. . . . Stunning Quilts – the title of Stuart Hillards’s new book says it all. The five main chapters each take a simple shape (or combination of those shapes) to make twenty very different blocks and quilts. Whether you are a beginner or just looking for new ideas and inspiration you will find something in this book. I found myself browsing through the pictures and thinking I would like to make that . . . and that . . . and why didn’t I think of doing that. Stuart’s sense of colour and design really shines through on every page.

As with all good books, let us begin at the beginning where Stuart briefly discusses ‘what is a quilt’ – and opts for the three-layers (top, wadding and backing) that most of us would agree with. A useful look at colour and how to make your choice of colour comes next; again it is brief but very useful and to the point.

Before we get to the quilts there is a chapter looking at tools, techniques and materials. Again, it is concise and to the point – there is only one page devoted to quilting for example – but everything you need to know about cutting fabric, stitching a ¼ inch seam, adding borders and binding is here in a nutshell. The chapter also includes instructions for the techniques and making the basic shapes used in the quilts in the main part of the book; so you are taken through the basics of string-piecing, strip-piecing, applique and foundation piecing as well as how to make Half-Square Triangles, Quarter-Square Triangles and Flying Geese.

Finally I come to the main part of the book – the five chapters containing the one hundred quilts. The chapters are headed ‘One-Patch Quilts’, ‘Strips and Squares’, ‘Triangles’, ‘Curves’ and ‘Foundation Piecing’. You will often find strips, squares and triangles used in quilts in the other chapters which makes for a more interesting range of designs and encourages you to think up ways of combining these shapes yourself.

Many of the quilts are scrap-friendly – we ought to expect that from Stuart as he is well-known for his ‘scrap-busting’ designs. Not all the quilts have been made and photographed, many (most) are diagram only but this does not detract from the book. In some ways it is more reassuring for a beginner to see a diagram rather than a beautifully made, beautifully quilted finished article as this can seem a little daunting.

The instructions for each quilt take up only two pages each, at most, so are necessarily concise but in conjunction with instructions in the first chapter are sufficient for all but the most unconfident beginner to feel able to tackle. Templates for foundation piecing, curved shapes and applique are included at the end of the book or you can opt to download them following the links in each chapter, which saves you wrestling the book under the photocopier.

If you missed the opportunity to buy the book at Festival of Quilts then you can order it from your local book/patchwork shop – Stuart Hillard Simple Shapes, Stunning Quilts, 2019, published by Pavilion Books Co Ltd. ISBN 978-1-911624-39-4.

I said earlier that Stuart has a wonderful sense of colour and design and his new fabric range demonstrates just that. If you would like to win a pack of this fabric then head over to the September Competition page where you will find all the details for how to enter – but hurry, there’s not much time left!

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