Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design – Book Review


Amazon Books

When I heard the Sharon Boggon was writing a book on crazy quilting, I knew I had to have it! I pre-ordered it, and when it arrived, it flew to the top of my book stack.

Sharon blogs – and has for a long, long time! – at Pintangle about crazy quilting and other artistic and stitch-related interests. Her encrusted approach to crazy quilting has fascinated me for years.

I love to look at her elaborate crazy quilt squares, with exquisitely arranged ground fabrics, perfectly placed and spaced stitches, ingenious stitch combinations, fantastic textures, and judiciously and tastefully added embellishments.

Her work is really a feast for the eyes!

And while I’m not a crazy quilter myself (I did dabble a bit with it – and goldwork – here), I love to look at beautifully executed crazy quilting.

There’s a lot to learn in crazy quilting that can be applied to other types of stitchery, too. I appreciate especially the freedom of crazy quilting. I think it’s a perfect outlet for creative stitchers who like to sew and who enjoy playing with fabric, threads, beads, ribbons, texture, and color.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design is a colorful volume that is bound to catch the eye of any needlework enthusiast.

The title relays a little bit about what’s inside, but this is much more than just a design book. It’s crazy quilting from start to finish, made accessible to the beginner but super useful for the advanced CQ-er as well.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

The book covers a lot of content in its 144 pages!

Not only will you learn all about the materials – fabrics suitable for crazy quilting, threads, embellishments, tools, and the works – but you’ll also learn about designing squares (and layouts), constructing them, planning embellishment, color choices, textures, movement, stitches, decorative treatments, and pretty much everything that you need to know to create outstanding crazy quilt projects.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Throughout the book, the reader is treated to photos of Sharon’s gorgeous work. I remember when I first saw the piece above on Sharon’s former blog “In a Minute Ago,” and was struck by it. I love the colors, the arrangement, the needle painting!

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

I think Sharon is one of those natural-born teachers who not only easily spreads enthusiasm for her subject, but who knows how to make the subject approachable and achievable. She breaks down method and technique into logical, manageable steps, taking the learner from basics to beyond seamlessly.

There’s no huff-and-puff, no unachievable loftiness. It’s as if you’re on an mild, pleasurable stroll down the path of learning, and the next thing you know, you get it!

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design is written in a really easy, friendly tone that’s just plain nice to read.

Aside from the excellent instructional content that you’d hope for from any technique book, I think this is what I like best about the book.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

From the learner’s perspective, there are a few sections in the book that raise it above other books on the same subject. After all, there are lots of books on crazy quilting out there!

For example, I especially appreciate this section on movement. The whole notion of “movement” in visual art can be applied to more than just crazy quilting. Once you consider movement in design, you’ll find yourself applying the concepts in this section to other pieces of needlework, too!

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Sharon thoroughly discusses and instructs on the structure of squares in crazy quilting designs and how to consider the placement of embellishments in a way that they will draw the eye around the piece and encourage it to see and explore.

She demonstrates how to create something that, although it might be seemingly disordered due to heavy embellishment, is actually pleasantly ordered so that the eye makes sense of it almost upon contact.

While crazy quilting often celebrates an abundance of decoration that can often seem haphazard and perhaps even “overdone,” Sharon shows how the judicious placement of key decorative elements brings an order to the disorder, making a piece a real pleasure to explore rather than just a mass of confusion.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Another section that I really like in this book is the section on color.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to any book that discusses color. Color Confident Stitching, which I reviewed earlier this year, has been my go-to book lately when I want to think about color in designs. I’ve also reviewed Color Confidence in Embroidery, which discusses the subject at length and provides needlepainting projects that demonstrate beautifully the blending of colors in embroidery.

I always learn something from every author’s take and interpretation of color. Sharon has a real knack for color combinations that work, and so I was eager to read this section of the book. It doesn’t disappoint – I picked up some good information and perspectives for making color choices.

Have you ever noticed that there are creative folks who have an intuitive, natural sense for color, while other people rely on more of an almost-scientific approach to the subject? I think you’ll find Sharon’s section on color pretty helpful, if you flounder on the question of color in needlework design in general!

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Of course you will find thorough information on embellishments other than thread and beads. There’s a good section on lace, braids, doilies, hankies – and other stuff! – and how to use it all effectively…

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

…and plenty of luscious silk ribbon instruction!

