Patchwork and Quilting: A Maker's Guide by Victoria and Albert Museum

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Patchwork and Quilting: A Maker's Guide by Victoria and Albert Museum

Category: Crafts
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A trip through the various forms of patchwork and quilting, illustrated with items from the V&A collections and with fifteen projects for you to try yourself. The instructions are clear and simple, the illustrations glorious. Recommended for someone who'd like to discover which branches of the crafts they'd like to follow.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Thames and Hudson
ISBN: 978-0500293263

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Patchwork is a magical craft: you can take relatively small pieces of material and turn them into another piece of material with an entirely different pattern. Quilting converts a topper and a backing fabric with some wadding in between into a fabric of an entirely different weight. Combine the two crafts and you have something more than magical, occasionally fashionable but always deeply satisfying. But where to start, when there are so many different styles of both crafts? One answer is to read Patchwork and Quilting: A Maker's Guide which looks - as the cover says - at styles from Italian trapunto to Korean jogakbo and then delivers fifteen projects inspired by the V&A collections.

Something I've always loved about patchwork is that so far as fashion is concerned it doesn't really lend itself to the industrial process. Even working from a pattern each piece is going to be individual because an individual is making it and putting something of themselves into the work. And so with this introduction to the crafts you'll see some excellent illustration of pieces from the V&A collections: some are quite old but there are also items such as the Schiaparelli butterfly jacket, which dates from 2016, but it's placed next to an evening jacket from 1937 and it's easy to see where the influence came from. These are age-old crafts for the modern world.

There's a brief introduction to the tools which you'll require. If you sew to any extent then you're likely to find that you have quite a bit of what you'll need and some items - such as rotary cutters and mats - can be added later. There's also an informative section on materials, with details about wadding being particularly useful. You'll use a range of about five stitches, none of which are particularly complicated, but they're all explained and illustrated. All templates are supplied.

Running stitch quilting is perhaps the simplest form and we're taken through sashiko, kantha and wholecloth with projects to make a Shonai Sashiko table runner, a tablet or phone sleeve and a gorgeous north country cot quilt. In stuffed and padded quilting we look at cord quilting and trapunto. The cord-quilted pin cushion project could well be the (very satisfying) work of an afternoon and for trapunto we have a lampshade wrap.

Geometric patchwork is my personal favourite and I was delighted to see excellent illustrations of block patchwork, English paper piecing, Amish patchwork, Seminole piecing and log cabin. For projects we have a picnic quilt, English pieced blocks, an Amish diamond-in-a-square quilt with some glorious quilting, a Seminole strip-pieced cushion and a curved log-cabin quilt. I was intrigued by the look of this last - quilt achieved by using strips of different widths for an effect I've never encountered before. (There's currently rather a lot of material on my office floor with this quilt in mind...)

Freeform patchwork covers jogakbo (with project instructions for a cushion wrap) and boro, derived from the Japanese boroboro meaning something tattered or repaired and I can empathise with the feeling that garments should not be wasted. The project is for a boro bag which will withstand heavy use. I've used this technique in the past to make bed covers to great effect and it's always fun to remember the garment which lent their material to the finished product.

Appliqué has always defeated me, but the Hawaiian appliqué looks so beautiful that I might be tempted to try the appliqué block. Mola, traditionally made using a combination of overlay, inlay and reverse appliqué is probably simpler than it sounds and the little bucket bag project could well be a good starting point and the intarsia soft toy looks achievable even for me.

If you are experienced in several areas of patchwork and quilting you may well find that there's not a great deal which is new for you in the book, but if you're looking for a direction, for some ideas then the book could well be a gold mine.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you'd like to make quilts then we can recommend Stash-Busting Quilts by Lynne Edwards. That had the office floor covered in fabric too.

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