best quilting books for beginners

Picking up a crafty hobby like quilting has been shown to ward off memory loss, and can even make you a happier person. That is, assuming the stress of trying to figure out your fun new project doesn’t drive you straight over the edge, first. To ensure that doesn’t happen, it’s best to read up on the subject, both online and in good old-fashioned books.

In anticipation of her upcoming CreativeLive class, we asked Portland-based craft designer, writer, and teacher Diane Gilleland to share her top five books for beginning crafters. Here’s what she told us, in her own words:

Quilting Happiness, by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland (Potter Craft. 2013)
A book that not only shows you how to make quilts, but gives you creative exercises, quizzes, interviews, and inspirations to help you delve into why quilting makes you happy. My co-author, Christina Lane, designed 20 beautiful quilts for the book, and the pattern instructions have lots of illustrations, so beginners will be able to dive right in.

Quilting with a Modern Slant by Rachel May (Storey Publishing, 2014)
This book has tutorials for the basics of quilt-making and several quilt patterns, but it’s really more of a treasure trove of inspiration. It includes so many interviews with people making quilts from all kinds of perspectives. It’s about the role quilts play in our lives as comfort-givers, as fine art, as political statements, and as community-builders. And it’s loaded with pictures to get you thinking about quilts in new ways.

90-Minute Quilts and More 90-Minute Quilts, both by Meryl Ann Butler (Krause Publications, 2006 and 2011)
If you feel at all intimidated by quiting, I highly recommend seeking these books out. Meryl Ann Butler is a master quilter, and she’s boiled the processes of quilt-making down to their essentials, with lots of tips and tricks for streamlining.

Modern Log Cabin Quilting, by Susan Beal (Potter Craft, 2011)
The Log Cabin is a traditional patchwork design. It’s great for beginners because it involves straight seams and simple construction, but you can create lots of intricate patterns based on how you arrange your fabrics. Susan Beal’s book walks you through 25 Log Cabin quilt projects from start to finish.

First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting, by Christina Cameli (Stash Books, 2013)
If you want to learn how to do intricate quilting designs on your home sewing machine, I highly recommend this book. Christina Cameli presents all the tools and techniques in a very friendly, easy-to-understand way, and she offers a collection a useful projects that let you practice your new quilting skills.