5 Great Art Quilting Books – Resources to Get You Started Making Beautiful Art Quilts

I recently joined a art quilting group in my hometown.  Although I have been sewing for many years, I have never reached out to find a group of sewers with similar interests in my community until this year. I am so glad that I did!

We have decided to start our time together by working through the Art Quilting Workbook by Jane Davalia and Elin Waterson. The book is broken down in chapters that discuss art quilting topics including thread work, photography, color, and many more. At the end of each chapter, we practice what we discussed by making a mini art quilt using techniques from the chapter.

We have worked through three chapters and so far, this has been an excellent book for our group.  It is basic enough to provide great information for people just starting art quilting, but the exercises are sufficiently challenging so that quilters with more experience find value in them.

Working through this book has reminded me of how valuable it is to find general resources on a topic, especially when you are just starting out.  While there are many excellent books covering specific processes in art quilting, these 5 art quilting books listed below were great general resources when I just started dabbling in art quilting, about 5 years ago and continue to be today:

  1. Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterson  Although this book has been around a while, I just bought it recently for our art quilting group.  As I mentioned above, it is a great resource, especially for beginning art quilting.  It is one of those books that give a bit of information about a lot of aspects of art quilting.
  2. Fabric Embellishing: The basics and beyond – This is an interesting technique book that covers over 50 embellishments ideas a general sewer or quilter may not have tried.  The book encourages the reader to make small sample blocks of each embellishment technique.  The layout is very clear.  Each technique spans 2 – 3 pages with lots of process pictures and finished examples.  A great idea resource.
  3. Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creativity Exercises by Lyric Kinard – I think the most important part of art quilting is design and composition.  This is a book of basic concepts, covering composition ideas, the elements of art, principles of design.  Each chapter has a number of exercises with finished examples.  I found that helpful when working through this book on my own. It is a solid book on the fundamental concepts of quilt design from one artist’s perspective.  I found it to be a great book to start to understand design principles when you have no design or art background.
  4. Adventures in Design by Joen Wolfrom – This book should probably be at the top of my list because I truely love it!  It also covers the principles of design and includes over 150 finished works by various art quilters to illustrate the different concepts.  While the Kinard book above, discusses art quilting design in a very rudimentary way that is easily understandable and usable by someone with no art background, this book reaches to show what great design can lead to when combined with excellent technique.  This is a well written book that can take understanding design to the next level – from individual parts to working together as a whole.
  5. Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge – This is  the first art quilting book I bought.  Unlike the books above, it is not a book to work through.  Twelve art quilters participated in a challenge to create a 12 by 12 mini art quilt  every two months based on a different theme, such as “dandelion” or “shelter.”  Each chapter shows the twelve quilts on the theme and then goes into detail about how one art quilt was made.  This book was helpful for me as a new art quilter because it gave me a peek into different artist’s process and also portrayed how 12 people could interpret, design and create such different works.  It explains what art quilting and fabric art is from 12 different artists’ perspective.

In making this list, I have really enjoyed  browsed back through some of my favorite beginner/ general art quilting books. These books above still hold a lot of value for me.  In fact, Twelve by Twelve and Adventures in Design have moved back to my “to read” book pile for the time being!