I really like this book. In some ways this is not surprising, I've been a long time admirer of Elizabeth Hartman's work and when we've had the chance to swap emails--usually because i wanted a pattern or two for a giveaway in the Fresh Modern Quilts flickr group--she's always been prompt and kind and sincere, a voice that comes through clearly in this book.
But in some ways it is surprising that i enjoyed reading this book as much as i did: on the grand spectrum of quilting, the quilts in this book seem to mix the brighter fabrics available today with blocks that are fairly traditional (equal sizes, usually gridded and surrounded by sashing) without pulling much more in. While i have a deep love for some of Elizabeth's quilts (this and this and this), the patterns in this book didn't shake me up me the way that those one's did. I think the reason for this lies in something Elizabeth spoke of earlier on the blog tour, “I started planning the quilts for the book with a checklist of design elements, both conventional and modern, that I wanted to include. Writing the patterns for the book was, to a certain extent, designing patterns around the items on that checklist."
If I think of these quilts as teaching exercises, the fact that none of the individual quilts takes my breath away makes sense. I've been looking at Elizabeth's quilts for years now and can usually spot one of hers the second it shows up on flickr...if she wrote the book to communicate each of the skills and aesthetics she finds fundamental, then of course they look quintessentially and unsurprisingly like her work. Duh, me, duh!
At any rate, I highly recommend this book. Pages 25-44, Step-by-Step Quilt Construction, are worth the purchase price of this book alone. I have a copy of one of Elizabeth's first patterns, which I keep in my sewing desk because it has become my go to reference for quilt construction (I regularly forget how to sew on binding). Now, I'll keep this book in my desk, too.
Typically, i wish quilting books and magazines would LEAVE OUT the construction section...I think should be their own "101" books and not included in every gosh darn quilting book (often in tiny font, with few pictures, taking up space where another quilt could be shown!) But step-by-step construction is what Elizabeth does best, so i am glad she allotted many pages to this!
With holiday season coming I think this book would make a great present for oneself or any quilter or would-be quilter on your gift list. It doesn't cover all of what I would consider modern basics--Elizabeth doesn't do improv piecing, and there isn't much play with negative space--but it does cover a lot and it covers it well. It's a heckuva lot better that the introductory quilting books I consulted when I began quilting!
In point of fact, if I were giving a gift to a new quilter, The Practical Guide to Patchwork would go in the gift box with a sample of some fabulous fabrics.
Today, one lucky winner--new to quilting or not--has the chance to win those gifts, provided by the lovely Elizabeth Hartman herself! To enter, comment on this post with an answer to the following question: what is one thing every new quilter needs to know?
I will pick a winner on the 7th.
For more chances to win, check out the rest of the blog tour:October 27th – Sew, Mama, Sew!
October 28th – Film in the Fridge
October 29th – I Heart Linen
October 30th – Tallgrass Prairie Studio
October 31st – Handmade by Alissa
November 1st – Connecting Threads
November 3rd – One Shabby Chick
November 4th – True Up
November 5th – Pink Chalk Studio
November 6th – Whip Up
And of course, you can follow Elizabeth on her blog, Oh, Fransson!