Whether you are a beginning quilter, or an advanced practitioner of the craft, you will find many books on quilting that will help advance your knowledge. Quilting books fall roughly into several categories, and numerous titles abound in each. The categories of books are how-to, pattern encyclopedias, historical, books about the joy of quilting, and art books.
How-to books are probably the most popular, and the first stop for the beginning quilter. They range from books which discuss the overall craft of quilting and give step-by-step instructions, to books which will take one aspect of quilting and explain how to do it. The instructional books start with such basics as fabric selection and which tools you’ll need and proceed through instructions for assembling the blocks of the quilt top and the quilt itself, down to explanations of quilting, both hand and machine. Every quilter needs at least one of these books in her library, and usually will manage to collect a number of them. It’s amazing how many times you need a ready reference when you are in the middle of a quilting project.
Another type of book that every quilter will want to have on hand is an encyclopedia of patterns. These books collect many different quilt block patterns and show the basics of their assemblies. Because their aim is to cover a lot of ground, these books are valuable starting points but won’t go into intimate detail. For that you need to turn to books which feature instruction on a specific pattern. With the wide variety of quilting block patterns and techniques, you can imagine that this category of quilting books is quite extensive and stocked with titles. Books in this category may devote an entire volume to explaining the nuances of, for instance, the Log Cabin pattern.
Because quilting has its roots in American history, quilts and the craft of quilting have been studied extensively, and many historical quilting books exist. Looking at these books and seeing what our ancestors did with a fraction of the materials and supplies available today can be a great source of inspiration to modern quilters. Along the same lines are books which discuss the pleasures to be derived from quilting, both in its social form (such as quilting bees) or as a solitary pursuit. Finally, there is a whole segment of quilters who have advanced the craft into art. These quilters regularly show their work in galleries and museums, and publish books not only about their quilts, but the thoughts and processes that went into making them. Sometimes collectors of quilts will publish books, too. These art quilt books are as inspiring in their way as the historical quilting books.
A good way to choose quilting books that will become a permanent part of your library is to choose a time when you’ll have a couple hours of uninterrupted time. Go to the library, or your local bookstore, or fire up your computer and look at books on the internet. Take your time, browse, and get a feel for the vast number of titles out there. You’ll no doubt end up with a much longer list than you have time or money for at the moment, but you can purchase or check out a few titles and start a wish list for more.