Diane's blog


Intentional Printing - jacket art

Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk, Interweave / F+W Media; $26.99



I suppose I should add here: I am NOT doing a giveaway, although others in this blog tour are. See the links at the bottom of the post.


I'm something of a closet fabric-printer wannabee, so I'm always interested in new fabric printing books. But I won't lie: I always get too intimidated to actually bust out some materials and, you know, print stuff.

Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art is a nice antidote for this kind of intimidation. Lynn Krawczyk, a longtime surface design artist, understands that it's one thing to make marks on fabric, and quite another to create fabrics from your own artistic vision. She's done a wonderful job here of combining technique instruction with thoughts on individual creativity.

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There's a great first chapter about developing your voice as a maker. Lynn talks about common habits that block creativity and the dance that exists between serendipitous inspiration and making conscious choices as you develop a piece of work. She has some excellent, theory-free advice on color and also talks about paying attention to the imagery that shows up often in your work. it's all a foundation for using the printing techniques in the book to their fullest advantage.

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There's a thorough chapter on tools and materials, which covers fabric choices, some helpful basics about types of paint, and tips on setting up a work area for printing. This "Paint Diary" idea, in which Lynn keeps track of the properties of the paints she uses, is worth the price of the book alone.

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I really like Lynn's choices of printing techniques; they're all quite simple and don't require a lot of expense to get started. You can learn color-wash printing, fluid printing, stamping, decay printing, drop-cloth printing, Thermofax screen printing, and shadow printing.

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I got very enamored with this drawing-on-fabric technique. And here, you can also see how each technique is presented with both text and step-by-step photos.

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Here's a decay printing how-to that uses foam pool noodles. Lynn encourages you to make your own printing tools from common stuff like this.

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Once you've learned the basic techniques, there's a fun chapter on mixing and matching them on the same piece of fabric for all kinds of cool effects.

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There's also a section on hand-stitching (yaaaaaaaaay!!), in which Lynn demonstrates three easy stitches to try and shows how to incorporate them with printed fabrics. I absolutely love the look of hand stitching against the loose, handmade look of the printed fabrics.

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I really like the treatment of projects in this book – there are ten of them, designed to give a simple showcase to hand-printed fabrics and hand sewing. These bean bags are designed as desk weights, but I think they'd also make dandy sachets.

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Here's a fabric-covered box design that's easy to do and would work as beautifully for gift wrap as storage. Each project comes with step-by-step instructions and a few process photos.

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For obvious reasons, I adore this scarf!

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One last interesting thing to show you: Lynn also invited five other textile artists who work from a strong creative vision to share a piece of their work in the book and comment on their processes. Their stories are sprinkled throughout the book.

So all in all, a really accessible primer on fabric printing, with the bonus of helping you clarify your unique style. A great book to keep on hand for when you need an inspiration refresh.


If you'd like to check in on the rest of the Intentional Printing blog tour, here are the participants:

SueBleiweiss.com
Virginia Spiegel.com
Twisted Sister
Muppin.com
Lesley Riley
KristinLaFlamme.com
Bloom Bake Create
LyricKinard.com
JaneLaFazio.com
My Clothes Line
MelanieTesta.com
LeslieTuckerJenison.com
Traci Bunkers Handmade
Smudged Textiles Studios
Sew Mama Sew
Lisa Call.com
 

(Disclosure Time: Interweave/F + W Media sent me a review copy, and the title link above is an affiliate link.)

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T-Shirt Memory Quilt

I'm working on so many things I can't talk about right now, so it's awesome to be able to share one of them at last. I just signed on to teach a live online class in making T-Shirt Memory Quilts! It's hosted by CreativeLIVE, which is a very interesting new online education platform. They cover photography, art and design, music, and creative business, and they're launching an awesome craft channel!

My class takes place August 21 and 22. You can tune in while it's live for FREE, or you can purchase a download to watch anytime. If you'd like them to send you a reminder so you don't forget to watch, you can RSVP right over here.

I fell into this kind of quilting because K is an inveterate collector of T-shirts. They represent his experiences, and he's always had a big stash that are too worn to wear, but he can't bear to lose. (That quilt above represents all the memories from his life in California in the 90's.) Making quilts from these old shirts, you get to enjoy them in a whole new way – and even better, T-shirt quilting is a delightfully loose creative process. In my class, I'll share a method I've developed that works with the unknowns (how many shirts do you have? How big are the graphics on them?), and gets you to a beautiful quilt design every time.

