Categories: inspiration; art; p&q

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Is There An Alternative To The Hera Marker?

What Is A Hera Marker?

A Hera Marker is a small hand tool for marking quilting lines on a quilt top. The tool leaves a crease on the fabric rather than a line made with the usual pencil, pen or chalk. The crease is invisible when you stitch over it and doesn’t need any washing or fading to remove it. Most quilters are familiar with them, but not all of us have used them.

I was a Hera Marker virgin until quite recently and I owe my conversion to Kaja. This unassuming little tool didn’t look up to much, and quite frankly costs a fortune for a bit of resin (£6+/$7.3+). It’s looks pretty similar to the clay modelling tools I have and you can get a set of 10 of those for about the same price, in plastic or hardwood (you can buy them individually too). It seemed like the Hera Marker was just an overblown piece of marketing intended to rip off the unknowing quilter. Or the quilter that likes a gadget or two.

Jug of red plastic clay modelling tools. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Can you see the similarity between one of these clay modelling tools and a Hera Marker?

Keeping It Simple

I like to keep things simple and I’m not overly bothered with all the gadgets available, but marking quilt designs with a pencil was getting a bit annoying. I kept forgetting to do it before I sandwiched up the quilt, which made it less accurate because it drags the fabric. Kaja mentioned she uses a Hera Marker after she’s made the sandwich so I thought it was worth a try. I grit my teeth and went to part with my pennies at a lovely new quilt shop in Truro, where the owner happily let me try the tool before I bought it (now that hasn’t happened before!).

I was pleased with the way the Hera Marker felt in the hand: you hold it like you’d hold a small knife, with your index finger resting along the top to apply pressure.  It has a nice weight, sits very comfortably and runs smoothly along a ruler too. I handed over my pennies and took it home for playtime.

The Hera Marker V The Clay Modelling Tool

I decided to run a test. I wondered if the especially cheap plastic modelling tools I bought for childrens’ workshops would do a similar job. The short answer is yes. Can you spot the difference between the lines I drew? No, of course you can’t: there isn’t one!

Comparing the marks made with a quilter's Hera Marker and a clay modelling tool. Lines drawn with either create the same marks. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Spot the difference between the Hera Marker lines on the left and the clay modelling tool lines on the right…

The modelling tool performs just as well, and in this instance cost about 1/6th of the price. The main difference between them is the way the tool feels in the hand. The Hera Marker undoubtedly felt more comfortable, but a better quality modelling tool would feel just as good.

My initial suspicion of ‘overpricing for the quilting market’ seemed justified. I know £6 or £7 isn’t a lot for many people, but it does annoy me when I feel like we’re being hoodwinked and there’s a perfectly good alternative for well under a 1/6 of the price.

How It Performs

All that aside, I now have a Hera Marker so how does it work? I’ve been using it for marking squares on my On The Edge wall quilt:

Marking squares with a Hera Marker on a sandwiched quilt top. Image shows details of the crease lines created by the tool. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Marking squares with a Hera Marker on a sandwiched quilt top. You can see an ‘over run’ in the bottom left corner of the square.

The tool makes clear fine lines that stay crisp in the hoop for a good while. If you draw a line in the wrong place it’s easy enough to ‘rub out’ with your fingernail or a spritz of water. One of the most annoying things for me is the curve of the ‘blade’. When you’re trying to make lines of a specific length you have to draw over that length to take account of the curve. Initially I got around this by marking the beginning and ends of the line with a pencil dot.

Eventually I learnt to rotate the blade forward a bit as I got towards the end of the line I was marking. Then I used the pointed end of the blade to make a ‘full stop’ so that I didn’t need a pencil at all. Even so, I still over run.

The Hera marks are visible enough to see under a plastic quilting rule so you can get a good 90° angle if you’re trying to draw a square or rectangle, for example. It’s very easy to run the Hera Marker along a ruler, whether it’s straight or curved. I don’t think it’s suitable for drawing small free-hand shapes, because it’s not really designed to be held like a pencil (especially with the large curved blade). There is, however, another Hera Marker available (not easy to find locally) marketed as a Hera Appliqué and Sewing Marker. It has a smaller blade and a pointed end for more detailed drawing. Needless to say it’ll cost you another 6 or 7 pounds!

