Under the Cover

Under the Cover: Madly Modern Quilts by Carole Lyles Shaw

I was provided a copy of Madly Modern Quilts in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

It’s not until you see a really well done self-published quilting book that you truly appreciate the work that goes into publishing. Besides the patterns themselves, there are many different elements that need to be included: extra tips and tricks, materials lists, step-out photos, layout diagrams, illustrations, and well-written copy. When there’s a team working on a book at a publishing house, that seems less daunting. When you’re one woman doing it all yourself, you deserve a margarita.

Review: Madly Modern Quilts by Carole Lyles Shaw | Right Sides Together

Such is the case for Carole Lyles Shaw‘s Madly Modern Quilts, available via CreateSpace and Amazon. Carole is an accomplished quilter and serves on the executive board of the Modern Quilt Guild. With a background in art quilting, she has claimed a rather unique niche in her modern quilting books and workshops: guiding traditional quilters into using modern aesthetics and techniques.

Madly Modern Quilts features eleven different projects, which is an impressive amount for a quilting book from any publisher. They’re based on a simple principle: that improvised blocks and layouts don’t have to be intimidating. Shaw calls her technique “freeform patterns,” explaining that each of her layouts has a variety of different options to make each quilt unique. The book’s graphic design is simple and clean yet inviting, with lots of color and plenty of illustrations and photos. The quilts definitely have a “scrappy” vibe; Shaw touts her patterns as being scrap-friendly, and she definitely illustrates that in each project.

Review: Madly Modern Quilts by Carole Lyles Shaw | Right Sides Together

Review: Madly Modern Quilts by Carole Lyles Shaw | Right Sides Together
The projects themselves are fairly straightforward and appropriate for all skill levels. They often combine traditional inspiration (Rail Fence, Nine Patch, and Drunkard’s Path blocks, for example) with fracturing and improvisational techniques for a big punch with not too much difficulty. Shaw’s directions are clear, encouraging, and complete, and I think her patterns and instructions would definitely appeal to the quilter interested in adopting a modern aesthetic but not really sure where to begin.

Review: Madly Modern Quilts by Carole Lyles Shaw | Right Sides Together

If Madly Modern Quilts is representative of the future of self-publishing in the craft book world, I think we’re in a very good spot. Shaw demonstrates that DIY craft books don’t have to sacrifice quality, accuracy, or design appeal to make it out in the world. And if that’s the case, the options for publishing patterns are as limitless as the possibilities in her book.

Under the Cover: Lines by Design Quilts by Debbie Grifka

After you’ve been quilting for a while, there are certain designers whose work you always identify right away. For me, one of those people is Debbie Grifka, owner and designer at Esch House Quilts. I’ve always admired Grifka’s aesthetic: geometric yet simple, her designs tend toward the “less is more” philosophy, yet incorporate techniques that require a bit of work. It takes practice to make quilting look easy.

Under the Cover: Lines by Design Quilts by Debbie Grifka | Right Sides Together

Her new book Lines by Design Quilts, from Fons & Porter, is really a master class in making lines, either by stitching together thin strips of fabric or by applying bias-tape applique or fusible appliqué. This is the perfect offering from an Esch House book, because these techniques feature prominently in Grifka’s quilts already. There is typically a large amount of negative space, punctuated by clean lines or shapes that pop. Some of her designs have a distinctly Frank-Lloyd-Wright or Mies-van-der-Rohe feel about them, something fabulously architectural and Modern in the artistic sense of the word. I love how Grifka is unafraid to offer up truly minimalist designs, particularly as I’m a quilter who probably adds one too many design elements. Her simplicity is refreshing.

But as I intimated above, these quilts do require learning methods that aren’t necessarily beginner level. (That’s a good thing.) I loved Grifka’s stories of how she had to experiment with her different line-making techniques to find just the right approach (or even mix of approaches). That’s how design works, people! Clerestory, for example, features both pieced and appliqué “lines” to make the mid-century modern houses. There is a healthy collection of templates in the back of the book to make many of the quilted projects, and those needing some skill-building projects for appliqué will find Lines by Design Quilts to be a perfect dose of instruction there.

Under the Cover: Lines by Design Quilts by Debbie Grifka | Right Sides Together

It was also refreshing to see how a book that is so uniquely reflective of one designer could also be really diverse in terms of the projects that it offers. From Grifka’s super minimalist Slats pillows to her bias-tape take on a Double Wedding Ring to her more graphic designs inspired by fish and coffee cups, there are a lot of opportunities in Lines by Design Quilts to find a project that fits each need. Personally, I gravitated more toward the pieces toward the beginning of the book, which tend to incorporate “pure lines” and “squares and rectangles” with lots of piecing… but I could see someone else loving the challenge of incorporating curved lines and pictorial appliqué just as much.

Under the Cover: Lines by Design Quilts by Debbie Grifka | Right Sides Together

I’m looking forward to sewing up a bold pillow or quilt from this book. Now I just need an uber-modern penthouse to go with it. Can anyone help me with that?

 

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