I may have only started quilting last fall, but in the past six months I’ve had the chance to worm my way around the world of quilting and figure out what interests me. I approached the world of quilting a little cautiously and heavily leaned in the quick-and-fun purse and accessory project direction. Working full-time in a quilt shop required me to learn the basics though, and as we all saw, I made my first quilt using a layer cake. It was fun and felt rewarding to snuggle up with my finished quilt for the first time, but I will admit I was not yet hooked.
In time, something about opening a box of a brand new fabric collection, flipping through the latest quilting book and seeing all the fabulous projects our customers bring in to share with us got me excited to not just sew, but to quilt! So, much like every typical quilter, I dove into a few projects at once. I was first enticed by the idea of liberated sewing — quilting with no pattern — and making an eye-spy baby quilt. I scoured through Karen’s stash for every novelty scrap I could find. And I was off. I sewed the most ridiculously small pieces of fabric together, almost challenging myself to see how little I could go. This process was tedious and slow-going, but I was having fun. I made nearly twenty blocks and decided I was satisfied with my effort. The end result? Well, it was pretty ugly. But that wasn’t the point. I was just playing around with simply putting fabric together in a completely non-uniform way. I haven’t quite decided how to put all the blocks together, but when I get back around to it, I’m sure I’ll have an interesting quilt to donate.
Lesson learned? Modern is fun!! Already a fan of funky, bright fabric, enjoying the uniqueness of contemporary quilt making was an obvious next step for me. This is around when I discovered my absolute favorite quilt book that threw me into a love affair with solids. The twelve projects in City Quilts by Cherri House are all perfect. Normally when I flip through a book of quilt projects, I fall in love with some and am lukewarm on others. Not the case for City Quilts.
Deciding which project to start with was a difficult decision for me, although I eventually landed on “City Lot” which is featured on the back cover. Cherri’s selection of colors is so harmonious that I knew I had to do my best to exactly replicate each tone and block placement. Ok, a bit obsessive-compulsive on my part, but I must have that exact quilt! It took a while, but I think I now have all the perfect colors. I am so eager to work with the bright colors of the blocks that I am little underwhelmed at having to first sew together 54 sashing strips of chocolate brown and white before I even get to touch a single scrap of bright fabric! Not to mention, once I get all those strips together I have to cut them into over 450 pieces! Clearly, this is the biggest and most tedious quilt I’ve committed to. At least it’s easy sewing and not something like 450 flying geese. Yay for strips!
So, what’s the deal with City Quilts? The twelve quilts featured in this book are all inspired by urban themes such as a tall building at night with glowing lights, a city garden with a palette of green and blue hues or a city harbor with interlocking docks and deep blue water. Each quilt is made only with solid fabrics, which highlights the expert balance of color and artistic designs that focus on the whole rather than a single block or technique. The simple and geometric style of each pattern make them great for quilters of all skill-levels and give them a truly modern feel.
City Quilts is more than just a collection of modern patterns. This book is a valuable reference for nearly every aspect of the quilt making process. It covers fabric selection and the importance of color and value, changing the feel of a quilt through simple changes to design and construction, how machine quilting adds effect and emphasis to your quilt top, as well as endless advice on the basics of quilt making. For a beginner, this information is invaluable and crucial in becoming a successful quilter. For those more experienced, City Quilts provides a great refresher on concepts that will help you to create your own visually impactful patterns and designs.
In my opinion, City Quilts is required reading for any contemporary quilter. With much of the design rooted in traditional techniques, I also highly recommend it to any traditional sewer who is looking for a change, challenge or just a great gift for your friends or family. Being a native of Chicago, the patterns and textures of an urban landscape appeal to me greatly and I can’t wait to bring more of these designs into my home here in Boise.
Have a book recommendation? Please leave a comment with your favorites so I can check ‘em out and share the love!
— Posted by Stacy