You can get more specifics on what I'll be teaching on the class page. I can't wait! Hope you'll tune in.

The FedEx guy thought this Throne of Pillows thing was hilarious. Pushkin freaking loves it.

What? I need them to be stacked like this for maximum comfort.




I'm a little late with March's Link Love – sorry! We're in the throes of a bad cold over here.

This month's Link Love theme is 5 blog posts I've earmarked for future reference. These are posts I find myself returning to again and again. And as always, you're invited to make a post around this theme on your own blog, and pop the link into the linky thing on Tammy's blog.

Image from the State Museum of Illinois

Albert Small - EPP Wizard

This man is one of my crafty heroes. I haven't found anything on him except this one article on the State Museum of Illinois website, and I go back and look at it when I need an inspirational refresh. Albert Small was a machinist who lived in Illinois in the early 1900's. He had a wide variety of creative hobbies, but in the 1930's, he was teasing his wife's quilting group about their work, and they challenged him to do better.

That touched off a many-years-long mission, in which Mr. Small sought to make English paper pieced quilts with smaller and smaller hexagons. His first quilt used over 36,000 hexagons, each measuring just 1/2". And his third and final quilt used hexies so small, six of them fit under a freaking dime. Head over to that link for more of the story, and photos of the amazing quilts.


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Image from Crochet Concupiscence

Vintage Crochet on Crochet Concupiscence

It's no secret that I loves me some vintage craft, and I always love the crochet goodness Kathryn shares on her blog. I know I'm stretching the theme a little, since this link is a category page rather than a post, but I do go back to this page from time to time to catch up on the old-school gorgeousness.

I also wish I could travel back in time and give this model some lessons in free weights.

Image by Cal Patch

Crochet Edging, by Cal Patch on CraftStylish

I've been using this post since way back in 2008, when Cal and I were both CraftStylish contributors. She outlines a really great, simple method for adding a touch of crochet to any jersey garment.


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Online Graph Paper Generator

I'm also stretching the theme with this one, but I use this site all the time. Go there, choose a type of graph paper, fill in the size of the shapes and color of lines you want, and get a dandy graph paper PDF to print from your computer. Such a helpful tool for patchwork designing!

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Image by Jeni Baker

The Art of Choosing, on In Color Order

I hesitated to share this one, because I tend to think it's one of those blogs everyone already knows about. But if there's one thing the internet has taught me, it's that everything is always new to someone. So if you haven't yet, do read this series of posts Jeni Baker wrote about cultivating and working with a fabric stash. There's a wealth of useful stuff in here.

Pretty Quilled Cards01

Pretty Quilled Cards: 25+ Creative Designs for Greetings & Celebrations is an excellent example of how to do a book for beginners well. If you (or someone you know) wants to learn quilling, this book will give you a solid foundation in the basics, plus a group of useful projects you'll have no trouble replicating.

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Cecelia Louie is a talented paper designer, and the projects she's come up with here favor a light, airy style of quilling. (Which, for the uninitiated, is a craft of rolling and curling thin strips of paper.) There are cards for all seasons and major holidays here, along with some card-related projects (which I'll get to later).

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The book starts with a basics chapter that's very thorough without being at all intimidating. Cecelia covers the materials you'll need, and shows you how to make a wide variety of coils and scrolls. I love all the clear step photos.

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This is also clearly a book written by someone who's spent a lot of time at this craft, and has evolved lots of excellent tricks for getting crisp, consistent results. My goodness, I love this gluing technique!

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The 25 projects are presented with equal precision. Using this pretty floral design as an example…

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…First, you get this awesome diagram showing exactly how long to cut your quilling papers, how many strips of each length, and what colors to use.

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You also get a series of diagrams clearly showing what coils to make, how to place them, and where to glue them together – alongside text instructions, of course.

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And finally, if the design contains any non-quilled elements (like the border on the floral card), the book has a template you can photocopy and cut out.

…So, like I said, a beginner would have no trouble at all. Cecelia has a great sense of what details to expand on, and her explanations are wonderfully clear.

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This cute jam jar card has templates for its lid and label, and I really like the idea of adding that dimensional look to the flat quilling.

Among the card designs here, you'll find some for birthdays, thank-yous, bridal and baby showers, weddings, housewarmings, get-wells, and condolences.

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There are also a few nice all-occasion cards, like this topiary design.

