The Ultimate List of Must-Have Quilting Books

quilting books

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It is estimated that there are between 7 and 10 million quilters in the USA alone. Creating beautiful quilts is relatively easy when you know how, but there’s no doubt that this requires some knowledge and skill, and a good quilting book is essential to develop these techniques.

The best quilting books: our top recommendations

The right quilting book will help you to master quilting techniques and explore your art: here are the best quilting books for all levels and across all styles.

1. Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in Burano: Designs Inspired by a Venetian Island

Inspired by the tiny Venetian island of Burano, Quilts in Burano features 19 amazing quilts by renowned artist and quilt designer Kaffe Fassett.

The beautiful designs include a combination of old favorites from the designer and brand new designs, accompanied by clear instructions, diagrams and templates for each. There is even a basic overview of quilting techniques for beginners.

The book also features stunning photos taken on location across the island.

2. Complete Machine Quilting Manual

This comprehensive guide contains virtually everything you need to know about quilting on a sewing machine.

Topics range from setting up and preparation to various quilting techniques and project ideas and instructions are simple and clear. There are many handy tips for creating quilts on a sewing machine, including a guide to the best sewing machines for quilting.

Beginner to expert quilters will find the Complete Machine Quilting Manual useful as a reference book, where they can look up specific techniques and troubleshoot issues. There are also some project ideas and quilting designs included where quilters can put the mentioned techniques to use.

3. Simple Geometric Quilting: Modern, Minimalist Designs for Throw, Pillows, Wall Décor and More

This book features 20 beginner-friendly projects, each designed by Laura Preston and inspired by the landscapes of the American West. The geometric designs feature simple shapes and solid color blocks for quilts that have a modern aesthetic and are also easy to make.

Each project is accompanied by clear step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and in-depth tutorials.

Although this is a great book for beginners thanks to the easy projects, advanced quilters will also find something of value as they can experiment with contemporary techniques such as working with negative space and creating curved lines.

4. Modern Quilt Bible: Over 100 Techniques and Design Ideas for the Modern Quilter

The Modern Quilt Bible is a substantial reference guide to modern quilting and patchwork, containing over 100 different techniques.

Techniques covered include free-motion quilting, improv piecing, curved piecing, and reverse applique, described clearly and simply. The book also explains important concepts such as optical effects, color theory, negative space, and how to play with scale, with examples of quilting designs by leading modern designers.

There are also ten original quilting projects that incorporate many of the techniques covered in the book.

5. Machine-Quilting Idea Book: 61 Designs to Finish Classic Patchwork

This book is a great resource for anyone looking for machine-quilting designs using classic quilt blocks. In total, there are 61 designs that can be created on a sewing machine, each described in detail and accompanied by color-coded illustrations.

You can also use the ideas, concepts, or separate blocks to create your own quilt design.

This Machine-Quilting Idea Book is suitable for all levels as each block offers between four and six technique variations, ranging from beginners to advanced versions. Each design is rated according to difficulty, so you can easily choose the project that is the right level for you.

6. Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2: More Quilts from 10” Squares

This sequel to the popular first volume of layer-cake quilts features 11 new designs from Me and My Sister Designs.

The book features 10” squares that can be easily put together with a background fabric and a border to create simple and stunning quilts. The squares incorporate clever tricks and design elements that make the quilt appear complex while actually being very simple to make.

Each design has clear instructions and pictures, making them easy to follow and suitable for beginners to more advanced quilters.

7. The Quilter’s Bible: The Indispensable Guide to Patchwork, Quilting and Applique

Another comprehensive reference book for quilters, The Quilter’s Bible covers tips and advice across all aspects of quilting, applique and patchwork.

The book covers a large number of topics, from the basics to rare and specialized techniques. This makes it a useful resource for beginners who are just starting out, as well as more advanced quilters looking to build their knowledge of specific techniques.

Along with detailed descriptions of techniques, quilters of all levels will enjoy the inspirational examples used to demonstrate each technique as well as 15 projects, with step-by-step instructions for each.

8. Sarah Payne’s Quilt School: New Ways to Start Patchwork and Quilting

Expert quilter, instructor, and TV presenter Sarah Payne shares the basics of quilting in this fun and informative guide.

Aimed at beginners, this book tells would-be quilters everything they need to know to get started, from basic techniques and shapes to more advanced elements such as applique piecing blocks and layering.

There are a range of projects included to help beginners practice and master the techniques they learn, each with step-by-step instructions. The projects include not only quilts but also home décor items such as cushions, tote bags, and table runners.

