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Book Review: The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman

Reported by Susie Ziegler


I’ve been following Elizabeth Hartman’s blog for quite a while. She is a prolific quilter with a modern playful aesthetic. Her book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork from Stash Books offers 12 fresh and irresistible quilt patterns and extensive basic quilting instructions and tips.

You’ll find a long section on basics including essential supplies, organization, planning a quilt and choosing fabrics according to scale and color.


Sometimes, planning the color scheme of a quilt can be overwhelming, so Elizabeth encourages the less daring to choose the prints from a specific collection.


The quilts in this book require the contemporary technique of rotary cutting and strip and chain piecing. She recommends pressing seams open for her patterns. I am reluctant to do this as it is quicker to press to one side or the other from the front of the pieces.


Rest assured that all the steps to quilt making and finishing are explained in this book with colorful appealing photographs using delicious modern fabrics.



Beginning quilters should start in the Projects to Get You Started section.


Beginning projects include a modern version of the Rail Fence block using a larger variety of fabrics in one color family in a rectangular block instead of the traditional square.


The Snapshots pattern looks like a very large checkerboard. Alternate ideas with scrappy novelty prints or selections from a particular color palette are offered:


I love it when quilt patterns show a variety of color options, this helps those of us who get hung up on color choices.

Have a bit of quilting experience? There are Projects for the Confident Beginner:

In the quilt, Kitchen Window, each of your fabrics is showcased as though they are framed:

The pattern for Planetarium uses quarter square triangles in these hourglass blocks. Use care with triangles as they have bias edges and can stretch:


Difficulty ratings really are subjective. The most difficult quilts are intermediate level.


Here you’ll find dynamic wonky blocks in the Sunspot quilt:


and intricate Sawtooth Star blocks in this Superstar pattern:


She even offers ideas and options for interesting pieced quilt backs!

It was so hard to choose a project to make from all these beautiful options! I started my project during a busy time, so I chose Batch of Brownies from the Projects to Get You Started section. This quilt uses a “stack, cut, and shuffle” method to make the blocks, a technique I’d never tried, so I had to pay close attention to the instructions.


I wanted the modern look of her example, so I shopped online for some larger scale new prints in colors I thought would coordinate well.


Here are all my fabrics cut according to the instructions. You’ll need a rotary cutter, ruler and mat for the projects in this book.



I had a little trouble remembering which direction was vertical as I went to cut my blocks. It is hard to describe how I got confused, but I managed to stay on track. It was best that I cut and sewed most of my blocks in one long sitting to keep organized.



I tried not to press the seams open, but I quickly realized that her tip was necessary for these blocks to work out.


Over the years, I’ve learned how to keep a very accurate scant 1/4 inch seam allowance. Beginning sewers have not yet mastered this. The patterns here take that into account and blocks are sized to be trimmed up when finished so that they can be sewn together easily.

Pros:
  • Very appealing projects. I want to make every single quilt, and I rarely feel that way about quilt books or magazines.
  • Instructions are clear and simple and are presented with appealing photographs and full color diagrams.

  • Patterns are all quilts, the book doesn’t get sidetracked with totebag, placemat, or pillow instructions.
  • Alternate colorways and interesting pieced back ideas are offered for each pattern.

Cons:
  • These quilts are colorful and modern. If you like traditional piecing, and old fashioned detailed blocks with points all matched up in subtle small scale prints, you will not like this book.
  • Each quilt is offered in only one size. I would like to make bed sized versions of some of the quilts and I would like to see yardage and cutting instructions for alternate sizes.

  • I feel like I really need to modern up my fabric stash! I’m going to have to encourage my local quilt shop to stock these kinds of prints.

I’m so happy with my finished quilt top! I’m excited to try some other patterns from this terrific book. Are you inspired by the newly popular modern quilts?


Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Book Review: Playful Patchwork

I have been obsessed with patchwork for a long time – I think it reminds me of the clothes my mom sewed for me when I was little.  I had the cutest patchwork vest.  I still love it after all these years, and I’ve always wanted to know how to sew patchwork successfully.  For those of you who don’t know, I have been sewing since I was ten.  Yep, I’m not just a Mod Podger!  It was delightful to review Playful Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki, and before I go on, I want to mention that the author is from Japan and I’m praying big time for her whole country.  Thumbs down to natural disasters.

This book was a delight to review, and more than lived up to its title of “happy, colorful and irresistible.”  Koseki studied with a master quilter starting in the 70s, so if there’s one thing I can say about her it’s that she’s the expert.  You can definitely tell from this book.  Here are my five favorite things about Playful Patchwork.

1.  It’s a modern approach.  I think sometimes patchwork and quilting get a bad rap because they have been around so long – but there are ways of making old crafts new again, even with simple geometrics.  Koseki’s designs are fresh, simple and pleasing to the eye.

2.  The book consists of smaller projects.  I don’t have a lot of time to sew (the Mod Podge is always calling!) so I appreciate quick and easy projects that make a big splash.  I see a lot of great home decor and gift ideas in this book.  I also think it’s a great way to learn to patchwork if you are interested in quilting – this book can be the foundation before you try a bigger quilt.

3.  Each chapter consists of a gallery followed by projects.  The galleries are awesome and inspirational, and then after the gallery section you actually get the projects.  The projects are divided into lessons, so you learn one thing at a time.  It’s less overwhelming and by the end you have a completed piece without having been stressed.

4.  The how-to photos are some of the best I’ve seen.  I really know nothing about patchwork and quilting, so the hand shots are HUGE for me.  I read through several sets of instructions and I feel very confident that I could mimic the steps – I also feel that the author showed the most important steps so that I won’t get lost.

5.  A full-sized pattern sheet is included with the book.  Thank you, thank you Ms. Koseki.  I have to admit that a lot of times when I’m sewing I don’t like to think.  Giving me patterns not only helps me not to have to think, but also saves me time.  I appreciate that.

Have you read Playful Patchwork? What are your favorite quilting books?

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

I Love Patchwork Review and Author Interview

Reported by Francie Horton


The Sew Liberated and I Love Patchwork Double-the-Fun Blog Tour: 2 Fabulous Sewing Authors, 2 New Books, 2 Weeks ’til Christmas!

If you’ve been keeping up with the tour you’ll know that I interviewed Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated fame on my blog this past Friday and now I get to talk to Rashida Coleman-Hale about her book, I Love Patchwork: 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects To Sew.

If you’re not familiar with the term zakka, Wikipedia defines it as “everything and anything that improves your home, life and outlook. Zakka has also been described as ‘the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane’… it also touches issues of self-expression and spirituality.”

The projects in I Love Patchwork are all ones “meant to enhance one’s environment”, to borrow a phrase from the book’s introduction. They marry the organic look of linen with an obvious love of patchwork. The projects include:

Sewing Room
• Travel Sewing Kit
• Sewing Machine Cover
• Pin Cushion
• Fabric Covered Boxes

Dining
• Placemat and Napkins
• Coaster Set with Holder
• Table Runner
• Utensil Basket

Kitchen
• Apron
• Mini Patchwork Magnets
• Fold Up Eco Bag
• Kitchen Towels

Around the House
• Flower Pot Cover
• Calendar
• Pillows Lap Quilt

The Wee Ones
• School Tote Bag
• Little Lamb Softie
• Pentagon Balls w/ drawstring bag
• Mobile

Bags and Pouches
• Pencil Case
• Oblong Cosmetics Pouch
• Shoulder Bag
• Wallet
• Coin Purse


There is also a section on tools and materials, techniques and, of course, The Stash. The Stash: Fabric Facts and Care contains important information on the different types of linen and how to care for it and prepare it for sewing, on quilter’s cotton and its care, and on the storage of fabric, something every sewist worth their mettle struggles with once they start building their own stash. Rashida also talks a little about choosing prints and colors, although this is an area where there are no hard and fast rules. The more you play with combinations, the easier it becomes and the better you’ll get at it.


