Category Archives: Book reviews

My book is on Amazon!

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ICOVER‘ve been neglecting my blog recently (sorry, ladies!). However, t have a good reason. And I’m announcing it here first — I’VE WRITTEN A BOOK!  Not surprisingly, it’s about my favorite subject — quilting!

The idea for the book began in 2010, just after I’d purchased my longarm. I attended a machine quilting show and was talking to a longarm repair person. This gentleman mentioned that many women regretted buying their longarm machines. I was shocked. It never dawned on me that someone would spend $15,000 on a longarm machine and not use it, since it seemed like everyone in the quilting world dreamed of owning one. I decided to write a guide that would help women understand the reality of owning a longarm machine, and allow them to make an informed decision.

The book is called: “Longing for a Longarm: Should You Buy a Longarm Quilting Machine?” It is available on Amazon.com for $4.99. Below is the description from Amazon.

If you’re a quilter, you’ve probably considered buying a longarm quilting machine – either for business or pleasure. At the very least, you’ve wondered what it would be like to own such a cool machine. Would it be a great decision or an expensive mistake?

This book, written by a former longarm business owner and fifth generation quilter, is the “real scoop” on longarm ownership.

Written in a humorous manner, “Longing for a Longarm” is packed full of information that will help you decide if a longarm machine will enhance your quilting experience. You’ll learn about the reality of owning a longarm quilting machine, including the amount of space required, the best location for your studio, and how to select the right machine for your needs.

After reading “Longing for a Longarm,” you will know why some quilters give up and abandon their longarms. You’ll understand the physical demands of longarm quilting, as well as challenges longarm quilters face when quilting for customers. You’ll also understand some of the stresses and issues that make longarm machine quilting challenging.

By the end of the book, you will know the pros and cons of longarm ownership, as well as the commitment required to be a successful longarm quilter. You will also have a great list of resources to help you become a better quilter.

Book Review: The Magic of Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler

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https://i2.wp.com/cqmagonline.com/vol06iss04/articles/742/2.jpgWhen I was a child, we took turns sleeping under a crazy quilt made by my great-grandmother. It was primarily black in color and weighed a ton. (I’m guessing the batting was old wool blankets.) My mother kept the quilt in the hall closet and it was always a treat to find it available for a night. For some reason, the sheer weight of the quilt made it comforting.

I think this is why I appreciate crazy quilts. The randomness of the fabric and the variety of stitching makes them very compelling. I’ve only ever made one crazy quilt, and I did all the stitching using my Janome. It was fun to make, but I don’t see another one in my future.

“The Magic of Crazy Quilting” (second edition) calls itself “A Complete Resource for Embellished Quilting.” As I looked through this book, I found it to be true. It would be a great reference for an experienced crazy quilter, or a wonderful textbook for a beginner.

The first chapter covers the basics of crazy quilting. There is a lot packed in these 30 pages, including how to set up your workspace, how to select fabric and colors, and how to do foundation piecing. A beginner should have no problem constructing a quilt if they follow these directions.

The second chapter is 40 pages long. It is directions for the many embroidery stitches that go into a crazy quilt, including the traditional spider and web. The illustrations are very good and this chapter contains a lot of stitches.

Chapter 3, which is 50 pages long, covers embellishments. Pretty much everything but the kitchen sink can be added to crazy quilts. This chapter covers how to add antiques, beads, ribbons and felt, as well as painting and stenciling. Once again this chapter is very comprehensive.

Chapter 4 gives directions for several small crazy quilting projects, including a necklace, a pillow, and a vest. These projects didn’t really excite me, but they certainly work as a way to practice your skills.

Chapter 5, called “Finishing Touches,” crams a lot into 6 pages. This chapter describes how to make borders and how to finish the quilt. I did like that the directions included how to add a ruffle to a quilt, something that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

The book concludes with a gallery of crazy quilts, as well as directions on how to make them.

Overall I think this is a wonderful book for anybody interested in making crazy quilts. It is available from Amazon.com.

Book Review — Blog Inc.: Blogging for Pawssion, Profit and to Create Community

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If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a dedicated blogger. I blog 5 days a week, and it is the first thing I do when I start my day (even before breakfast and a cup of coffee). I blog because I am passionate about quilting, love to share information that  helps make people better quilters, and enjoy having a showcase for my own work. I read this book because, even after 350+ posts, I am committed to becoming a better blogger.

Blog Inc. is a great book for both the novice and experienced blogger. It contains a lot of nuts-and-bolts information, such as how to choose a name and how to choose a platform. The book also covers practical matters such as how to monetize your blog, increasing traffic, and how to make your blog into a business. This was all good information.

What I liked best about Blog Inc. is that it captures the spirit of blogging. You can tell that author Joy Deangdeelert Cho loves to blog. This same energy comes through in the book’s 17 interviews with a diverse range of successful bloggers. They are innovative, creative, and passionate about blogging. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the back story of these successful blogs. I also came up with a few ideas of how to better promote my blog.

