Patchwork, and quilting are all highly inter-related crafts and are a wonderful way for sewers to use up all those extra remnant fabrics from other projects, though in reality, a whole industry has developed, supplying fabulous fat quarters for these sewing techniques. I am constantly amazed that despite my huge stash of fabric, fat quarters and fabric scraps, I still need to occasionally buy that special pattern or colour combination to match up, complement or contrast the other fabrics chosen. Choosing the right fabrics for quilting projects is a real skill and is not as easy as you would think!
Patchwork, appliqué and quilting have come such a long way since their original and traditional function of making bed covers, table runners and hanging pictorial quilts out of recycled fabrics and there are some amazingly talented artists these days. Here are some of my favourite books in my craft library, both practical and inspirational, which cover these techniques!
Patchwork Primer: Step-by-Step Techniques and Beautiful Projects by Dorothy Wood 2000
This patchwork primer covers a multitude of techniques and information, including:
Materials and equipment and quilt terminology;
Choosing fabrics, wadding or batting and colour;
Planning a quilt design: Composition; sashing and borders; quilt backing; binding; quilt sizes and a conversion chart (metric, imperial and decimal);
Calculating fabric quantities;
Making and using templates;
Using a rotary cutting set and scissors;
Hand-piecing with or without papers;
Joining patchwork by machine;
Working with right-angled triangles
Piecing star designs;
Specialised patchwork techniques: Piecing Log Cabin blocks; English crazy patchwork; and seminole patchwork;
Joining curved seams;
Hand embroidery stitches;
Raw-edged, traditional and machine appliqué;
Special appliqué techniques: Broderie Perse; Shadow; Hawaiian; Stained Glass; and Reverse Appliqué
Joining blocks and making a quilt sandwich;
Transferring a quilt design : Prick and pounce; Dressmaker’s carbon; Quilting templates; and Quilter’s tape;
Quilting: Hand and Machine Quilting techniques: In-the-Ditch; Selective; Outline; Echo; Parallel lines; Shell-filling and Diamond-filling; Trapunto; Italian or corded; Sashiko; and Tied;
Binding a quilt;
Sewing Machines: Type; Features; Threading; Filling a bobbin; Choosing a needle; Machine feet; Stitch tension; and Maintenance and trouble shooting; and
Templates and designs.
My friend made me this beautiful patchwork cushion for my birthday!Throughout the book are patterns and instructions for:
American Block Quilts:
Four Patch: Double Pinwheel; Windmill; Road to Heaven; Flower Basket; Flock of Geese; Crockett Cabin; Crosses and Losses; and Spool and Bobbin;
Nine Patch: Contrary Wife; Churn Dash; Jacob’s Ladder; Puss in the Corner; Darting Birds; Steps to the Altar; Eccentric Star; Shoo Fly; and Cat’s Cradle;
as well as less common designs for Five Patch and Seven Patch (Bear’s Paw) quilts;
Star Quilts: 54/40 or Fight Star; and Le Moyne Star;
Curved Seams: Drunkard’s Path;
Log Cabin Designs: Light and Dark; Barn Raising; Straight Furrow; Pineapple Log Cabin; Courthouse Steps; and Off-Centre Log Cabin; and
It is an excellent book for covering all the basics!
Creative Patchwork with Appliqué and Quilting The Australian Women’s Weekly Craft Library 1998
Once you have mastered the basic techniques, it is great to be able to practice them on a few projects and this book has some very attractive and well-explained patterns for:
Bedroom Quilts: Lemoyne Star*; Dresden Plate; Double Irish Chain; and Antique;
Hanging Quilts: Naïve Doll; Birds in the Fountain; Country Vase with Flowers; Cabin Flannel; and Child’s Button Quilt*;
Minis and Lap Quilts: Crazy Patchwork; Garden Sampler*; Foundation Mini Bowtie; and Cot Quilt*;
Home Decorating: Floral tablecloth; Heart table runner; and Flowerpot*; Stitcher’s and Quilted Cushions;
Quilting Accessories: Heart Sewing Box; Log Cabin Pincushions*; and Quilter’s Carry Bag*.
