Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts

by Mary Elizabeth Kinch, Biz Storms
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Antique quilt lovers, join Mary Elizabeth and Biz in a celebration of traditional quilts! With inspiring photos of quilts from private collections, this book gives you a peek at masterpieces that have not been widely seen. Indulge your passion for nineteenth-century reproduction fabrics as you create gorgeous large quilts with small blocks.

  • Create 10 exquisite bed-sized projects or use the blocks in small quilts if you prefer
  • Find "batch work" instructions in each project--work in short blocks of time to stay organized
  • Let the beauty of old quilts inspire your fabric and design choices

by Mary Elizabeth Kinch, Biz Storms
8.5" x 11" printed on your home computer
Format Description:
full color, PDF digital download
Product Code:
Publication Date:
December 9th, 2008

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From American Patchwork and Quilting magazine

Discover spectacular full-size antique quilts made with hundreds of small blocks. Use the instructions and 19th-century reproduction prints to re-create the look and feel of an antique quilt.

From QuiltMania magazine

For lovers of traditional quilts with gazillions of minute pieces and fussy construction, this book is absolutely fabulous. It will make you recycle your tiniest scraps and engage in long months of work. The results are out of this world. Ready, set, go!

From American Quilt Retailer

Sometimes something hard and tedious provides a calming distraction, and often things that are hard and tedious are the most satisfying of accomplishments. Such are the quilts presented by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms in Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts. Not for the faint of heart, but sure to set the heart pounding, these quilts are magnificent—not so much in complexity, but in scale and magnitude. A persistent beginner could do some of them, yet even the seasoned veteran quilter would find the process rewarding. You could make your sample quilts from blocks of the appropriate size—just make fewer of them to be able to showcase the book. There’s always time later to make the rest. Sell bags of scraps—even the smallest of scraps—by the pound. Again, they are classic and timeless designs and well worth the attempt.

From Gaye Grant, Irish Quilt and Craft Magazine

… I was browsing through a quilt shop book stand in the little town of Berlin, Ohio. I spied this book. One quick flick through the illustrations and I knew I had to have it—my fabric-buying habit is second only to my book-buying habit, and I needed a fix.

I was not disappointed.  It is well-laid out, beautifully illustrated and photographed, and has me dreaming of making quilts in a way that I previously wouldn’t have considered.  Every quilt in the book is made up of an almost incomprehensible number of tiny component pieces—my own personal favorite, “Rocky Mountain Thimbles,” is made up of a mind-boggling 6,536 thimble-shaped elements. I may never make a quilt like this, but I do like to dream of having the leisure time to embark on such a project, and dreams are free.

From Quilter’s Home magazine

If you’re questioning whether the book’s title really says it all, just look at the very first project in Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts. In Rocky Mountain Thimbles, the twin-sized quilt is made from 6,536 trapezoids (I think that’s what my geometry teacher told me these shapes were!). Yes, you read that right. 6,536! Okay, waay too scary for me, but the finished quilt is, well, stunning enough for me to buy absolutely everything I need to make it (you know how that is). And all of the other projects are just as fabulously intricate and traditional-quilt gorgeous.

This book offers a great way to use up your tiniest of tiny scraps but I don’t think I could ever imagine myself finishing one of these babies (I have a problem finishing even big-block quilts). Just too much work for my A.D.D. brain. But, I can name a few of my Type A quilt buds who would drool over the four-digit block counts in these projects. I say go for it. You only live once, so you might as well live in small detail (even if I can’t).

Should you buy this book? Yes, if you like really, really really intricate piecework, or just enjoy looking at these quilts for their astounding beauty.

From Quilter’s Spirit blog

In one sentence, this pattern book is a reproduction fabric-lover’s dream. The quilts made by the authors make it clear they are bonafide scrap-loving quiltmakers who put as many different reproduction prints into one quilt as humanly possible. Mary and Biz define small blocks as under 5” square and stopping short of being miniatures. Any collector knows their reason for the choices they make in purchasing an antique quilt. For Mary and Biz, it’s the quilts made exclusively with small blocks that knocks the wind out of their chests in a gasp of glee when seen from across a room or vendor booth. Their enthusiasm is palatable through the book and you can’t help but appreciate them for this. The book came from this passion and their hands.

In the first section are pages of 19th century fussy hexesquilts made with small blocks of rosettes, stars, flying geese, half square medallion quilts and others, which the authors studied for inspiration. There are scrumptious pictures of fussy-cut hexagons in repro fabrics that match any antique ones I’ve seen. They make me want to get out my hand sewing and try a few. They use clear template plastic and a sandpaper board to mark then cut these little pieces just so.

One of the antique quilts pictured in this section is an outstanding chintz medallion coverlet made circa 1841 in Australia, the “Rajah Quilt.” Female British prisoners on board the convict ship by the same name as this quilt made it. It is a beautiful medallion quilt with 12 borders of various widths with myriad blocks or appliqués. They counted 2,815 pieces of fabric. Biz and Mary are fabriholics to their core.

The authors work in an organized manner of chain piecing mixed with liberated techniques of taking the next fabric in a stack without deliberation. The color decisions and fabric choices are made at the start then the project proceeds from there without too much attention to what color ends up where. They dedicated the book to their mentor and friend Gwen Marston, who inspired them to get out of the rut of worrying about each piece in a quilt. Yet, they remind us that measuring and precision in the sewn seam allowance is extra important when making small blocks, and they prefer to slow down the sewing and enjoy the process and feel of the fabric. I like this too.

Mary Elizabeth Kinch

Mary Elizabeth Kinch started quilting in 1975 while working as an historical interpreter at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, Ontario. Passionate about creativity since she was very young and always fascinated with fabric and color, she obtained one of her degrees in fashion design. A lifelong exposure to the arts and antiques has contributed to her love of design and her fondness for the antique quilts she studies and collects.

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Biz Storms

After 15 years in advertising, Biz Storms redirected her life to marriage and children. A crib quilt for her daughter led to the world of quilting and eventually to writing quilt books.

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