Sunday, December 7, 2014

Book Review: Patterns of Progress

Cover image: Barbara Brackman's Patterns of Progress

Continuing my December blog-every-day-challenge with another book review: Barbara Brackman's Patterns of Progress: Quilts in the Machine Age (1997).

This volume is rather different from Ms. Brackman's other books--it's the only one I've seen which doesn't have project instructions and templates included.  Instead, it's arranged in two parts: a 20-page history of the sewing machine and its use in quilting, followed by a 100-page gallery of beautiful quilts.  As per usual, original images (paper quilt patterns, sewing machine trade cards, period photographs) are used throughout for context.  A bibliography is also included.

The gallery shows 50 quilts, arranged chronologically, with a fit-to-page color image of each and a short description facing.  Most of the quilts are from the twentieth century, including some beautiful art quilts from the 1980s and 1990s, several of which evoke earlier designs.  The earliest examples (and only completely hand-sewn ones)  date from the second quarter of the nineteenth century, one in patchwork and the other applique.  Several late nineteenth century and early twentieth century quilts are also included, showing changes in design and technique--notably, the transition to machine quilting.

While Ms. Brackman's other books feel directed at reenactors-who-quilt or quilters-who-like-history, this book instead presents a short history of machine quilting, which accounts for its format and tonal shift. It's an interesting read, but not the best volume to reference for planning your re-enactment sewing. However, if you want a book of beautiful quilt images, this is it.

Score: 3 Stars as a re-enactor reference, 4 Stars as a an introduction to quilting history.
Accuracy: Lots of citations and original images, but over a wide range of time
Level: N/A
Strongest Impression:  Good, succinct over-view of quilting trends during the advent of the home sewing machine and the first century of machine quilting.  Lots of pretty quilt pictures; most are twentieth century.

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