Good morning! Today, it is my great pleasure to be reviewing Sujata Shah’s new book, Cultural Fusion Quilts. I had the good fortune to meet Sujata briefly at Quilt Market, although I hadn’t been familiar with her work before this. This was my great loss, because her work is amazingly beautiful and at her blog, The Root Connection, she writes eloquently about her inspirations, including her childhood growing up in India, her love of African arts and textiles, and her experiences living in the United States.
I have always loved seeing how different art forms–such as quilting–are tweaked and translated by different cultural traditions, even though they can arrive at surprisingly similar solutions to common challenges. For this reason, I was delighted to be invited to participate in the blog tour for Cultural Fusion Quilts, as I had been curious about this book from the beginning. However, the book itself really exceeded my expectations. Not only does Sujata re-interpret traditional quilt block motifs in a way that draws upon different worldwide decorative traditions, but she also introduces readers to what she calls “free-form piecing” using a genuinely brilliant technique.
I know I’m not alone in loving the slightly wonky, imperfect look of vintage and antique quilts, but aside from the unintentional wonkiness that often ends up in my own piecing, it has always seemed difficult to me to incorporate this into quilt-making in a way that didn’t end up just looking sloppy. When I noticed this feature of Sujata’s quilts, as well as the wonderful way in which she combines a multitude of colors, prints, and textures in her work, I anticipated that this would remain a look that I could admire but never pull off myself.
I was delighted, then, to read Sujata’s clear, straightforward instructions for achieving this style in a way that seems guaranteed to give great results. From her simple tips on how to cut fabrics intuitively, to her no-fuss method of arranging those fabrics for streamlined stitching, I was incredibly impressed with the technique that Sujata has developed for creating her quilts. I also love that this technique could be applied to making all types of quilt blocks beyond the fifteen quilts that Sujata included in the book, making this much more than a collection of project patterns. And speaking of those projects, Sujata includes variations for setting the blocks for each one–many of which are illustrated with actual quilts instead of mere diagrams–effectively doubling or tripling the number of actual projects that could be made from this book.
One of the beauties of free-form blocks is that they are not intended to look perfect–in fact, their imperfections are what lend interest and charm to the quilts built from them. As someone who struggles with matching points and making evenly sized blocks, I really appreciate this aspect of Sujata’s style and the encouraging tone of her writing. One of my favorite quotes from the book is that “We all know that humans can achieve perfection maybe once, but only machines can reproduce the same thing twice.” Sujata also points out the irregularities that signify the maker’s human hand in the many beautiful photos of inspiring objects that pepper the book.
I also love that throughout this book (and in her posts during this blog tour) Sujata exhorts us to experiment and describes the experimental processes she engaged in when creating these quilts. I, too, enjoy experimenting, and many of my favorite projects have arisen from asking “What if I did this?” I love seeing other quilters embrace experimentation despite (or perhaps because of?) the creative risk it entails.
So, would you like the opportunity to learn a bit more about free-form piecing? Sujata and C&T are graciously giving away a copy of the book to a lucky commenter on this post. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment about whether you like to experiment during your quiltmaking or do things “by the book.” Or, comment about whether you tend towards achieving perfection or embracing imperfection in your quilts. (There are no wrong answers, of course! Variety is what makes the quilting world beautiful!)
I’ll randomly draw a winner in five days (so, at midnight on Dec. 11) and announce here on the 12. If you are in the US you’ll receive a hard copy of the book, and if you are international C&T will send you an electronic copy. I look forward to reading your comments!
And don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour, as well as Sujata’s blog for more information about her process and the quilts in her beautiful new book!
Thanks to this book, I hope I will learn to mix many colors !!
Thank you for this lovely post !
For most of my life I have been a by -the-book person as well as a perfectionist, but as I get older I am experimenting more and more. I love the vibrant colors in this book!
I have some perfectionist tendencies but I have found a way to work with them. If I choose a pattern that has precise piecing and matching I strive to do the matching very accurately. Often I will convert a pattern to paper piecing if that will help with the accuracy. But I don’t always want to work on such detailed things, so other times I choose patterns that don’t require much matching. Sometimes they use wonky blocks and other times they are just blocks set in a way that doesn’t take much matching. Of course, I am still particular with my block intersections — I haven’t completely let go of my need for order! The quilts in this book look very fun and interesting!
I am definitely an experimenter when it comes to making quilts. I rarely just follow the pattern or book.
For myself, I’ve tried some experimental free form piecing. for gifts, I usually go the traditional route.
This looks such a great book – I’d love to try Sujata’s methods!
While perfectionism has its place, through the years I have learned to loosen up. The quilt patterns I have designed lean toward precision yet avoid seam matching — they end up looking scrappy even if I’ve used a specific selection of fabrics.
Great book, nice to try this method.
i also run a giveaway, a fabric giveaway.
Can be a nice add to this one!
I’m kind of in between– I usually start with a pattern and change it up to make it my own.
I love to experiment when I quilt!
I do not strive for perfection – but I do care about my workmanship and try to do my best. But perfection, no!
What a wonderful book!
I’ve been reading The Root Connection for several years. Her ideas and projects are always inspiring.
