My favorite book: picks from a patchwork fanatic

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If you’ve read my coworkers “fave” posts, you’ll quickly note a theme. We can’t possibly pick just one favorite. No way, no how. The only requirement for a book to be on my favorites list is that I’m stitching something from it or I have the page marked because I’m going to start a project soon. If only there were more hours in the day!

I narrowed it down to…NINE recent favorites. Here they are in no particular order.


Scrap-Basket Strips and Squares 9. Scrap-Basket Strips and Squares by Kim Brackett

Wildflowers—this quilt is hanging in our lobby and it calls to me every single day. My version is already cut out and waiting to be pieced. I bravely cut into a ton of my precuts to give it a super-scrappy look. It’s such a happy quilt!
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Wildflowers quilt by Kim Brackett
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Test blocks in progress
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Piles of pieces cut and waiting for Wildflowers piecing


Stitches from the Garden8. Stitches from the Garden by Kathy Schmitz

I simply LOVE this book. The projects are precious and beautiful and are calling out to be stitched. It can almost double as a coffee-table book because Kathy’s sketches and watercolors make it extra special. I’ve already started the Garden Arbor pincushion; it’s half stitched. The moment the pincushion is done I’ll be starting on the sweet Blackbird Notion Nest. Who doesn’t need a beautiful little sewing kit??!!
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Garden Arbor pincushion and Blackbird Notion Nest


I have 22 (count ’em!) finished quilt tops waiting to be quilted. I promised myself that this is the year I’ll stop quilting by check and quilt them myself. These three books will help me reach my goal. Each is wonderful on its own, but as a team, they are going to help me break through my goal!

180 Doodle Quilting Designs7. 180 Doodle Quilting Designs

I’ve already used this book to machine quilt a child’s I Spy quilt for a friend. I used the Coils design set by Christa Watson on the border, and it was super quick and easy! The trace, doodle, and quilt sequence worked like a charm. That bit of practice really did make a difference.
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Block quilting pattern from the Coils design set


Machine Quilting with Style6. Machine Quilting with Style by Christa Watson

I’m going to try this cool spiral design from Machine Quilting with Style—I’m not sure which project will be receiving it, but I love the spiral.
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Focal Point quilt


The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting5. The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson

This quilt top is from the cover of All about Strips. I think I’ll try machine quilting it with the U-Turns design from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.
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Karen’s All About Strips quilt top and the U-Turns quilt design


A Common Thread4. A Common Thread: A Collection of Quilts by Gwen Marston

I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Gwen, and I think this gorgeous book is a perfect tribute to her incredible body of work as a fiber artist. As I continue to thumb through this book over and over again, I am awestruck at seeing her progression through the years. With over 80 quilts to drool over, I know everyone on my holiday gift list will love it as much as I do.
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The New Hexagon3. The New Hexagon by Katja Marek

The New Hexagon is still at the top of my favorites list. I’m slowly working my way through Katja’s Millifiore Quilt-Along. As if the 52 blocks in the book weren’t enough, the new perpetual calendar provides daily inspiration for my next hexie project.
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Simple Applique2. Simple Appliqué by Kim Diehl

This also remains on my favorites list because I love to appliqué and I just keep on learning from Kim! It’s my go-to resource for all things appliqué. Here’s the project from the cover of the book that I made to improve my invisible machine-appliqué skills.
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Learn to Paper Piece1. Learn to Paper Piece by Nancy Mahoney and Papers for Foundation Piecing

I know how to paper piece, and I’ve taught friends. I admit to pulling a few clumps of hair out in the process. But it’s SO much easier now. I just gift friends with this book along with a package of our papers. Voila! No more bald spots! Thank you, Nancy.spacer 10px deep

Can you beat Karen’s 22 quilt tops in need of quilting . . . or maybe you’re close? Share your count in the comments!

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22 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I’m pretty good at quilting when the top is done; I’ve only got one quilt top waiting right now, and that’s because I had to start a time-sensitive project first.

    Now, quilted projects waiting on binding……let’s not count those, lol!

    —Heather V on September 2, 2016
  • Nope, can’t beat it. I work start to finish. I can’t share them if they aren’t done.

    —Virginia on September 2, 2016
  • I own every book mentioned with the exception of Gwen Marston’s beautiful book. Narrowing it down to one favorite book is not possible and, to me, that is wonderful. I treasure each book in my collection. the majority of which have come from Martingale, and refer to them again and again. No, I will never make every pattern; but the joy in just paging through my books makes me understand why I love quilting, fabric and thread.

    We are kindred spirits, Betty! Thanks for sharing this. –Jenny

    —Betty Grove on September 2, 2016
  • I have hand quilted many quilts and many have been machined quilted. But I decided to see how many quilt tops I had to quilt, either by hand or by check. I was rearranging my studio and found that I have over 300 quilt tops to do! I had several quilted by check, but I keep producing tops. I don’t think I will ever stop, and that includes making quilts for Community Service for our Guild and for those I love.

