Topic | Handicrafts – Quilting

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  • Ladies, I love the quilts that are hand and machine made over here in the US.  I would love to teach myself and the girls some basic quilting skills, in our home economics lessons.  Can anyone point me in the direction of a good book, or a good simple thing to start with?  I have a basic sewing machine, nothing really fancy and I am good at handsewing – but don’t want to waste cash on a book that is not really what I need.  Websites would be good as well – All recommendations welcome.  Thanks – Linda


    I have one publisher that I go to consistently when I want to learn something new:  Kids Can Press.  I have several of their books including: Kids Can Do It – Quilting.  It is a very SIMPLE book that aquaints you with simle projects that employ different quilting techinqes then culminates with putting together a small lap quilt.  Perhaps you can check it out from your local library to to determine if it is something that would interest you.

    Thanks Cheryl, I will look for that one, and see what it is all about.  I appreciate the response.  Linda

    Sonya Shafer

    Linda, I asked my mother what she would recommend. She’s been quilting for years and taught my two oldest daughters. Here are her suggestions:

    start with a book by Alex Anderson. I think she has two that would work. One is something about teaching children to quilt. [A friend of Mom’s] uses it quite a bit for the kids she teaches in their home school groups. I just checked and she also has one that deals with six easy projects for beginners. There are also DVDs from Fons and Porter that she might look into. Their instructions are always pretty straight forward.

    Best case, of course, would be for her to make a trip over her for about a month and the girls and I would put her through the paces. :-> Is that an option?

    Mom loves company. Smile

    Another idea I thought of is possibly hooking up with a local quilt shop, if one is nearby. Some of them have a Block of the Month club that helps you get your feet wet at a very reasonable cost. When I did one a few years back, you went to the shop on the appointed day and paid $5 for a kit that contained the fabric and instructions for making one block of the quilt. Then the next month you brought back your completed block and they would give you the next kit for the next block free. As long as you completed the blocks on time, there was no other fee. And sometimes they would have demonstrations to give you tips when you picked up the kits. Just an idea that you might check into.

    Jodie Apple

    The Block of the Month club sounds like so much fun!!  (forgive me for butting into this ‘conversation’)  I’m so glad Linda posted this inquiry.   I think I’ll search in our area for something like this.

    Lesley Letson

    I’m a sewer/quilter/smocker/knitter, etc. (though most of what I do these days is patch boys pants). Some of my favorite instructional books are those by Country Bumpkin Publications (also can be found under Inspirations Books). They are all titles A-Z of ……. They have an A-Z of Quilting however I was pretty well versed in quilting when I found out about it so I don’t own it. I have all the smocking, embroidery and knitting ones. What I love about these books are all the real color pictures to go along with the instructions – not drawings. They are very detailed in their instruction and it is a great reference book to keep on hand after you have learned the techniques the first time. They are top of my list on sewing books of any kind. You can buy them at sewing shops and other online retailers. I bought mine straight from the Country Bumpkin website – they will run specials (especially around holidays) on their books and even with shipping from Australia, they were cheaper from them at the time I bought mine. The quilting book I started with that was very helpful (I found mine used and cheap online) is Patchwork Quilts Made Easy by Jean Wells – they have a 1930’s log cabin baby quilt in there that I have made for all three of my boys. It has very clear and easy to understand instruction. I machine piece mine but hand quilt them. 


    Sonja, Oh how I wish I could have one to one instruction with my girls, that is one reason I miss my mum so much, she was always a great help in the sewing department – though not quilting as it was not that big in Europe in years gone by, though I think it may be now.  The books and DVDs I will certainly look into and also the idea of a store that may offer a class is very good.  We have an excellent fabric shop here in town, I may go in and ask what they offer.  Do thank your mom Sonja, how blessed you are to still have her with you.

    MJ, glad you jumped into the conversation, I think a lot of times we all assume that everyone already knows how to do certain things, and I am glad to find someone else like me, who wants to learn a new skill for herself or with her children.  So many skills have been lost over the years, and now with the recession, old skills are becoming more important than ever to everyone who cares about saving a dollar.  I still remember how to darn socks like my mother taught me, we never just threw them away like people do now. we always darned them and made them last for eons.  She was so good at it, that they never felt uncomfortable or lumpy – there was a real pride in those types of skills back then.

    Lesley, I have some of the A-Z books, I got them when I was in Australia – but I don’t have the quilting one – so I shall look out for it.  You are correct they are brilliant books, and the pictures make things so much easier to follow.  I shall also look for the Jean Wells book, with these ideas, I should be able to find something to make that is simple and gets us on the right track.  Lesley can I ask a question?  What do you mean when you say you machine piece but hand sew yours?  I am sure it is simple but I have no clue what you are talking about lol!

    Anyway thanks to all – I really appreciate it.  Linda

    Lesley Letson


    Some people refer to hand quilting as being that everything in the quilting process is done by hand. I am not quite a purist in that respect. I prefer to use the sewing machine to piece together all the cut out pieces and have the quilt top done quicker that way (maybe I’m impatient?) – then I do all the actual quilting stitches by hand. I also learned a way that as you sew the next step in your block on the machine (this is really hard to explain in writing) you don’t stop between blocks and when you are done sewing them (on the machine) you have a string of all your blocks together. It is sort of assembly line style and for whatever strange reason it is very satisfying for me to put them together that way. This really helped speed things up when I was making my baby quilt for my second child and learned that I had to go ahead and make the third years before I’d planned 🙂 One thing that I am sure most books and classes will tell you but that I learned as I was learning was that the pressing after you add each piece is VERY important – also the direction you press your seams really matters. Anyways, I hope you and the girls have fun. I am afraid I am the only one at my house that will enjoy this skill 🙂


    Thanks for the explanation Lesley – that is clearer.  I see there is a lot to learn and so I better start soon!!  I was at a place in West Virginia called Tamarak on the way home from our recent trip, and I wandered around looking at all the crafts made by local people, feeling quite amazed and intrigued by all I saw.  There were many quilts there to look at, all beautifully made, but way out of my budget – so that is what got me thinking.  When my mother passed away in England I inherited loads of material which I shipped back here – it is stored in our basement and now I think I may have some ideas for some of it.  One thing I love about this country is the artistry that abounds, it is so gratifying to see, and this place in WV was like a slice of heaven to wander around – skills that have never died; it was most meaningful to me and stirred my creativity some.  So hopefully, eventually I will report that I actually made something, even if it is just an eye glass case!  Linda

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