Patchwork is one of those techniques where accuracy is important. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book for someone just learning to sew. Rashida does an excellent job with detailed instructions and illustrations for every project and technique, though, so even if you’re new to patchwork it won’t take long for you to pick it up.

All of the projects can be made with your own color and print combinations. In fact, Rashida encourages you to use your own creativity. You could even substitute a different fabric for the linen. These are good solid designs waiting for your personal touch. If you’re a fan of the handmade aesthetic with a clean simplistic look, this is a must-read.

Rashida, you give lots of of info about linen in the first part of your book and use it in almost every project. I have seen what I thought was linen but it seemed to be very loosely woven and definitely not suitable for using in garments or any type of project that was going to get wear. Was it really linen? Does linen have a certain thread count?

Linen comes in many different weights ranging from a sheer weight all the way to a canvas. You can find linen suitable for just about any type of project, so the fabric you saw could very well have been linen, just not necessarily right for garments.

Linen does indeed have a thread count, you can find linen with thread counts up to 1400. The threads that make up linen are quite thick, so its thread count doesn’t compare to cotton at all. It tends to be significantly lower than that of cotton. A 150 thread count cotton may not be the greatest quality, but a 150 thread count linen can still be a very fine quality.

Do you ever use vintage fabrics in your patchwork? And is it okay to pair them with new linen?

Yes, yes! I’m quite fond of feedsacks, vintage cotton prints, and vintage linens. The backing and binding for the table runner in the book is actually a vintage bed sheet I found on Ebay. I certainly think it’s okay to pair them with new linen. Naturally the vintage fabric should be in fairly good condition.

How would you prepare both the vintage fabrics and the linen?

I like to hand wash vintage fabrics and hang them up to dry before sewing. I also suggest using a delicate soap for washing; the harsh chemicals in today’s soaps can strip the color from older fabrics.

I toss new linen into the washing machine on a hot setting. This temperature ensures maximum shrinkage. Linen loves to shrink! To avoid disappointment after washing a finished project, you may want to wash your linen several times to make sure you’ve washed all the shrink out! Finally, machine dry on a low setting, leaving it a little bit damp if you plan on ironing it.

Looking at the book projects, I noticed a lot of blues, greens, and yellows, used together and separately. Do you find yourself drawn to certain color combinations?

Aqua and turquoise are my favorite colors, so a lot of the fabric in my stash has that color in it one way or another. Pantone named turquoise color of the year for a reason and I may be partially to blame for that. 😛 I am very partial to blues, greens and yellows and I have to force myself to use other colors sometimes!


Do you use a color tool (a wheel, a flip book) or do you eye it (keeping in mind that you’ve had design training)?

My days at FIT have certainly come in handy and so I select my colors by eye. I think I’ve got all the color theory rules and regulations burned into my brain, but I don’t necessarily follow those guidelines. I usually choose one print fabric as my base and use that as the springboard for the other fabric I choose. My fabric stash is kept in color order and that always helps me make selections quickly. The great thing about patchwork is being able to experiment with many color combinations. I love that colors and prints don’t necessarily have to match to make awesome looking patchwork.

Are you inspired by the colors of things around you?

Plants, shoes, cars, coats, chairs, notebooks, food. You name it, I’ve gotten inspiration from it. I take a lot of photos of things that I see when I’m out and about if I like the color or the combination of colors. I can go back and look at the photos so that I can use the colors in a project later.

The adjustable calendar. I love how you mentioned that you thought of the idea and had to immediately jump out of bed to work on it. I think many of us can relate to that. Some people keep a notepad by the bed, some a voice recorder. I have a notepad function on my cellphone.