For myself, I prefer the more liberated, free type of quilting projects. I think it’s good to be sure though that I can still match corners and cut precisely so do practice that every once in a while.
Thanks for putting my name in the hat for the drawing.
I like both precision piecing and liberated piecing although I tend more toward precision. I have friends who think that liberated means sloppy but good work is very important regardless of the method or technique used.
Sujata’s quilts are exciting and fresh and her use of colour is inspirational and imaginative! I would love to add her book to my library!
Thanks for your review…..I enjoy freeform piecing as well as precise piecing. So much beauty in the quilt world who can settle on just one way!!
I like both free form liberated piecing and precise piecing :)
Intentionally wonky and also improv have the potential to create such interesting quilts and it looks like this book pulls it off quite well. It doesn’t come easy for me to break with my perfectionist tendencies so this book might be just what I need.
I’m a traditional piecer — I make utility quilts, not art — but I’m definitely NOT a perfectionist. Plenty of allowance for individuality and interpretation! I figure: “it is what it is” …
I aim at perfect points, but I know that as soon as I master them, I’ll take the freedom of choosing to make quilts perfect or not…
Also, I have never been able to follow a pattern: It is in my nature to add some personal touch, or alter an idea to my wish.
I do both starting out following the pattern and then sometimes switch it up a bit. Sometimes just a picture is all I need to give me inspiration. firstname.lastname@example.org
I like to experiment with fabrics. A pattern is too restricting.
I love Sujata’s designs! Although I tend to be pretty “anal” in my quiltmaking (obsessing about perfection, but never quite achieving it), I love the idea of using free-form techniques to produce quilts that don’t look sloppy. I think I need this book!
I definitely do not quilt “by the book”! I alternate between attempting perfection and embracing imperfection but am leaning more and more towards the latter.
The first time I tried a “wonky” block it looked almost perfect. After years of going for perfection I now love imperfection.
I prefer breaking the rules and sewing ‘outside the lines’ when it comes to quilt making. Sujata’s book is a great inspiration for this.
I love her original way to assemble fabrics
Imperfections seem to be part of the composition. I would love to deepen her technical
I’m a beginner so, for now, I go by the book!
I love to experiment in my quiltmaking and like you, have struggled with my imperfections seeming ‘sloppy’. Would LOVE to win this book!!
Not only am I new fan of Sujata’s, but I’ve also enjoyed enjoyed all the bloggers featured on this tour.
Hmm. I like doing things by the book when I’m learning, but it’s also fun just trying out your own thing. I’ve done both as a beginner. I strive for perfection, but don’t get hung up on my mistakes :) This book looks awesome! I’m loving the pictures :)
I make quilts for my pleasure and to relax so I am not much of a perfectionist, but I do like to keep learning new techniques and practicing to get better. The thought of taking a traditional block and making it unique to my style is certainly intriguing….I hope to learn more from Sujata’s book. :0) Thanks for the chance to win. Happy Sewing and have a blessed Christmas
Most of what I create, I aim for perfection, but when it comes to quilting, I am happy with a moderate percentage of “imperfect”. I don’t ever intend to win any contests or ribbons, but if I am happy with the final product, it is good enough for me…as I am imperfect too!
This book looks so interesting. I would love to try some free form piecing.
LOVE that 3rd quilt! So I don’t go by books very often and love to experiment, where I have trouble is with color, I seem to always only want to use from one fabric line and have a real problem mixing colors.
Finding ones way from accurate piecing to embracing the exuberance of free form quilt making is a journey I am enjoying. With the free form approach, each block can be a unique learning experience.
I love this experimental approach and would love to make those strippy HST blocks.
I definitely love to experiment! The only time I don’t like to is if I think I’m going to ruin too much fabric. So far I’ve been lucky. I would love to win a copy and try some of it out. Thanks so much for the giveaway and Merry Christmas!
I’ve always been a “by-the-book” type of quilter. Having learned of Sujata’s way of quilting and how beautiful her quilts are makes me want to let loose and try a different approach.
I struggle to match seams, get sharp points and so on. If i worried too much about imperfection I would never quilt, so I live with it. I don’t think I embrace it so much as endure it! :) thanks for the chance to win. This book looks enchanting.
Until not so long ago, I used to make quilts as it is in the book, but with time I found out it was less rewarding. It is so much more rewarding to come up with your own ideas and bring something different to an existing pattern.
I am quite fond of Sujata’s work, I am a new fan. Thanks!
The older I get the more I like to play with colors and design. Throw the rules out and have fun.
I like both free-form piecing and precision piecing, but I have to admit, it’s hard to go back to the precision after the freedom of free piecing! I’m not the perfectionist I once was. This book looks like a lot of fun – I’d love the chance to win. Thanks!
I would like to be able to let go and not worry about points being pointy and seams matching. This book looks like it will help a lot.
I tend to determine how rigid or loose my approach will be on a project by project basis. I love to do improvisational piecing and will really be very forgiving of minor imperfections in these quilts. However, if I’m working on a project where the intention is to have perfect points, I will definitely go the extra mile to make sure it happens.