My favourite projects are followed by a *.
There is a short section in the back reiterating all the basic techniques already described.
The next two books cover specific patchwork techniques: English crazy patchwork and the Seminole patchwork of North American indigenous tribes in Florida.
Crazy Patchwork by Meryl Potter 1997
Crazy patchwork was very popular at the end of the 19th Century in America, England and Australia and enjoyed a brief revival in the 1990s. Odd-shaped fabric scraps are stitched to a foundation fabric, then the seams are decorated with embroidery stitches. It is great fun as there are no rules and all sorts of fancy fabric with different textures like silks, lace and brocades, velvets and embroidered fabrics can be used, as well as ribbons and braids.
Basic techniques, colour and fabric choice and the basic toolkit, including window templates are discussed briefly in the first chapter titled ‘Getting Started’ with a more detailed examination of techniques and technicalities in the back of the book, including notes on embellishments (embroidered or appliquéd motifs; lace; ribbon embroidery; and beads and charms); threads (stranded cottons; perle threads; soft cottons like Wildflowers by Caron or Danish Flower Threads; stranded silks; perle silks; synthetic threads; fancy threads like bouclé and chenille; and metallic threads); ribbon embroidery; beads, buttons and charms; pins and needles; twisted cords and piping; and mitred corners, as well as a bibliography and list of suppliers.
Here is a photo of a UFO (unfinished object for the uninitiated!), which I WILL finish one day (!), using crazy patchwork and appliqué, to make a bag or a table runner!However, the majority of the book is devoted to the projects, including materials; method; stitch notes; and finishing:
Peaches and Cream: Victorian Bag and a Fabric-covered Box;
Country Christmas: Decorations and Table Runner;
Victorian Tiles: Throw;
The Deep Blue Sea: Scissor case; Pincushion; Needlecase; and Bag: my favourite project in rich ocean colours of green, turquoise, blues and purples! See front cover of the book;
Out of This World: Bag; Spectacles case and Purse;
Precious Jewels: Brooches in varying shapes;
The Realms of Gold: Cushion and sachets;
Gentle Hearts: Wall Hanging.
This book fosters creativity and imagination, the projects merely a starting point for pursuing your own personal crazy journey!!!
The Seminole Patchwork Book by Cheryl Greider Bradkin 1980
I have always been fascinated with the Seminole patchwork process! Strips of material are cut and sewn together along their long horizontal edge by machine. The strip patch is then cut vertically and the new strips are sewn together in an offset position with the long edges of the new band finished off with fabric strips.
An unlimited number of patterns, 61 of which are displayed in the Glossary of Patterns at the front and back of the book, can be created by varying the number and width of strips and the angles, widths and offsets of the pieces. The other advantage of this technique is that nothing is ever wrong or discarded as any ‘mistakes’ are not only learning experiences, but also usable in different future projects!
The book includes a discussion of the tools and materials required; step-by-step instructions for construction; notes on using the patterns, mirror image designs and graphed motifs; and suggestions for the use of Seminole to decorate clothing (ties, belts, hems, cuffs and borders, and yokes); linen (towels); and homeware (chair covers and cushions; and wall hangings; placemats and wine totes; tote bags and fabric boxes; and spectacle cases, book covers and photo frames), supported by colourful photographs.
While the format and projects look a little dated these days, it is still a really interesting technique, worthy of experimentation and exploration!
Now for some specific books on appliqué !
The Appliqué Book by Rose Verney 1990
A good introduction to the history of this art form and general techniques:
Choosing and preparing fabrics;
Cutting out: Enlarging pattern pieces; Positioning pieces; Cutting bias strips;
Transferring embroidery details: Fabric marking pencils and pens and Dressmaker’s carbon;
Stitching: Tacking; Slipstitching turned-under edges; Points, corners, circles and curves; and Embroidery stitches;
Pressing and Finishing: Mitred corners; and Joining bias strips; and finally,
Basic instructions for the construction of cushions and curtains.
