member will win a copy at Thursday's meeting! 

Authors Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts) and Cheryl Arkison work together to make simple and beautiful scrappy modern quilts.

In addition to the quilts, the ladies detail their sorting and storing methods for scraps, including making a set of color coded scraps baskets! This is little project is on my to-quilt list.

I know why this book is classic: beautiful quilt photos, practical quilting advice and straightforward quilt patterns to follow. Plus the ladies are just nice. 

Good Luck in the raffle tomorrow evening!

Book Review: Free-Motion Quilting Workbook

I recently had the chance to take a look at Angela Walter's newest book, Free-Motion Quilting Workbook. This book is part quilting tutorial, part sketchbook to practice what you're reading. 


I love checking out free motion books because I'm not much of a free motion quilter, but I would like to be. What every book will tell you is draw, draw, draw, and then practice, practice, practice! Angela's workbook reinforces the "draw" commandment with pictures of her sketches next to pictures of the quilted version of those sketched designs. It's really fun to see the drawings come alive in thread!

Each chapter of the book gives insight on how to quilt something specific--borders, negative space, and blocks all make an appearance, and at the end of each chapter there are a few pages of graph paper to practice on. The book closes with several pages of pictures of Angela's beautiful quilting and then the back of the book includes more blank graph paper pages. 

Over all, Free-Motion Quilting Workbook seems like a solid book to help improve your free motion skills with hands on practice and useful tips. Oh, and the book is spiral bound, which makes it much easier to maneuver when you're drawing in it, I love that detail!

PMQG would like to thank Stash Books/C&T Publishing for donating Free-Motion Quilting Workbook as well as two other Angela Walters titles: In the Studio with Angela Walters and Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters.  All 3 books will be given away in our door prize raffle at July's PMQG meeting! Good luck!

Interview with Kevin Kosbab

Say you have a question about applique. It could be, “What the heck is applique and why would I want to do it?” Or it could be more like, “How can I broderie-perse a flower with very skinny petals without fraying?
You can find the answers to these questions and many more in The Quilter’s Applique Workshop: Timeless Techniques for Modern Designs(Interweave, 2014), by Kevin Kosbab. It’s an impressive handbook of techniques and projects that cover everything you need to know about sewing one piece of fabric onto another.
The book opens by handily refuting the most common anti-applique sentiments (too fussy, too hard, requires hand sewing, etc.). It also does a great job at explaining the pros and cons of raw-edge, prepared-edge, and needle-turn applique. And the patterns are very modern and cool, and even include some improvisational techniques. Most inspiring, perhaps, is Kevin's attitude about quilting. The overall message is, Do whatever brings you joy, and don't worry too much about what other people think. 
We recently had the chance to ask Kevin some questions about The Quilter’s Applique Workshop.
The Counterbalance Quilt uses prepared-edge techniques and is machine-sewn.