I like to experiment with pattern, color, and technique, but I have never applied that to cutting or anything really free form or wonky. I feel so uptight now! I’d love to learn Sujata’s technique.
I love free form but I am really not confident with it! Would love to learn from this book :-)
I am all about improv piecing these days. I don’t view as imperfections; I think it adds some funkiness to the quilt!
I usually follow the ‘Book of Mary’ which contains details of doing it my own way and the little imperfections in my quilts are called “character”. :)
It depends – I always follow ‘by the book’ if I am truly trying to replicate a pattern, especially if it has tricky piecing. But if I’m making something up, then I leave the templates and the rulers on the table and just cut and tear. I love options!
Thanks for having the giveaway, would love to make some of those beautiful quilts.
So far, I’ve only been “by the book” but I could change. Thanks for the giveaway!
I love to experiment with patterns and also do total improv…. this book fits totally within my persona! Thanks for the chance!
Im quite bad at following instructions, so I like to experiment and tweak designs as I go.
I prefer improv but do “by the book” projects too. Because it’s easier to break the rules after you have tried following them at least once.
I’m a “by the book” kind of girl. I love the colours in those quilts.
I’ve recently learned something about myself: I love to do things improv and by the seat of my pants!
I am more of a “by the book” quilter, but I would really like to break out of these bonds and start experimenting! Love the ideas in Sujata’s book. thank you for sharing with us.
As a liberated quilter through and through, I love creating fresh new ideas from intuition and yes, even impulse. But I honor tradition and respect the hard work of so many that have gone before. So, the fusing of old and new combined with history and culture as Sujata is so incredibly talented at, is the perfect book and one that I would so love to win!
I love the photos I’ve seen from this book. It looks like a great source for inspiration!
I tend to improvise and experiment. When I do have a pattern, I have yet to follow the directions without modifying the design, the technique, the size, something.
I tend to make things without modifying the instructions the FIRST time, to see how the person intended it to look (or taste, if it’s a recipe). But after that, I modify…
What a great book! I am trying to become more experimental in my quilting. This book would really help me!
Oh my gosh! I experiment all the time. I experiment with cutting techniques. I believe if I can stitch first and cut later, there will be less wonkiness. Mostly, I experiment with color – changing color palettes to change the overall effect or to substitute one color with a neutral to see a different pattern emerge.
Perfection is one of my downfalls, I do love color and design. I also make utilitarian quilts, that are to be used and loved. Love the review of Sujata’s book, wonderful bright colors.
I embrace imperfection, mostly because I cannot achieve perfection! I do like just following guidelines instead of a strict pattern; it’s more relaxing and results in something unique! Looks like a wonderful book; thanks for the chance to win!
Although I most often “go by the book”, I have the most fun when I experiment. It’s something I would like to do more of.
As a quasi-beginner in quilting, I really go by the book. Winning this wonderful book would certainly get my quilting abilities ‘out of the box’ – or at least just get the box open! Thanks.
I like using books as a jumping off point! I believe machines are perfect, people are not, so I embrace those human “imperfect” touches in my quilts. Those are the things that make them unique.
Linda – EatSleepQuilt
I do both . . . sometimes I’ll play by the book the 1st time but if I revisit the same pattern or project another day, I almost always change something to make it “mine”.
I love this book. I have just recently started doing more ‘free’ style quilting. It is very liberating.
Someday would Love to try a Words quilt..you know, like My name & who I Love…something like that…but normally like to make Bonnie Hunter quilts.
I am usually by the book. I like what I see in the book.
Since I tend to make blocks by the book I am always intrigued by those who don’t feel they have to do things that way. I have made wonky stars but only because that was what I set out to do, not because of a vision I had. I think her book would open my mind to new possibilities within the realm of by the book and I appreciate the chance to win a copy!
I normally follow the pattern, but there are times I do my own thing! Thanks for the giveaway.
I tend to be precise, but the wonky things that I have done have been fun and very freeing.
Perfection in piecing…no way!! Perfection in my quilting, yep! I totally embrace headless geese and pointless stars!
I like to improv my way into a quilt….i get a little fussy with the quilting of the top, but the top itself is loose and free.
I love the brilliant color and carefree piecing shown in this book! I tend to mostly go by the book but would love to try her technique-thanks for a chance to win!
I’m just beginning my quilting journey so I may be doing things ‘my’ way unintentionally. I’ve had some excellent teachers who have been supportive of mistakes. Would love to win a copy, thanks for the opportunity!
I very seldom go by the book!
I prefer to wander my own way when making a quilt, I don’t really try for perfection just do my best and try to create something everyone will enjoy.
Yes I like to change things up a bit. I don’t always like to go right by the book. As long as the imperfection is not really bad I tend to go with it. ITS what makes it my quilt. Thanks for the chance to win. I am excited to try one of her quilts.
I usually follow the exact instructions rather than venture out.
I usually do things by the book.
I’ve only made simple quilts of my own design, using tutorials for the basics. I’m loving all this gorgeous geometry and would definitely like to try some by-the-book designs!
I’m normall a by the book quilter. But, Love the quilts in this book. Perfect for all those solids in the stash.