9. First Time Quilting: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

As the title suggests, this guide is aimed at complete beginners. It steps the reader through every aspect of learning to quilt, right from the beginning with the tools and materials needed to quilt.

The book has detailed instructions for a range of basic techniques for both hand and machine quilting, as well as how to apply them to specific projects. There are eight easy projects, including wall hangings, pillows, and table runners.

10. Quilting for Dummies

From the same series that covers everything from accounting to computer programming comes Quilting for Dummies. Written by an expert quilter with strong credentials, this comprehensive book details everything beginners need to know about the craft.

This includes basic techniques and also essential information like how to choose the right fabric, how to use quilting tools correctly, and the basics or quilt design. Everything is covered in a detailed but approachable way without incomprehensible terminology.

11. Labor of Love: Scrappy Quilts at the Heart of Home

Written by designer and influencer Sherri McConnell, this book features her unique approach to scrap quilting. This helps you to make use of old scraps of fabric and save them from going to waste.

The book features 12 scrap quilting projects, including bed quilts, throws, wall hangings, and table toppers, each with detailed, step-by-step instructions and beautiful pictures. Readers will also enjoy some handy and time-saving tips not only for quilting, but better ways to collect, store, and use fabric scrap.

12. Playing with Patchwork & Sewing: 6 Blocks in 3 Sizes, 18 Exciting Projects Skill-Building Techniques

This book is aimed at sewists who want to branch out into quilting, and quilters who want to take their projects to the next level by adding in extra dimensions. It is written by street artist Nicole Calver who applies her colorful style to create modern and dynamic projects.

Playing with Patchwork & Sewing has 18 projects combining sewing and quilting techniques, as well as providing clear instructions for basic quilting techniques including patchwork, English paper piecing, foundation piecing, and machine appliqué.

13. New Patchwork & Quilting Basics: A Handbook for Beginners

Another useful volume for beginners, this book aims to help quilters build their skills from the ground up. Written by renowned and experienced quilter Jo Avery, it is full of clear, easy-to-read instructions.

There are 12 complete projects, starting with very simple designs for absolute beginners, and ranging up to intermediate-level projects. This will allow beginners to develop their skills and graduate to more advanced techniques such as paper piecing, appliqué and curves.

14. Mix it Up! 16 Quilts from Cake Mix and Cupcake Mix Papers  

This quilting book contains fun designs based around cake mix papers and cupcake mix papers, to create 10 inch or 5 inch squares, respectively. This is a great way to get into this easy technique for quilters who’ve always wanted to try it but aren’t sure how to get started.

The designs are straightforward to make: all the quilter needs to do is choose a pattern and take a stack of cake mix or cupcake mix papers. They then simply sew on the dotted lines, cut on the solid lines, and easily tear out the paper. 

15. Better Homes and Gardens’ Complete Guide to Quilting

This comprehensive quilting guide is a handy resource for quilters of all levels. It covers the whole quilting process from start to finish, from designing quilt blocks to binding and finishing.

The book features clear and detailed instructions of each technique and aspect. Though it does not include any projects or patterns, it also has useful tips and advice on how to avoid quilting problems, and how to deal with such issues if they occur.

16. Oh Scrap! Fabulous Quilts That Make the Most of Your Stash

Another great resource for scrap quilting, this book comes from established scrap quilter Lissa Alexander. A comprehensive guide to the medium, Oh Scrap! offers a wealth of advice for making scrap quilts.

The book has 12 patterns for gorgeous scrap quilts loaded with fun colors and textures, as well as tips for putting your stash of scraps to work, and which fabric combinations work best together.

This is extremely helpful to allow you to make a stunning scrap quilt that uses your scraps to their best advantage.

17. The Ultimate Guide to Rulerwork Quilting

This book is a technical guide to rulerwork quilting, comprehensively covering techniques for rulerwork quilting on both domestic and longarm machines.

The guide covers preparation, from choosing the right rulers and presser feet to planning out the design using rulers. It also explains how to execute quilting designs with straight and circle rulers and how to create shapes such as waves, clamshells, and feathers.

Each technique is explained in detail and illustrated with clear photos.

Wrapping it up

Quilting books are indispensable for quilters of all levels, from teaching absolute beginners how to quilt to helping advanced quilters to explore new techniques and hone their skills. The best quilting books on the market today range from introductory tutorials and comprehensive reference manuals, to niche techniques and modern projects.

If you’ve found some useful tips on this list of the best quilting guides, why not share it with your quilting friends?