Friday Favorites: Favorite Quilting Books

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.


I have a special bookshelf in my studio that is filled with favorite quilting books. The ones I pull out to look through when I feel in a creative rut. Each of them inspire me in different ways (some for color, some for pattern, some for symmetry of design) and they are the ones I turn to again and again. In my eyes, these books represent quiltmaking as an artform, not simply craft. I thought I’d share a few of them.
Anna Williams: Her Quilts & Their Influences by Katherine Watts
quilting book
This book was published by the American Quilter’s Society in 1995, so not really vintage, but the quilts of Anna Williams span a lifetime of instinctual, brilliant color patchwork piecing, a lifetime of honing a skill she described as “what I do to take my mind off my troubles”. The copies of this book left in circulation are not cheap, and it is shockingly thin (a mere 25 pages), but it is truly inspiring. As Denyse said in her workshop where I first learned of Anna, “you can’t fake” what Anna did with color, pattern, and quilting. Sadly, Anna passed away in June of 2012. I love having this book of her work to inspired me.
Quilts by Roderick Kiracofe.
quilting book
This book was a gift from Erin and I absolutely love it. Not an old book at all, quite new in fact, available as a self-published book on Blurb.The colors, the patterns, the entire collection of quilts in this book is completely inspiring on so many levels. Some of these quilts were shown at QuiltCon recently (another reason I should have gone!) and it must have been wonderful to see these in person. Great fabric and color reference on these pages. And something about seeing beautifully colored quilts on a stark white background really appeals to me.
Abstract Design in American Quilts: A Biography of an Exhibition by Jonathan Holstein
quilting book
This book is the story of an exhibition that opened in 1971 at the Whitney Museum in New York. This book reminds and inspires me to remember the art of quiltmaking. There is an entire story within the pages of this book of how the exhibit came to exist, along with full pages of the quilts themselves with information about each one. There is page after page of graphic inspiration and use of color and pattern. This is a beautiful book for any quiltmaker to have in their collection.
Patchwork Simplified by Alice Timmins
quilting book
This is a well-used old library copy with a copyright of 1973. I love the mod, geometric feel of the patchwork in this book. Look at those wonderful quilted skirts above (although I’m sure she is beating her head against the wall on the right, wondering why she didn’t just make that fabulous patchwork into a full quilt instead of a skirt).
Patchcraft by Elsie Svennas
quilting book
Another treasure, beautiful use of color and shapes within quilts. Gives great examples of applique and embroidery used in quiltmaking, although many of the images are black and white. Still…
The Perfect Patchwork Primer by Beth Gutcheon
quilting book
This book is just a great reference book for so many techniques, standards, and really just the whole idea of quilting’s place in a creative life. A must-have for any vintage quilt library.
I would love to hear what quilting books you have to inspire you!
Happy Friday!

  • amisha

    April 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I am so excited to read this, Blair– all of these books are new to me and look wonderful! I’m making a wish list now. Thank you for the inspiration, and happy Friday to you! xo

  • KarenLR

    April 13, 2013 at 4:19 am

    The Perfect Patchwork Primer…I bought it in the ’70’s and love it still!

  • erin

    April 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

    this is a great list! i’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for some of these.

  • water works

    April 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I recently had the opportunity to visit and stroll through the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, VA. It’s small, but pacts a good punch. They have a library of quilt books and magazines that spans a good 100 or so years. So many wonderful resources – and they let you browse through them. Unfortunately, I don’t live close enough to just pop in and visit regularly.

  • kerry

    April 16, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Totally collection. I have another Elsie Svennas title, Advanced Quilting which I have returned to time and time again. I was so taken by your titles I ordered 3- they cost the price of 1 new book here in UK, looking forward to them already

  • blair/wisecraft

    April 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I love that book!

  • Cheryl Arkison

    May 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Ooh, excellent choices. Love the look of Patchcraft.

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