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Review: The Quilter's Applique Workshop
The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop, by Kevin Kosbab. Interweave/F+W Media; $26.99
I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. Kevin Kosbab was the technical editor on two books I've worked on, so from that experience I knew he'd write a very thorough technique-focused book. The man really knows his stuff.
The Quilter's Applique Workshop: Timeless Techniques for Modern Designs is the kind of craft book I've really come to appreciate: a book that teaches a specific technique in deep detail, with a group of projects designed to give you lots of practice in those techniques.
As you can see above, the book focuses on three basic applique techniques: raw-edge applique (the kind with fusible webbing), prepared-edge applique (the kind with starch), and needle-turn applique. There are 12 projects in all.
There are many step-by-step illustrations documenting the techniques. I'm a huge fan of the amount of detail Kevin's gone into here. Like, for example: I have a shelf of craft books that explain how to do raw-edge applique by saying something like, "After fusing, sew around the edge of the applique with a zig zag stitch." Kevin goes way beyond that, discussing the merits of various edging stitches and explaining what threads and stitch lengths work best.
He also explains how to stitch neatly along inward-facing and outward-facing curves, and how to get neat points. (The second photo above has red dots at the pivot points he recommends in curved seams of different depths. That's helpful detail, my friends.)
I've done a lot of raw-edge and needle-turn applique, and I learned so many new tricks from this book. Kevin's tip for taking the stiffness out of fused applique is worth the price of the book all by itself.
…Not that I want to give you the impression that this is a pedantic book! Throughout, Kevin encourages you to make these ideas your own, and perhaps even more importantly, to make them fun and comfortable for your own skill level. With each project, Kevin offers up some variation ideas to convert it from one type of applique to another.
OK, so you're probably tired of my yapping, and want to see some of the pretty projects. Right. I adore the projects in this book! They're modern in style, but have some vintage sensibilities that tickle my child-of-the-60's-and-70's heart no end.
Of the 12 projects, eight are quilts and the other four are small projects. These pillows use needle-turn applique in an improv style, where the shape of the appliques should turn out a little uneven and organic - a great invitation for beginners to play. Love those black embroidery accents.
This quilt uses raw-edge applique, and I had to show you a closer-up detail so you can see how it's layered. (Magnificent!) The project is also a great example of how accessable Kevin's designs are. In many of the projects, he's worked in very beginner-friendly construction and quilting, but nothing looks beginner-y here.
I love these simple lines of quilting - they fit the quilt perfectly, but they don't have to be straight or equidistant. Very doable on a home sewing machine!
Here's a prepared-edge applique design, and I love the use of patchwork as applique here. If you're thinking "No way I could get my circles this perfect," you'll be surprised how easy the book makes it look.
I should say this, too: although this book is quilt-focused, you can take these techniques into garment sewing, bag making, or any home decor sewing.
In this table runner, white bias strips are appliqued in this circles-and-lines pattern onto a floral background fabric. And again, you'd be surprised how simple the book makes that idea look. (It's prepared-edge applique, by the way.)
The projects are as well-illustrated and documented as the techniques. I especially loved the sections on the quilting choices Kevin made for each project. I do get tired of seeing "Quilt as desired" all the time in quilt book instructions. It's always great to learn more about what makes a designer choose this kind of quilting over that one.
OK… I'll finish up my gushfest here with the two project designs that had me literally gasp when I flipped to their pages. (Both are from the needle-turn applique section.) What a stunning idea, to enliven a simple squares-and-sashing quilt with bold applique flowers! (The applique technique here is called broderie perse, as I learned.)
Also, freaking masterful fabric selection here.
…And this one manages to be modern while evoking the kitchens of my childhood. (It's an homage to Jean Ray Laury, whose wonderful book on applique came out the year I was born.) Again, the fabric choices are wonderful, and it all looks so complex, but look closely at the piecing and you'll see it's all straight seams. Genius!
(Incidentally, there's an envelope of templates in the back for all the applique motifs used in the book's projects, including these fruits.)
Do I even need to come up with a concluding sentence here, or have you pretty much gotten the gist? This one's a keeper. If you'd like to see some other coverage, you can check out the book's blog tour:
- February 20: Kevin Kosbab, Feed Dog
- February 21: Angela Pingel, Cut to Pieces
- February 22: Sew Mama Sew
- February 24: Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios
- February 25: Generation Q
- February 26: Heather Kosbab, Happy Appliquer
- February 27: Diane Gilleland, CraftyPod
- February 28: Quilting Daily
(Disclosure Time: Interweave sent me a review copy. The title link above is an affiliate link.)