How a craft book came to be
As a maker you probably have a shelf full of craft books and tutorials, but have you ever thought about all the work that went into creating those books? Designer, teacher and author Michael Caputo has just published a new book called Quilting Basics, which is a step-by-step course for first-time quilters. We asked him to share his insights into the process of writing his craft book – how he designed his quilting tutorials, how he chose the fabrics and colours, and why he feels it’s the perfect time for a new book of quilting projects.
I’m a big collector of all sorts of design books. You can pull little pieces from most things and make them your own. That’s how I view my work as a quilter. Quilt blocks might not be new, but how you use them and incorporate them into your work can be new or at least new to you – Michael Caputo
Michael Caputo on writing Quilting Basics
When I was planning out the projects and lessons for the book I had a think about a simple progression that would have been helpful to me when I was learning to quilt. My first few quilted projects were probably geared towards the more experienced quilters and what was a simple premise for some was a bit more of a challenge since I had no experience.
Quilt blocks, which are the basis for most traditional quilts have been around for nearly 100 years, if not longer. Nowadays, modern quilters are taking the structure of the blocks and updating them by using modern fabrics and patterns and also brighter colours. Some modern quilters are even improvising while they join the fabric together.
Modern quilters are taking the structure of the blocks and updating them by using modern fabrics and patterns
You can clearly see this in many of my quilts in Quilting Basics. I’ve taken a simple table runner and used a contemporary fabric and colour palette to create a very basic mini quilt that can be used to decorate any table (pictured above). The same goes for the Sampler Quilt at the end of the book. Some of the blocks are very traditional but don’t feel that way because of the bright playful colours and patterns on the fabrics. If the same sampler was created using very traditional fabrics it would have a completely different look and feel.
For my Snowball Quilt, I decided on the bright colours and paired it with a white background to add my own flair to this simple block and design
As you move through the book, you learn slightly more complex techniques that you can add to your repertoire. One of my favourites is the Snowball Quilt. Using a very simple Half Square Triangle block, you can create a fun pattern. I decided on the bright colours from a range and paired it with a white background to add my own flair to this simple block and design.
Years ago when I was living in NYC, I used to visit a local craft shop called Purl Soho. They had this really cool colour wheel quilt hanging on the wall in the fabric section of the shop. I’ve always been drawn to colour because of my art and design degree. That quilt was the inspiration for my paper-pieced Colour Wheel quilt. It’s perfect to have in your space to help plan your colours.
I used to visit a local craft shop in New York called Purl Soho. They had this really cool colour wheel quilt hanging on the wall in the fabric section of the shop. That quilt was the inspiration for my paper-pieced Colour Wheel quilt.
What I’m drawn to right now is using geometric patterns to create the basis of my quilts and designs. With the help of Pinterest I can collect and categorise my upcoming or future projects. In my other life I designed children’s pop-up books and used a programme called Illustrator to create my dielines. As I’m very comfortable using that application I tend to use it to design and lay out my ideas. I’ll take a complex design or pattern that looks like there is no logical way of recreating it in fabric and break it down into manageable sections that can either be replicated over and over again to fill an entire quilt top or be used as a focal point.
When designing I like to place in flat colours until I decide which direction I want to go in fabric-wise. Most fabric manufacturers have a jpeg file on their website that can easily be downloaded. Once I have made my selections I can replace the flat colours with the jpegs and create a pretty accurate representation of what the final quilt will look like.
Quilts or patchworking have made a big comeback in recent years. Quilting isn’t just something your grandmother does anymore and there are more and more guys quilting these days too.
Quilts or patchworking have made a big comeback in recent years. Fabric manufacturers are supplying more and more modern and contemporary designs which are geared to the younger generation. Quilting is not just something your grandmother does anymore and there are more and more guys quilting these days too. The nice thing about today’s quilters is that they like to make everything. Some people are obsessed with bags and box pouches, others are into hand appliqué work (which is great for those on the go) and others are using it as a way to create art, just like you would with paints. When quilting first began there was only one purpose: keeping warm. Now people quilt to express their artistic vision.
Reading and looking at what other people design and quilt is inspirational, especially if they walk you through their process. I’m a big collector of all sorts of design books. You can pull little pieces from most things and make them your own. That’s how I view my work as a quilter. Quilt blocks might not be new, but how you use them and incorporate them into your work can be new or at least new to you.
I’ve also been spending a bunch of time in tile shops as we’re building a new house, and the amazing patterns that are formed with tiles and wood planks are perfect for quilts. Inspiration can be found all over the place, you just need to be open to things.
[THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED]
Win a Craft Book Bundle!
If you’re a craft book collector like Michael, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’re giving away a bundle of brilliant books. The FOUR craft books in our special bumper giveaway are Quilting Basics by Michael Caputo, Simple Chic Knits by Karen Miller and Susan Ritchie, Macramé Jewelry and Accessories by Lucy Hopping and Modern Crocheted Shawls & Wraps by Laura Strutt. Win this bundle and you’ll be able to brush up on all your textile skills!
For your chance to win, just enter below…
More details about the books in our competition:
Quilting Basics by Michael Caputo, photography by Penny Wincer, published by CICO Books
Simple Chic Knits by Karen Miller and Susan Ritchie, photography by Penny Wincer and Emma Mitchell, published by CICO Books
Macramé Jewelry and Accessories by Lucy Hopping, photography by Jo Henderson, published by CICO Books
Modern Crocheted Shawls & Wraps by Laura Strutt, photography by Penny Wincer and Emma Mitchell, published by CICO Books
All images © CICO Books