Book Review – City Quilts

We have a wonderful quilting/fabric shop here in Madison, which I visit so often the owner and some of the ladies know me. It’s so nice to go into a shop and be greeted by name!

I was thrilled to find this book, City Quilts by Cherri House, on a recently shopping adventure.

I think the projects in this book are the perfect examples of modern quilts! I adore the inspiration of city life to make quilts representing “urban architecture and landscapes.”

Categories in this book include:

Urban Inspirations, offering insight into why Cherri picked these varied city scenes as the backdrop for her designs, the way the light hits the buildings at different times of day, the way the structures create different patterns, the way the cities are laid out in grids. She discusses building your design skills to create your own possibilities. She illustrates how to make a traditional pattern contemporary, how to throw in something unexpected, how to make statements based on your color choices.

Fabric: The Joy of Solids is a wonderful chapter talking about the palette of solids, using different color schemes to create the right effect or mood you are aiming for.

The Design Play: Endless Possibilities chapter gives us concrete ways to develop our own design skills, using simple graph paper or modern technology. This chapter also goes through the process of selecting borders (or not), quilting designs, and more inspirational guidance.

The Quilts chapter includes 12 quilt projects made from simple squares and rectangles to make interesting geometric designs that are inspired by city life. (see below for a couple examples)

The chapter on Quiltmaking Essentials includes useful techniques and finishing basics.

I have taken a couple graphic design classes, so I appreciate how far the simple geometric shapes will push an art project, especially when sewing with solid fabrics. I love the point Cherri makes in this book that the simplicity in these designs makes these projects beginner-friendly, while still offering the challenge for more experienced quilters of designing your own fresh, modern layouts.

Many of the projects in this book use black or charcoal gray for sashing, borders and binding, which makes translates well to the hard edges of buildings and the shadows created at corners and crevices. But you could even go the unexpected route by reversing the contrasts. That’s the beauty of this book, it gives you thought-provoking inspiration and guidance to develop your own modern design skills.

We can all relate to the scene that inspired this next quilt – flocks of geese! I love the fresh feel of this one, that it doesn’t have the expected sky blue fabric for the backgrounds.

For those of you with kids who frequent city playgrounds, you may never look at that weathered equipment the same again after seeing this next project. If you don’t have kids, all of these projects still help us notice our surroundings in new ways. I would not have seen this quilt in my mind when looking at playground equipment. But now I see where that scene can lead me in coming up with my own design ideas.

The following project is my absolute favorite in this book. Take a closer look at all those trees and parks in your own community. Wait a minute, this gives me the idea to use my backyard as inspiration for a quilt. It also reminds me of a tile mosaic, which is a beautiful architectural inspiration used by another quilt designer.

Cherri talks about her transformation from being bored with solid fabrics to her joy in working with them now. Subtle changes or gradations in color create a more dramatic effect that print fabrics can. I am slowly building my stash of solid fabrics, and I don’t think I own one piece of black or charcoal gray cotton quilting fabric.

I would love to stretch myself by making something from this book. It has been said quite often that inspiration surrounds you… only if you know how to look for it, not where to look for it. Cherri writes, “be inspired by what is around you.” This book definitely teaches that lesson.

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Previous book reviews:

Small Stash Sewing

Sewing Bits and Pieces

Book Review – Small Stash Sewing

If you’re here to see the zig-zag quilt I entered into the Bloggers Quilt Festival, please stop by this link.

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I preordered Melissa‘s new book Small Stash Sewing, which I received in the mail last week.

In my last book review, I mentioned a couple things I like to look for in a book or magazine: high quality pictures and illustrations (eye candy!), useful tips, intermediate to advanced techniques, and a variety of fresh, modern projects. This book has at least 3-4 projects I want to make, so it was worth buying.

The back cover offers this description of the contents,” From a belt to a handbag, from childrens’ gifts to a faux pillowcase dress… Small Stash Sewing gives you 24 sewing projects to make unique pieces that showcase your favorite… fabrics.”

Amy Butler wrote the most amazing, heartwarming foreword for this book. You can tell Amy admires Melissa’s creativity and creative soul, which just made me smile. Melissa seems like such an open, humble shining star!

This book includes such categories as To Wear, At Home and For Kids. The variety of projects offer challenges for beginners and more veteran sewists, making it a well-rounded book.

The To Wear section includes projects like a ruched patchwork belt, a spiced up tee for guys (Melissa’s sweety is the model), even custom shoelaces, which would really liven up my gray Converse. I am excited to make this adorable necklace with the pretty ribbon closure.