In the introduction to the book, you mention that you started quilting on your own, without the assistance of a quilt guild or the Internet. What inspired you to start quilting?
My mom bought me a sewing machine so I could make curtains, and that quickly led to other home-dec sewing—namely a quilt for my bed. I’d been interested in both graphic and interior design for a long time, so quilting turned out to be the perfect combination of the two.
What was your first project? What do you like or dislike about it now?
My first quilt was a “Day at the Beach” from Denyse Schmidt's first book, adapted to bed size. It’s hard to believe that even back in those days (less than 10 years ago) solids were difficult to find—one of the things I'm not so fond of now is that a good part of the quilt is poly-cotton blend!
What was the biggest mistake you made in the early days?
Probably trying to run hand-quilting thread through my machine. It took some time for proper pressing to sink in, too.
This may be a dumb question, but with words like “applique” and “broderie-perse” … Did the French invent this technique? What’s the history here? And do you think the accent marks scare away some people?
Stitching one piece of cloth onto another for decorative or practical purposes is an ancient technique, if not prehistoric, so the French can only be credited with the term that’s currently in favor (“applied work” often appears in older books). You may well be right that the foreign names make people think appliqué’s more exotic than it is. I think it may also suggest fussy, frilly, nineteenth-century styles to some people—which is a shame, since one of the best things about appliqué is its versatility.
Fruit Market Quilt, an homage to mid-century designer Jean Ray Laury
In the book, you mention that you’re inspired by mid-century graphic design. Can you tell us more about the objects, designers, or styles that inspire you? Has this changed over the years, or have you always been a mid-century kind of guy?
Patterns from mid-century fabrics, wallpapers, and dishes are natural sources for quilt designs, but I get ideas from mid-century posters, book and record covers, architecture, furniture, and all sort of other things. There’s a visual exuberance of color and shape that really appeals to me, from “high” designers like Alexander Girard, Verner Panton, and Lucienne Day all the way through to unsigned household goods. I’ve always had an interest in the design of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, which only grows as I learn about new (to me) designers.
What’s you’re favorite part of the quiltmaking process, and why? What’s your least favorite part?
Designing is probably my favorite part, but not necessarily just the preliminary design processes—I often add and subtract fabrics as I go and keep adjusting the final project while I’m making it, and I really enjoy seeing the idea come to life. I love hand-sewing too, for its relaxing, meditative qualities. Basting before quilting is probably the worst—does anyone like doing that?—but it’s become much easier now that I’ve set up a semi-permanent basting table in my garage.
What do you do with your finished quilts—keep, give away, sell? What’s the most special gift quilt you’ve made?
I usually hold onto quilts to use as samples when I’m teaching, lecturing, or marketing patterns. Probably because my background is in publishing, it’s always made more sense to me to make a quilt once and sell multiple copies of patterns rather than try to sell the quilts themselves. One of my first appliqué quilts was a gift for my partner when we were living long distance, though now that we’re married its kind of back in my possession!

Reverse-appliqued Eccentric Concentrics Wall Quilt

I liked your sidebar encouraging us to ignore the “quilt police” and to use the techniques that seem best to us. You also mention that you choose to make quilts not for shows or posterity but in order to bring joy to your loved ones. Was this position hard to come by? Have the quilt police ever called you in for questioning?
That sidebar’s kind of my manifesto, albeit tongue in cheek. It’s really just an articulation of how I’ve felt about quilting since I started. I personally make quilts because I enjoy the process of making and designing them, but I know that many quilters are motivated by sharing their quilts as gifts or charity donations—and whatever the case, my feeling is that quilting should be something we do because we enjoy it. I know there are people who genuinely get their pleasure from doing things “the right way,” but everyone should be allowed to decide that “right way” for themselves.
I haven’t had to answer to the quilt police directly very often, but I’m sure they’re working up a file on me!
What’s next for you?
I’m developing a line of patterns that reinterpret classic mid-century modern design through piecing, appliqué, and quilting, which I’m very excited about. And right now I’m really intrigued by screen-printing, so I’m experimenting with hand-printed fabric for use in quilts. Of course, I’m also teaching classes related to the book, so I’ll continue spreading the appliqué love!
Thanks, Kevin! One lucky guild member will win a copy of The Quilter’s Applique Workshop at our meeting on June 19.

Heather Ross: New Book & Reading at Powell's

How to Catch a Frog: and other stories of family, love, dysfunction, survival, and DIY, is the new memoir by textile designer and DIY maven Heather Ross. It's a little bit DIY and a whole lot of autobiographical goodness, telling the story of her very interesting, adventurous, and often tragic life, roaming as a child in Vermont's isolated hills, living in Mexico and California, and ultimately making a new life full of love in New York City.

I picked up the book casually on a Friday evening and read the first few chapters, "How to make a teepee from plastic flowers" and "How to make paper flowers." Both pulled me into a world of beautiful neglect described in a way that only an artist can see. Details matter, down to the color of the grass and the scent of the Vermont air. Each chapter details a story, centered around a craft project, resulting in a wonderful narrative flow.

In this passage Ross describes her knitting projects brought back home to Vermont after a summer spent with her Grandpa and Grandma, Yia Yia.

I left Woodbridge with plastic bags full of cheap synthetic yarns, needle, hooks and pins, my determination to become a good wife stronger than ever. We spent that winter in the school house surrounded by yarn and fabric, some of it from Yia Yia and her PX and some of it from my mother, who could also knit and sew and embroider. She came from a family of artists and crafts people, collectors of textiles and artwork, fashionable, worldly upper-class women who could design and make complicated and beautiful things with their hands in their leisure. We knitted up every bit of yarn that we had and then unraveled what we didn't love and knitted with it again. 

