I own a lot of sewing and quilting books. In my opinion, the internet will never replace books in value and worth. I love holding a book in my hand. They look great on my book shelf. Most importantly, I can refer to them whenever I want, take them with me to the soccer field or curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate. It’s also a great example for the kids–we all seem to need to limit our screen time these days.
As a sewing/quilting teacher, I get asked a lot about good resources for learning to quilt. Getting started, making your very first quilt, can be extremely overwhelming. There are a lot of internet sites with quilting help, you tube is full of tutorials and quilting celebrities. Just ask a simple question on a facebook quilting group, starting with, “I’m a beginner,” and you will get a ton of answers that will be pretty overwhelming and will include a variety of viewpoints. Ask whether you should pre-wash your fabric or not, and in a matter of minutes, you will get 100 responses to thoroughly confuse you as what is best.
I prefer to recommend books. Books have a way of slowing things down to manageable pace, and they quiet all the noise and hype.
Books can be a comforting companion in the sewing room, a friend and a guide. A friend that has your back. A friend that has the answers, but doesn’t shout them at you or bombard you with more information than you can navigate… Instead they gently offer answers when you’re ready to ask a question.
I’m always surprised how few people on facebook will point you in the direction of a well-written resource book from those who have been in the industry for decades.
I think it’s hard for people to remember what it was like to be a beginner just starting out. Jumping into the sea of information and tools of the quilting world can be confusing. Since I teach kids to sew, I understand the perspective of the beginner pretty well. I’m always on the look out for great resources or products designed for the beginner.
Of all the quilting books I own, Alex Anderson’s books are hands-down the best. I own several, but I’m feeling very enthusiastic about her newest book: All Things Quilting
This book covers everything and answers literally every question that I’ve ever seen asked on facebook and in quilting groups.
Alex starts at the very beginning with the “anatomy of a quilt” and doesn’t skip over anything. She discusses everything a beginner needs to know. She goes over all the tools and what they are used for, which allows the reader to determine what tools she needs right away and what tools to buy later. She has an extensive section using the rotary cutter to cut out fabric and includes clear instructions on how to cut out the common shapes used in quilts.
Alex gives concise and clear guidance to using the color wheel. She covers all things fabrics: fabric selection, character/style, color families, value, and how to deal with color bleeding. She even tackles that infamous question, “Should I pre-wash?” Though she tells you her preference and the reasons she has for her choice, she goes beyond just giving you her opinion and she gives you enough information to make your own decision.
I loved her section on patchwork piecing, as she goes over how to match up points, sewing curved pieces (such as the Drunkard’s Path block) and Y-shapes. I would recommend the book for this section alone. She covers every type of shape and gives insight on how to sew the shapes together. It would take a lot of time and numerous google searches to find all of this information on the internet, and even then it would not likely to be in one place.
There are great photo tutorials on how to paper piecing and appliqué. She covers all the steps to finishing the quilt, including hand quilting and machine quilting, giving the reader many great tips.
I especially appreciate the “Settings and Borders” section. She gives you everything you need to make those design elements easy, which helps intermediate quilters take simple designs to the next level.
The step -by-step instructions are done with a blend of illustrations and photos. I found both styles to be very clear and informative. One thing that sets her book apart from others: she includes how-to photos for left-handed people!
I run a youth quilt guild and I’ve loaned out her books to my students. They always have positive feedback to share when returning the book to me. Students remark how they got a lot from her book and it was very helpful.
If you only can have one quilting book, then it needs to be this one. I have 2 other Alex Anderson books, one designed for kids and another how-to quilt book for adults, and this is the most comprehensive.
For the very beginner, who is overwhelmed with learning to sew a quilt, this is an awesome resource. The book is written in a straight-forward manner and broken down into manageable chunks of information. It follows a logical order of information as well.
Well worth its purchase price. From a sewing and quilting teacher’s perspective, this would make an excellent resource book for students, beginners and intermediate quilters alike.