Just as Kaja said, it really is very easy and accurate to mark your quilt after you’ve made your initial quilt sandwich. You need to mark your lines on a hard, level surface for the best results. Make sure you use a piece of card or a cutting mat underneath, especially if you’re as gung-ho as I am. Even when you’re marking through 3 layers you’ll easily make indentations in your table, as I found out!

My Conclusion?

It’s a handy tool to have, especially if you like to mark your quilts after you’ve made the sandwich, but no more handy than a cheap clay modelling tool!

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Light weight
  • Good, crisp lines
  • Easy to get rid of unwanted lines
  • Nothing to wash out once you’ve finished
  • The marks are visible for a good while

Cons

  • Price
  • Not good for free-hand drawing
  • Curve of blade is too big for some applications
  • Did I mention the price? I’ll say it again: price!

Do you use a Hera Marker too? Share your tips and experiences in the comments – would you recommend one to a newbie? Thanks for joining in!

I’m linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social today, I hope you’ll pop over and take a look. As an aside, Ive just updated my link party page (Let’s Bee Social is listed of course!), hop on over and let me know what you think – are there any link parties I should add?

Link Party page: Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

 

Art Studio – watercolour painting

Norfolk

When I was in Norfolk recently I packed a tin of paints and some watercolour paper, hoping to be able to do some painting while I was there visiting family.

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour paint pallette and sable brush. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Birthday paint tin!

I was given some money for my birthday a couple of days before we left and I bought a travel tin for my watercolour paints. (I need another tin like I need another quilt, but it was irresistible!) I spent some time deciding which colours I might need for the Norfolk landscape, but as it turned out the only painting I did was this sketch of a glade in Sandringham woods. Not very inspiring and not a great experience: I got covered in horse fly bites!

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour and conte on paper (approximately A4)

Cambridge – painting exhibition

One hot, sunny day last week though we took a train journey to Cambridge and I got a watercolour fix I wasn’t expecting: The Fitzwilliam Museum was showing a painting exhibition Watercolour – Elements of Nature. Turner, Cozens, Constable, Cotman…the greats of the Romantic period were well represented alongside many others, from Nicholas Hilliard miniatures of the Tudor period to Cezanne in the 20th century.  All the paintings in the exhibition are from the Museum’s own collection. It was a wonderful opportunity to see so many fantastic works side by side, to see different approaches and developments over time. The gallery was busy, but not like one of those so-called block-buster shows where you file through like sheep being dipped. You could take your time and spend as long as you wanted looking in detail at each and every painting. I was in my element. Kim was bored after about 10 seconds!!! (I’m lucky though, it may not have interested him very much, but he is patient and never hassles me to hurry up when I’m looking at art – he’d get short shrift if he tried!)

As part of the exhibition there were also sketchbooks in cabinets and examples of pigments, old paints and paintboxes that added to the romance of the genre.  There were even a few mussel shells on display…

Mussel shells and Pebbles. © Stephanie Boon, 2015. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Mussel shells and pebbles

What?! Say again?  Mussel shells!  They make perfect portable palettes!  (Another piece of useless information: Turner used squidged up bread for soaking up excess watercolour – nowadays we use tissue/toilet paper, or a sponge!)

Mussel shell painting palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2015. www.DawnChorusStudio.com,

Innovative mussel shell palette!

When we got back to Norfolk Kim and I went for a nighttime stroll on the beach and I collected a generous handful to bring back with me. I find them on the beaches here at home sometimes, but where my parents live they’re washed up in great mounds.

Home – new watercolours

Back at home this week I blu-tacked a couple of art postcards above my desk, a reminder of the wonderful paintings I saw.  The beautiful red painting is by contemporary Scottish artist Barbara Rae. It was one of the first watercolours I was drawn to as I walked into the gallery, the red colours were almost luminous in the subdued light of the room.

Art postcards on a wall.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Art postcards from The Fitzwilliam Museum

Art postcard of a watercolour by Barbara Rae. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Art postcard above my desk of a watercolour painting by Barbara Rae

We got back late Tuesday evening and I couldn’t wait to get out and do some painting myself. I finally managed a couple of sketches on Thursday. I sat in a field about 5 minutes walk from home.  I’d spotted it before we went away, but there’s something about it that’s been in my mind for a while.

