When I first proposed my appliqué book to Stash Books, Roxane Cerda (my acquisitions editor) let me know that they had a couple of other appliqué-centric books in the pipeline already. Of course, as an appliqué devoteé, I was eager to know what these other books were all about. One, Jenifer Dick’s superb Modern Appliqué Workbook, was released earlier this year, and you can see my review of it here. Another, Shannon Brinkley’s Scrappy Bits Appliqué was a pleasant surprise to me when it was first mentioned on the Stash Books blog.
I didn’t know Shannon when I first read about her book, but I was fascinated with her style and appliqué technique. I’ve read a lot about improvisational quilting, and even taken a couple of classes, and, to my eye, Shannon’s collaged appliqué technique encompassed all of the positive aesthetic qualities of improv quilting. Then I learned that she achieves these effects without using improv piecing, which was a bit of a surprise to me.
Needless to say, I was incredibly excited when Shannon asked me to create a project using her technique as part of the blog tour for her new book. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her book, learn more about the how-to aspects of her mosaic technique, and apply it to one of my own appliqué patterns.
Scrappy Bits Appliqué is a bit of a fusion between a technique-centric book and a project-centered book. In the first half, Shannon guides you step-by-step through the process of creating the fabric collages from which she creates her raw-edge appliqué quilts. Shannon includes a couple of different alternatives for each step of the collaging process, which I loved; these alternative techniques make it easy to adapt her methods and style to using whatever materials you happen to have on hand, and whatever processes you feel most comfortable with. The second half of the book includes instructions and patterns for creating eight projects ranging from pillows and wall-quilts to full-sized lap quilts, so you can put your new fabric collaging skills to good use. She also includes a gallery of other projects she has made using her techniques, which is incredibly inspiring if you’re thinking of using her methods to create your own designs.
I have to admit that, while I buy lots of crafting books for their inspirational value, I don’t often actually make projects from them. I love to read these books to learn new techniques, but when it comes to my limited crafting time, I usually find myself drawn more to making the things I’ve designed myself. So one of the things I love most about Shannon’s book is that she encourages her readers to adapt her techniques for use in their own designs and projects.
When Shannon gave me the option of creating my own projects using her techniques, I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I’d had this ice cream cone idea floating around in my head for a while, waiting for the right project. Shannon’s fabric mosaics have a painterly quality that reminds me of the work of Wayne Thiebaud–who is known for his paintings of sweets and pastries, among other subjects–and I instantly knew that I wanted to try to channel that look into my project.
I found Shannon’s instructions for her technique quick and easy to follow, and I loved the immediacy of the process of creating the fabric collage. Once the collaged “fabric” was completed, I cut the applique shape from it, and I really like the contrast of improvisational, raw-edge mosaic with the smooth, abstract shape of the finished appliqué. I chose to combine my topstitching process and quilting process, and I love the interplay of textures that the quilting and fabric collage create on the surface of the finished pillow.
If you’d like to learn more about Scrappy Bits Appliqué, Shannon has put together a great video trailer that you can view on YouTube, or at the C & T Publishing blog here. You can take a look inside her book at Amazon.com. I also highly recommend that you visit some of the other stops on her book’s blog tour!
Shannon and C&T have generously provided me with a copy of her book to give away! To enter, please leave me a comment about what type of applique design you might like to make using Shannon’s collaging technique. I’ll draw a winner at random on Sunday, August 24, and they will receive a copy of Scrappy Bits Applique! International entries are welcome, and will receive an electronic copy of the book if selected. I can’t wait to read all of your ideas about what you would make!