Book Review: Double Wedding Ring Quilts

Double Wedding Ring Quilts Traditions Made Modern: Full-Circle Sketches from LifeDouble Wedding Ring Quilts Traditions Made Modern: Full-Circle Sketches from Life by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

The photos are gorgeous. The quilts are gorgeous. The detail shots are gorgeous. The writing is ok and essentially, at its bones, this is a pattern book, but it is not your normal pattern book. What I like about the progression of patterns is that Wolfe tells you what inspired her about the pattern to encourage her to move on to the next iteration of the design. This book seems to me to detail a series of works. Since I like to see the progression of works in a series, this is a refreshing look at pattern books and works in a series within the construct of the current quiltmaking world.

I also like that Wolfe has revived a classic pattern. In the spirit of the Modern quilt movement, she seemed to exude “I am going to do this and I can do it”. Roderick Kiracofe writes about the history of the pattern in his foreword. I always appreciate the reminder that a pattern did not spring from nowhere when the oder quilt Movement appeared. He includes a little of Wolfe’s journey to this book.

The foreword is followed by an introduction, which includes a photo of Victoria Findlay Wolfe and her QuiltCon award winner, Double Edged Love. In the introduction, she talks about works in a series. She says “but what if we look at one pattern, change one thing each time we try, and see where that play will lead us next?” (pg.9) This is essence of quiltmaking for me and it made me very hopeful for this book. She delves into working in a series a little bit and implies, in this section, that we could all work with one block or one pattern forever by “chang[ing] one thing” (pg.10).

A narrative on the inspiration behind and making of Double Edged Love follow the introduction. Wolfe talks about her inspiration, talks about getting started on this quilt and how the process felt. There are feelings of YES! within a creative process and Wolfe makes that clear in this section. She is very clear that she used an AccuQuilt Go! cutter for the Double Wedding Ring pieces. I think this shows that she is not afraid to use tools and that using tools is not cheating. The creative process is the important part and Wolfe focuses on the process and discusses it in depth. The tools are just that: tools. There is no extra importance attached to them.

The section called You Are Here takes the next step out from Double Edge Love. She talks about what ideas she wants carried over (pg.20) and what the goal is. This is an interesting way to think about being inspired for quiltmaking, but it also fits well with idea of a series and moving forward in the series. Wolfe gives examples of what to do to move forward in a series AND work towards your goal. For example, she talks about about stripping the colors out of photos using Photoshop and then printing the resulting image on fabric (pg.21) to use in the quilt.

Wolfe’s mantras are:

  • Think Out of Your Box
  • Ideas Carried Over
  • the Goal
  • Add Layers
  • Push It Further

Whether or not you read her book, these are principles we can all use.

Wolfe follows the above format in each section. If you make each quilt and think about your work in the way that Wolfe suggests, you will end up with a series and you will be able to see the progression. Each section has a little bit of her story as well. I found the story to be interesting, but the writing seemed to be choppy or badly edited.

The fabrics used in the book’s quilt projects are clearly scrappy. There are no lines of fabric except perhaps some solids, which means the reader is free to pick from his/her stash with wild abandon and not worry about buying the exact kit. There are also projects using all different kinds of fabrics. Quilts using flannel looking shirt prints are paired with gingham and these combinations share space on pages with brown calicos (see Farm Girl, pg.79-85). They all sit next to 1930s looking prints.

Summer’s Day has an interesting series of photos detailing the evolution of a medallion, which includes a Lone Star block (pg.62). The photo series shows what happens when you make an unexpected choice.

This is the first book I have read where polyester is considered AND used! It is also one of the few books that discusses tying quilts.

Surprisingly, Wolfe manages to add in some doilies and a Christmas pattern. I suppose those were obligatory to widen the appeal of the book. For her, the doilies were not the challenge; using so much white in the quilt was the challenge, which I find to be interesting. Her Christmas quilt is a memory quilt, pure and simple. The love of her grandparents is scattered throughout the book, but this pattern celebrates them and the memories in a concentrated way.

Yes, there are directions on making a Double Wedding Ring block. They are in the back (not the front where they will bog you down before you get excited) starting on pg. 102. The directions do not tell you how to put the entire projects together. You will need some piecing experience if you plan to make the double wedding ring quilts.

The colors are bright. There are photos of New York City, taxis, neon signs and lots of people. Wolfe points out the joy in quiltmaking. Take a look at this book and absorb the lessons about series. Your work will be better or it.

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