'Kea Downs' Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Field, Kea Downs.  Watercolour of paper (approximately A4)

Right now it’s shimmering with a crop of barley.  It’s giving me ideas.  I love the way nature does that.

'Kea Downs' Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Across Fields, Kea Downs. Watercolour and conte on paper (approximately A4)

I hope you enjoyed my first Art Studio post for a while.  Hopefully I’ll get it back on track to being a regular Saturday feature from now on.

Hope you’re having a good weekend so far?

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Prosperity – an improv quilt in the making

'Prosperity' an improv patchwork quilt top, © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Prosperity

Creativity has it’s twists and turns, just like life, and recently I feel like I’ve really turned a corner in my ‘quilting life’. Or at least the way I think about it.  I feel excited that things have become clearer. I’ve noticed connections between things I’ve made in the past that I hadn’t noticed before and seeing those connections is giving me a positive, more focussed way forward.

I feel the need to write a longer, more considered post about this epiphany (to help me clarify things and probably bore the pants off you!), so I won’t go into too much detail now.  However, this sudden freeing of thought inspired me to finish off this improvised quilt top earlier in the week (which I’m giving the working title Prosperity) after feeling really uncertain about it for some time. And, I can honestly say, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done so far.  It feels completely resolved, in a way that no other quilts I’ve made have. And as a work in progress I know exactly how I want to quilt it and finish it, down to the hanging tube (yes it’s a wall piece!) and label. I haven’t felt like this since I last made art with a capital A!  Kim gave me the biggest compliment I could ever have hoped for, he said: “I really like it.  It looks professional, if you know what I mean, not like something people just make at home, like nanny does.”  I know exactly what he means!

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood

Before I head off to bed (it’s 1 am – so not so late yet!) I’d like to recommend this wonderful book for anyone wanting to start making quilts in an improv way: The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Spontaneously by Sherri Lynn Wood.

Sherri Lynn gives exceptionally clear improv piecing techniques and provides the reader with what she calls ‘scores’ (rather than patterns) to make improv quilts. These scores are essentially a set of parameters that you set for yourself to work within to achieve a balanced and coherent design, but allows for much improvisation and serendipity.  The thing I like best of all though is the glimpse she gives you into her own process and the methods she uses to stimulate creative flow (which I talked a little about in my last post  Creative Block, 15 ways to beat it. I think her methods might surprise you, so why not check out the book?  I know a number of you are familiar with Sherri Lynn’s work (and some of you are even lucky enough to have been on one of her workshops) so if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, as I say, I really do recommend it.

Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday and Let’s Bee Social (links in the column on the right).

For more posts about Prosperity see:

Other Improv Quilts from 2015

.Until next time, happy stitching

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Textiles a World Tour – full of inspiration

© Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com Photograph: Textiles a World Tour, by Catherine Legrand, Thames and Hudson.

Textiles a World Tour, Catherine Legrand, Thames and Hudson

Time for coffee and a biscuit?!  It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything from my bookshelf, but lately I can’t stop looking at this wonderful book and decided I just have to show it to you!  I hope you’ll find the sumptuous colours as inspiring as I do. Pull up a chair and be prepared for a mini visual feast.

Inspiration from South America to the Far East

I was lucky enough to be given a Waterstones book token last Christmas (one of my favourite presents, just so’s you know 😉 ) and this is what I spent it on:  Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics & Patterns. It’s a large format paperback that’s  brimful of colour and inspiration. The textiles featured are all clothing, men, women and children’s, and feature a significant amount of hand work, whether that’s stitching, dying or weaving. It travels from South America, to Africa and the Far East, including places like Nigeria, Mexico, India and Vietnam. It gives me incredibly itchy feet!