    —Linda on September 2, 2016
  • There are a few waiting in the wings—but I prefer not to count. 🙂

    —Nell on September 2, 2016
  • I just finished number 22 and 21 this week. So my list is down to 20. In honesty some of those are table runners or table toppers, but they still need to be quilted. I have to start a Christmas quilt on Tuesday when I get back from a family reunion (I have also knitted over 70 dishcloths for this event as well), which will bring back to 21.

    —JaniceCarole on September 2, 2016
  • I wish I only had 22…lol… I have made sample tops for stores and classes and seems there is never enough time to quilt them. I will get to them and maybe those books will help me!

    —Kristie Michalowski on September 2, 2016
  • I thought I was bad with 4 tops. I feel so much better now.

    —Lisa on September 2, 2016
  • Geez, I hate to admit it but I have at least 80 quilt tops to be quilted. I have figured out that I am a Topper, not a Quilter. As soon as the top gets done, I’m ready to move on to a new pattern. My goal next year is to try to get at least one quilted a month, even if I give it to charity, it will be a quilt finished.
    All the books have their own appeal but Kathy Schmitz and Kim Diehl’s with the applique really catch my eye. Would love the New Hexagon book would expand the hexi knowledge for me.

    —connie b on September 2, 2016
  • When I first bought my quilting machine, I had WAAAY more than 22 tops waiting to be quilted. But I’m mostly caught up and quilt as I finish a project or two. But when are they going to invent a binding machine? That’s where I have a lot of quilts now!

    —Paula on September 2, 2016
  • I don’t want to count them – as I would panic. My Mom left me well over a hundred to quilt, two closets full and two floor to ceiling stacks of project boxes with finished quilts. All have embroidered labels. The UFOs, were neatly organized in project boxes with full instructions and diagrams for quilting and for whom they were made. If the centers were special or hard, you will probably find several quilt rows pieces and sewn together. It is time for me to get back into action and get some of those quilts done for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    —Vicki on September 2, 2016
  • One-an almost finished top, just needs borders and then quilting. I rarely do any quilting beyond spirals and free motion outlines. The book 180 Doodle Quilting Designs would make me brave enough to try something new.

    —Lynne on September 2, 2016
  • When I retired a year ago, I counted 18 unquilted tops in every size from wall hangings to queen size. I immediately got three done, but oh, no!! Now that I have even more time to sew, I’ve made even more tops that need to be quilted. BUT, I’m learning how to quilt on my own machine now. It’s so fun, so I hope I can do some catching up. 180 Doodle Quilting Designs would be a perfect book for me.

    —Michele Bacha on September 2, 2016
  • I have about 8 to either quilt or bind. Just need to get myself motivated and then they will be done in a flash. I have been spending lots of time lately using up scraps and making little dresses for all the little girls in our family. I expect with the cooler weather and less vacations away from home, I will get my unfinished projects caught up. I have not done appliqué in a long time…need to get back to it and this book looks like it would be something that would motivate me to return to that technique. The best part of appliqué is that I can take it with me wherever I go and do the hand appliqué. Love that part!

    —Sharon on September 2, 2016
  • I, too, am afraid to count! But I know it would be NOWHERE near the 100 or 300 mentioned in the comments! I would love, Love, LOVE to treat myself to a longarm – thinking I could accomplish more without having to squeeze it through the small space of my little domestic machine – But maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe I would still procrastinate?!? One thing is for sure – I need help with quilting designs and I really love the examples you showed in the books.

    —JanG on September 2, 2016
  • I know I have at least 20 waiting to be quilted maybe more. I’m afraid to count them up. I need to learn some quilting skills. The doodle book would be perfect.

    —Chris on September 2, 2016
  • 22! Wow! I thought I was bad with 16. I am down from my high of 19 since I found a great Longarm quilter with great prices.

    —Dunlapquilter on September 3, 2016
  • Well, I have 57 different UFO’s in all different sizes from tiny wall hangings, to large 85″ ones, but only 5 of them are actual tops. I leave most of them in the "block" stage so that when I go back to them I don’t have iron a large top.
    I quilt all my projects myself, so I really need to get some of the new machine quilting books for more instruction and inspiration.

    —Amanda B. on September 3, 2016
  • I thought I had a backlog of UFO’s! While I decline to count, they must number more than 10, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along until they are finished; but not before the next project needs starting!

    —Linda Towers on September 4, 2016
  • WOW! So many beautiful books…I have many, many Martingale tomes in my collection, but theres always room for more!!! REally love that coils quilt design and would be a super fun one to practice to (almost) perfection!
    I have to say I have ZERO tops waiting to be quilted. I just finished a playmat size and I machine bind, so it goes quicker. The main reason I don’t have tops waiting is that I’m a pretty slow piecer, and the thought of not finishing makes me a little nuts! i refuse to quilt by check….hard-headed I guess! NOw, as far as ufo’s lying around…..about 15…..ish. 😉

    —Donna C on September 4, 2016
  • I can’t beat the 22 tops, but I’m well on my way to that number. Fortunately you didn’t ask about UFO’s that aren’t to the quilting stage yet!

    —Pearl on September 4, 2016
  • Am not at home now ( on vacation) but will have to say that I have at least 50 tops that need quilting. I quilt for others so you know that MY quilt take a back seat. lol

    —Shirley Marvin on September 9, 2016

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