The majority of the book is devoted to twenty projects, including: Tea, coffee and egg cosies; tablecloths; cushions and curtains; quilts; wall hangings and friezes; and bags and jackets.
I particularly liked the designs: Brilliant Blooms (cushion); Animal Parade and Fun With Numbers (nursery friezes); Fleur-de-Lys Variations (cushions); Beautiful Balloons (curtains) and Birds in the Trees (quilt).
This is a good basic guide to traditional appliqué techniques in the pre-Vliesofix days! One of the projects in the book was a Stained Glass cushion using the reverse appliqué technique, another fascinating and fun technique, as well as producing very attractive results!
Reverse Appliqué with No Brakez by Jan Mullen 2003
I loved this book! It is so inspiring with great explanations and bright colourful designs!
It is based on the premise of the crayon resist, where designs are scratched through a black paint overlay to reveal the colourful crayon colours underneath. In its most basic form, reverse appliqué involves the layering of two fabrics, then cutting through the top layer to reveal the hidden layer underneath, the cut edges held down with stitches.
Eg the Molas of the Kuna women of Panama in South America (see: http://www.molasfrompanama.com) and Hmong textiles (see: http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique3.html and http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique.html).
Jan has gone one step further, sewing rough-cut fabric pieces with tapered edges together for the secret under-layer, enhancing the mystery and creativity and originality of the process! She guides you through the process, examining each layer in depth and providing plenty of suggestions for variations and further exploration. Here is a photo of my efforts using this book!Chapter One describes the toolkit, while Chapter Two examines the basic processes of:
Reversing with No Brakez;
Reverse appliqué with edges turned under: Cutting through the top layer; Corners and points; and Clipping and notching curves;
Reverse appliqué with raw edges using vliesofix (fusible web); and
Quilting: Quilt-as-you-go; Floating borders or sashing; Machine quilting; and Binding.
Chapter Three is all about design: Project and design size; Theme; Adapting traditional appliqué designs; Text; Drawing and transferring the design; and Border design.
The secret layer is the crux of the whole process and is described in detail in Chapter Four: the fabrics (cotton, silk, satin, synthetics, taffetas, wools, flannels and sheers); multiple layers for even greater versatility and creativity; piecing layers, varying the size and direction of the strips, and different techniques like tapering, colourwash and stack-slice-switching; and stitching directly onto batting.
The top layer is also important for contrast and is discussed in Chapter Five. Black and bold plain colours contrast well, while dots, stripes tone-on-tones, repeat patterns and different textures add visual interest and may complement the secret layer. Different fabric types and different piecing options for the top layer (distinct design areas; squares; irregular pieces; tapered layered bands; and pieced blocks) are also covered.
Having assembles the sandwich layers: the backing; batting; one or multiple secret layers made of stitched strips; and the top layer, it’s time for the fun bit! When you cut through the top layer to reveal the secret layer, it is so exciting, satisfying, surprising and exhilarating! You never know exactly what you are going to get, unless you are the world’s most expert planner!
Chapter Six examines Reversing by Hand (traditional appliqué with turned-under edges and invisible slip-stitching; and raw edge appliqué with fusible webbing, the cut edges secured by buttonhole stitch; stab stitch; cross stitch or feather and Cretan stitch); Threads (colour, type and thickness); Reversing by Machine (Freehand and straight; scribbly and decorative stitches); and the technique of Stitching, then cutting.
Quilting and Finishing are discussed in Chapter Seven: Thread choice; hand quilting (echo stitching, textured stitching and tying); machine quilting; adding text; embellishment (beads and buttons or appliqué on the top layer); mock trapunto; and finishing the edge with binding.
The remainder of the book features six colourful projects, reinforcing skills and techniques learnt, as well as a gallery of inspiring ideas. I highly recommend this book, as well as visiting her website on: http://www.janmullen.com.au/!
