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