textiles world tour

Feature on the Mayan blouse (the huipil) from Guatemala

textiles world tour with scissors

Feature on The Rabari nomads of Gujarat

world textiles with applique

Feature on reverse appliqué from Vietnam

As well as the inspiring photographs of textiles and the people that wear them there are wonderful images that give glimpses into where they’re made and worn, beautiful shots of mountains or fields of cotton, painted houses, churches and lakes.  We’re shown photographs of weavers at work in a garden, the colourful stained hands and feet of dyers, women stitching on stone streets and wooden decks. There’s a photo on page 191 of two women, Praolina and Jovanna, sat side by side making reverse appliqué ‘molas‘ (part of a woman’s blouse). They’re wearing beautiful, bold-coloured and patterned clothes, their work draped across their laps, a bag of fabric next to them – and one of them has that universal tick of human concentration: her tongue is sticking out as she cuts into the cloth!  I just love it. (I’m always doing it myself 😀 )

There are watercolour style diagrams showing how the garments are constructed and short ‘how to’ articles on things like tie dying and reverse appliqué. The only sad thing about this book is that you can’t feel the fabrics as well! I guess that means that one day I’ll have to travel and find out what they feel like for myself. In the mean time this book is a visual treasure, a big happy slice of colourful inspiration. I’d recommend it for everyone’s bookshelf, just lift it down anytime you need a pick-me-up.

Happy reading!

 

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Simple Modern Sewing – a book of dress patterns

Finally spring seems to be here! It’s been perfect bank holiday weather today; you could almost believe it’ll be like this for months to come now, but the British weather is notoriously fickle (like me), so best not get too over excited…

Still, the brighter and warmer days have got me rummaging around my wardrobe for some lighter coloured clothes and the other day I pulled out this linen shirt that I made last summer. I love wearing it layered or under sleeveless jumpers at this time of year.

Hand made linen pink linen shirt. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Front view of my handmade linen shirt

The shirt (or would you call it a blouse?) is a very simple shape and easy to make, so I decided to spend some time practicing some hand sewing and stitched the buttonholes by hand – I even made button hole bars across the buttons (on a pure whim) and stitched an invisible hem (I would have taken a photo but… 😀 )

Hand made linen pink linen shirt. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Detail of buttonhole bar (and bad ironing!!!)

As you can see it’s a very loose design, so I decided to add ties that I can tie looser or tighter to give it more shape at the waist if I want to.

Hand made linen pink linen shirt. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Tie at the back (yep, still not ironed!!)

Fancy A Read?

I made the pattern from the following book. I wanted to make my own pattern, but didn’t have the time to make up new blocks and this seemed like a good compromise.

Simple Modern Sewing, 8 Basic Patterns to Create 25 Favorite Garments. Shufu To Seikatsu

Simple Modern Sewing, by Shofu To Seikatsuy Sha, with sewing notions. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Make some clothes!

I love this book! It has a clear layout, the instructions and diagrams are very good, and of course there are pre printed patterns for you to work from. As it says on the front cover, there are 8 designs from which you can create 25 garments, but if you know what you’re up to, or you don’t mind experimenting you can adapt the basic designs in endless ways.

As well as the patterns, there are suggestions for pattern layouts and basic construction techniques. There are great photos of all the garments, not just the 8 basic ones, so you get an idea of varying fabrics that you could use, from prints to plains to plaids.

Simple Modern Sewing, by Shofu To Seikatsuy Sha, with sewing notions. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Wraparound dress design

Simple Modern Sewing, by Shofu To Seikatsuy Sha, with sewing notions. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Blouse with a gathered neckline

There are dresses, skirts, trousers and tops, and most of them would suit light to medium weight fabrics so are great for adding to your summer wardrobe. Most of the garments are loose fitting and would make up well in cottons and linens, but it wouldn’t be the book for you if you were after something fitted.

So far I’ve made the shirt above and a couple of skirts so feel like I’ve already got my money’s worth. You can pick the book up on Amazon for a good price, and it’s far more cost effective than buying your usual pattern from Butterick, or one of the other pattern brands. The designs aren’t high fashion, but easy, wearable clothes that you can easily personalise or adapt as trends change.

If, like me, you’re thinking about making some new things for your warm weather wardrobe, this book is a great one to have on hand, I definitely recommend it!

 

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Louise Bourgeois, Stitches in Time, Frances Morris

Fancy A Read?

Louise Bourgeois, Stitches in Time by Frances Morris

Louise bourgeois, Stitches in Time. Frances Morris.

