This year I am adding book reviews to my blog. As an avid collector of books on quilting, sewing, and embroidery, it’s nice to share my opinions on the ones I enjoy the most. The first review will be on “The Quilter’s Academy – Vol 1″, by the mother/daughter team Harriet and Carrie Hargrave.
The authors’ goal is to create a series of books that breaks down the process of making quilts into discrete classes (which in turn are broken down into 4 – 7 focused lessons). The books progress in difficulty, and by the time you work through the entire series of books you will have a “Masters” in quilt making. As someone who thrives in a classroom environment, this approach to quilting definitely got my attention.
The first book in the series, aptly subtitled “Freshman Year”, is an invaluable resource for both beginning and advanced quilters. Both groups are guaranteed to learn something new that will improve their skill. Volume 1 contains nine classes and focuses on the basics – such as tools, workspace, fabric, thread, rotary cutting, seam allowance, and so on. The techniques are broken down into specific lessons and each lesson is accompanied by a hands-on exercise that utilizes the technique presented. Each class concludes with a larger quilt project that lets you practice what you’ve just learned.
The book is packed with information – for example, the authors give a very detailed (and interesting) description about fabric grain and how this can impact your sewing. Their directions for rotary cutting are some of the best I’ve seen and all of their lessons are geared to teach the most accurate piecing possible. While you might not aspire to be a perfect quilter, I don’t think there is any harm in learning how to do things the “correct” way first, and then modifying it to suite your style.
The projects themselves are very attractive and are small enough so they can be completed in a weekend. They all use basic strips and squares (no triangles or circles – they will be covered in later books in the series), but there is a lot of variety. By the time you work your way to the end of the book you will have a good understanding of how to create blocks, calculate yardage, piece accurately, and will be able to create your own patterns from strips and squares.
Overall, I am very impressed with the technical detail and pictures in this book. Everything is clearly explained, and it is definitely a resource you will consult over and over again. Highly recommended for any quilter’s library!