Customer Reviews: The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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on October 25, 2010
I happened upon Elizabeth Hartman's first book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork, through my work and was beyond thrilled with it. This book is perfect for folks who are interested in quilting, but who have a hard time finding books that appeal to contemporary tastes (I'm in my 30s and most quilting books seem to be designed for an older (or traditional) aesthetic--I don't mean that in a negative way, it's just that people in their 20s/30s/40s often have different tastes than those in their 50s/60s/70s).

There are a number of things that stand out to me with this book:

1. I love the intro chapters on the basics of quilt-making. They're very thorough and don't make assumptions about understanding terms and techniques. This makes this book a great one for folks who are interested in quilting for the first time. The publisher has done a nice job of photographing the important steps as well, which is HUGE for people like me who need to see how things are done.

2. I love, love, love that the author has details for creating a distinctive backing for each quilt design. I forgot that there are so many ways to make a backing look unique and fun. I totally forget about backing by the time I'm done piecing a quilt and these suggestions and instructions for making the back as special as the top are wonderful.

3. The instructions for changing up fabrics to create a different look for each quilt was very helpful to me--again, the photos that demonstrate how the look can change was fantastic for a visual person like me.

4. The fabric choices in the quilt projects made a big difference for me in terms of making the designs appealing. They're contemporary prints that you'll recognize if you spend a lot of time in fabric stores, which helps even the simplest patterns in the beginning of the book feel fresh.

5. The quilts themselves are absolutely beautiful. My favorite is probably the simple leaf applique quilt, but they're all lovely.

The only thing I'd change is having detachable pattern pieces for the leaf applique, rather than images to trace or copy from the book. That's one of my pet peeves for craft books, but certainly not a deal breaker. I'd also love it if the book were spiral bound, so it would lie flat on a table. But, again, not a deal breaker.

Be forewarned: While I love this book, it is definitely contemporary or modern, and the designs are relatively simple. This style appeals to me because I'm super busy and I like contemporary. However, if you're a long-time quilter who wants more complex piecing, this isn't the book for you. If you're on the fence, and want to get a feel for the author's style, her blog is Oh Fransson, and the quilts there are very representative of what is in the Practical Guide to Patchwork.
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on November 12, 2010
I wrote a very detailed review of this book on my blog, including photos of some pages. Here is the link:


Here are some excerpts of my review:
Overall, I really like this book. I have followed Elizabeth Hartman's blog (Oh, Fransson!) for a while now, and I think her style of quilting is very fresh, fun, and "hip," if you will. I think what I enjoy about her quilts is that her color selections are cheerful, and her style consists of clean lines. Taken together, this results in a sort of simple elegance to her work. That style suits me.

As the title indicates, this books teaches the basics for the "modern" quilter. With reference to the basics: Ms. Hartman does not assume the reader has any quilting background or knowledge. This is great if you are a beginning quilter. I think this book does a great job introducing some of the basic skills to a new quilter without ovewhelming him/her with too much detail. Ms. Hartman's writing style matches her quilting style. It is friendly and straight to the point. She cuts to the chase and doesn't give a lot of detail that's not necessary to do a good job on your first quilt. She also offers some simple strategies that can help a new quilter be successful. For example, she suggests that if you don't have a 1/4" foot to sew with, put a line of blue tape along your sewing machine 1/4" away from the needle to serve as a fabric guide as you sew. Good advice. If you are not a novice quilter, this book probably won't extend your skills a whole lot. I was okay with that, because that's not what I bought the book for. I just really like Ms. Hartman's quilt designs, and I wanted the patterns and the "eye candy" in the photos.

With reference to the "modern" quilter: I took the "modern" quilter to mean people who enjoy vibrant, nontraditional quilting fabrics...from Amy Butler style fabrics (e.g., large prints, bright colors) to fabrics not typically used in quilting, such as linen. I also took this to mean quilters who enjoy bold, geometric quilt desings as opposed to quilt designs that involve lots of little pieces in fairly traditional (tedious?) block. I think, generally speaking, the "modern" quilter is also one who is a very busy person (perhaps a mommy or daddy, one who is trying to work while raising children, one who is heavily invested in a career and has little time for sewing) and who might enjoy making quilts that can be completed, perhaps, more quickly than those with a lot of small pieces in them. If this describes you as a quilter, you might really enjoy this book.

All in all, I think this is a great book. If you are relatively new to quilting and you like Ms. Hartman's style (check out her blog to see if you do or not), this is a definite "must-have" book. If you are a more experienced quilter and like her style, I think you will also enjoy having this book. If you are an experienced quilter who really likes traditional quilts with lots of piecing, this book isn't for you. Also, if you are an experienced quilter seeking to learn some new, more complex skills, this book is not for you. Don't spend the money.

