Book Review: Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter

Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Dynamic Art QuiltsDesign Explorations for the Creative Quilter: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Dynamic Art Quilts by Katie Masopust

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This will be one of my go to design books for the future. Starting from the introduction, Masopust includes the reader. The tone is very familiar and in using ‘you’ so much in her writing Katie Masopust involves the reader immediately.

All of the standard design concepts are covered, but with a new twist and a fresh perspective. Katie talks about being creative and then explains the concepts. One thing she says is “creativity is making up exciting rules to follow for a particular design. These rules can change for each quilt,” which is absolutely true. She, then, weaves the design concepts into that principle.

Not only does the author introduce a concept and tell you you should do it, but she tells WHY you should follow the principle. She tells you in a nice and understandable way giving logical and understandable examples. This way of writing makes the whole design process less frustrating and, for some people, less scary.

Ms. Masopust has a whole chapter on tools and supplies. She explains what you need and describes what it is she is asking you to procure. For the visual learner, there are pictures of various tools and supplies.

The composition chapter starts with an excellent definition. She also provides a thoughtful list of compositional layouts. The reader could stop reading right at the compositional layouts and work on variations for years without getting bored.

This section is followed up by a list of other terms related to composition, such as pathways, focal points, space, harmony and scale. Under scale, Katie writes “monotony occurs when everything is the same size.” I thought about this for a long time and realized that one of the things I enjoy about this book is the gems she tucks into almost every section. If the reader took this line and thought about it in relation to his/her quilts, s/he could get a lot out of one line in the book. Of course, by reading the entire book, the quiltmaker will absorb much more.

The words the author uses in the color chapter are wonderful and elegant. They roll off the tongue and make one feel like an artist: monochromatic, achromatic (absence of color), tetrad. She goes beyond value and color and really delves into the concepts behind successful color choices using FABRIC. Pages 15-17 in the color chapter are really useful pages for beginning to advanced quiltmakers as they explain the different types of color combinations.

I love solids. Katie Masopust does not use them in her examples. She uses an interesting range of color choices in, for example, the complementary example. It is also nice to see different types of patterned fabrics used rather than solids. Patterned fabrics are harder to categorize and Masopust does not shy away. This is one of the benefits of this book.

Analysis shows up on page 20. On the page, Masopust writes that “it is important to look at your designs and decide whether they have all the elements needed to make them harmonious.” How often do you look at your quilts and ask yourself whether they are harmonious? I don’t, but perhaps I should. Are you thinking about each decision as you work on your quilt? I do more of that, which may make up for not looking at my quilts after I make them. She also provides a good list of questions about the success of the design. One I like is “is there a focal point or will the focal point be established through color choices?” Thought provoking.

This book is filled with examples of student work, in full color, and a wide variety of exercises. When the reader gets to the making of the pattern, Masopust takes readers through her process of making a pattern, which often involves enlarging the design. She gives some great suggestions for tools to assist in the process. The process described is a step by step process for going from a drawing to a finished piece.

She provides a chapter on each concept and full explores it. The author’s before and after examples are really good, as are the inspiration photos included alongside photos of the finished pieces.

Throughout the book, Katie refers back to the supplies list and concepts in previous chapters. She treats the reader like the reader has a brain and has read other books, which is nice.

The obligatory section on making a quilt is included. Katie Masopust adds to it by offering tips from her own experience. The tips provided also give insight into the kind of teacher she might be. That said, just reading the construction section is a little confusing. I don’t think that is the writing or editing. It would probably make more sense to try it out with a small piece. She mentions setting the machine to “2.” I don’t know if that is a universal number or if I would benefit from a chart or further explanation of what that number means on various machines.

The strength of this book is that it is thought provoking. Little tidbits are tossed out that make the reader stop and think and think some more.

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