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…And again, here Cecelia gives you a template, which you photocopy and cut out. Then you quill within that template to form the topiaries to the exact shape and size for the card. That's what I call taking good care of beginners!

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There are also cards for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, and Father's Day. So really, with one book, you are all set for your greeting card needs for a while.

(Love these gingerbread men - the paper pom-poms are an awesome touch.)

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That pompom design and this woven basket also show you how inventive Cecelia is with the form - she really uses those paper strips in as many ways as she can. Love the twirled basket handle here, too.

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Finally, I'll just show you two of the six not-exactly-card projects in the book. Those wine charms are awesome, and I love the colors in this gift tag. There are also place cards, a framed name plaque, an cupcake toppers.

A really high-value book, and a great learning tool.


Disclosures: Lark sent me a review copy, and the title link above is an affiliate link. Just so ya know…

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It's probably no secret by now that I loves me some EPP. It's a technique I use every time I want to make a patchwork design that would be a bit of a pain in the patootie for me to execute by machine. (As in: anything with Y-seams.)

So for this project, I used good old hexies to make the patchwork strips, and then machine-sewed those to larger pieces of fabric. It's a very forgiving project, and gives you both EPP enjoyment and quick gratification.

You'll Need:

  • • 5 fabric scraps (for butterflies)
  • •About 1/3 yard of background fabric (linen, solid or small-print cotton - you decide)
  • •1/2 yard of backing fabric (again, linen or cotton)
  • •20" square piece of low-loft cotton batting
  • •Thread that coordinates with your fabrics
  • •Hand-sewing needle (a sharp or between in a length you like)
  • •Hexie EPP templates (see below)
  • •Paper scissors and fabric scissors
  • •Seam ripper
  • •Six-strand embroidery floss
  • •An 18" square pillow form



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This project uses hexies with 1 3/4" sides. You can download and print this pattern and cut out 27 hexie templates for this project. Or, if you'd rather not do all that cutting, you can order up a pack of lovely pre-cut templates from Paper Pieces.



This video shows you how to cut the fabric and baste your hexies. You'll need to baste:

  • •9 hexies in your background fabric
  • •18 hexies in butterfly fabrics (two hexies per butterfly, nine butterflies total)



I recommend basting only through the fabric, not the paper templates, for this project. (It's the first method shown in the video.)

I made two butterflies each of four of my fabrics, and one butterfly of the fifth one. But you can really do anything you like here - make them all in just two fabrics, or make each one a different fabric.

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Now, whipstitch those hexies into two strips, arranging them as you see here. Use your butterfly fabrics for the sections where the strip is two hexies wide. Make sure you're scattering your various fabrics along the two strips as you like. I always find it helpful to lay my hexies out before I sew, so I know what goes next to what.

(If you need help with the whipstitching part, try this video.)

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Press your completed strips with a hot iron. I recommend no steam for this pressing. Here's why: a lot of times, when you work with hexies, you end up lining the grain of the fabric every which way. This isn't a big deal for EPP generally, but when you're working with thin strips like these, steam can accidentally help stretch the fabric this way and that as you press, and that will mean your strips don't end up being straight. So: no steam, and always press your iron straight down; don't slide it around. Then you'll be just fine.

When you've pressed the strips, you can take out the paper templates. Just reach in at the edge of each patch until you can grab the edge of the paper. Then peel it out. Save those templates for a future project!

…Aaaaaand then press your strips again once those templates are all out.

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We need to trim the long edges of these strips straight now. The first step to that is to press the sides of those single-hexie sections out flat. So take a seam ripper and gently cut the two tack basting stitches at the corners closest to the edge. Pull out that bit of the basting thread. (You can leave the rest of the basting there - it's not hurting anything.)

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Then, open out the side edges of each background hexie and lightly press them flat. (Leave a bit of the original crease in there – it'll come in handy in a moment.)

Don't do anything at all, by the way, to the two-hexie sections of the strips.

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OK. Place one of your strips on your cutting mat now, and line your ruler up on top. Your alignment point here is a little tricky, so let's be very careful…

Do you see how the points of the hexies along the edge of the strip form an invisible line? Take that line, and line your ruler's 1/4" line up along it. (I put a big red dotted line on the image above to show you exactly where that is.)

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…Now here's the thing about EPP. It's hand-sewn. Hand-sewn things sometimes have little variations. There's nothing in the world wrong with this.

