Quilting with a Modern Slant – Book Review

I recently finished Quilting with a Modern Slant; people, patterns, and techniques inspiring the Modern Quilt Community, by Rachel May.

This title is a hybrid reference book; yet packed with inspiration for quilters of any level. It does include some patterns, tutorials, plenty of helpful techniques, and (again), tons of inspiration. The photographs alone are a delight to the eyes of quilters, sewers and those who appreciate all things quilting, sewing and embroidery.

The book is divided up into 7 sections; A Sense of Play, Improv, The Personal is Political, Quilting from Tradition, For the Love of Color, Practicing Scale(s), and Coming Full Circle. Each section highlights a wide variety of designers, from the household names, to those that may be new to quilters.

There are two to three pages that cover each designer and include beautiful photographs of their work. The text covers what inspires and influences them, what challenges them, and a touch of biographical information. At the bottom of some pages, are a glossary of terms that relate to the quilt photographed. The terms and definitions are cleverly presented, similarly to the crawl that comes across a TV screen.

Prior to these sections, there is a short introduction, which includes “Six Steps to a Quilt,” “What You’ll Need,” “Find Your People,” and “What is Modern Quilting?” which are the perfect launch to engage the reader into the rest of the book. I felt as if the author wrote out a general FAQ list with answers. Then took those answers and synthesized them crisply, into these first 8 pages, which are very impressive. I particularly like and appreciate the, “Find Your People” section. It helps lead a new quilter to find others to learn from, and to share their quilting journey.

This book is full of information and ideas. For example, I re-read a few sections and noticed I either learned something new from that section, or it provoked thoughts that hadn’t occurred to me on the first reading. For example, in “The Personal is Political,” section, it poses some compelling questions to the reader about how she or he is affected by influences in today’s world, as well as the past; cultures and personal values, that result in fabric choices, topper patterns, machine and hand quilting finishes. I realize I hadn’t thought about that quite so deeply when it comes to my own quilting and choices until that second reading.

Quilters develop their sense of play by challenging themselves, collaborating with others, experimenting with new techniques and fabrics. Even the most experienced of us may end up spending a frustrating five hours ripping out unwanted stitches. But each quilter’s journey throughout the years is heavily blended with that sense of play, and how it sparks our creativity level to rise. 
This premise plunges the reader into each section, which offers demonstrations about use of color, use of negative space in machine quilting, dying your own fabric, paper-piecing, etc. 

I found myself pouring over the photography and the tutorials. I loved the photo of the Red & White Quilts, that were displayed in 2011 at The American Folk Art Museum. It captured my attention, imagination and gave me the opportunity to dream about what I might be capable of.  Others photos did as well, but that one had a big impact on me. It also underscored the overall theme of the book, and the last chapter of, “Coming Full Circle.”

This book is nothing short of spectacular!!  Great job Rachel May and all those who contributed to this outstanding book.

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