Jan 7, 2014

book review: two books on machine quilting

There's an old saying among musicians and performers that goes like this: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The answer: 10,000 hours of practice."  While most of us will never get to 10,000 of quilting, we still need to practice, practice, practice... and sew every chance we get.  So if you're like me, you may need a little jolt to help you get inspired... something to give you a plan of what to do next... well then, help is on the way.

I'll offer my two cents on two different machine quilting books that I found useful. Both focus on free motion quilting.

365 Free Motion Quilting Designs

Title: 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs
Author: Leah Day
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Edition: 2012 paperback edition supported by online instructions 

Modern Quilting Designs: 90+ Free-Motion Inspirations- Add Texture & Style to Your Next Quilt

Title: Modern Quilting Designs
Author: Bethany Nicole Pease
Publisher: C&T Publishing
Edition: 2012 paperback

First, I'll start with Leah Day. If you want tips and ways to improve your quilting and have not been to Leah's website, you must go there now!   http://www.leahday.com/

Leah has built a business from the ground up by offering tons of advice and tips online for free. She has daily lessons, follow along projects, and numerous videos and pictures to help you learn. Her free motion quilting tips are geared for beginners all the way up to all levels.  A couple years ago, she decided to challenge herself to see if she could offer a project per day everyday for a year. Her lessons suggest you make a small square block and then follow along by quilting her design, one per day.  Just like learning any new skill, these lessons increase in difficulty as you go.

The key to Leah's free motion is her method of free motion where you don't have to lift the needle and cut the thread. Her designs are continuous, but the trick is learning to travel back over some of the lines you've already quilted.  Once you get the hang of this you'll love it because it keeps things moving and allows you to quilt very unique designs, almost thread painting effect. In addition, the 'traveling back' over some lines creates really interesting quilting overall.

This book has pictures of finished quilted squares from every lesson. These pictures are also available on her website for free. The nice thing about the book though, is you can pick it up... hold it in your hand... and flip through it for inspiration. I know this is old school! But in my view, worth the investment to be able to hold the book and see all the options in front of you. The link above goes to the paperback version on Amazon. There is also an eBook available on Leah's website that is less expensive.

Also, if you don't want to purchase either, everything is there for you for free on her website, including instructions (most have videos) for each lesson.  This book and Leah's website are a wealth of information and are really, really useful whether you're a master quilter and looking for easy ways to keep your skills up everyday ... or just beginning.

The second book, "Modern Quilting Designs" by Bethany Nicole Pease is a relatively short book (compared to the 365 designs book), but it's filled with lots of ideas for modern free motion designs. There are illustrations for individual stitches and ways to mix and match stitches for the whole look. Most of these designs are continuous motion, allowing you to start at one end and keep going.  What I found most useful in this book was the large illustrations and the way they are drawn... everything is fairly loose, super creative and modern.

The format allows you to flip through it easily, so you can look at a design, internalize it and then think, oh yeah, I like that and I can use it here... or I can modify it slightly and it will fit here.  These illustrations are not really meant to be copied over to your quilt, although I guess you could do that too.

I've only been machine quilting for a little over one year. So as a new machine quilter, I looked a lot of 'how-to' books and websites on machine quilting. In fact, I found so many choices that the options were a bit overwhelming.

These are two books/websites that I have personally used over and over and have found them both to be really useful.

That's my two cents.

What are your favorite machine quilting books? I'd love to hear your comments.

NOTE: Just for the record, I offer these reviews freely. I was not paid or asked to give reviews and I was not given any free books or products in exchange for this review.