Book Review, Directional Fabric

Leisurely perusing the quilting books at the library, I stumbled across Plaids & Stripes The Use of Directional Fabric in Quilts by Roberta Horton. I glanced through, and put it in my “yes” pile. Back in my mind, I’m remembering my friend Cyn’s post at XOXO quilts showing all her directional ready-to-be-upcycled stash and my curiosity was piqued. Little did I know the book is a neat little treasure with some interesting thoughts to offer a beginner quilter such as myself.

Horton talks about grainline, weave and patterns, value and scale (no surprise there) and number of colors used in a given cloth.  Each of these things can give either a calm or busy effect – depending on the choices made by the quilter.

I would give you a photo of the nice little chart in the book, but I lost my camera this week -sigh- so here goes (just imagine two columns lined up here):

CALM: on-grain, symmetrical (in the pattern), even, stripes, solid lines, low value contrast, small, two color

BUSY: off-grain, asymmetrical, uneven, plaids, ikat, high value contrast, large, multicolor

Horton recommends, to get a good feel for how plaids and directionals work or don’t work together, you do a quilt with ONLY directionals.  No solids or prints.  Whoa – that sounds awfully brave but also very fun!

She has a couple of lessons on drafting your own patterns, which I love.  I have not encountered this type of tutorial in other quilt books, and wonder if this is unique or if I just haven’t read enough quilt books in my day to come across it.

Lastly, there was a great demonstration about how “speed cutting” and “traditional cutting” can really change the way a pieced block will look.  Speed cutting is what she terms a shortcut in cutting but results in extra seams in piecing.  (Again, I wish I could show you a photo of the book, sorry!)  The extra seams are especially noticeable with directional fabrics which is one more artistic choice the quilter gets to make.  The bow tie block is one often found done the “speed cutting” way, where the center square is actually four triangles meeting in the center to make a square.

Anyway, I learned a bunch, and you’ll have to check this book out from your local library to see for yourself!  Might I see an upcoming EBMQG challenge in the future?? Hmmm?

Just a quick edit –  aside from the fact that I may be suffering from early onset alzheimers’ disease, I found my camera which I am really happy about.  Turns out I never even took the camera to the lake (where I thought I left it), or if I did, there were no pictures from the lake on my memory card or my memory bank!

Here is the photo of the chart showing calm vs. busy.

CALM / BUSY directionals from the book Plaids & Stripes the use of directional fabrics in quilts


And the photo of the effects of traditional vs. speed cutting – I highlighted areas for you to compare.  If you envision plaids in those areas you can imagine (unless one is an extremely fussy cutter) that there would/could be quite noticable seams.  Which the quilter may or may not want to highlight.