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Book Review: "Quilting Happiness" by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland
Submitted by Pam on Mon, 08/19/2013 - 23:36
The minute you open the book to the introduction, you will begin to find your quilt-y heart inspired to start making and your creative brain full of thoughts to ponder about your quilt-y heart! Because as the authors suggest - "Quilting Happiness is a work book of sorts to explore what makes us happiest in our quilting".
And the thing is, being a dabbler at heart and not committed to any particular form of self expression, I am finding that as I read the "happiness" exercises sprinkled throughout the book to help the reader better understand her quilting style, motivation, and paths to inspiration, most of the exercises can be applied to almost any crafty expression!
So - even if you are not an avid quilter - a "sometimes quilter" or a "curious quilter" perhaps - your crafty life can not help but benefit from Diane's thoughtful exercises and suggestions for revving up your creativity.
I have never before questioned my crafty heart. The need to create has been so deeply a part of me it is almost a need. Playing with the "happiness exercises" however, has already taught me a great deal about myself - like why some projects lay in the WIP bin for years and others are given top priority all the way to completion!
And what have I learned about my own quilting style - me - the not-quilter? If I am to invest my time and talent in a quilt, it must be totally unique, my own quirky design, and employ several of my dabbler instincts. In fact, I realized that I see quilting simply as a canvas for dabbling.
Thank you Quilting Happiness! I am learning lots of new stuff about me and how I tick!!
Inspiration for quilters! Tons of that to be found among these pages.
Page 20 - nearly the beginning of the book - solved two problems I am currently facing on a very personal project Diane and I are working on together - saving the best parts of a very old family heirloom quilt damaged after years in an old trunk.
Christina's "Plus You Quilt" project solved the problem of what kind of fabric to use to showcase the vintage fabric flowers and the beautiful hand stitching around the edges of the "pluses" would be a beautiful way to set off the flowers.
Haven't even shared this idea with Diane yet! So Diane - what do your think?
You can read more about our project soon on the Quilting Happiness blog - here.
Diane's creative exercises like the creative play exercise on page 23 help quilters free themselves from their "straight jackets" and let go and see what happens! I can't wait to play with this exercise. No "straight jacket" = happiness!
Another of her happiness exercises on page 39 offers questions that help sort out how you become inspired so you can be more aware and ready when inspiration strikes - questions like "What does inspiration feel like to you?" Have you ever actually 'thought' about that? (Hint: Diane provides prompts so it isn't hard to find the answers!)
Another happiness exercise 'how to find your personal quilting style through collage play' is one of those exercises that I truly believe applies to every kind of self-expression. A hugely valuable exercise - no matter what crafty-play you love.
Two of my personal 'happiness exercise' favorites:
1. Suggestions for people like me who lack quilting skills and even more lack commitment to a big complicated quilt project. Hint - you still get to try out a cool pattern without being a brilliant quilter or making a huge commitment!!
2. Look beyond your first negative reaction to a quilt and turn it into something uniquely yours and something you will most likely love. Truth be told, there is one quilt in this book my eyes do not like. But this creative play exercise follows close on it's heels and I see THAT as a message! Don't judge a quilt by the fabric chosen!!! Choose you own fabrics - fabrics that make your eyes happy - and see what happens!
Right off the bat, there are three of Christina's projects that really appeal to me! The Patchwork Diamonds Quilt above, and the Crazy Strips Quilt pictured here. The third - ha! THAT is a big fat secret because THAT is the one I have just completed and will share soon!
All I am willing to say right now about the project is this: Christina is brilliant!!! This not-quilter had no trouble following her instructions and my project turned out absolutely beautiful even though the techniques needed to make the project were completely new to me.
Which brings me to Christina's part of the book (other than her amazing quilt designs of course!) The instructions!
Construction of each project is well documented and beautifully illustrated. And some of the projects - at least to my not-quilter eyes look pretty complicated. But that part of me that is all about carefully written detailed instructions can tell, Christina leaves no question unanswered.
And having completed one of her projects successfully, I know it is true!!
Chapter 5: Tools and Techniques! Excellent resource!
I am amazed with what Diane and Christina have accomplished in this chapter.
Even though I consider myself a not-quilter, I have quite a few quilt books in my library. But there is only one that actually does a great job of presenting tools and techniques needed to make a quilt. So, since my favorite book requites an entire book to cover the subject of making a quilt, I was not so sure that one chapter was going to be sufficient - but it is!!! I do not think there is a thing that has been left out that any new quilter needs to know; and there are so many useful little tricks that aren't even included in my own beloved book!!!
After quilting for years, Christina has learned lots 'n lots of seriously useful tricks and techniques and she shares them generously so that your own quilting experience will be even more pleasurable.
In my opinion, every one who considers themselves to have a crafty heart should have this book in their reference library and it is an absolute must for anyone with a quilt-y heart. It is a book you will turn to often and for many years to come for inspiration, instruction, technique and well - happiness!