Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tools & gadgets: indispensable or complete bust

Block Lotto's weekend update has converted to a month long linky thing.  I cannot speak for everyone (who can?), but this works way better for me.  This month's theme is Tools & Gadgets:  indispensable or complete bust.  Okay, I add that last bit, but it was sort of implied. 

& there is one tool without which I could not quilt the way I do, I could not build block swaps, & frankly I would not be able to put myself to sleep at night rearranging imaginary quilts--which is how I do it now.  I am talking about Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  That's right, my most important quilting tool is a book.  This should come as no surprise to people who know me because I ALWAYS think the most important tool in any endeavor is a book.  That might be why I use words like endeavor.  Or maybe I use words like endeavor know what, that's not my point.

I bought my copy back when it was still in print.  I also talked our library into buying a copy around the same time (it wasn't hard-they actually bought three).  Now you would pay a good bit more, so here's hoping there is a new edition on the horizon.  In the event that you want it, but you cannot pay $100+ let me recommend PaperbackSwap. It may take a while, it may take a long while, but sooner or later everything seems to wash up on those shores.

The Encyclopedia, if you are not familiar with it, is set up thusly:  there is a sort of outline of general types 4-patch, 9-patch, etc.  then within each there is further detail 9-patches made of equal parts versus unequal parts, that kind of thing.  The blocks are recorded by name & number.  Blocks with close number are likely to have a similar construction.  You can look up a number or use the index to look up by common name, but like plants the common names of quilt blocks can be sketchy.

My copy is in pretty good shape, but I have added post-it-type flags to the top marking ranges of numbers & I used to have random slips of paper marking particular blocks, but they fell out all the time so now I use ribbons (usually the ribbons that tie up fat quarter bundles). 

That is it, the only quilting tool I ever took to bed....or into the bathtub.  Yes, there is a wonderful software program (BlockBase) with much the same info & other features a paper book just doesn't have.  & I have that program, but there is nothing like a book. 


  1. I love that book, too. I've been thinking about real books versus electronic ones ... although there was a time when I thought if there was a service to convert all my paper books to electronic ones, I'd do it, I'm really not so sure I'm ready to give up the originals.

    Thanks for joining the Block Lotto linky party and blogging about tools.

  2. so many many little time lol a couple favorites of mine are ones my mom gave me many years ago before rotary cutting!
    MB I really enjoyed your description of your Ranch... I have a couple do nothing cats that would really fit in if you're interested ;))))

  3. I was just looking at Amazon for this book but was a bit put off by how expensive the copies are going for. Yikes! I'm working on a quilt for my nephew who was interested in the history of quilts so I figured that I'd make the quilt blocks that started with the letters of his name. The front would just be a Take Five quilt but the back would have the row of his name blocks. I realized that there's so many wonderful blocks out there that I should take a look at and thought this would be the perfect book to get. I'll go to our library and see if they have a copy. They do have a fairly large quilting section which is nice. (Love your blog!)