The Best Book I Don’t Own (Yet)

Okay, maybe it’s not the best book (because I haven’t seen every book to know!), but one of my all-time favorites.

How can I fit these donated blocks, ranging in size from 11.75″ clear up to 13″, into the same quilt top? That was a dilemma I faced early this year. Many of us have worked on projects for charities with blocks donated by many different sewers. Others participate in block exchanges or block of the month projects. Or maybe we have a stack of orphan blocks made as samples or for an intended top that never was constructed. In all these cases the variations between blocks for size and color can stymie us.

Setting Solutions by Sharyn Craig offers solutions to these and many other problems. She gives hope to the quilter with piles of blocks and no ideas for how to get them into quilts.

There are no patterns in this book. Instead, she talks the reader through dealing with those odd sizes with framing and alternate blocks. Besides that, though, she shows how to change color, proportion, and value, as well. For example, if you have a set of blocks that have greens as their main color, but you don’t want a green quilt, you can fool the eye by using different colors in the settings and borders. Your green blocks can magically turn into a blue quilt!

Even though the book is primarily about block format quilts, the concepts work just as well with other formats. As I worked on my medallion quilt, there were a couple of points where the color didn’t suit me. When I had only the center block done and it was in pinks and greens, I knew I didn’t want a pink and green quilt. Using ideas learned from this book (and reinforced by later experience), I was able to spread the color palette away from those. After I applied the turquoise border, my small group members asked if the top was done. I said no, because the turquoise border turns it into a turquoise quilt, and I don’t want a turquoise quilt. And I was able to change it.

The framing techniques also work well with medallion quilts, as we often need to adjust sizing to deal with inaccuracy of sewing, or just to make the desired border work.

Not only are the ideas great, but she writes clearly, also. Her style is conversational and personal, and she comes across as just the one you want helping you.

And why don’t I own the book yet? I’ve checked it out of my public library numerous times over the last few years.

But finally I’ve decided to buy it for myself. I placed an order this morning to buy a used library copy. My hope is that I’ll get a 2001 printing, rather than the newer Print-on-Demand version.

Whether you get a 2001 printing or a newer one, you won’t be sorry. If you work with “odd” blocks of any type, this book provides ideas for dealing with all kinds of problems.

And how did my charity quilt turn out? Using what Craig calls “negative” coping strips, I framed the blocks with the same color as that used in the sashing. The size differences disappeared and the colors unified to create a beautiful top. When the quilt was auctioned, it raised more than $10,000.

Thanks, Sharyn Craig, for writing one of the best quilting books ever!

[Note: I sent Sharyn Craig an email with the link, and she wrote back! How wonderful!]


2 thoughts on “The Best Book I Don’t Own (Yet)

  1. Nann

    Setting Solutions is one of my favorites, too. She has another called Great Sets. Both of them make me want to create a bunch of blocks just so I can use one of her ‘solutions’!

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Hi Nann. I haven’t seen Great Sets. Maybe I should order it for the guild library… 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m always glad to see you.


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