As you're lining your ruler up, you'll likely notice that there are some little variations in how well these notch points line up on that 1/4" line. Some will be right on, some will be slightly off. It's okay. Get the best happy-medium alignment you can, and it'll all work out.

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Trim both EPP strips in this manner, and then you're ready for the sewing machine.

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Here are the pieces to cut from your background fabric - seam allowances are already added to these measurements (and a little squaring room).

Sew your EPP strips to these background strips in the order outlined above. Use 1/4" seam allowances. Press the seam allowances away from the EPP strips.

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I recommend always sewing your seams on the EPP side - that allows you to make sure those little notch points in the patchwork are getting caught in your 1/4" seam. It also helps keep the EPP seam allowances from moving around.

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If you want to add bodies and antennae to your butterflies, you can use my template to trace from, or you can hand-draw your own. I like a FriXion pen for this step - its marks remove with the heat of an iron. I drew the outlines right on the pillow top, stitched over them, and then pressed to erase any bits of line still showing.

I used split stitch to fill in the bodies and back stitch with a french knot for the antennae. You can put the pillow top in an embroidery hoop, but be careful about stretching your seams out too much.

(Many thanks to Sublime Stitching for the excellent stitch how-to's I linked there. I'm also using their awesome floss here!)

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When your pillow top is all sewn and stitched, square it to 18". Then cut a piece of batting to the same size and a piece of muslin the same size.

Stack these three squares together: muslin, then batting, then pillow top. Take a needle and thread and make big basting stitches through all layers. I like to do three rows of basting horizontally and three more vertically. That holds everything together while you quilt.

I recommend using a walking presser foot for quilting. Inspired by Kevin's awesome book, I just did some loose vertical lines. But if you like to get fancy with the free-motion quilting, that would look awesome, too.

When the top is quilted, pull out the basting.

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I made an envelope back for my pillow. Here's a simple style tutorial over at The Happy Housie, and a slightly more complicated style at Lia Griffith.

…And that's it! Piece and enjoy, my friends.


  


"No cat is an island."



So, Tammy and I decided to bring Link Love back (it's so much fun), but we're making it a monthly feature. As always, it's also a community sport. You're invited to make a post around the theme on your own blog, and pop the link into the linky thing down below.

For this month, the Link Love theme is (drumroll): 5 Blog Posts That Inspired Me To Try Something New

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Image by Maryline Collioud


Romantic Floral Ball, on Mary & Patch

Technically, this is a Christmas how-to from Maryline, but I think a big bowl of these would make a beautiful Spring decoration, too. I have a big stash of styrofoam balls from my Temari-making days, and have been dithering over whether to send them to the thrift. But I love the look of this project, and how easy it is.

This would also be a great concept to translate to styrofoam eggs. I am not allowed to acquire any more styro at this point, but you could do it.


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Image by Wendi Gratz


Zen Stitching, on Shiny Happy World

When I first saw this tutorial of Wendi's, I loved it and filed it under "Someday when I have time." Wendi encourages you to stitch with no pattern, letting the stitches fall where your whim takes them.

This week, I found myself at a lovely crafternoon with some friends, and spent it noodling on a mandala (second photo above). Man, was it ever relaxing! I make things all the time, but so much of it is work-making. Which is fun, don't get me wrong - but this was a good reminder that I need relaxing-making, too.


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Image by Deanna McCool


Ribbon Shamrocks, on Sew McCool

Deanna does some really interesting things with ribbons - almost like sculpture. I loved this pretty shamrock, which is constructed from four equally-intriguing heart forms. Plus I always need an excuse to acquire more ribbon.


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Image by Pam Harris


Wooden Snowflake, on Gingerbread Snowflakes

I really enjoyed this post of Mom's about the creative ups and downs in her journey to build this amazing wood veneer version of a paper snowflake design you may have seen online. It took a lot of trial and error and experimenting, and there were times when she nearly chucked the whole thing. But aren't these "problem projects" sometimes where our best ideas emerge? I really need to stick with my problem children longer - I'm prone to the early chucking.



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Image by Michelle L.


Michelle's Winter Games Challenge, on Mich L. in L.A.

So, the ever-creative Michelle was recently sent a giant bag of the black plastic pieces you see above – they're packing clips for skis. And she's been challenging herself week by week to come up with lots of different ways to repurpose them. Those adorable planters above are only one of her many brilliant concepts.

