Sunday, May 9, 2021

Books I Love

Buying printed quilt books has become less popular in recent years. Several publishing houses have gone out of business. When I have a big sale of my stuff, books are hardly given a glance, even though older books provide much more reference material than current books.

 Here are four books I love and turn to frequently. If I had to pare my library down to the few I absolutely couldn't do without, here they are :

In no particular order:

1. The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig

I often tell beginning students if I could only keep one of my more than 350 books, this is the ONE I would keep. For all the great reference information it provides. This Chapter is on Calculating Yardage: 

There are LOTS of color photos of great quilts--this is one of my most favorite in this book: Sage Tracks. I would like to make this some day. It is used as an example of different Settings and the pattern is not in the book, but I can figure it out:

2. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, Third Edition by Barbara Brackman:

This is one book I think every quiltmaker should have, especially if you love to piece as I do. It provides more than 4000 patterns, the historical names for them, when and where they were first published. A wealth of information. This edition introduces color sketches of the blocks which can really help you "see" the design in ways you might miss with a black and white sketch.

There is also a stand-alone software version of this book for your computer, both PC and MAC called Block Base +. It allows you to print out any of these blocks in any size you like. It can be used with Electric Quilt, a quilt design software I would be lost without, but it does not have to be used with EQ--it works separately. 

3. The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer:

I love complex pieced patterns with lots of pieces. Again, more than 4000 blocks. I sit for some time, just turning the pages, making a list of potential blocks for new quilt designs.  It also provides historical information for each block and color sketches as well as drawn line designs: 

Included are two transparency overlays that allow you to see exactly how the blocks are constructed. This is especially helpful for  newer quilters who are not familiar with 5-patch and 7-patch designs. 

4. Let's Stitch a Block a Day, 365 Quilt Block Designs by Natalia Bonner:

I have had my Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm for more than 5 years. I love Ruler Work and have learned a lot from Natalia on YouTube and through her books. I debated too long about buying this book but am glad I did. It is now the first place I look when considering potential designs for quilting: 

Because this is the 21st century, see those QR codes on the pages?  Hover your phone/tablet camera over the one you want and you are taken directly to a short video of that block being stitched. Natalia offered these videos free, one a day for a year, then decided to create this book to save them all in one place. Brilliant!

I can see at a glance a wide variety of designs in a variety of shapes. Very helpful as I master my favorite designs.

Be aware as you search for used books online, sometimes they are priced WAY HIGH on Amazon and other 3rd party resellers. I found a used copy of Jinny Beyer's book online for $104 OR you can buy it directly from the publisher for $49. If a book is out of print, I often contact the author first to see if they have any on hand--often, they do.

And when buying from a 3rd party--do your research. You can find The Art of Classic Quiltmaking online, for less than $20, only to discover when it arrives it is a reprint and only the cover is in color, the entire inside pages are all black and white. Buyer beware.

It's no surprise to me that I am a huge fan of these 5 women, all have added a lot to my quiltmaking journey. I am pleased that I know 4 of them personally and hope to meet Natalia one day, to thank her for what she brings to the quilt world.

If you've been a quilter for years, you probably have your favorite books too. What are they?

Let's quilt.



  1. Thank you for sharing these, Barbara. As a beginning quilter, it’s helpful to receive recommendations from a pro such as yourself. May need to buy myself a Mother's Day gift.

    1. Yes, do! I have read every word of The Art of Classic Quiltmaking—it is like a detailed course in Quiltmaking.

  2. Thank you for showing us these books! I may just need to check them out! You're such a blessing!

  3. I think I have close to 400 quilt books (and some days, I wonder, why?) and the book that I would never sell is Fons and Porters "Quilter's Complete Guide". I still use it occasionally if I am doing a procedure that I haven't done for a long time..and I've been quilting over 50 years...It's a great book!!

    1. That is still in my References section. Some day I will give it to a new quilter who shows passion for our sport.

  4. but I can figure it out:,,,,,so true most of the time. Thanks for the hints to buy old books without breaking the bank.

  5. I am so enjoying these retrospective blog posts of yours. I admire your quilting and generous sharing of information, and I trust your judgement. I bought the Harriet Hargrove book the last time you recommended it, and I agree it is wonderful. I don’t have the Brackman book yet, but it’s on its way to me! And I totally agree with the Beyer book. I believe I drool over it more than any other. Guess I need to add the Bonner book to my wish list! Thank you so much for sharing your information with us.

  6. I have the Beyer and Brackman books, also the Fons & Porter book mentioned by Stitches. All are fantastic. I've now added the Hargrave-Craig book to my "watch for" list, because it looks like it steps through fabric calculation logic, rather than use a bunch of charts. Thanks for the warning about the reprint being black and white.

  7. I have the first two you referenced, and they are favorites. Wow, I've never thought about what books I would have to keep if I really needed to downsize. I'll have to ponder that.