Without a doubt, Louise Bourgeois is one of my favourite artists; possibly my most favourite. I’ve got lots of art books on my shelves, but this little one, Louise Bourgeois Stitches in Time, I come back to again and again. Just for a flick through. A quick reminder.

I have the 2005 edition, which was published to coincide with an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.”In this book, Frances Morris presents a selection of the artist’s recent work with a major focus on fabric sculptures and prints”, it declares on the back – and for its diminutive size it packs a fairly punchy pictorial guide to some of her major works, alongside an interesting essay by Morris.

If you don’t know much about Bourgeois, other than her giant spider bronzes, you might be surprised to know that textiles have a pivotal role in both her life and work. Her mother’s family business restored antique tapestries from the medieval and Renaissance period and her mother and father continued the family business restoring and selling antique tapestries and furniture.

Her fabric sculptures, from her later works, are amazing, but the ones I love the most are her figures. Some are life size suspended eerily from above and there are small, fetishistic doll size figures that you wouldn’t want to give to a child to play with!

They can look crudely stitched and patched, like trying to contain ourselves or holding us together. Just so incredibly powerful and moving.

 

Louise Bourgeois, Stitches in Time by Frances Morris

Untitled, tapestry and aluminium, 2002. From the book Stitches in Time

There are also lots of 2-dimensional textile works, and just a couple are featured in the book. Graphic, assertive. Very male to me in many ways.

Louise Bourgeois, Stitches in Time by Frances Morris

Untitled, woven fabric, 2002. From the book Stitches in Time

This book is the perfect introduction to her work, giving a little information about her career, the major themes of her work and short extracts from her writings and interviews. It’s illustrated in black and white as well as colour. To finish it off there’s also a chronology and a further reading list.

I love it, and if you fancy a read I highly recommend it! Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Time.

Enjoy the sunshine today 🙂

Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio. Signature: let's chat, don't forget to leave a comment!

 

The Knitting Answer Book, Margaret Radcliffe

Fancy A Read

The Knitting Answer Book, Margaret Radcliffe. On my bookshelf, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

It has them all!

 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve taken a few of my quilting books down off the shelf to show you, so this week I thought I’d change the subject a little. Yes, knitting!

This little book is the perfect size to tuck into your project bag when you head out the door to your local knitting group. It might be small but it’s big on info!

I was given this little gem this Christmas from my knitty friend Janie, and even as a lifelong knitter she’s proved to me that you can never know everything!

The book is really clearly laid out in chapters from The Basics to Embellishments, with a whole lot inbetween. Each chapter is presented in a question and answer format, with clear diagrams to illustrate where needed (there aren’t any photos). You’ll find answers to questions such as “What is the best cast on for socks?”; “What do I do if I can’t get more yarn in the same dye lot?”;  “If  my pattern says to increase or decrease at the beginning or end of the row, should I do it at the very edge of my knitting?” or ” My pattern says to increase. How do I know which increase to use?”

If the book has any downside at all, it’s the fact that it’s written in American. As we all know, knitting terminology is different in the UK to it is in the USA. But, so far I’ve found that this doesn’t make too much difference to the questions and answers posed – apart from the spelling! After all, knitting is knitting wherever you do it. In fact there’s a good reason to have an American reference book: you’ll be able to follow an American knitting pattern (great when you’re downloading patterns from Ravelry)!!!  Although there are references to both UK and US terms in the text, it is written for a US audience and the terminology used in the index is entirely American – you won’t find “double-knitting” there for example.

I’d say that if you’re a complete beginner in the UK, then this book isn’t for you…yet. But, if you’re very familiar with UK terms you won’t have too much trouble getting your head around it.

It’s definitely a handy sized book to have in your project bag and packed full of useful info. Mine won’t be far away from my knitting anyway!

The Knitting Answer Book, Margaret Radcliffe. On my bookshelf, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Clear chapters

The Knitting Answer Book, Margaret Radcliffe. On my bookshelf, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Q and A format with great diagrams

I’ll be back soon with a little knitting project I’ve got on the go at the moment. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s coming along nicely and I feel almost ready to share!  What have you got on your needles at the moment?  Do tell 🙂

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Kaffe Fassett’s Quilt Romance

Fancy A Read?

