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  • Nicola


Our prompt for #igquiltfest today was books. I love books. Really LOVE them. They've been a life-long passion and, luckily, one that my husband shares. I daren't count how many we have between us: if it was too big a number I'd be worried about buying more...and that would be awful.

Every brief flirtation with a new hobby is accompanied by a frenzy of inspirational book buying (and some serious eye-rolling by my Mum) and as quilting seems to have 'stuck' my shelves are groaning with some wonderful titles. I've been promising myself for ages that I'd put together a list of my favourites and here it is. Go and get yourself a cup of tea...heck, bring the teapot...

Early Inspiration: books for beginners...

Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts (2007) by Joelle Hoverson

This is the first 'proper' patchwork book that I bought. There is an excellent section at the back covering basic quilting techniques and I still refer to it. The projects are arranged in order of the time you might expect to take to make them and are elegant and covetable. Joelle founded the famous Purl Soho in New York and was an editor at Martha Stewart Living, so the book has that same clean aesthetic.

Sew Pretty Homestyle (2007) and Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle (2008) by Tone Finnanger

Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger is the creator of the famous Tilda brand and these are the first two of a series, containing instructions for the gracefully proportioned dolls as well as supporting decorative items. The books are translated from Norwegian, so the written instructions can be a little vague, but they are beautifully illustrated. But it's the photographs and the styling that make these books a cut above the rest, even ten years on they are fresh and inspiring.

Simplify (2010) by Camille Roskelly

I started quilting after reading Camille's blog Simplify - I made my first quilt with one of her patterns - so this book was very timely for me. Camille is a designer for Moda Fabrics - famous for inventing the pre-cut - and the book is full of beginner-friendly quilts and cushions, clearly explained and illustrated. The follow up, Simply Retro (2013), is just as good.

Inspiration from the past: books about antique quilts...

19th Century Embroidery Techniques (2008) by Gail Marsh

Gail is a former curator of the Gawthorpe Textile Collection and the book - one of a series - is a detailed study of some of their exhibits. There are beautiful close-up photographs of the textiles (not just quilts) and a thorough explanation of the techniques used to make them, interlaced with details of social history from the time they were made.

Classic Quilts: from the American Museum in Britain (2009) by Kate Herbert & Laura Beresford

A book I read and re-read several times before I had the chance to visit the American Museum in Bath and 'meet' them in person. The photographs are wonderful - there are often close-ups of the exquisite quilting - and there is a good amount of information about the origins of the quilt and, where possible, the maker.

Red and White Quilts: Infinite Variety (2015) by Elizabeth V. Warren & Margaret Gordon

The catalogue from the hugely popular and influential 2011 exhibition, Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts. New York textile collector, Joanna Rose, has been collecting quilts for half a century and has amassed over 600 examples of red & white quilts. There are essays at the front of the book explaining the history of the collection and how the exhibition was staged. The rest of this sizeable book is devoted to the stars of the show: the quilts.

Books that are inspiring me right now...

Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (1993) by Barbara Brackman

I will admit - with a tear in my eye - that I don't actually have a 'real-life' copy of this book, as it's incredibly rare, so I've had to make do with an e-book. It's full of Barbara's hand-drawn illustrations of over 4,000 traditional and modern quilt blocks and attempts to catalogue the myriad names given to each block. There are no instructions given to make the blocks - but I rather enjoy working that out for myself - just pages and pages of inspiration.

Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration (2012) by Denyse Schmidt

A beautiful book in every way, Denyse has reworked traditional quilt designs in her distinctive, pared-down style. Many are simple to make - showcasing Denyse's wonderful sense of proportion - while others are pretty challenging, but the patterns are clearly explained and illustrated.

With Fabric and Thread (2012) by Joanna Figueroa

A dreamy book of both sewing and quilting projects. Definitely one to read when its miserable outside, as the photographs - taken by Camille Roskelly - are bathed in the golden light of Joanna's Californian home. There are informative sections on sewing and quilting techniques and Joanna explains her approach to colour and fabric choice. She's one of my favourite fabric designers, so I found that insight fascinating.

Quilt Lovely (2015) by Jen Kingwell

Jen is principally known - and much admired - for her intricate, hand pieced sampler quilts. Her use of colour is exemplary and five minutes with her book will definitely lift your spirits. As well as some more intricate quilts - which are on my 'bucket list' - there are projects that can be machine pieced, or that combine both techniques to achieve that coveted 'heirloom' look.

Utility Quilting: Simple Solutions for Quick Hand Quilting (2011) by Carolyn Forster

There are some pretty projects in Carolyn's book, but the reason I love it so much is the wonderful section on hand quilting. Lots and lots of ideas, clearly explained and photographed. Carolyn is an experienced tutor and it shows. She contributes regularly to my favourite quilting magazine, Today's Quilter.


Not strictly quilting authors, but I have everything that Katrin Cargill and Clare Youngs have published and find them immensely inspiring. Katrin is an Interior Designer - although I believe she is also a quilt maker - and has a wonderful eye for proportion and spare use of colour. Clare has written on a wide range of craft subjects, but her work is instantly recogniseable: often featuring contemporary interpretations of traditional folk motifs.

Of course, this is a very subjective list. And it might change next week. Or at least get some additions. Because there's always room for one more book...

Nicola xx


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