Book Review: The Modern Applique Workbook

The next in a series of book reviews! yay!

I ran out and bought myself a copy of The Modern Applique Workbook by Jenifer Dick as soon as I heard it was available. I tend to stalk the publishing websites for things I might be interested in, and this one was at the top of my list. I am the type of person who prefers hard copy books to digital (hurrah for full color pictures!) and I have to say that this is one of my favorites.

The Modern Applique Workbook

The Modern Applique Workbook

As most you know, I have been having a love affair with applique. My first quilts were applique, and it is a skill I am always pulling out in the course of my quilt making. I always seem to find myself using raw edge techniques, which are fine, but I have always wanted to brush up on my turned applique. There are some projects that a good crisp turned block would be much better than raw edge. Even the stitch and flip interfacing technique just doesn’t have the same look. Jenifer explains step by step her techniques for perfecting the turned edge applique and securing the pieces with the invisible zig zag method.  A big reason I was drawn to the book was Jenifers introduction. Her journey into modern applique is very relatable, we have all had one of those ah-ha moments when a technique just works and becomes more than you ever thought it would.

 

So what is modern applique? Jenifer lays it all out for you in an easy to understand, straightforward manner. From tools to fabric selections (she includes batiks! AWESOME!), Jenifer is able to create a modern aesthetic while maintaining a balance with the traditional roots of the technique. Her instructions are easy to follow and the diagrams and pictures are clean and concise. She even includes a well rounded section about fabric prep-whether you pre wash or not, it has useful tips and tricks for fabric prep. The first 60 pages are so are all instructional and specific to the technique, which is fantastic because as far as I can tell it covers everything you could possibly need to know about Modern Applique.

 

The technique itself isn’t anything new, applique has been around for a very long time, but the process is broken down in an easy to follow, detailed step-by-step way that makes this book beginner friendly. I have other books outlining a similar process, but it seemed so daunting I never even tried. Jenifer’s writing style practically drags you by the arm and shoves you into a chair with the supplies, and holds your hand through each step, after which you look and say “Oh my gosh WHY did I not try this before?!” she comes across as upbeat and friendly, very easy to read! from sharp points to concave curves and ovals, you get everything you need to make the quilts in the book, including a well rounded and easy to understand section on reverse applique. Her bias tape and straight grain tape techniques are to die for as well. This is one I am adopting into my repertoire of techniques immediately!

OKay, onto the projects!

The Modern Applique Workbook includes a variety of projects in different sizes for you to try out your newly learned skills. Each project has a forward that includes tips on fabric choices and a list of the techniques used, as well as the page references for each, making going back to look stuff up super easy. The photography is wonderful, you get a full shot and a detail shot of each quilt, as well as specific quilting and binding tips and instructions for each quilt. That has to be one of my favorite details in the book, that each quilt is explained individually from start to finish, instead of the cookie cutter “Basic quilt making and finishing” chapters in most books. Don’t get me wrong, they are useful and probably industry standard, but the individualized attention to each quilt really makes THe Modern Applique Workbook stand out.

The written instructions are detailed, yet flexible, which I like but others may find daunting, because there are no traditional layout diagrams. Any piecing is illustrated, but the applique itself is visually placed. That is the nature of applique, you are usually going off a photo, but because the pieces nest together so well you don’t have to worry about lining up overlaps exactly or ruining your project. It definitely add a planned improv feel to your projects, but almost guarantees that no two projects will look the same.

My favorite quilt is the cover quilt, Star Bright. Such a fun retro shape with a ton of flexibility in fabric choice and layout! I can think of a few fabric pulls for this quilt, the hardest part will be narrowing it down.

The Modern Applique Workbook

The Modern Applique Workbook

I am also really drawn to Mod. Again, a fun retro vibe without feeling like your wading through the shag carpet in your grandparents living room. The quilting in each is spectacular, both done by Angela Walters.

Mod

Mod

Fall is adorable and its a good thing everyone I know is having babies. FYI, you all get this quilt!

Fall

Fall

For beginners, Birds is a easy one to start with. Cute and fun, would also make a great gift!

Birds

Birds

 

Overall I would recommend The Modern Applique Workbook to anyone. Beginners will love the step by step, detailed instructions, and experienced quilters will love making the more complex shapes and adopting Jenifers techniques for applique.