Although the profiled blogs are incredibly successful, the author does not give the impression that blogs are a get-rich-quick endeavor. I wasn’t surprised to see that many of the bloggers spend more than 40 hours a week working on their blogs.

I would recommend this book to both novice and seasoned bloggers. It contains some great information and the profiles were very inspirational.

Blog Inc. is for sale on Amazon.com.

Book Review: “Bright and Bold Cozy Modern Quilts” by Kim Schaefer

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This book contains 20 projects – mostly quilts with a few table runners – that are made entirely of squares and rectangles. Most of the projects use only one or two blocks. The instructions are very clear and all the piecing directions are shown in color.  I think it would be very easy for a beginner to use this book and make some fantastic quilts.

I will say that the quilts shown blend beautifully with the modern quilt movement, but could just as easily be made with more traditional fabrics. The projects are also very stash friendly, which is always a bonus.

The subtitle of this book is “20 Projects, Easy Piecing, Stash Busting.” I think that Schaefer delivers. I also think most of the designs are very visually appealing. I would highly recommend this book to beginning quilters, or to more advanced quilters that want some quick and easy designs.

This book is available from Amazon.com and many other bookstores.

Book Review — Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts

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Authors Jaquie Gering and Katie Pedersen sum up the book on page 7: We wrote this book to share our designs for quilts with a modern aesthetic and our enthusiasm for improvisational quilting techniques. They do a fantastic job delivering on both design and techniques.

I love their “formula” for improvising. The authors suggest that you learn the rules of traditional quilting, accept yourself as an artist, be willing to recognize happy accidents, and move on when something fails.

The section on tools and materials contains much more than rotary cutters and seam rippers. They recommend marking tools, sketch books, a design wall, and painters tape. They also talk about how to create a stash. Another excellent section covers the basics of sewing and pressing. This is followed by a great explanation of color theory and the principles of design. There is a lot packed into the first 30 pages of “Quilting Modern.”

Yes there is more.

Chapter 2 covers finishing touches — backing, quilting, and binding. Included are 8 suggested methods for quilting modern quilts, all which are doable on a domestic sewing machine.

Chapter 3 covers “Free Piecing,” which they describe as “a cycle of auditioning, cutting, sewing and reviewing” and is the “how to” for making improvisational quilts.

The final part of the book are the quilt projects. Each quilt is very different, and the authors continue to focus on the improvisational process.

This is an excellent book on creating improvisational quilts. The book contains a lot of information on design and construction, as well as directions on how to grow as a quilt artist. So far this is the best book on modern quilting that I’ve come across.

Quilting Modern is available from Amazon.com and other retailers.

Book Review: Defeat Chronic Pain Now: Groundbreaking Strategies for Elimination the Pain of …

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I realize that this may seem like an odd book to review in a quilting blog, however most of the quilters I know experience some level of pain every day. I live with the pain of herniated disks in my neck, as well as sciatica, so I was curious if this book offered anything new in the world of pain management. When I saw that this book covered arthritis, back and neck conditions, migraines, diabetic neuropathy, and chronic illness — I knew it was worth a read.

Written by two specialists in pain management (Dr. Bradley Galer and Dr. Charles Argoff), the book begins by admitting they’ve seen a lot of bad pain management doctors. In this book, they strive to present information in layman’s terms and to give recommendations for various kinds of pain.

The book begins with seven chapters that cover specific types of pain — back pain, neck pain, arthritis, neuropathic pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and cancer pain. In each chapter, they give specific recommendations for medications and modalities that work. With few exceptions, they recommend active physical therapy where the patient is building muscle strength, not just laying under hot packs and having some gentle stretching. For back and neck pain, they do not recommend surgery for the majority of patients.

Having spent the last two years in pain management, I was very interested in their recommendations for medications. Turns out that I had been on most of them, with varying degrees of success.  The section about neck pain says that “nerve blocks are not the answer.” This was my experience after 3 unsuccessful nerve blocks.

For me, the two helpful suggestions from the book were:

1. Patients should do the same amount of activity each day. You do not lay on the couch for two days in pain, then feel better and clean the entire house, and then lay on the couch for two more days. You do a reasonable amount of activity each day regardless of pain level.

2. Yoga is beneficial for pain management.

The second part of the book talks about effective treatments for chronic pain — medications, nerve blocks, physical therapy, and psychological treatments. As I said earlier, the authors recommend active physical therapy, where you are doing more than resting under hot packs and having some gentle stretching. The authors are also encourage readers to seek psychological help concerning  pain management.

The third section of the book talks about lab tests for pain, as well as the (significant) role that stress plays in pain management.

This is definitely the best book that I’ve read about pain management. The authors clearly know what they’re talking about. The descriptions about treatments and medications are clear and helpful.

You can read more about this book at Defeat Chronic Pain Now!

Book Review: We Love Color: 16 Iconic Quilt Designers Create with Kona Solids (Compiled by Susanne Woods)

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This is an interesting book in that it only uses Kona color solids in its designs. It also gives you a color chart showing the names of the colors used in each quilt, so you can exactly duplicate each project. This is a bonus for people who are frustrated when they want to duplicate quilts in books that use long out-of-stock fabrics.