Ross's insights into the artist's life, especially for women born in the 1970s (which I just barely qualify for) are so honest and captivating. She tells the truth of her life without self-pity or judgment. She writes candidly about her mother, father, twin sister, and extended family and friends. She recounts visitning swimming holes and garden plots sown by her mother, learning to ride a horse, growing up as an outsider in her home town, making her own way through college, and starting her textile busines--all with grace and insight.

I admit I ignored my husband and child for the next few days, as I couldn't put it down until it was finished on Sunday afternoon. (sorry family! this is why I can't read books.) Every DIY-loving person needs to read this true and inspiring book!

Heather Ross will be signing books and giving a sneak peak of her upcoming fabric line at Powell's Books on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. (W. Burnside location) and you are all invited. As a bonus, if you purchase a book that night you will receive a signed print from her new book!

by Kelly Cole, PMQG Secretary

Book review: The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party

Here's PMQG Treasurer Lisa with a book review and giveaway! 

The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party (C&T, 2011) is subtitled as “The Journey of 12 Women, 1 blog and 12 Improvisational Projects.” The book details a modern, virtual quilting bee and goes into the group's process of supporting each other as they produce 12 quilts.

inside: patterns + process

Working from a pattern in this book, I made Kristen Lejnieks’ quilt from June, which was a great beginner modern quilt. Like the other months’ patterns, it’s relatively basic, but comes together in a striking finish. 

Lisa's "Wonky Roman Stripe"

The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party is a great book if you are looking for a better understanding of how bees work. Do note there are only 12 block patterns, so if you’re looking for a straightforward archive of patterns, this may not be the book for you. However, if you are looking for a book that tells a story about how the patterns were created and details the process of trying to recapture the community of the traditional bee using modern technology and a modern quilting aesthetic, then you’ll really enjoy it. 

A copy of The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party will be given away at the April PMQG meeting.

Book Review: The Modern Applique Workbook

I was pretty excited to review The Modern Applique Workbook by Jennifer Dick, since my experience with applique is pretty much limited to fusing and raw edge applique. The book is 135 pages long plus pull-out patterns in the back of the book.


The main methods used in this book are freezer paper applique to turn the edges, which the author prefers over a needle turned edge, and zigzag stitching with invisible polyester thread.

Trees, pg. 93

Although I was excited at the mention that scraps are great for applique, since as quilters pretty much all we do is create scraps, the later statement that applique fabric must be pre-washed quelled that excitement a bit. I'm a firm anti-pre-washer (mostly due to laziness), and washing scraps is not going to happen. It certainly makes more sense to use scraps if someone has already pre-washed all their fabric, though.

Fall, pg. 111

The beginning of the book starts out with an introduction, lists of tools needed and reasons for pre-washing fabrics. I was surprised when I got to the actual freezer paper tutorial; although I had a vague idea of how to applique with freezer paper, I didn't realize that the shape was sewn on with the paper still in (which is later removed from the back)!

Geese, pg. 107

Besides using the aforementioned invisible zigzag stitch, the author also gives many examples of other ways to use both straight and decorative machine stitches to applique the pieces down.

Even before making it to the Projects section of the book, I was in love with the Mod quilt pattern that was featured on the inside cover. I felt that it was perhaps a better example of a "modern" pattern than the pattern chosen for the cover of the book.

Mod Quilt, pg. 70

I also was drawn to some of the simpler, more organic shapes such as "Flame,""Birds," "Trees," "Geese," "Fall," and "Fish." I would definitely make these patterns and love the graceful curves shown in them.

Birds, pg. 81

A few patterns I was not as crazy about--the aforementioned cover pattern "Star Bright," which is just a bit busy for me, "Kisses," which I feel could easily be made with regular piecing, "Baskets," which reminds me of my most disliked traditional pattern, and "Cascade," which is made of simple circles and frankly, shows a lot of mistakes in both stitching and quilting in the picture.

Cascade, pg.101

Overall I think the technique described is one I would definitely go back to time and again, and there are more than enough projects I love in this book to make me want to own it.

One lucky PMQG member will win The Modern Applique Workbook at our meeting this Thursday!

Thanks to C&T Publishing and Stash Books for the chance to review and give away a copy of this book.

