Scraps, Inc.: 15 Modern Quilts Made to Keep by Editors at Lucky Spool
The best thing about this book is the photos. The colors are great; the photography is great. Other than that this is a project book with projects you have seen before done by ‘names’ in updated colors and fabrics.
First, I am going to talk about the projects and then will talk about the introductory pages at the end of the review.
The book has 15 projects by some of the most well known modern designers, including Camille Roskelley, April Rosenthal and Amy Smart. The artists begin each of the projects with a description. I liked it that some of them suggested alternate color options, though I didn’t see alternate color options shown in the book. There might be some examples on the individual quiltmakers’ websites. Each of the designers has a “Scrap Stash Tip” at the end of their chapter/project.
I thought the font was really good. Bold headlines are bold. The illustrations in the directions are also excellent. I haven’t made any of the projects, so I cannot comment on the technical quality of the project directions.
Many of the projects are based on traditional patterns: Bangles, Courthouse Steps, Favorite Things and Richmond, even if the names are different. I realize that everyone has different scraps, but a lot of these projects would not work for my scrap bins, because of the sizes required. Some of the projects require 4.5″ squares and I have very few scraps that size, so I would have to cut from yardage.
Amy Ellis’ My Favorite Things quilt project (pg. 24-35) is made up of all classic blocks. Her fabric usage would be considered modern, appearing to use a variety of background fabrics rather than just one. The setting is a rectangular medallion style, which is a little different than other classic settings. The complexity of this project is really nice.
Allison Harris’ Bangles quilt (pg.19-23) is made differently, but is the same pattern as the Jewel Box quilt pattern that was so popular several years ago. I guess everything old is new again? This quilt has a more stereotypical modern feel with its bright white background and no border.
The usage of many traditional block patterns and settings is a good way to draw in quiltmakers who don’t think the modern movement is for them.
My favorite quilt in this book, hands down, is Overcast by April Rosenthal (pg.5-58). I love this quilt and want to make it. I think it is reasonable use of scraps. In the introduction to the project, Ms. Rosenthal has some good advice. “Be sure to choose a grounding ‘background’ for your quilt. A strong solid here will help the rest your piecing stand out, and provide much-needed contrast to the fabrics with a white background and to the scrappy colored strips.” This pattern requires that colors don’t bleed into one another and the fact that the whites stand out give it a bright appearance that is also complex and interesting. I would have liked a couple of line drawn blocks with the lettered designations she uses for the piecing. The designer uses a glue basting method for piecing the curves, which she describes as being helpful for beginners, but may not be necessary as the maker progresses through the quilt. I thought this was a helpful tip and also acknowledges that sewists get better at skills as they progress through a project. I also like the way she assembles the curved units. She has the maker add on a strip made up of three squares rather than piecing a tighter curve. This allows for greater use of scraps and more success at small curves.
Unraveled (pg. 77-81) is an interesting pattern and it has that lozenge shape I have not yet explored. The blocks are rather big and I think I would like it better in a smaller size. It uses the flippy corners method to make the lozenges, thus I think could be resized relatively easily.
Kati Spencer’s quilt, Woven, (pg.89-83) intrigues me. It reminds me of a Jelly Roll Race quilt, but more planned. I like the different arrangement of strips and the coordinating of colors.
Most of the designers’ Scrap Stash Tips revolve around getting scraps organized immediately after finishing a project. Some cut into certain sizes a la Bonnie Hunter and others.
Templates at the back must be photocopied. I do not see a link to a downloadable version in the book.
Finally, we are back to the beginning where there are three pages of text, a welcome and some basic instructions on making HSTs and strip sets. There are templates at the end of the book. I was put off this book immediately in the first paragraph of the introduction, because the language used is deprecating to makers. “…with a love for every inch of the leftover fabrics…” implies a problem with obsessiveness. Later, the author writes “This has likely turned you into a scrap junkie.” While I understand that this was probably used in a tongue in cheek manner and that my own may have affected my understanding of the implications, ‘junkie’ is someone who has a drug problem. I really don’t think that loving fabric and making quilts should be equated with substance abuse. I also think we, as quiltmakers, should be supportive rather than judgmental about fabric purchasing or amounts of fabric each of us own.
Also in the welcome the author says “….colors we are loving right now, combined with innovative, on-trend designs…”. This begs the question of whether the project designs will be out of style when these on-trend scraps are out of fashion? What if you have scraps from 20 years ago? Are the designs not suitable for someone with a broadly reaching scrap bin?
I would, as usual, have liked to see more about the inspiration for each quilt. I think it gives readers ideas about where to get inspired on their own. As I have said, I think some of the projects are interesting. This book is definitely worth a look.