The remaining five books in this post, while still including practical instruction and projects, serve to inspire the reader by showcasing the work of a wide variety of appliqué and quilting experts, as well as a few particular favourites of mine!
Appliqué Style: The Best of Contemporary Design-Plus Stylish Projects To Make At Home by Juliet Bawden 1997
An interesting and inspiring book, which examines the origins and history of appliqué; sources of inspiration and design; the work of 21 contemporary designers, showing a wide range of styles and techniques; the techniques themselves (tools and materials; preparing fabrics and paper templates; scaling and transferring the design; cutting out appliqué pieces; using backing pieces; corners, curves and circles; making bias binding; hand-stitched appliqué basics; bonding or fused appliqué; stump work; shadow appliqué; reverse appliqué; machine appliqué; and inlay work); and includes 15 projects designed by 11 of the artists featured from clothing (vest, hat, scarf), jewellery (brooches and buttons) and bags (laundry bag and carry bags) to bedding (blankets and pillowcases) and homeware (cushions, lampshade and book cover).
While I loved all the artwork, I was particularly drawn to the work of Belinda Downes, Rachael Howard, Madelaine Millington, Nancy Nicholson and Lisa Vaughan.
The Passionate Quilter: Ideas and Techniques From Leading Quilters by Michele Walker 1990
A similar book to the last, but specifically devoted to quilting and featuring both traditional quiltmakers (Northumbrian; traditional; and Welsh) and contemporary artists and their work (folded patterns; pieced pictures; batik texture; pattern and tone; appliqué pictures; mosaic patchwork; stencilled images; fabric collage; machine appliqué; stitched collage; reverse appliqué; painting with fabric; hand-sewn patchwork and strip piecing), as well as describing a variety of techniques (hand and machine sewn patchwork, appliqué and quilting).
My favourite artworks were the sumptuous and richly-coloured reverse appliqué quilts of Gillian Horn; the tonal patchwork quilts of Deidre Amsden and Sashiko-stitched vintage patchwork of Setsuko Obi; and the pictorial quilts of Jean Sheers and Janet Bolton, whose books are featured later in this post.The Quilter’s Guide To Pictorial Quilts by Maggi McCormick Gordon 2000
Given my preference for pictorial quilts, this book is an excellent addition to my craft library! It covers :
History of pictorial quilts (album or freedom quilts; story and scenic quilts; and folk art quilts) with photos of some beautiful old quilts from the 1800s;
Designing pictorial quilts: Source material; Resizing images; Composition and format; Perspective; Colour; Fabric choice; Creating texture with quilting; and Embellishments (manipulated fabric, string and cord, embroidery and beads and sequins);
Techniques: Materials and equipment; Preparation (making templates; cutting out with scissors or rotary cutter and bias strips); Piecing ( straight piecing by hand, four-piece seams by hand, English piecing, using a machine to join pieced units and stitch curved seams); Hand appliqué (cut and sew, turning edges, plain paper or freezer paper backings, reverse appliqué, shadow appliqué, stained glass, machine appliqué, points and troughs, and broderie perse) and decorative stitches and embellishments);
Land and Sea: African landscape; Lateral Links; Textured Towers; Remains of the Day; Places of Refuge; Anchors Aweigh; Down to the Sea; and Mountain Range;
Flowers and Foliage: In the Garden; a Receding View; Floral Shapes; Abundant Texture; Seasonal Colour and Garden Glory;
Animals: Simple Animal Shapes; a Colourful Menagerie; Birds of a Feather; Fish Tales; Bold Effects (the front cover of the book in the photo above); Zebra and Tiger; and Natural Representations;
Figures: Movie stars and famous figures; Faces; Symbolic Figures; and Abstract Realism;
Places: Architectural Masterpieces; Traveller’s Tales; a Celebration of Home; Interiors and Firework Celebration.
