A few weeks ago I received an email from a publisher’s rep in the UK, asking if I’d like to review a book called “Carefree Quilts” by Joy-Lily. I have to admit that after an initial reaction of “how cool is that!” I had to stifle the impulse to ask “why me?” – after all, I don’t have the following of the bloggers who you usually see doing reviews. I also didn’t ask how they found me…
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I serve on a non-profit board with someone who, when he found out I was a quilter, told me that he had a friend named Joy-Lily who was also a quilter, and asked if I had met her. He sent me a link to her website, but that’s as close as we’ve ever gotten.
On to the book: the premise is that Perfection is Optional. Joy-Lily says that if you have to stress too much to make everything match perfectly, quilting won’t be fun for you. So she’s presenting techniques that allow for a little flexibility, in the form of a primer for newer quilters or a relaxing break for more experienced quilters.
A side note here: I admire the absolute perfectionism of quilters like Sally Collins and Judy Martin, although I don’t personally want to expend the effort to get there. (I’d rather make my HSTs a tad big and trim them than fuss with getting them exactly right without wasting 1/8” of fabric.) On the other hand, I always feel like it takes more energy for me to do “liberated” quilting than traditional. So, I was curious to see how Carefree Quilting would approach the subject and whether I could get on board.
I liked the illustrations a lot! There’s a combination of photos of fabric and quilts, and jazzy drawings of techniques and details. The first chapter deals with some basics of tools, color choices, and quilting rules – sort of the usual stuff, but presented in a fresh and engaging way.
The projects start out simple, but even the first stitch & flip flower is pretty cute. Joy-Lily’s use of bright fabrics, including lots of batiks, keeps things lively. There are a variety of projects besides just quilts: a table-runner, tote bag, apron, pillows and placemats. In addition, all of her blocks finish at 12”, so it’s easy to substitute one for another or to create a sampler.
The book continues on to different sorts strips and “stack-slash-rearrange” blocks, including some with curves. Along the way, the author provides lots of tips about sewing and techniques, and ideas about how to use the blocks in different ways.
I, of course, decided to jump in to the final “combination of everything” project that Joy-Lily calls her Leaf Cover Quilt. I’m a stickler for good and accurate instructions so I figured my review had to include some hands-on investigation! Here's Joy-Lily's original,
and my version:
If you follow the instructions from the beginning of the book, or have some sewing experience, then the instructions towards the end of the book will make perfect sense. If you're a brand-new quilter, then the last couple of projects probably shouldn't be the first ones you try, unless you have a sewing mentor or an appetite for adventure!
Overall, I think the book is well-written and a lot of fun, and would be a great starting point for those younger generations that we're always trying to lure into the quilting fold -- not to mention those of us who have been "coloring within the lines" for a while and want to take a break!
Did I say give-away? What a concept!
The publishers were kind enough to send me several of their recent books and I'm going to give them away -- but it's probably easier to do it one at a time. It makes sense that Carefree Quilts would be first. If you'd like a chance to win this, please leave me a comment; feel free to share the give-away on your blog, but each person just gets one entry. It's Saturday afternoon now, and I'll do the random-number thing on Wednesday afternoon, January 25.