Review: Get Started Quilting

01 Nov 2015


It's been forever since I last reviewed a craft book. So let's get back on the horse with a really excellent one: Jessica Alexandrakis' Get Started Quilting: The Complete Beginner Guide.

You may remember Jessica from her book on English Paper Piecing, Quilting on the Go, which is one of my favorites. I was excited to learn that she was working on a basic quilt-making book with Interweave, because she has a wonderful way of teaching technical processes while at the same time inviting you to play and add your own creative stamp.


This shot of the title page summarizes the book's approach nicely: Jessica leads you through 22 different methods for making quilt blocks. Each one teaches you specific basic skills, and as you work your way through an master them, you can start combining the blocks in all kinds of ways to make amazing quilts. Here's a partial (and impressive) list:

  • Strip piecing
  • Chain piecing
  • Half square triangles
  • Quarter square triangles
  • Bias-edge triangles
  • Blocks on point
  • Flying geese blocks
  • Curved piecing
  • Foundation paper piecing
  • Whipstitched applique
  • Reverse applique
  • Hawaiian applique
  • Applique with patterned fabrics
  • English paper piecing
  • Improvisational piecing (several methods)

  • getstartedquilting3

    I think Jessica writes about choosing, curating, and using a fabric stash better than anyone. Her section on fabrics covers so many helpful ideas: using an inspiration board, mixing fabrics for best impact in a quilt, using a color wheel, paying attention to contrast, scale, direction, and intensity when combining fabrics, plus storing and sorting your fabrics. Really good advice for beginners without making the subject of fabric feel overwhelming.



    I applaud Jessica's thorough coverage of the basics in this book. I've made no secret of my frustration with craft books that present a collection of pretty projects while giving the foundation techniques a glancing pass. In Get Started Quilting, you get several pages of step-by-step photo guides to using a ruler and rotary cutter to make common fabric cuts for quilt-making. And you get some of the best-documented instructions I've seen on the all-important sandwiching and basting steps of making a quilt.

    These techniques can make or break a quilt, and they take a little practice to master. This book offers a thorough, encouraging guide through them.


    So then, moving on to the techniques from that list above… each one is presented in the format of a specific quilt block, such as this one that teaches how to piece with bias-edge triangles. The section starts with fabric suggestions and a cutting guide.


    Next, you get a "Design Wall" section that shows this block in a couple different quilt configurations, both on its own and combined with another block in the book.


    …And finally, you get beautifully-documented instructions for assembling the block, with lots of useful hints and tips.


    As you work your way through the book, mastering block after block, you can build a sampler quilt like this one. There's a full set of project instructions for constructing one.

    (And just a side note: Jessica has done a beautiful job of fabric selection throughout, using a bold color palette that shows these blocks to advantage while mantaining a lovely visual flow through the whole book.)



    In addition to the sampler quilt, the book also offers four other smaller-scale projects: a pillow, a sewing machine cover, a table runner and a doll quilt and pillow. Good basics that you could make over and over again using different blocks from the book to get different looks.

    This is what I call a really smart integration of projects into a technique-based book!


    …And then lastly, there's a super-useful math reference, covering how to estimate fabric yardage for a project, plus standard sizes for beds, quilts, and packaged batting. You also get several pages of actual-size templates needed for the various blocks.

    All in all, this is a spectacular book for beginning-to-intermediate quilters. It's thorough, it's friendly, and it covers so much variety, there will be something new to learn from it for a good long time.

    (Disclosure Time: Interweave sent me a review copy, and the title links here are affiliate links.)



Drat! If I had known about this book yesterday, I would have bought it. I'm trying not to buy stuff (besides food) for the month of November. I've added it to my wish list, however! But, if I can locate my gift cards, I could almost convince myself to let myself buy one thing, especially since I have a quilt top finished, and could use some tips for how to do the last steps!

Thanks for the review!

Wow, this book looks gorgeous! I may have to pick up a copy even though I'm not a beginner. We can always learn something new, right? And your book reviews are always spot-on. Thanks for doing them.

:-D Thank YOU, Donna C!