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Craft Book Reviews for Gardeners

When the weather keeps you from spending time in the garden, garden crafts offer a delightful alternative. Here are reviews of some books with garden-related projects.

Baltimore album quilts are a favorite among gardeners. The American Quilter’s Society has released the ultimate book on the subject. “A Baltimore Album-25 Appliqué Patterns” is by Marsha D. Radtke. After finding an antique quilt from 1850 in a parsonage attic, Radtke carefully researched the 25 patterns used in the quilt blocks. In this book, she updates these for modern use, and provides all the instructions for the basic quilting and sewing techniques.

For each of the blocks, there are full size templates, and color illustrated, step by step instructions along with a chart of the fabrics and supplies needed and cutting charts. There are color photos of both the antique quilt block and Radtke’s redrafted version. There are also easy to follow instructions for assembling the quilt top and completing the quilt as well. The author also provides an alternative method to finishing the quilt-quilting the blocks as you go.

“My Garden Best” is by renowned designer Cheri Saffiote. Published by Indygo Junction, this title features 14 garden-inspired sewing and quilting projects. These include a garden doll, penny rug, various garden pillows, a framed garden appliqué picture, and eight different garden quilts. Among these are both patchwork and appliquéd projects.

These projects feature various garden motifs from strawberries and roses to coneflowers, butterflies, and flower pots. This book also has an original garden poem composed by the author.

This has illustrated instructions for all the techniques from start to finish. It also covers the embroidery stitches that are used. For each project, there are full size templates, a cutting chart, and a list of fabrics and supplies that are needed.

“Debbie Mumm’s Greenwood Gardens” was released by Leisure Arts. This delightful title features 26 fun-filled appliquéd and pieced quilts in a variety of sizes. In addition, there are also place mats, pot holders, pillows, banners, wall hangings, table runners and table quilts. This also has other garden projects, including a decorated flower basket and a garden themed storage box for garden seeds. The garden motifs include sunflowers, strawberries, wild flowers, marigolds, and various fruits.

All of these sewing projects use quick and easy strip piecing techniques. For each project, this has a list of fabrics and supplies and a cutting chart. There are color illustrated, step by step instructions from start to finish and color layouts. There are also directions for all of the basic sewing and quilting techniques.

“Chinese Flora and Fauna Designs” is by widely acclaimed Chinese artist/designer Ming-ju Sun. It is part of the International Design Library series from Stemmer House. This collection of designs depicts all sorts of lovely plants, flowers, and foliage as well as garden birds and animals that have appeared in Chinese art throughout history.

There are about 45 designs in all. These designs can be used for most any kind of arts and crafts technique from decoupage to embroidery and decorative painting to appliqué. In the introduction, the author provides an in-depth history of Chinese art. She explains how nature motifs were used over the centuries.

Some of the motifs include persimmons, butterflies, insects, birds of all sorts, evergreens, and flowering plants. There are also nature scenes, such as one depicting bonsai-like evergreens growing on rugged outcroppings. These designs also feature pagodas and garden scenes.

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