Isn't that a cool self-challenge? What a good way to push your creative thinking!


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The Quilter's Applique Workshop - jacket art

The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop, by Kevin Kosbab. Interweave/F+W Media; $26.99



I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. Kevin Kosbab was the technical editor on two books I've worked on, so from that experience I knew he'd write a very thorough technique-focused book. The man really knows his stuff.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

The Quilter's Applique Workshop: Timeless Techniques for Modern Designs is the kind of craft book I've really come to appreciate: a book that teaches a specific technique in deep detail, with a group of projects designed to give you lots of practice in those techniques.

As you can see above, the book focuses on three basic applique techniques: raw-edge applique (the kind with fusible webbing), prepared-edge applique (the kind with starch), and needle-turn applique. There are 12 projects in all.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

There are many step-by-step illustrations documenting the techniques. I'm a huge fan of the amount of detail Kevin's gone into here. Like, for example: I have a shelf of craft books that explain how to do raw-edge applique by saying something like, "After fusing, sew around the edge of the applique with a zig zag stitch." Kevin goes way beyond that, discussing the merits of various edging stitches and explaining what threads and stitch lengths work best.

He also explains how to stitch neatly along inward-facing and outward-facing curves, and how to get neat points. (The second photo above has red dots at the pivot points he recommends in curved seams of different depths. That's helpful detail, my friends.)

I've done a lot of raw-edge and needle-turn applique, and I learned so many new tricks from this book. Kevin's tip for taking the stiffness out of fused applique is worth the price of the book all by itself.

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…Not that I want to give you the impression that this is a pedantic book! Throughout, Kevin encourages you to make these ideas your own, and perhaps even more importantly, to make them fun and comfortable for your own skill level. With each project, Kevin offers up some variation ideas to convert it from one type of applique to another.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

OK, so you're probably tired of my yapping, and want to see some of the pretty projects. Right. I adore the projects in this book! They're modern in style, but have some vintage sensibilities that tickle my child-of-the-60's-and-70's heart no end.

Of the 12 projects, eight are quilts and the other four are small projects. These pillows use needle-turn applique in an improv style, where the shape of the appliques should turn out a little uneven and organic - a great invitation for beginners to play. Love those black embroidery accents.

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This quilt uses raw-edge applique, and I had to show you a closer-up detail so you can see how it's layered. (Magnificent!) The project is also a great example of how accessable Kevin's designs are. In many of the projects, he's worked in very beginner-friendly construction and quilting, but nothing looks beginner-y here.

I love these simple lines of quilting - they fit the quilt perfectly, but they don't have to be straight or equidistant. Very doable on a home sewing machine!

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

Here's a prepared-edge applique design, and I love the use of patchwork as applique here. If you're thinking "No way I could get my circles this perfect," you'll be surprised how easy the book makes it look.

I should say this, too: although this book is quilt-focused, you can take these techniques into garment sewing, bag making, or any home decor sewing.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

In this table runner, white bias strips are appliqued in this circles-and-lines pattern onto a floral background fabric. And again, you'd be surprised how simple the book makes that idea look. (It's prepared-edge applique, by the way.)

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

The projects are as well-illustrated and documented as the techniques. I especially loved the sections on the quilting choices Kevin made for each project. I do get tired of seeing "Quilt as desired" all the time in quilt book instructions. It's always great to learn more about what makes a designer choose this kind of quilting over that one.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

OK… I'll finish up my gushfest here with the two project designs that had me literally gasp when I flipped to their pages. (Both are from the needle-turn applique section.) What a stunning idea, to enliven a simple squares-and-sashing quilt with bold applique flowers! (The applique technique here is called broderie perse, as I learned.)

Also, freaking masterful fabric selection here.

The Quilter's Applique Workshop

…And this one manages to be modern while evoking the kitchens of my childhood. (It's an homage to Jean Ray Laury, whose wonderful book on applique came out the year I was born.) Again, the fabric choices are wonderful, and it all looks so complex, but look closely at the piecing and you'll see it's all straight seams. Genius!

(Incidentally, there's an envelope of templates in the back for all the applique motifs used in the book's projects, including these fruits.)


Do I even need to come up with a concluding sentence here, or have you pretty much gotten the gist? This one's a keeper. If you'd like to see some other coverage, you can check out the book's blog tour:

(Disclosure Time: Interweave sent me a review copy. The title link above is an affiliate link.)

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