Stash-Busting Quilts by Lynne Edwards

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Stash-Busting Quilts by Lynne Edwards

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Category: Crafts
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A sumptuous collection of designs for patchwork quilts aimed at people with a little experience, but none of the designs are very difficult. The quilts use time-saving techniques but are not of the 'a quilt in a weekend' style. It's a book that's full of inspiration.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: October 2006
Publisher: David & Charles
ISBN: 0715321943

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I have got a frighteningly-large stash of fabric. There are shelves full of it here in the workroom. Some of the drawers in the bedroom are used for fabric and let's not even mention the boxes up in the attic. I've started being a bit secretive about exactly how much I have and when I intend to use it. "Oh, yes," I'll say "I know exactly what I'm going to do with that" and hastily change the subject. If you're at all serious about doing patchwork you'll be nodding your head and probably muttering "The attic! I never thought of the attic!"

Stash-Buster Quilts arrived at just the right moment. My stash was overflowing and I really needed some fresh inspiration. It's a beautifully-presented hardback book of the type which opens almost flat and stays there. I'm tired of having to bulldog-clip books open or weight the pages down. When I'm working from instructions I want them to be clearly and easily visible. That's very easy with this book.

There are fourteen projects in all, ranging from a patchwork pig and a shopping bag through to larger quilts. Some are more complex than others but all should be within the reach of a patchworker with some basic knowledge.

Various different techniques are used but all are based on seams being sewn, ideally by machine rather than laboriously prepared patches being hand sewn together. The larger quilts are not the sort of projects which you could expect to complete in a weekend, but with steady application they could be finished quite quickly. Plenty of hints are given to make cutting and stitching as easy and speedy as possible, but not at the expense of accuracy.

Generally the designs are variations on old themes that have stood the test of time. Let's have a look at the Crazy Nine-Patch quilt. The nine-patch quilt is one of the earliest designs. It's not difficult and can be made with a lot of different fabrics - it's ideal for using up all the bits and pieces that we have lying around. It can be boring though as it needs excellent colour combinations to really take the eye. This design uses nine asymmetrical pieces of fabric in each block.

First of all there's a short history of how the quilt came about. Patchworkers will know exactly what I mean. It's where the fabric came from, where you found the rest to make up the quantities (because you always have to) and what gave you the idea for the design. All this is as much a part of the finished quilt as the fabric, thread and time that you've put into it. Fabric requirements are detailed and the finished size of the quilt is given. On some designs information is given as to how much extra fabric you'll need to produce a larger quilt.

The instructions show precisely how the fabric is to be cut with some useful hints as to how to do this accurately and consistently. The instructions appear complicated, but all that's needed is to work through them carefully. The pitfalls (and ways around them) of the stitching are explained and the blocks will grow quickly as you're working on all of them at the same time. There's a clear diagram of how all the different blocks fit together and then instructions for adding the border and quilting. The original quilt was done in some subtle, rather washed-out shades - the sort of quilt which looks good in a room with a wooden floor - but to finish the instructions there's a wonderful picture of the same design in red, white and blue. It's absolutely stunning. I don't know who did the photography for the book but it really does add value.

Each design is dealt with in the same way and you're sure to find something to your taste or to suit your décor. They range from the traditional to the ultra-modern and various colour combinations are shown. I've never had a lot of confidence about arranging colours but I was reassured when the book was firm about not getting too hung up about the placement of a particular piece of fabric unless it was important to the design. There are good hints too about how to ensure that more dominant colours are well spread around the quilt. It's a book to give you all the confidence to start a quilt.

Have I any quibbles? Well, just a couple of very minor ones. If I was a real beginner I think I might need some more basic information. I showed the book to someone who sews but who has never done any patchwork. She had two questions - do you use a sewing machine and what sort of thread do you use? I think that might have been explained. I'd also like to have seen some indication of the level of difficulty for each project. A complex-looking quilt can be quite simple to put together, but ones that look straight-forward can be the very devil. They're minor quibbles though in an otherwise excellent book.

I think I feel a quilt coming on and it's all because of this sumptuous book.

My thanks to the publishers, David and Charles, for forwarding this book.

Booklists.jpg Stash-Busting Quilts by Lynne Edwards is in the Top Ten Books For Your Mother.

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Magda said:

The one domestic art that I like and am reasonably good at is cooking. I can just about paint a room or wallpaper a very straight one and I can make a (not very straight one) curtain or a (extremely non-straight one) rag rug, and I used to be able to knit a scarf but all these things I find so incredibly stresfull that my arms and hands and back get actually tense when I even start thinking about them... though I always wanted to be able to weave and patchwork!

Sue replied:

I started patchworking when I had nothing and couldn't afford to let any scrap of fabric go to waste. I then started to appreciate what I could do with it and I find it very relaxing to do.