Two of the Best Quilting Books for Beginners

Posted by Elaine Huff on

These are two of the best "how to quilt" books that I have found. I couldn't decide which one I like best, so I'm recommending them both. The first one is All Things Quilting by Alex Anderson and the second is First-Time Quiltmaking by Landauer Publishing. Both books are great beginners' guides to quilting and both are good reference books for quilters of all levels of expertise.


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All Things Quilting

all things quilting

Alex Anderson (the author) is well-known in the quilting community and has published several quilting books on various topics. All Things Quilting pulls information from her "little" books plus additional new tips and techniques. To quote the book: 

"Alex Anderson seeks to educate, inspire, entertain, and grow today's quilting community. A longtime host of the TV show 'Simply Quilts', she is also executive producer and co-host of the web TV's "The Quilt Show' with Ricky Tims."

All Things Quilting is a 175-page, soft cover book and contains 12 chapters: 

1. Anatomy of a Quilt

All the basic quilting terms are explained and there's a handy chart of mattress sizes.

2. In the Sewing Room

In this chapter sewing machine features, different feet, and care are highlighted along with how to set up a sewing station. Additionally, information about basic tools (rotary cutters, mats, rulers, scissors, etc.) and notions like thread, needles, and pins is given. Alex goes over some not-so-basic tools as well.

3. Fabric and Color: Choose It and Use It!

Fabric grain and quality is discussed in this chapter along with some basic color theory. Color value and scale of prints are also discussed with lots of pictures. Fabric can also have a "theme" like 1930's reproduction, novelty, floral. There are lots of tips on fabric care too.

4. Drafting: Have It Your Way

Chapter 4 discusses the tools you need to do drafting of your own patterns. It talks about grid-based, non-grid-based, and hexagon blocks and shows how to draft them.

5. Rev Up Your Rotary Cutter

The use and care of rotary cutters is the theme of this chapter along with how to cut all sorts of shapes. There is a handy reference guide as well as in-depth instructions for each of these shapes.

6. The Ins and Outs of Piecing

This chapter tells about templates, accurate piecing, and pressing. Different piecing techniques are also talked about such as strip piecing, sewing curves, paper piecing, and Y-seams. Even un-sewing gets a mention!

7. All About Applique

Both hand and machine applique are explained as well as how to use the tools and notions you need for each technique. This is an extensive chapter with lots and lots of pictures.

8. Putting it Together: Settings and Borders

Lots of charts and examples help guide you through deciding on a setting for your blocks. Then it's on to the different types of borders and how to measure and sew them. 

9. Choosing and Marking Your Quilting Design

Alex discusses the basics of good quilting design along with ideas, how to find inspiration, and how to transfer those ideas onto your quilt. 

10. Preparing to Quilt

Here you find out about battings and backings plus how to baste a quilt for hand or domestic machine quilting.

11. Ready, Set,... Quilt!

This chapter is all about the actual quilting and has an extensive explanation with lots of pictures of how to hand quilt. Machine quilting tips and troubleshooting is also a large part of this chapter. 

12. Finishing Touches

Here you can find all sorts of binding ideas with detailed instructions along with how to attach a hanging sleeve. From standard to piped to scalloped binding, there is a wealth of information in this chapter.

      I found many tips in this book that I didn't know about! The "magic numbers" will certainly help when designing some triangle patches. There are tons of pictures demonstrating the various aspects of quilting and the book is easy to understand. This book would be a good resource for all quilters - beginning to advanced.

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      First-Time Quiltmaking (Second Edition)

      first time quiltmaking

      Landauer Publishing is well-known for having numerous well-written books in the crafting and quilting space. First-Time Quiltmaking is no different. To quote Quilters' Digest:

      "Making your first quilt is not as hard as you might think. Follow the easy instructions, pick up some quick tricks and tips for sewing, and in no time, you have finished your first masterpiece!"

      First-Time Quiltmaking is a 135-page, soft cover book and contains six lessons:

      1. Beginning Basics

      All the basic tools from sewing machine to pins are discussed along with fabric care, how to shop for quality fabric, and sizes of fabric precuts. Color theory and value and scale are also discussed with lots of pictures.

      2. Preparing the Fabric

      Pre-washing, pressing and cutting fabric is discussed in this chapter. Lots of pictures and explanation on how to straighten and rotary cut fabric is also included.

      3. Sewing Accurate Seams

      While this is a short chapter, it has excellent how to information and explanation of accurate sewing.

      4. Assembling the Quilt Top

      Here's the best part of this book. Complete instructions for six quilt patterns are given. They range from very simple to slightly more complex so a beginner quilter can advance with confidence through her quilting journey.

      5. Making the Quilt Sandwich

      Different battings, backings, and basting are all discussed here with good tips and examples. Machine quilting techniques and tools as well as tying quilts are covered.

      6. Finishing the Quilt

      The final lesson is all about binding and how to make a hanging sleeve. While the binding technique shown in this chapter isn't the way I attach my binding, that is just a personal preference thing.

      This book has lots of pictures illustrating all the steps and is easy to understand. The bonus of six quilt projects is great!


      I really like both books. All Things Quilting has a few more techniques - paper piecing, applique, etc. And there is also an extensive section on hand-quilting. If only my arthritis allowed for that much hand work!

      First-Time Quiltmaking has the detailed instructions for six projects. These simple quilts take you from the most basic to slightly more advanced in construction. 

      Both books have lots of pictures and illustrations and are easy to read and understand. Either one (or both) would be a good addition to your quilting library.

      While I believe the best way to learn quilting is to take a class at your local quilt shop or join a helpful quilting circle, there are times when that just isn't possible. You may not have a local quilt shop or your local shop may have discontinued classes until the coronavirus pandemic is over. You may not be able to schedule a quilt class into your hectic life. Maybe you are housebound. Maybe you just don't want to take a class. That's where books and on-line learning via Youtube videos, and blog tutorials come to the rescue! 

      I hope you've enjoyed this review of what I consider to be two of the best beginning quilting books. If you liked this post and want to see more plus my free tutorials, simply click here to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF quilt pattern called Chained Weathervane.

      Happy Quilting!


      *This book review page contains affiliate links.


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