Kaffe Fasset's Quilt Romance, with Kaffe Fassett fabrics. On my desk, by Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio 2013

Fassett love!

If ever you need a quilting book to cheer you up a dull grey day (like today here in Cornwall!), you can’t go wrong with one by Kaffe Fassett and as you’d expect, this one, Quilt Romance, just oozes colour all over the place!

There is a newer book in this series Quilts in Sweden, but I love this one as much for the photography location as the quilts. Portmeirion in Wales is quirky to say the least. Full of vibrant colour and curious buildings, the photos are all taken outside against the backdrop of Italianate architecture and stone statuary.  I think some of the quilts are a bit clumsily displayed, draped over a willow screen, but they do give you a sense of what it might be like to take the colours of the outside back in to the home.

Not all the quilt designs are by Kaffe Fassett, some are by Brandon Mably and Liza Prior Lucy among several others. There’s also a section titled ‘Kim McLean: A Quilter’s Story’, and some of her patterns feature in the book. I like to go back and read this story every now and again as her descriptions of what inspire her  are inspiring too.

Some of the designs are new, but there are a number that are re-workings of traditional patterns: pickle dish; log cabin; school house; tumbling blocks…all in bold and exciting colours and unexpected fabrics from Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably and Philip Jacobs.

The patterns themselves, if you want to follow them (I don’t, I just like to ogle for inspiration!) are given in clear text and diagrams and include a fabric cutting list so that you can reproduce the quilts exactly.  Templates are also included along with a ‘patchwork know-how’ section and glossary. There are designs suitable for beginners through to the more experienced.

Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance with Kaffe Fassett fabrics and reel of thread. On my desk, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

pattern layout

I’ve had this book a few years now, since it was published in 2009, and it’s proved to have real staying power for me. I tend to use it more like a coffee table book, flicking through for an uplifting colour fix or inspiration when the mood strikes: it never fails to give me what I need.  That is of course unless I include the need for a bountiful stash of vibrant fabrics. Unfortunately I just have to make do with the pictures!

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Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain

Fancy A Read?

 

Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain photographed with a 1940's sewing box and a patchwork Jacob's Ladder in process by Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio 2013

Classic reference

I really love this book. But my love for it isn’t just about the book, it’s also about the memories it holds. It reminds me of a special day I spent with Kim in Bath about 18 months ago. It was my birthday and it was the first year I’d ever spent a birthday with just him, not seeing anyone else. We had a great time camping nearby in the beautiful Cotswold town of Bradford on Avon, and The American Museum in Britain (in Bath) was on my ‘must see’ list. Suffice it to say, it didn’t disappoint and this beautifully illustrated book captures the joys of the quilt room in a very handy form!

At the American Museum in Britain the quilts are mounted in huge perspex covered frames that are suspended from the wall on hinges down one side so that you flip through them like you would a portfolio. Looking through the book is like having your own personal version. It showcases some incredible quilts crossing several centuries, each with a potted history and details of when and where it was made (and by who, if it’s known).

There are fascinating details, including the slave who bought her freedom and became dressmaker to the president; there are Shaker and Amish quilts, friendship quilts and crazy quilts, log-cabins and stars, hexagons and appliqué. The list goes on! Wherever the page falls open there’ll be something to inspire you.

Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain. Detail of Sailboats Crib Quilt. On My Desk, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Sailing away: Sailboats Crib Quilt, 1840 – 1900

Just like this dark quilt in a traditional ‘orange peel’ design; for example it’s great to see how Denyse Schmidt has interpreted this same pattern in her recent book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration.

Books on my desk: Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain / Denyse Schmidt Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration. Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Lafayette Orange Peel Quilt (black/cream) and Denyse Schmidt’s modern interpretation of the design

As well as the ‘entire quilt’ photos, I love the close up detail shots of the quilt surfaces so you can really scrutinise the antique fabric patterns and the tiny stitches holding the layers together. There’s something incredible about being able to see the way the fabrics have worn and become stained and faded over the centuries.

I think that above all though, by looking back through history through the eyes of this book, you have the sense that you’re contributing to a valuable and rich tradition. It really is a must have for the bookshelf for anyone that quilts or aspires to. If you haven’t got it on yours yet, I highly recommend it!

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