Yes! My favorite project in the book. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning working on the prototype and was so happy that I did. Tired. But happy. I keep a sketchbook where I draw my ideas as they come to me. Most ideas come from me just sitting at my craft table and playing around with fabric and trims.


Do ideas often strike you in what might seem like strange places? Have you ever lost any because you didn’t write them down or work on them immediately?

I think that happens to a lot of us. The stranger the place the better the ideas! All of my best ideas come when I’m changing a dirty diaper. Okay not really, but it happens.

I usually have a pretty sharp memory and always surprise my husband with the things I can remember. The only time I have trouble is when I’m pregnant. I’m about 30 weeks along now, so pregnant brain has officially taken over! I haven’t lost any ideas(yet) and usually manage to jot them down in some way. On a napkin, a piece of mail, the palm of my hand, my three year old’s forehead. You know, the usual places.

I noticed during Friday’s Twitter party Jaime Guthals (of Interweave) asked you how much sleep you are getting these days. 🙂 Do you pull creative all-nighters even with kids?

I’m naturally a night owl, so I have no trouble staying up really late, especially if it’s to create. I think I do my best work when everyone is safe and sound, tucked in bed and the house is quiet. I can relax my mind and concentrate on just designing. When I was writing the book I would stay up until about 4 in the morning most nights. The children went to daycare and I would work some more during that time as well. The third trimester is certainly taking its toll though, so I only manage to stay up until about midnight now.


And, lastly, everybody’s favorite sewing sites are just a little bit different. What are yours?

Ah, there are so many wonderful sites to behold on the internet. I love them them all, but I certainly have my favorites.

My extra favorites are:

Makesomething.ca
petits détails
Saidos da Concha
smallville studio
Tree Fall
Patchwork Pottery
Pink Penguin


This woman… don’t you love her sense of humor? 🙂 I’m not sure if I would have ever thought of writing ideas on my three year old’s forehead… but then again there was never enough room between his own marker scribbles and that morning’s breakfast. I also love that she freely admits her secret to fitting so much in her day is stretching that day until 4 a.m. sometimes. And then paying for it by being tired but happy. I can certainly relate.

Rashida, thank you for being so generous in sharing your time and your knowledge with our readers. Congratulations on a wonderful book.

Be sure to visit Rashida at her blog, I Heart Linen, and for more I Love Patchwork yumminess check out the Flickr group.

Follow The Sew Liberated and I Love Patchwork Double-the-Fun Blog Tour at:

Friday, December 11:
Meg on TrueUp.net (interview)

Saturday, December 12:
Rashida on In the Studio with Cate (studio tour)

Sunday, December 13:
Meg on In the Studio with Cate (studio tour)

Monday, December 14:
Rashida on TrueUp.net (interview)

Tuesday, December 15:
Meg on Apron-iCity.com (interview)

Wednesday, December 16:
Rashida on Fabric Shop Network blog (interview)

Thursday, December 17:
Meg on Grosgrain Fabulous (book review and giveaway)

Friday, December 18:
Rashida Twitter event – Noon EST on Twitter with @iheartlinen
Meg on Living Life as Art (interview, review, and project)

Saturday, December 19:
Meg on CraftyPod.com (book review)

Sunday, December 20:
Rashida on Zakka Life (book review)

Monday, December 21:
Meg on Craftsanity (podcast interview)
Rashida on Craft Critique (interview and book review)

Tuesday, December 22:
Rashida on all buttoned up (interview)

Wednesday, December 23:
Meg on maya*made (interview)

Thursday, December 24:
Designer-to-Designer: Rashida and Meg interview each other on http://www.sewliberated.typepad.com and http://www.iheartlinen.typepad.com

Monday, January 4, 2010:
Blog Tour Winners’ Post – to be announced

Does this look like a book you’d put on your Christmas wishlist? Or if you were going to give it as a gift, what sewing tools and goodies might you pair it with?

Post Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!