My only wish is that the book also included thoughts/information on selecting the quilting design for the quilt. Perhaps in a future book, Ms. Hartman could address that and help us all with that a bit. That's the area I really struggle with.

For me, the book was worth every penny (and it's very reasonably priced). It's one I'll look at a lot for inspiration and eye candy. There are several quilts in here I'd like to make. I, personally, struggle a little with how to use all those great, large prints and colorful fabrics that are out there today. I feel like this book gives me a little direction in that area. I'm rather excited about the book.

I hope my review is helpful. I always appreciate others' reviews, but I rarely take the time to write them myself. I guess that shows my enthusiasm for this book!
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on October 29, 2010
This book is fantastic! Elizabeth Hartman's blog and patterns got me into quilting 2 years ago. I was thrilled to find out she wrote a book. This is the best *modern* quilt book I've read to date. I never leave reviews for anything at amazon- but this book is totally worth the 5 stars and the review. The patterns are gorgeous. Her thoughts on fabric and pairing colors is great. Buy this book- you won't regret it! I can't wait to reference it far into the future. :)
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on January 7, 2011
This book really is sew nice...lots of useful, practical information for the beginner quilter, well-organized information (in an easy-to-read format), lots of illustrations, and photographs and diagrams to walk you through projects. I really like this book. I am glad I bought it, and I'm sure I will use it a lot. I like *most* of the projects. There are a few projects that I'm not particularly fond of and will not pursue. I am not a fan of applique, and there is a pretty project for those that love it. And, there is a project that utilizes the little fabric "yo-yos", which I'm not crazy about either. But, with that said, the book does contain several projects that I do like...quilts with simple lines, a modern feel, a use of white space, and new techniques I have not yet tried. This is a perfect book for a beginner to explore and use. And, it's wonderful for a more confident quilter that it looking for a good resource and some fresh, new patterns.
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on October 28, 2010
I'm a devoted Oh, Fransson! blog reader and couldn't have been more excited to get her book! I've been stalking my mailbox for days! She has such a gift with her quilting and her unique ability to make it feel truly within reach for every single person who has the desire to quilt. It is an excellent book with a fantastic overview of fabrics, basics, and of course, gorgeous quilts!
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on October 30, 2010
I purchased this book as a gift for a beginning quilter, and think it's a great, beautiful, modern resource for a new quilter. Definitely THE book I'll recommend to new quilters. It's modern, but still stresses the fundamental basics of quilting (accurate pressing and cutting, for example, binding, using quality materials, 1/4 inch seam allowances, etc) that will help give quilters a good foundation to create quilts that can withstand the test of time (though I'm curious if seams pressed open can stand up to 20+ years of use and washing).

For intermediate to advanced quilters, unless you're a huge fan of the Oh Fransson! blog and HAVE to have it, I'd give it a pass. I think the quilts on her blog/site (both the free ones and the ones that she sells as pdfs) are more attractive and original. But that's the danger of having such a successful blog--how can you write a book that possibly tops it? :)
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on February 22, 2011
I had only made one quilt before getting this book so I was keen to try some more.

I really love how each pattern you are given alternative fabric options.

The book is clear and concise and has many little tips to help a beginner like me.
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on August 24, 2011
This book arrived promplty and it is my "bible of quilting." When I need to know something about quilting I refer to this book. I will never sell it!
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on May 12, 2012
Elizabeth's choices of fabrics are simply gorgeous and fresh. I'd have loved her to maybe mention where the fabrics were from on each quilt. The quilts themselves are quite traditional in flavour, but as I said they have been given a real freshness with her fabric choices. I have to say I follow her blog as well, and I think her book is far better! Good descriptions on how to make quilts. However, I STRONGLY recommend you check her fabric quotes on how much you need. I am making one of her quilts at the moment, and only used HALF of what she had suggested! Big big boo boo there!
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on January 4, 2012
Elizabeth Hartman has written an excellent book for quilting beginners. As in her blog, the writing in The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker is friendly, the instructions clear and she makes it look achievable - an important point since quilting can be intimidating in so many ways.

Hartman covers the basics of patchwork and quilting very succinctly, giving instructions and suggestions for materials, tools, fabric choices, color combinations, adjusting pattern sizes, and quilting and binding of course. I love her fabric choices and the fresh and modern designs of the quilts. But since most of the quilt patterns in this book are catered to beginners, with a couple for intermediate sewers, they are mostly quite simple. While appealing, they are not as fun or exciting as some of the works you can see on her blog.

If you're an experienced quilter, this book may not appeal to you as you're unlikely to learn much from it. But for beginners, there's much here to help you get started or gain confidence in your skills in making quilts.
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