 

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Stacey

 

Book Review: Playful Petals

Yesterday I sat down and pulled out my copy of Playful Petals by Corey Yoder. I love applique, and I love orange peels so of course I was keen to dive in. I was definitely curious as to just how many projects could be made using a single shape. Quite a few would be the answer. You can find some great pictures here on Corey’s blog. * I would like to note that it was next to impossible to find stock photos to use here. I finally stumbled across some on a Pinterest board that linked back to a file on Connecting Threads. I do not know the origin of the photos, but can only assume they were taken by the photographer who shot the book.*

Playful Petals

Corey uses the single petal shape in lots of fun, innovative ways. The book includes both quilts and matching pillows, which is fun if you want to have matching throw pillows with your lap quilt. (I can never have enough!) The quilts use a combination of piecing and fusible web applique to keep things interesting, and to save you from the monotony of just press, peel, stick, press, repeat. There are multiple petal templates included, so you could scale down a project if you wanted by choosing a different petal shape. Most of the projects are pre-cut friendly, and will tell you which precut in the fabric requirements, so getting started is as easy as grabbing that fat quarter bundle or layer cake that has been languishing in your stash and put it to good use. The petals are also scrap friendly. What a beautiful way to use all those little bits and pieces!

 

The writing is easy to read and understand. She outlines her process and includes a fun bit of history as to how she got started quilting and why she centered on applique. She explains her method and shows you different options for stitching the applique pieces to the background fabric. The stitching instructions also include tips for perfect stitched petal points. She also gives you a layout for optimal petal placement that you can refer back to at need. Her method uses less fusible web than you might think, and ultimately creates less layers to sew through in some of the multi-petal patterns. She also gives you tips on picking a good fusible web, choosing threads and the effects they have, and some tips for using pearle cottons and decorative stitching.

 

Scattered Blossoms

Scattered Blossoms

 

Corey also includes a great section on precuts and fabrics. Each of the common precuts has a small overview, and then she goes into other printed fabrics and how to use the different scale prints to your advantage. The fabric section may be a bit small, but it is to the point and includes all the information you need to help pick fabrics for the included projects.  The finishing section is complete and her techniques are pretty standard, but she has included a fantastic pillow cutting chart! It gives you the backing sizes to cut for square pillows from 12″-24″, and a rectangle pillow as well. It’s super helpful when you want to resize your pillows.

Daisy Feilds

Daisy Feilds

This book is definitely beginner friendly. The technique is easy to learn and remember, and it can be applied to any shape not just petals. The patterns aren’t over-complicated, but they are fun! You could easily make a quilt in a weekend, and the pillows could be done as a same day gift for sure. The written instructions are very easy to understand and follow. The quilts are made of blocks with applique that are sewn together, making construction easy. It also makes it very easy to resize a project by adding or subtracting blocks.

 

My favorite quilt in the entire book as to be the cover quilt, Rainbow Petals. It is so fun and cheerful, the petals are plump and can only be described as jaunty!  I can see myself making this to use in my nook (aka the armchair in the sewing room) to read under.

Rainbow Petals

Rainbow Petals

Second upon my favorites list, and another want to make, is Tossed Petals. This reminds me of a garden path strewn with petals. There are hundreds of cherry blossom trees in Vancouver, and the streets would be littered in blossom petals in the spring. This would be very fun to do with  bright petals and a low volume background. The block is easy to construct and the layout is straightforward.

Tossed Petals

The tossed petals block is my favorite petal block in the book, so I decided to whip up a pillow following Corey’s instructions to the letter. I have been doing fused applique for years, I made my first quilts with fused applique and almost no piecing, and I still found some tips and tricks that make the construction that much easier.

PLayful Petals Pillow 009

My Scattered Blossoms Pillow

PLayful Petals Pillow 011

 

 

I picked some of my favorite blenders and prints for the petals, and I used a pair of fat quarters in Kate Spain’s Cuzco for the back and binding. That bright pink is my favorite! I used a simple orange peel motif for the quilting, and using Corey’s suggested sewing lines I quilted the entire thing without backtracking once. I chose to use a raw edge straight stitch to secure the petals. Mostly because it was way too late to pull out mymulti stitch machine. It came together easily and I love how it looks!

Overall these petals certainly live up to the description of Playful. It is beginner friendly and has some tips and tricks for the experienced quilter as well.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Stacey

 

Book Review: Stack, Shuffle, and Slide

Welcome back friends!

I had the opportunity to review another book for the VMQG. This time around I pulled Stack Shuffle and Slide by Karla Alexander.

