In the modern fabric and quilting world, craft books have absolutely exploded over the past five years. It’s easy to see why: they’re handier than trying to follow a pattern on a laptop or iPad, they provide a lot of background information for beginners as well as projects for more advanced sewists, and they’re often a good way to learn techniques and meet new faces on the quilting scene.
But there’s also another good reason modern quilting books have taken off: the eye candy. Featuring modern fabrics, kicky twists on traditional patterns, and fabulous photography, these are not the type of reference books that sit next to the thesaurus and collect dust. They’re fun little bits of décor in their own right, and they can serve as jumping-off points for making a project your own.
Case in point? Meet Quilt-opedia* by Laura Jane Taylor. Released in March, this book provides a great introduction to quilting for beginners as well as a pretty sizable collection of quilting projects, all with a modern aesthetic. Its subtitle reads, “The only quilting reference you’ll ever need,” which is a bold claim—but luckily, it’s mostly true. Quilting involves a ton of supplies and various accessories, and it’s a lot to learn and know about in the beginning. What are the different thread weights and needle sizes for? What about types of batting? What kind of fabric do I need? What the hell is a jelly roll? The first 100 pages of the book provide a great introduction to the basic supplies and techniques (including free-motion quilting, hand quilting and appliqué), with enough cool tips and tricks to make it worth a quick read even for more advanced quilters.
And woo, boy: the projects. There are a lot of projects in this book (seven beginner, ten intermediate, and ten advanced). Gorgeously modern quilts, pillows, laptop cases, pincushions, bags, and even a Christmas stocking are all featured, some requiring traditional piecing and others foundation or English paper piecing. Taylor has created a wide range of projects to correspond with the techniques she covers in the first half of the book, making it a great value. The designs are also straightforward enough for modification, so that advanced quilters can convert a pillow into a quilt or a quilt block into a tote with little difficulty. Bonus: the photography is lovely.
The only omission that might prevent me from claiming Quilt-opedia as my sole quilting reference is focus on quilt design. The basics of construction are well-covered, but more advanced quilters might benefit from some general instruction on improvisational quilting, modifying traditional patterns, or using a design wall. The book does include a catalog of traditional blocks, with general dimensions and simple instructions for each. All the classics are there (log cabin, sawtooth star, churn dash, etc.), but the offerings seem a bit limited. To be fair, though, this book seems to be geared more toward an audience of newer quilters—and they need to use their walking feet before they can run (see what I did there? HA!).
The takeaway: Solid quilting reference with great collection of projects. Quilt-opedia’s a keeper!
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