Book Look

by Kathleen Barkley




18 Quilts from 5” Squares


by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique

Publisher: Stashbooks

an imprint of C&T Publishing

The book, Charm School, starts off providing basic information for beginning quilt makers and progresses to quilt making for all levels of experience. Each of the chapters builds on techniques taught in previous chapters and also introduces new techniques.

Charm School explores the many design possibilities that exist for just using the 5 x 5 square in simple designs.  Vanessa then shows how simple subcutting, fabric choice, and block setting can elevate the 5 x 5 square into something that looks complicated and with a modern twist.  As you progress through the chapters, Vanessa showcases new design possibilities including intersecting groups of lines, using rectangles to create more complex shapes, while stressing the importance of contrast as a design element.  Varying the temperatures of the colors and balance of light and dark is an essential ingredient to making a striking quilt that showcases your fabric and the design.

In 2010 Vanessa started a pattern company called Lella Boutique and she has published dozens of quilt and sewing patterns.  Vanessa began designing fabric for Moda Fabrics in 2013 with her debut collection, Into the Woods. 

The photographs in Charm School were engaging as they give the reader a visual picture of the possibilities and various techniques.  Several of the quilt patterns were accompanied by a short humorous paragraph by Vanessa. She relates how she was inspired by her Mother, who was also a quilter; one who would fly through her housework so as to spend the day at her sewing machine.  I have included that paragraph below by Vanessa, along with a picture of her Lickety-Split Quilt.

Vanessa writes:

Likity Split quit pattern

My mother once told me that when she got mad, she could clean the house in about 30 minutes.  We laugh about that, but she always figured that a dirty house was a barrier to what she really wanted to spend her time doing, and that’s why she cleaned it fast.  After the house was picked up, she spent the rest of the day at her sewing machine.  This little quilt (Lickety-Split) reminds me of the old linoleum pattern we had to scrub before we could quilt and all the fun we used to have as we rushed to get it clean.

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