Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: Six Projects for First-Time Quilters, 2nd Edition by Alex Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I bought Start Quilting with Alex Anderson several years after I had, well, started quilting. Periodically I go through a few days of what I refer to as "sending myself back to quilty boot camp," reaching a level of frustration with myself that sends me into a frenzy of using books or DVDs to remind myself of basic quiltmaking skills. I bought this book in one of those fits. It was up to the task although, as is the case with most of my quiltmaking book reviews, it seems, I have to admit to never having actually made any of the projects in the book. However, reading the text of the book was enough to get me started again in a forward motion, plus I found several helpful tips, charts, and suggestions that have now been added to my quiltmaking arsenal.
See my review of Fabric Shopping with Alex Anderson for the background to why I like Alex Anderson books in general (hint: it's not because of her celebrity). I won't bother re-walking that ground in this review.
"...I decided to write this book to get the beginning quilter started with the basics. You must remember that there are many different approaches to quiltmaking, one not better than the others, just different," (p. 4). Refreshing. I've read other books in which the author takes potshots at people with different approaches than the author's own. I much prefer Alex Anderson's style, in which she attests to there being multiple "right ways," and then simply goes on to present her own methods and techniques as an option. I do wish sometimes she would give a little more background as to the benefits of her particular method (what problems it avoids, and so forth). But she's also being pretty careful, I suspect, not to overwhelm new quilters with too much information right at the outset.
The book is laid out very well, as all her books are. Lots of white space, great images, easy-to-follow instructions. The project pages includes little tips or definitions within the instructions as well. The projects are not shown in alternate colorways, although she does explain how she chose the colors she did for each project and, again, includes teaching tips therein, so you'd be able to adapt it to your own preferences fairly easily.
The introduction to the book begins with some basic information about the different parts of a quilt, standard widths of fabric, and so forth. She meshes that with her own personal history as a quilter and some nice foreshadowing of the wide world of quilting that's open to the new quilter to explore. She also recommends that a new quilter start with a small project to avoid being overwhelmed, and then ends with, "Besides, if you start small, you can begin another quilt sooner." Hear hear! She also gives a very brief explanation of how to make any given project from the book larger, and includes a helpful chart of standard mattress sizes for reference. (However, she includes "three-year crib" and "six-year crib" in her mattress sizes. Is that a California thing? My kids both had just a plain ol' crib.)
Additional sections cover tools and fabric (including color/value, grain, and preparation suggestions). Then it goes into "The Basics," which take you step by step from choosing the block you want to work on from the book, rotary cutting, pinning, stitching, seam ripping, pressing, settings, borders, planning the quilting, backing, batting, and basting for both hand and machine quilting. The next section, "Quilting," gives information for both hand and machine quilting, and binding.
The projects in the book, intended to introduce a new quilter to squares, rectangles, and triangles in easy-to-chew-portions, are a Rail Fence, Nine-Patch Variation, Log Cabin Variation, Friendship Star, and Flying Geese. The projects are all wallhanging size as presented--around 30-36" square. The final project is a sampler quilt made up of a few of each of the blocks. You don't see many sampler quilts in blog-land but they have always been an excellent way for new quilters to learn a variety of skills in a single project. Her sampler quilt is extremely attractive--it's not the standard blocks-and-sashing presenation. It looks wonderfully--shall I say it?--modern in its layout.
I would easily recommend this book and, in fact, have loaned it to new quilters a couple of times. I think it's an easy way to get your feet wet and gain comfort level with the basic skills.
Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: Six Projects for First-Time Quilters, 2nd Edition
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