I love Melissa’s strapping bag because it looks like just my size. (I’m not big on large purses, or leather purses, or designer purses with initials on them.) I love the way she combined the light blue wale corduroy for the sides with the quilting cotton gusset and straps, which would also look cool as a pieced strap. The decorative stitching on the corduroy is just icing on the cake, and who doesn’t love icing on cake!

The At Home section includes a very hip argyle embellished pillow, a fabric-covered magnetic frame for your fridge, a gorgeous apron, and this cool bath mat, which is a couple fat quarters pieced over an old bath towel to spice up that old towel.

I do love this daydreamer lap quilt, which is a clever way to embellish a strip-pieced quilt top.

This Cute-as-a -Button-Clock is a fun way to show off a favorite fat quarter and coordinating buttons from your stash.

The For Kids section offers a precious pillowcase dress, a great jester crown for the boys, a yo-yo tiara for the girls, a magic cape, and the prettiest wrap skirt that is reversible. This little ladybug softie is adorable and could be used as a big pincushion. Ah, the imagination in this book is so fun!

Of course the unicorn and moon, which represent her famous Unicorn stories, are priceless.

The pattern pieces are printed in the back, and only a couple of them need enlarging, another bonus since I don’t know how to make enlargements on my home copier.

I would have to say the best part of this book is the ability of the reader to actually feel like you are with Melissa as she experiments with these creative projects, using just the treasured fat quarters in your stash. If you’re looking for cheerful sewing projects to fill an afternoon, this book offers loads of potential for challenge and satisfaction.

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Related Post:

Book Review – Sewing Bits and Pieces

Book Review – Sewing Bits and Pieces

Have you seen Sandi Henderson‘s new sewing book, Sewing Bits & Pieces yet? It’s fabulous!

As I mentioned in my most recent Best Practice post about Resources, a couple things I like to look for in a book or magazine: high quality pictures and illustrations (eye candy!), useful tips, intermediate to advanced techniques, and a variety of fresh, modern projects. My aunt Marcy has a general rule – if a book has at least 2-3 projects she wants to make, she buys it. Knowing the high quality and charm of Sandi Henderson‘s fabrics and patterns, I knew this one would be a winner when I pre-ordered it. Whew.

The description on the back cover says “Turn your favorite fabric scraps into fresh and fun handcrafted treasures.” It offers 32  projects using fabric scraps. We are all looking for new ways to use up our scraps, and this book offers plenty of ideas and inspiration.

I think the skill level for the clothing, home goods and craft projects is probably intermediate. There are some applique projects and gathering steps that would have been challenging when I was first learning to sew. One thing I really like about this book is the different approach Sandi took by offering a quick section on sewing terms and a quick section on commonly used tools, instead of providing a comprehensive section on teaching readers how to sew. The patterns in the back section DO NOT need to be enlarged – I love that!

Here are a couple of my favorite projects Sandi offers in her selected categories:

Kitchen – appliqued tablecloth and towels, adorable fruit-shaped magnets, and snack bags.

Bed & bath – a patchwork pillow, organizer, sachet, appliqued pillows, appliqued shower curtain.

Children – includes the coolest looking growth chart in the form of a 3D-looking tree, adorable Mary Jane Slippers, and the cutest library tote using a strategically placed piece of Heather Ross’ princess and the pea fabric.

Party – I can’t wait to make these party lanterns for my patio, but the party bags and invitations will be a must for me too.

Crafts – a pretty butterfly pin that could embellish a jean jacket or a shopping tote, gift tags, and these innovative fabric silhouettes!

Adults – my favorite in this category is the patchwork scarf, which will be the very first project I plan to make.

I’ve had this stack of Ginger Blossom fabrics for awhile, just waiting for the right project to hit me.

I think these fabrics are going to make an adorable patchwork scarf! So much cuter than the old-school cowboy bandanas to hold my hair back while working in the garden or bike riding down the trail. The pattern actually makes two adult scarves so I might have an extra one for a giveaway. (wink wink!)

I love all the original and modern ideas Sandi presented in this book. I also appreciate the stylish photos and illustrations provided for reference. This book is full of cheerful projects that I can quickly whip up in an afternoon and use over and over again.

I preordered Melissa‘s new book Small Stash Sewing, which I can’t wait to find on my doorstep around the end of May. I will definitely offer a book review of that treasure when it arrives.