Book Review: Vintage Quilt Revival

Hello PMQG! This is secretary Kelly Cole and I am here to review an amazing new quilt book from some lovely ladies from blogland: Vintage Quilt Revival. Co-authors Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced, Faith Jones from Fresh Lemon Quilts and Katie Blakesley from SwimBikeQuilt are not just fabulous quilters but also really accessible ladies who love to share their passion for quilting.

Vintage Quilt Revival
Interweave/F+W Media; $27.99

I have been following the trio for a while, and when the buzz of Vintage Quilt Revival started I was so excited when the pictures started rolling out. It really is a treasure trove of interesting blocks, solid quilting how-to's, and so many setting and color options. I love how each of the 20 blocks in the book has instructions on how to construct the block and then a quilt made with the block interpreted through one of the designers. And it's really them! The paper pieced blocks, colors and the settings are just spot on for each of their styles. The book feels like such an extension of their blogs.

So when I asked for a copy to review and give away to a lucky PMQG member I was super happy to get a big "yes," and I dove into making a block from the book. I choose the Exploding Star Block; a paper pieced block that I could not take my eyes off of! The super awesome part of this book is that it comes with an easy-to-navigate CD for printing all the paper-pieced templates. Love that!

The block was super easy to make, and the points were so pointy thanks to the paper pieced method. I used my favorite DS Quilt fabrics, that's how much I love this book! Once I made the block I sewed it up into a new pillow for the couch. A little machine quilting and hand quilting, finished off with a hidden side zipper.

But I couldn't stop there! I got ambitious and made the New World Pouch too! This sweet mid-sized pouch uses a mini version of the Mayflower block and it is tiny, thanks to the paper pieced method again. I used little scraps from the pillow and some yummy Essex linen.

I just love the construction details on the pouch. I finally learned this brilliant move for tabs at the end of zippers, so pro!

So all in all can you tell I love this book? I am dying to get my own copy, but one lucky PMQG member will take this lovely book home at our next meeting on Tuesday, February 18! If you can't wait till then it's available for purchase right now!

Blue Bird Sews

Book Review: Pillow Pop

I had the chance to review the book Pillow Pop: 25 Quick-Sew Projects to Brighten Your Space, compiled by our very own Heather Bostic!  She shared a little about the book at last month's meeting, and at tonight's meeting you could win this copy!

picture from
Book Description :
This installment of the Design Collective series is stuffed full of pillows! Make a distinctive statement with eye-catching modern designs—choose from 25 different 18” to 20” square pillow projects to decorate your home. Pull out your favorite fabrics and have fun stitching up something new to adorn your bed or favorite chair. Popular blogger and modern sewist Heather Bostic brings you a sensational selection of pillow projects. Try different techniques like paper-piecing, quilting, embroidery, and appliqué. 20+ designers with fresh, modern style offer something for everyone at any skill level.
Besides pillows from Heather, this book also features some of our other guild members, how cool to see in print! I loved seeing the pillows from Jen Carlton Bailly, Mo Bedell, and Joan Callaway!
Pillow Pop shows different ways of using applique, piecing , paper piecing and embroidery to make beautiful pillows. In some cases I never would have thought of using a certain technique or pattern on a pillow, and I love all the ideas browsing through this book has given me!

Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe Book Review

First, a big thank you to Martingale publishing for generously sending us Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe to review!

If any of you are like me, you follow quilting blogs. Perhaps more than you can keep up with! When I first heard about the book Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe, I was really excited! 

Jigsaw - Designed by Amy Ellis

Before I received it in the mail my thoughts were running along the lines of how cool it would be to own a book with patterns, saving so much time figuring out math. However when I opened it, saving time doing math was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted to do was get started making so many of these quilts! As in, drop everything I had on my plate and start a whole slew of future WIP’s right then and there. 

Diamond Crosses - Designed by Kate Henderson

The idea of featuring bloggers resulted in the unique compilation of quilts with completely different aesthetics. Anyone picking up this book can find a quilt they love and want to make. The layout is well thought out being bright, clean and colorful! All Patterns are clear and the instructions well written with full color diagrams. Some even templates while others have tips and tricks. In summary as one person put it “bloggers are an excellent resource for ideas and inspiration”. 

Hopefully (ahem Martingale!) this is the first of many volumes showcasing the beautiful quilts from bloggers around the world!


One lucky winner will get to take home this great book tonight at our Guild Meeting!