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

The technical instruction in the book is excellent – lots of clear step-by-step photos that will make learning a breeze!

There’s a thorough stitch dictionary with classic stitches and all kinds of variations and lovely combinations.

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design

Finally, what every crazy quilter craves – lots of inspiration for seam treatments! You’ll find pages and pages of seam treatment ideas!

Again, these can be applied to other types of needlework besides crazy quilting, too. They’d be really fun in band sampler format, if you just wanted to practice or play with bands of stitches.

In a Nutshell

A terrific book! And on so many levels!

All pros, no cons.

Where to Find It

You can find Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design available now through the following book affiliates:

Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design is available in the US here, through Amazon.

And, worldwide with free shipping, it’s available here, through Book Depository.


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(11) Comments

  1. Now that I’ve read the review, I really want this book, even though I had decided earlier this year that I would never need another quilting book again in my lifetime. I should have known better and today is my birthday! Thanks for showing me what to with my birthday money. I’m off to Amazon!

  2. Dear Mary

    The visual guide to crazy quilting design looks like a great book to own especially if you are an avid crazy quilter. I have loads of doilies that a kind neighbour gave me a while ago so the section on how to use doilies effectively would be very interesting for me. I like the idea of quilting as there are so many lovely designs out there, but I have never attempted to try it yet, but who knows. Thanks for reviewing the visual guide to crazy quilting design for us and letting us see some of the aspects in the book. Looks lovely.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. Thank you Mary! Your book recommendations are thorough and I appreciate all your work. My best to you, Margaret

  4. I am an experienced crazy quilter who has been featured on this blog (Thank you Mary). I also pre-ordered this book. While my style is very different from Sharon’s, I have a much less encrusted style, I learned so much fromSharon’s book and her blog. In particular, her technique for spacing stitches evenly using plastic canvas was one I’ve never seen before. I think this technique is particularly good for beginners who struggle with spacing. If you’re interested here’s the link to Mary’s post about my work: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2014/12/lessons-from-crazy-quilt-square.html

    I own a lot of crazy quilt books and this one is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

  5. Thanks for another superb book review, Mary! I dabble in the occasional crazy quilt block, and I really like looking at pictures of historical cq’s. Some of the historical and contemporary ones make me uneasy because they seem a chaotic jumble of everything possible (i think of this as the “Victorian sensibility,” not sure if i’m apportioning blame appropriately or not!). So i love what i can see and what you said about Sharon’s approach to design. Yet another book to add to my collection!

  6. What a wonderful review! I’d heard about Sharron’s 2020 challenge and took a look, and I saw her book. It is on the top of my “wish list” and you have confirmed that it is rightly placed. I have done a bit of crazy quilting, and this guide sounds like it would answer every question that I have. Thank you for the confirmation.

  7. I bought the book after you mentioned pre-ordering it since I was already familiar (and entranced!) with Sharon’s work from her website and blog. It’s hard to say what’s best about it, but I especially liked the discussions on design. Although her blocks look free-spirited, the underlying design principles really do give them visual coherence. Even though I come from a non-art background (accounting/finance), she presents the concepts in a way that is easy to comprehend. Now I just have to decide if I want to complete her 2020 challenge…

  8. Hi Mary,

    I’ve had Sharon’s book since it first hit the shelves. It is a fantastic book onf so many levels as you say, even for one who only occasionally dabbles in CQ . Sharon is an excellent teacher, and I was lucky enough to do all her on line classes before she closed them down to concentrate on her book. I do hope now she will bring back some more classes, they were so full of every aspect of the art, just like her book.
    Cheers Judy
    South East Queensland

  9. I follow Pintangle also and pre-ordered Sharon’s book. I have several Crazy Quilt books and I love this one most of all. I think the best section for me is the seam treatments, combining different stitches, etc. I also ordered her acrylic templates and was surprised the shipping to the US wasn’t that bad. I want to start with a pillow cover but I have way too many projects in the works. You were spot on with your review as usual. Thanks

  10. Thanks so much for the very helpful review and sampling of the pages. It is so helpful to have someone who actually stitches a lot review a book for useful content. Some of amazon’s are of no use at all. I.e.”the book is pretty and I hope to use it” is just worthless for me. LOL

    I really like that there are samples of stitch combinations. I have plenty of stitch books, but few provide examples of using several stitches or lines of stitches together to create a new design.

    I ordered mine!


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