As a regular visitor to Julie's blog (http://quiltdivajulie.blogspot.co.uk/) I was already an admirer of her free pieced barns so have been looking foward to seeing her book describing both the journey she went on in making the See Rock City quilt and her methods for free piecing.
So what do I like about this book? I love Julie's attitude to inspiring the reader. She gives us, in detail, her techniques and thought process but at every stage encourages us to do our own thing. I particularly like the injunction to take off the spine, ring bind the pages and write all over them (though as someone who was brought up NEVER to write on books I will have to work on that part).
I like that she works scrappy - seeing that as an approach that leads to creative solutions.
I liked being able to read the story of See Rock City all the way through, following the success and the glitches on the way to the final quilt. I actually read this straight through in one sitting, even though I'd only opened the book for a quick first peek.
I like that she walks us through the making of 4 barns, step by step. This is both a great project for those who want it, but also I found helped me to get to grips with how she breaks down her initial sketch into individual units for the piecing.
The best thing I can say about any quilting book is that it inspires me, makes me want to go out right now and make something and Build-a-Barn has got my head whirling with ideas. This leads me on to the "why don't you" part of the post. Julie looked at an existing strand in quilting (the free pieced house) and re-imagined it to fit her own tastes and interests. Another book out this month, by Lara of Buzzin' Bumble (of which more another time) resulted when Lara couldn't achieve the effect she wanted using traditional applique techniques, so invented a new one.
We can't all be trail blazers, but the challenge, I think, is to look beyond the obvious and not to say to ourselves "well, I'd like to make it look like this, but I don't know how to get that effect", not to discard aspects of quilting as not for us (I am guilty of having thought this about EPP, but this instagram feed has recently been making me think again). There are so many techniques in quilting and indeed in other forms of sewing, like garment-making that we could regard as options for improv, tools to enable us translate the ideas in our heads into fabric - let's be encouraged to keep pushing the boundaries.