Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beautifully Quilted with Alex Anderson: How to Choose or Create the Best Designs for Your Quilt: 6 Timeless Projects, Full-Size Patterns, Ready to UseBeautifully Quilted with Alex Anderson: How to Choose or Create the Best Designs for Your Quilt: 6 Timeless Projects, Full-Size Patterns, Ready to Use by Alex Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought Beautifully Quilted a few years ago but just fell in love with it all over again as I pulled it off my shelf to review it. In terms of usefulness, I think this could easily be my favorite of the Alex Anderson series. I haven't done a lot with creating quilt designs that needed planning or marking, favoring free-motion quilting. But there have been plenty of times that I would have preferred to do something that required a little more forethought but wasn't entirely confident in my abilities to take it on. Now I see the possibilities in front of me and am hankering to take something on!

First is a section on "Tools and Terms," which describes basic tools that are useful in creating and marking quilting designes, from pencils and Sharpies to velum or tracing paper on a roll. I found myself making a list of tools I either didn't have yet or had forgotten where they'd run off to--and I'll note here that none of the supplies listed are particularly specialized. A plastic protractor like kids use in 6th grade math, butcher paper...easy to find stuff.

Next is a section on choosing quilting designs, discussing things such as filling the space, proportion, balancing the amount of quilting overall, background designs behind a main motif, and so forth. She also discusses ways to adjust commercial templates and how to transfer a design.

The next several pages are a wonderful gallery of quilts that highlight different quilting designs and shows how they add to the overall effect of a quilt. We all love the eye-candy, of course, but in this case it's very useful and educational eye-candy!

Following the gallery is approximately 20 pages of tips and techniques for drawing your own quilting patterns: grids, feathers, repeated motifs, and how to create a quilt design from an inspiration such as architecture or kid's drawings. Her instructions are extremely clear with excellent illustrations--it would be a very simple matter to take her information and create your own unique and original designs.

As with all of her books, there are several projects (five) that give you the opportunity to practice creating quilt designs. The quilt patterns are very simple blocks with lots of open space to highlight quilting, but that doesn't make them any less attractive.

That being said, I don't see myself doing the patterns in the book just to practice the quilting designs. Instead, the strength of this book lays in the 20 pages of techniques described in the paragraph again. I should also note here that the book does contain a tear-out section with full-size quilting patterns ready for use. But with her instructions in the book, I'm not sure I see the need for the patterns! I will also note that the designs she works with are more appropriate for hand-quilting than continuous-line machine-quilting, but with a little more thought and planning should be adaptable.

If you're not confident in your ability to draft your own quilting designs, I'd highly recommend this book.

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