Stack, Shuffle and Slide

Stack, Shuffle and Slide

I am not much of an improv quilter, not by a long shot. There is something about randomly sewing things with no plan that scares me. The one time I tried I ended up with a set of fairly symmetrical blocks that looked planned.  Its this reason that when I started into Stack, Shuffle, and Slide, I could not put it down. I sped through the whole thing, and re-read a couple chapters, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Now, I have to be honest, I hadn’t heard of the stack the deck technique used for the projects in the book, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was a versatile technique combining structured techniques and modern improv cutting. The result is a quilt style suitable for any quilter and experience level.

Loosely Woven

Loosely Woven

Stack Shuffle and Slide patterns can be as structured or as improv as you want. The quilts themselves are very easy to customize. In fact, Karla includes tips for fabric selection and cutting ideas at the start of each. She also gives you her inspirations and why she chose to make each quilt.

Karla writes in a friendly manner that makes the instructions easy to understand. The patterns are well written and straightforward, with plenty of diagrams and illustrations to highlight key points in the techniques.

Reflections

Reflections

 

Her quilts are the perfect combinations of styles,  so I am sure anyone could find at least 3 quilts in the book that they like (Go ahead, get the book and prove me wrong!) There are 15 quilts to choose from in a wide variety of sizes, and almost all of them can be increased in size by cutting some extra blocks.

Simple Simon

Simple Simon

The projects for the most part are simple, there are a few that are more complex, but the instructions and diagrams are well written, so as long as you aren’t rushing through you will be fine no matter what your skill level. The simple patterns are perfect for quick gifts or a day retreat.

Paint Chips

Paint Chips

Most of the quilts use smaller cuts of fabric so its really easy to pull from your stash. Prints, solids, it doesn’t matter, as long as you keep to the suggested values you will keep the essence of the quilt design.

Dot Dash Click

Dot Dash Click

My favorite quilt is a toss up between Dot Dash Click and Simple Simon. Both have an eye pleasing aesthetic to them and I can’t wait to start pulling fabrics to see where it takes me.

Hang Ups

Hang Ups

 

Overall I would recommend Stack, Shuffle and Slide to pretty well everyone, but especially those quilters who enjoy the improv process or have always wanted to try but get stuck, like me! I think the stack the deck technique is simple enough for anyone to learn and use, and the number of patterns included means there is something for everyone. The book is easy to read and understand, the patterns are clear and well written, and her designs suggestions make it easy to tailor the quilt to suit your own personal tastes. An A+ in all categories!

Windmill Way

Windmill Way

 

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

 

Stacey

Book Review: Becoming a Confident Quilter

I was recently given the opportunity to read and review a copy of Becoming A Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson, who you may (or should) know as the blogger behind Don’t Call Me Betsy.  I love quilt books, and have amassed quite a collection. There are some I like, some I LOVE, and others that just don’t get there.

Becoming a Confident Quilter

Becoming a Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson

Becoming a Confident Quilter is definitely in my Like shelf, and only because my Love shelf needs a bit of rearranging before I can move it on up there!

I really, genuinely enjoyed Elizabeth’s writing. I thought it was well thought out, greatly informative without overloading, and the quilt projects are fun and increase in steady increments from super simple to more complex in an easy transition.  You can definitely tell that Elizabeth comes from an instruction background (she used to teach doctors how to use technology, not as easy as you might think it would be!). This book is perfect for the immediate beginner- if you have never sewn a quilt in your life, Elizabeth will get  you going!

Monterey Square

Monterey Square

So lets review:

Elizabeth’s personality comes out in her writing, making you feel  like you are sitting in a classroom listening to her speak.  The instructions are clear and concise, easy to understand and follow along. The lessons are well thought out and in a logical order for someone to learn the basics.

Deconstructed Beads

Deconstructed Beads

The section on stash building is a refreshing change to the standard color wheel basics. She goes over how to choose fabrics, how to build a functional stash to pull from, and goes over the more common pre-cuts and how to utilize them. Elizabeth also covers the basic quilting tools you need to get started, plus some fun extras to make your sewing life a breeze.

X Marks The Spot

X Marks The Spot

The project diagrams are clear and colorful, and easy to follow. Each project has a story behind it and how it relates to the lessons, and where it fall in your repertoire of skills. The construction diagrams are easy to read as well.

Polaris

Polaris

The sections on finishing your quilt is very informative and well laid out. Elizabeth covers various options for backing, basting, quilting and binding, and presents the information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. There is also a glossary of the most commonly used terms, advice on how to read a quilt pattern, and a resources for support and information for a new quilter.

Precious Stones

Precious Stones

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to get started on a couple of the quilts.  I would recommend it to any quilter, whether just starting their quilting journey or those who are well on their way!

Happy Stitching!

Stacey