I feel like I really don’t buy ALL that many quilting books. And yet, here is another that I had a chance to review – and that has earned itself a permanent place on my bookshelf: The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting: Long-arm and Sit Down – Learn When, Where, Why, and How to Finish Your Quilts, by Angela Walters and Christa Watson.
A little full disclosure – I was provided with a free copy of this manuscript for review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
First of all, I am reviewing this book as an intermediate level quilter on a domestic machine, who has yet to lay hands on a long-arm. That’s important, given what this book is.
What is it? A treasure trove of information that allows you to translate techniques, and, more importantly, how to plan and execute designs, regardless of which type of machine you wish to quilt.
The book begins with a very useful overview of what each author finds most useful in terms of techniques and basic equipment for her chosen method. Then we jump right into how the two techniques differ – the strengths and weaknesses of a long-arm vs. a domestic machine. There are not detailed instructions regarding prepping a quilt for quilting on either – lots of sources already available can give you that information. What does follow is the meat of the book: Multiple projects for you to practice on.
I must admit, that at first I regarded this as “stuff I would never do.” But the more I read through the text – color coded handily so you know instantly if the given page is discussing long-arm or domestic machine techniques – the more I came to regard these exercises as an invaluable part of the book. While none of the quilt designs make my heart go “pitter-pat,” they are excellent for providing very specific opportunities to learn each technique.
On my list now is the Quatrefoil Applique project, because I think it will be a wonderful sampler to practice different fills with. The authors give a number of useful motifs, plus I have a small sketchbook of others I’d like to try. This quilt offers a fabulous ground for trials. And can serve as a cuddly reference when complete.
The motifs are each diagrammed in the book with directional arrows to clearly show how they are made. I’m confident I can quilt them out without too many false starts.
Other practice projects provide opportunities to work on turning corners, borders, and breaking larger motifs into “chunks” for easy handling.
There is even a whole cloth quilt that steps out of both authors’ comfort zone a little, I think, and helps reassure that the materials presented are good for more than just simple geometrics and random fills.
This is NOT a book that will teach you how to quilt something so intricately it will take Best of Show at QuiltCon. Nothing will do that but practice and more practice. What this quilt WILL do is give you the toolbox for quilting all those tops you have folded up in your closet. C’mon. You do it, too.
Don’t be put off if you ONLY machine quilt or ONLY long-arm. This book is chock full of good information, even when it’s not directly speaking to your method of choice. It’s also absolutely ideal for the domestic machine quilter who has been thinking about a long-arm. Or, like me, the domestic machine quilter who has local studio access to a long-arm machine, but is more than a little intimidated by the prospect of renting it for the day. I think it also probably has lots of ideas for the long-arm quilter who may want to change it up with some domestic quilting – especially if the big machine is occupied, and your fingers are itching!
The book comes out, officially, on April 19th. You can purchase directly from the publisher, Martigale Press, or from Amazon. If you’d like a signed copy, those are available from the authors, Angela Walters, and Christa Watson.
I have some of Angela’s other books, and I feel like this is an extension and further exploration of what she’s covered in the past, making it well worth adding this new volume. I don’t have Christa’s other book, but may have to add that to my bookshelf, as well, given how much I like this one.
I am off to assemble a couple simple tops – or maybe even just a wholecloth sandwich – so I can get to practicing.