Disclaimer: I used to contribute to whipup.net, which is the blog founded by Kathreen Ricketson, the author of this book. Kathreen asked me to write a blurb for the back of the book and I did because I liked the book. Her publisher sent me a copy but I’m reviewing it because I think it’s an interesting take on quilting and I think it raises a lot of issues worth discussing. Having said that, I don’t review books that I think steer you in the wrong direction as a quilter so rest assured that if I’m writing about it, it’s because I think it’s worth a look.
Many people have reviewed Mini Quilts and it had its own blog tour. I thought it would create a better dialog with you, fair reader, if I waited a bit so that those of you who may have had the chance to see the book yourself would be able to jump into the dialog about it.
First of all, I admit that I had binding envy as soon as I saw the book. We haven’t been able to convince our publisher to use Wiro binding on our books and I think that it makes for a very user-friendly craft book. The layout of the book is charming and very appropriate to the tone of this being about intimate little handmade quilts.
Kathreen writes with a refreshingly non-judgmental tone about the various techniques one uses in quiltmaking and I appreciate that she shares my view that one technique does not fit all projects or quilters. The book features quilts made by a variety of people in different sizes with a variety of techniques.
Although some would want to make each quilt according to the instructions, my take is a bit different. This book reminds me of an indispensable technique I was taught in a drawing class. The teaching assistant suggested that before starting a large drawing that it was helpful to do a small thumbnail drawing about 2″ x 2″ in the upper right-hand page of the paper that was kind of a trial run of what you planned to include in the drawing. The thumbnail, he argued, would help you figure out proportions and what to edit out before you got to the big drawing. The thumbnail was a warm-up to the real drawing and it made starting a new drawing less intimidating.
Although I think that these charming little pieces stand on their own, they also provide, for the time-starved crafter, the opportunity to try a new technique before launching on a bigger piece. They also invite knitters and garment sewers to dip their toes into the quilting pool because the investment of time and fabric is minimal. You might choose to make a mini quilt inspired by someone else’s son’s drawing but you could also translate those same techniques to your child’s drawings.
Mostly I think that the quilts in this book provide inspiration and eye candy for quilters to design small, easily sewn compositions of their own. People without design backgrounds, who feel nervous designing something on their own, would probably be less intimidated looking at a few of these examples for ideas. These quilts also suggest that you could make small, sweet compositions as gifts, without dedicating a whole month to one project.
The only questions that I have about this book relate to the quilting of a few of the pieces. I’m really flexible about a lot of techniques but I get confused when I see a quilt that contains batting but not much quilting.
We use Quilter’s Dream batting, which tolerates the greatest distance between stitches of 8″. Most battings require that the distance between the stitching is only 2″ or so apart. If you decide not to heed the batting manufacturer’s recommendations for the distance between stitches, you might want to make a sample and wash it several times and handle it a lot before you make the real thing. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever wash it, things happen and you might want that option down the road. Quilting isn’t just a decorative element, it stabilizes the piece so the layers don’t pull apart over time or cause tearing in the quilt top.
Having said that I think that not every piece needs extremely dense quilting. It just needs enough to hold it together through washing and handling. I once spent an entire weekend repairing the numerous tears in a boy’s quilt made by someone who chose to tie a quilt at 6″ intervals. I’m sure that the maker had no idea how much this quilt would be handled and would have been horrified to see her work in shreds after a few years. I know most of these mini quilts are designed to be wall hangings, but I still think that you want your piece to be durable enough to withstand gentle handwashing and more if it’s going anywhere near a child.
Have you read this book? What do you think?