March is National Reading Month as well as the month all of us quilters celebrate National Quilting Day. Which led us to create a blog post about favorite quilt books—fiction or non-fiction. Now, as quilters and/or book lovers, you probably know how hard it is to choose JUST ONE book that is your favorite. So even though we’ve focused on just one, please take note that we have quite a few more lined up right behind these ones.
What is your favorite quilting book? We might need to add it to our list of “books we need to read”.
How can I possibly choose just one?! One of my favorite quilting books is Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer. I purchased it in 1980. When Jinny came to the Iowa Quilters Guild to give a workshop in 1982, she autographed the book. It’s a book full of my notes, pattern ideas, sketches, and years worth of my quilting thoughts. It is very satisfying to draft designs in any size I need. When I study a historic quilt, I know I can recreate the block. I also very much like her Quiltmaking by Hand. In 2015 I was fortunate to visit her Virginia shop and chat with her again. My favorite books to find now are the ones that tell the history of quilts and the quilters creating them.
It is difficult to pick just one favorite book, although many good fictional books involve quilting. I enjoy a good mystery and one of my favorites is the Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas. During the depression, a group of quilting friends meets regularly to quilt. They have many conversations, good food, and keep each other’s secrets. When a new member joins the group, a secret is threatened to be exposed and will disrupt the lives of many of the members.
Other books I enjoy are the Benni Harper Mysteries by Erlene Fowler. Each book has a quilt block in the title: Irish Chain, Steps to the Altar, Dove in the Window, and Delectable Mountains to name a few. Benni is a folk-art expert and quilter and usually finds herself in the middle of a mystery or two. I have also read many of the Elm Creek Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini and just purchased the first book of the Door County Quilters by Ann Hazelwood.
Choosing one is difficult for me as well, but I decided on 101 PATCHWORK PATTERNS by Ruby McKim, because it was the first quilting book I ever owned. My mother gave it to me for Christmas in 1972, when I was 22 years old. The book is a compilation of patterns that appeared in newspapers during a time when most women knew how to use template patterns and sew patchwork. There is zero instruction, and I later learned many of the templates are inaccurate. It would be several years later, around 1977, before I would take a beginning class and learn not only how to use these patterns, but how to draft patterns for myself. By 1982, Liz Porter and I had our own book in print, CLASSIC QUILTED VESTS.
My favorite quilt/quilting book is probably the one I’ve just looked at in any given moment; anything with good photos is like eye candy, and just makes me love quilting more. However, the first quilting book I purchased soon after it was published in 1980 always pops to mind as the book that inspired me to put needle to fabric. You Can be a Super Quilter! A Teach-yourself Manual for Beginners by Carla Hassel of Des Moines. It was an excellent resource, though the author insisted there was only one correct way to piece and quilt: by hand. In all fairness, 1980 was before the advent of the fabulous tools we now use, and I have enjoyed several other books and teachers who showed me quilting can be what you make it.
Perhaps we have a future favorite quilting book of yours in our gift show. Check out our book selection!