We Love Color contains 16 different quilts, designed by 16 different quilters. There is great variety in the quilts — pieced, appliqued, and improvisational. None of the projects appeared to be too difficult.  They are all modern in design but range from more traditional to very unconventional. What I like most — as a longarmer — is that there are great pictures of the quilting.

At the beginning of each chapter, the designer talks about their inspiration for the quilt. I found this very interesting, since it’s often hard to tell what inspires modern quilts. At the end of the book are biographies of each of the designers, so you can learn more about them.

Overall I found this to be a great inspiration on how to work with solid fabrics.

You can see more images of this book at We Love Color.

Book Review: Make Your Own Quilting Designs and Patterns by Judy Woodworth

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I have mixed feelings about this book. It is only 80 pages long. The last 30 pages are patterns and a gallery. The first 11 pages are about finding inspiration and eliminating fear. So we’re only left with 40 pages of instruction. And much of that is the nuts-and-bolts of how to transfer designs onto a quilt. Somehow I was left wanting more about how you actually create a pleasing quilt design. The book does cover a lot about finding inspiration; maybe there’s not much else to say beyond drafting out a design and putting it on the quilt.

This book delivers what is promised. She first covers how to design a quilting pattern, which includes using templates and a quilter’s mirror. The next chapters are designing for a full quilt, for a pieced top for a wholecloth quilt, and for a mariner’s compass quilt.  She covers each chapter well and each topic succinctly.  She uses several tools — such as quilter’s design mirrorsinfinte feathers quilting template (scroll down to see this), and a light box — that may be unfamiliar to quilters.

I think the beauty of this book is that it makes designing complex quilting seem doable. Judy’s quilts are beautiful and she clearly knows what she’s talking about. You can see more about this book here.

Book Review: “A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design” by Heather Thomas

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I am taking a color theory class and this book is our textbook. I think that it is a fabulous introduction to color theory. There are color photographs on almost every page. Also lots of quilts and fabric color swatches to illustrate the author’s points.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. I think it is the kind of book that — if you really studied it — would lead to a very good grasp of color theory. The fact that it’s designed for fiber artists makes it far more applicable than books designed for painters. Visually, it is beautifully laid out and full of colorful examples. You can get more information at:

A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design

Here’s what it covers:

The Language of Color — Why study color theory? About the color wheel. Color categories. Expanding the color wheel to hues, shades, tones and tints.

A Look at Each Color — yellow, yellow orange, orange, red orange, red, red violet, violet, blue violet, blue, blue green, green, yellow green, and brown/black/grey and white.

How the colors work together — value, visual temperature, color dominance, complex colors, intensity and saturation, classic color combinations, neutral or achromatic, monochromatic, direct complement, split complement, double complement, double spit complement, analogous complement, analogous, triad, tetrad, and polychromatic.

Elements of Design — line, shape, form, texture, color, value, size and scale, pattern.

Principles of Design — contrast, balance, unity, variety, repetition, dominance and emphasis, harmony, rhythm, movement, direction, space and proportion.

12 workshops to apply what you’ve learned.

Book Review: Creative Girl — The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent & Creativity Into a Real Career

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a more creative job. As quilters, we fantasize about spending our days sewing award-winning quilts, designing incredible patterns, andcreating our own line of fabrics. But could we do it full time?

Author Katharine Sise began her career as an actor, with a part-time waitressing gig to pay the bills. But she did not like the acting lifestyle and knew that she did not have the singing/dancing ability for Broadway. One day she decided to stop waitressing and make her own line of jewelery. She now uses her acting talents at QVC and in making videos to promote her very successful line of jewelery. She clearly wrote this book based on her own experience.

The first part of the book requires self-analysis. Where are your talents? What kind of work do you want to do? What would suit your interests and lifestyle?  What do you want (and not want) in your career? Once your vision is clear, Sise guides you into preparing for a creative career. I like that she supports a transitional approach in which you stay employed while you acquire the needed skills, but may consider working part time, sharing a job, or approaching your boss about flexible hours.

Part 2 is “Get Where You Want to Go.” This is the nuts-and-bolts of interviewing for a creative career, or setting up your own business. I was glad to see that Sise focuses on being a “thriving artist” and not a “starving artist.” There is lots of practical information in this section — including finding a mentor, dressing for success, and how to write a press release. She also addresses how to deal with fear, which I know is a huge issue for people considering a creative career.

Interspersed throughout the book are profiles of successful creative girls.

This book is well-written, easy to read, and nicely laid out. The author has a great conversational tone that feels very supportive. Her information is practical and — I think — would be extremely helpful to anyone considering a more creative career.

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Girl-Ultimate-Turning-Creativity/dp/076243869X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348833271&sr=8-1&keywords=creative+girl+the+ultimate+guide+to+turning+talent+and+creativity

You can learn more about the author at:

http://www.katharinesise.com/?p=189