November 17, 2014

Book Review: BH&G Quilting pieces of the past

I've had quilting on the brain lately. I don't really have time for it right now, but I do have plans. Who doesn't when they have other more pressing projects? When I'm in the zone for some other crafty venture, I usually waste time on Pinterest or borrow books from the library. In this case I came home with Quilting Pieces of the Past (Better Homes & Gardens).

This book was published back in 2004, which doesn't seem all that long ago. The book traces the last 175 years of quilting with 54 quilting projects and full size pattern pieces in an attached insert in the back of the book. The book is divided up into distinct historical periods followed by quilts that are reproductions of that time or inspired by that time. Many of the quilts in the book are drawn from previously published Better Homes and Gardens quilting patterns.

The historical information is very interesting but not nearly as in depth as I would have liked. But it does contain full color pictures throughout with fabric swatches representing the color and style of fabric used in quilts for each time period. The biographical information on the early quilt designers was interesting. Each section contains a historical time period showing the major events of the day so that the reader can understand what influenced some of the quilt designs.

Some of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book poor reviews because many of the projects were not updated with contemporary styling or colors. This did not bother me so much because the quilts were meant to be reproductions of older quilts anyway. It would be easy to update the quilts with newer, fresher color schemes and fabrics. The instructions are where the book struggles a bit. Most of the instructions rely on traditional cutting and piecing techniques. This means that some of the quilt blocks are more difficult to put together because of inset seams. This is particular true with the Lemoyne star block, Bride's bouquet, and a few others. More modern techniques have broken down these blocks to make them easier to piece using strips and special rulers. Some of the quilt blocks are quite intricate and would require very precise cutting and sewing. Several of the quilts are applique quilts and the book contains no instructions on applique.

Despite those deficiencies, I still really liked the book. I loved reading the historical sections and seeing the quilts that came from each time period. I do like many of the quilts in the book and I could see myself making some of them one day. If nothing else, the book could be used as a source of inspiration. It would be easy to take some of the more traditional blocks and up date them. This book is not really for beginners because of several difficult to make quilts  and the sketchy instructions. Still, there are a few projects a beginner could probably attempt without too much difficulty.

Book Rating: 4 stars

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