My first really ambitious project was a Storm at Sea. I found the pattern in the More Quilts from the Quiltmaker’s Gift and I just loved the colors used in one of the samples. I cut all of those tiny little triangles, starched the heck out of them, pieced everything so carefully. I foundation pieced the diamond pieces using the freezer paper method. The Storm at Sea pattern is usually done using only partial blocks, so the repeating pattern flows differently. The instructions in this book were for the more complicated “full” block. I like both, but the other way would have been quicker. The satisfaction I felt when I sewed the twelve blocks together was wonderful… until I spread it out and looked at it. It was so tiny! It’s only about 3 feet by 4 feet. If I’m going to put that much work into something, I want it to be bigger, more impressive looking. I plan to (eventually) make some more blocks and add to it, but for now it sits on a shelf.
If you aren’t familiar with the books, The Quiltmaker’s Gift is a children’s story book written by Jeff Brumbeau and beautifully illustrated by Gail de Marcken. Scholastic later put out a couple of quilting instruction books by Joanne Larsen Line called Quilts from the Quiltmaker’s Gift and More Quilts from the Quiltmaker’s Gift. They’re fantastic! With about 20 patterns in each book, they have instructions for making the blocks featured in the story. There are illustrations from the book, photos of at least three different quilts for each block, charts for doing the quilts in several different sizes, well illustrated piecing instructions, design challenges to help you make it your own, histories of the blocks, and close ups of the quilting for each block. They even have photos of the quiltmaking process, featuring quilters of all experience levels, even children. If I were recommending just two pattern books, these would be my choice. Other books give great instruction, but these provide so many inspirations and options along with great instruction.