Today I'm delighted to be Stop #11 on the blog tour for Sujata Shah's new book, Cultural Fusion Quilts. When Sujata emailed me in November and asked me to participate, I didn't hesitate. I've been following her blog, The Root Connection, for years and have long been a fan of her personal, dynamic quilts. If you're new to Sujata's work, you're in for a treat!
In this, her first book, Sujata has drawn from a variety of experiences and inspirations ~ her childhood in India, her graphic design education and her long interest in patterns and folk art and crafts ~ to develop a quilt style of her own. As she says in the book, "What inspires me is everything handmade. Irregularities, organic lines and imperfections in handmade things make me wonder about the maker's life and mind-set during the making of the craft. I feel connected to my quilts because my life lives in them."
The layout of Cultural Fusion Quilts is thoughtful and useful. Sujata starts by discussing her journey as a quilter and what brought her from her early disdain of stitching to thoroughly embracing its expressive possibilities. Several short chapters follow in which she explains her methods of free form piecing and offers her thoughts on fabric selection. Then come the project pages, featuring 15 of Sujata's joyful creations. While most of these quilts are based on recognizable traditional patterns, her easy approach and vibrant fabric choices transform them into something special. These chapters each feature one of her quilts, a photo and short description of her inspiration, cutting and assembly instructions and a list of *possibilities* ~ suggestions for ways to further explore the design.
If you're a regular visitor here, you know that my favorite quilts are often offbeat, individual pieces, quilts that make you wonder, "What the heck was she thinking?". Yet most of my quilts are pretty "tight" in design and execution. I seem to be hard-wired that way! So I decided to take a more hands-on approach in my review and try some of Sujata's suggestions to see if I could loosen up a bit. I've always loved a zig-zag quilt and the cover quilt is a zinger, so it seemed like a good start. I flipped to its project page. Look ~ no templates, no rulers! Can I do this?
As instructed, I layered two fabrics and, freehand, sliced a gentle curve down their length. Check!
Two pairs, sewn together ~ hmmm, that was easy. I know, some of you are laughing ~ go ahead! Although I've spent time with the Gee's Bend quilters and own most of Gwen Marston's liberated quilting books, I never quite believed you could really sew neat curves without clipping or rippling along the seam. Time to push the envelope. How about something more pronounced?
I tried another set and to my surprise, even this more exaggerated wavy curve, stitched with a 1/4" seam, set in smooth as could be. A revelation! (A personal tip ~ don't wonder about something for years, give it a try!) The top piece is the wrong side view so you can see that pretty seam, flat as can be. Once this 15 minute exercise was complete, there was no stopping me.
After my recent projects (tiny appliqué, 2" squares, bright, small prints), it was so much fun to start pulling beautiful, bold fabrics from my stash, prints that I had purchased for their exciting visual patterns and luscious colors but never could seem to make work in my fussy pieces because of scale or busy-ness. Before I knew it, I had pulled out quite a pile ~ richly colored Anna Maria Horner and Tula Pink prints, Kaffe Fassett florals and text prints I'd hauled home from trips to Japan. Only the tug of our Christmas decorations, still sitting boxed by our bare tree, made me finally put down my rotary cutter after 6 blocks' worth of fun.
Before I pulled myself away, I had to quickly try rearranging the smaller squares into a different version. I have so many ideas for quilts I want to make from this book next year that my mind is reeling! The ease and speed with which these blocks went together tells me that I might just achieve that goal. What fun designs to balance out my more time-intensive projects!
Have I convinced you that you need to consider this book for your quilt library? I'll share that yes, I did receive an e-copy of Cultural Fusion Quilts to review, but after flipping through only the first few pages, I immediately clicked over to Amazon and moved it from my wish list to *order now*! I've been on a quilt book diet this year but Sujata's book is the equivalent of that one chocolate that you can't resist!
The good news is that you can have a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment on this post. (Book for U.S. winner, E-book for international winner) Comments will be open for 5 days at which time a winner will be chosen at random and announced in a post. Even better news is that if you haven't visited previous stops on the book tour, several from the past few days are still accepting comments so that means even more chances to win. (And more beautiful photos to see from the book!)
Following is the list of remaining stops on the Cultural Fusion Quilts tour as well as those still accepting comments. Congratulations, Sujata, on a wonderful book!
* * * * *
Monday December 8 Malka Dubrawsky @ A Stitch in Dye
Tuesday December 9 Sherri Lynn Wood @ daintytime
Wednesday December10 Bonnie Hunter @ Quiltville's Quips and Snips
Thursday December 11 Jake Finch @ Generation Q
Friday December 12 Jan Burgwinkle @ Be*mused
Saturday December 13 Janet Treen @ Quiltsalott
Sunday December 14 Lindsay Conner @ Lindsay Sews