This book is full of inspiring and creative artworks, which support the text wonderfully. Some of my favourites were:
Cloudcuckooland by C. June Barnes with colourful patches of birdlife from around the world (http://www.cjunebarnes.co.uk/Textiles/5_Cloudcuckooland.html);
There’s No Place Like Home by Marta Amundson with its very clever abstract patterned patches of red and white repetitive reverse appliqué symbols of Australian fauna (https://www.amazon.com/Quilted-Animals-Continuous-Line-Patterns/dp/1574327976); and
Going Places by Jane E Petty, based on a vintage travel poster.
My final three books feature specific artists: Janet Bolton and Carol Armstrong, two of my favourites!
Janet Bolton has a very distinctive and attractive almost-naïve folk art style and I own two of her books. Here is her website: https://www.janetbolton.com/.
Patchwork Folk Art: Using Appliqué and Quilting Techniques by Janet Bolton 1995
In this practical guide, she discusses her inspirations; fabric choices and sources; preparing the background foundation; design and cutting templates; cutting and arranging the compositional shapes (fabric appliqué pieces); turning under appliqué edges; decorative embroidery stitches; embellishment with found objects and framing pictures, all referenced with examples of her own work and supplemented with workshop activities in each chapter like Making a Seed Box and fabric panels: the Blue Bird In The Morning and Four Flowers, which I really enjoyed making. She finishes with a gallery of her work and templates for the patterns. I love her simplified and rustic depictions of childhood, domestic and farmyard scenes and her use of earthy colours and natural fabrics.
Mrs Noah’s Patchwork Quilt: A Journal of the Voyage with a Pocketful of Patchwork Pieces by Janet Bolton 1995
Totally different presentation-wise to the previous book, but still showcasing Janet’s unique style, this delightful book resembles a children’s picture book and tells the story of Mrs Noah’s patchwork quilt and all the animals on the ark.
Illustrated throughout with Janet’s textile pictures, including reference to their position on a quilt, which progressively develops through successive pages to the completed quilt on the back of the last page.
The back envelope contains 10 pre-marked quilt foundation patches to which you stitch material scraps of your choice, decorating with neutral thread, then assembling into the featured quilt. It is such a great concept and I love her naïve folk style.Butterflies and Blooms: Designs For Appliqué and Quilting by Carol Armstrong 2002
Finally, my favourite book of all, as it is based on the garden – its beautiful flowers and plants and all its inhabitants: ants and bumblebees; butterflies and moths; grasshoppers and praying mantis; crickets and cicadas; dragonflies, fireflies, mayflies and lacewings; ladybirds and beetles; and snails, frogs and turtles. I love her use of colour, the patterns created by her quilting stitches on a cream muslin background and her style. Her designs are just so pretty!!!
After detailing her tools and materials and fabric choice and preparation in the introductory chapter, she describes her design process, lightbox appliqué, which eliminates the need for templates. She discusses the order of appliqué; preappliqué techniques or appliquéd appliqué to make positioning easier; the appliqué stitch and how to handle points, curves and circles; embroidery; and bias strips in Chapter Two, while the third chapter focuses on marking; borders; basting layers and quilting; and finally binding the finished quilt.
In Chapter Four, pattern design is discussed briefly before concentrating on patterns and instructions on appliqué and embroidery for each wildflower, including line drawings and colour photographs of the finished design. Wild animal friends are the subject of Chapter Five, then all these newly acquired skills can be put to use in nine different projects in Chapter Six from tiny Bug Bites panels, which could later be used singly as an oven mitt or coaster or incorporated together in a quilt or cushion; a Wetlands Triptych, which would also look good as table mats; and a Moth Garden door or bed hanging, which I would love to make, to other larger panels titled: May Day Cricket; Bee In a Box; Vine Wreath; Butterfly Bouquet (book cover); Golden Garden and Dragonflies’ Pond. In total, there are 42 hand appliquéd designs, of which there are 24 wildflower patterns and 18 animal patterns – all delightful! Another book, which I would highly recommend to fellow garden-lovers!