Book Review: Simply Retro

Simply Retro with Camille Roskelley: Fresh Quilts from Classic BlocksSimply Retro with Camille Roskelley: Fresh Quilts from Classic Blocks by Camille Roskelley

I pre-ordered this book because I really enjoy Ms. Roskelley’s blog and color palette. I also think she does a good job of subtle marketing. She includes her life along with her patterns and fabric. She is part of the community. I like to encourage and support that type of attitude.

Right away, I was inspired. I love her dedication. Dedications are often really sappy and short, but the in Simply Retro is a bit longer and seems so heartfelt.

The introduction is relatively short, but brings up her pioneer ancestors’ quiltmaking. When the reader turns the page, part of the introduction is illustrated with quilts made from, for the most part, Camille’s wonderful fabrics. The introduction mentions simplifying blocks. She writes “…Instead of Y-seams and foundation piecing, I’ll show you how to use simple half-square triangles (HSTs), Flying Geese units, and chain piecing…” there is absolutely nothing wrong with simplifying, but don’t be scared off by her words. Y-seams take a bit longer, but are not scary. You can see a tutorial I wrote for my sampler class. If you sew slowly, you can do Y-seams with no problem. Don’t let that one line scare you away from the addition of Y-seams and foundation piecing to your quiltmaking toolkit.

Ms. Roskelley says in the introduction, which I think is true is “The piecing, combined with clever placement of light and dark fabrics, creates interesting secondary designs in many of these quilts.” I think that line describes what makes blocks interesting and filled with infinite possibilities. Additionally, the author mentions enlarging the original inspiration, so that it turns into a piece like the very large Swoon blocks. I am really glad that she pointed out that this is another way to add interest to traditional blocks.

This book is FQ, charm pack, and pre-cut (she calls them cut-goods) friendly. Camille says she uses yardage as well. In the second section, Ms. Roskelley talks specifically about pre-cuts. I agree and disagree. Make your quilt your own. Use a charm pack, Jelly Roll or turnover, but remove some of the fabrics and replace them with different fabrics, from other lines, from other years, of your own choice. Throw some of your own personality into the quilt. Don’t get hung up on having the exact fabric Ms. Roskelley used and making an exact replica of her quilts. She does not mention this at all, but I think it can be an issue when using pre-cuts.

There are 11 projects in this book, but a few have multiple sizes and/or variations. You can see some of the quilts in her blog post about Quilt Market. Swell, the first project (pg.17) is a great scrap project. Retro (pg.23) reminds me of my Stepping Stones quilt. I love the squares and triangles set on the diagonal look. The bonus of this pattern is that it is simply made from a bunch of 4 patches and half square triangles. Easy as well as leaders & enders friendly! Dapper Canon‘s (pg.45) attraction is the “cut off corners” of the blocks which make them look octagonal or slightly round. You can do this with many, many blocks by using the background for part of the blocks. Dwell (pg.59) is a nice twist on the house or schoolhouse quilts. I love the idea of putting another block inside the basic house structure. There is, as the main character in [book:Anne of Green Gables|8127] would say, a lot of scope for imagination in this piece. Sweet Life (pg.75) uses large prints very well and is not boring, a some quilts with this goal can be. The little 9 patches used as cornerstones are a nice touch.

I have to say I like the names she has chosen for her quilts. I don’t know if I would use them, but I think they work well for a book. The names also fit the quilts.

One FABULOUS thing about this book? She includes the finished size of the block in the pattern! Hooray! While you may be thinking “who cares?” It can be a really helpful piece of information if you want to resize the quilt, mix in other blocks or use one block to make a pillow cover. Thanks, Camille!

I would have liked to see alternate colorways of the patterns in this book. I realize that deadlines are tight, especially for working moms, but it would have been nice to see some of the patterns in batiks or solids as well as Camille’s fabulous palette.

The book has the requisite Quiltmaking Basics section (pg. 96-). As I have said before, I wish someone would just write another, more up to date, big book of quiltmaking basics and allow everyone else to refer to it. I suppose that would mean that people would have to buy two books. Fortunately, there are some gems in this section, which makes it more than the same-old, same-old. She pins (pg.98-hooray!) and talks about she does it. Camille explains chain piecing (pg.100), including a reminder to snip the threads in between. Ms. Roskelley has good instructions on adding borders.

No index, but the book is definitely worth a look anyway.

View all my reviews

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Simply Retro”

  1. OOOOOO this book sounds yummy. I clicked on link to see your Y-seam tutorial, but cannot find it. The link goes to Lamoyne Star and the write up says you took pictures for a tutorial to be done later. Same for the link for tutorials in your header.


  2. Hi Jaye! I’m glad you got the book! It’s an excellent review about it. I agree with you alternative colorways for the patterns would’ve been a plus. That’s why I’m excited to see other quilters projects from the book! And Thanks for participating in the first Simply Retro Quilt Along Giveaway. Keep quilting along!

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