Quilt Local by Heather Jones

quilt local by heather jones
I like the premise behind Heather Jone’s latest book, Quilt Local.  I believe wholeheartedly in observing and abstracting patterns from your environment. Pattern abstraction is fundamental to quilt making and is rooted in the American frontier. All of the classic patchwork blocks arose from abstraction of the everyday — Log Cabin, Turkey Tracks, Rail Fence, Drunkard’s Path…

Quilt Local features fixed patterns and emphasizes Heather’s considered design process, color theory, and implementation. I love the introductions to each of her projects, where you see an image of the object and her sketch together.


Quilt Local is a lovely book for people prone to designing and planning and who are interested in modernizing or inventing new fixed patterns, but it’s premise also speaks to improvisors, who like to explore flexible patterns.

I always encourage students of improv to look at their environment for inspiration, not other people’s quilts. For this reason I think Quilt Local is a great cross over book that  speaks to both fixed and flexible pattern traditions in quilt making.

When I first started my blog I had a series of weekly posts on Inspiration Sundays, under the category of Sketchbook. Each post featured an image of an object in my environment and an abstracted pattern sketch of that object.  This sketchbook post inspired by zinias, led to developing the wedge-curve technique…

and this sketchbook post inspired by onions, led to the bias-strip piecing on the curve technique, both of which are featured in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by the same wonderful publisher of Heather’s book, STC Craft / Abrams.

Abstracting patterns from your environment is an extremely important practice to undertake and Heather’s book leads by example, along with practical tips on how to do it. Here are a few of the other objects and places that surround Heather and inspired the over 40 projects featured in Quilt Local. Aren’t you curious to see the quilts they inspired???


Another thing I appreciate about quilts in Quilt Local is Heather’s simple and bold use of scale. I notice that a majority of my students tend to piece medium to small. I often wonder why that is. Is it a comfort thing? Is it a gender thing? Is it something about not wanting to take up space? Is it a form of scarcity and a fear of wasting fabric? Is it a form of agoraphobia and a fear of large spaces? I’m curious about what you think…

from Quilt Local by Heather Jones

But I can tell you that Heather Jones isn’t afraid of working big and being surrounded by large spaces! Her work breathes space and simplicity. Her quilts unclutter the mind and restore the soul and so does her book! Bravo Heather!

Quilt Local has inspired me to resurrect my Sketchbook posts! Stay tuned….

And check out the rest of the Quilt Local Blog Tour:

10/6: STC Craft Blog

10/8: Robert Kaufman

10/9: Melanie Falick

10/10: Sew Mama Sew

10/11: Creative Bug

10/12: Plaid Portico

10/14: Modern Sewciety

10/16: Pellon

10/19: The Tattooed Quilter

10/21: Amy’s Creative Side

10/23: Diary of a Quilter

10/26: Film in the Fridge

10/28: Tall Grass Prairie Studio

10/29: Okan Arts

10/30: Kara Sews

11/2: Crimson Tate

11/4: Dainty Time

11/6: Nap Time Quilter

11/9: Spoonflower

11/11: Aurifil

11/13: A Gathering of Stitches

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11 Responses to Quilt Local by Heather Jones

  1. Claire says:

    Guess I found this post about a month late, but glad to have found it.

    Your review makes me want to read the book, especially looking other places for inspiration than other quilts. For some reason, copying a traditional quilt does not annoy me; copying a modern one does. I’ll have to ponder why.

    As to size. When making a pattern, I like to stay within the size of a pad of drawing paper, for ease. Once I went to 40 x 60 and pieced newspaper to that size so I could make templates. Improv could change that. Then the limit would be the size of my design wall, 52 x 52.

    Another size thing. I sketch tiny. Sometimes it doesn’t look as good when it grows big. So it seems that starting out big might be important.

  2. Erika says:

    Maybe what’s hard is to change scale? And most of us start with small?

  3. Lori Smanski says:

    thanks for sharing your review, this looks like a fantastic book

  4. Paige says:

    Love your zinnia interpretation. Thanks for the review.

  5. Brenda says:

    I love the idea of finding inspiration for quilting close to home, in everyday things that we often overlook. We don’t have to travel to Morocco or Tibet or Japan to find architectural inspiration; we don’t have to feel deprived if we can’t do those things. It sounds like Heather helps us to be able to see what is often right in front of us and to develop those images into our quilts.

  6. Amber says:

    Makes me want to go back to my idea about grey quilts and staining/dyeing whole cloth with compost, metal… to make them resemble concrete.

    Working in modern office buildings, I find concrete is the flooring of choice (in NYC, at offices I’ve been at, at any rate), I love the idea of recreating these hard surfaces as quilts.

  7. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing your review. I look forward to seeing your ‘sketchbook’ posts.

  8. Becca says:

    What an engaging review. Thanks for really digging in, and answering some questions I’ve had about her book! So many reviews just rave about the books in a superficial way, but I appreciate your in-depth review.

    And piecing big…I think I’m intimidated by wasting fabric. Or using up all of a cherished one. Although, really, if you mess up, you can salvage a large piece a lot more easily than a smaller one…and, I think also, I like the way some designs look complicated and create interesting secondary patterns, but I don’t want a king sized quilt that you would need to show off a secondary pattern with bigger blocks.

  9. Thanks much for this post, and for turning me on to Heather Jones’ book. I, too, am much inspired by my local landscape. Your post and Heather’s book have given me new new energy. Another book that addresses this topic in a meaningful way is Bill Arnett’s GEE’S BEND — THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE QUILT. Thanks again.

  10. Ann says:

    What a thoughtful review. Your sketchbooks are a perfect bridge between Heather’s work and your improvisation. Very inspiring.

  11. Julierose says:

    I love that you will be resuming your “sketchbook”; I get ideas, but translating them into sketches and quilts is difficult for me. I always get stuck…but i guess that’s part of the challenge, right?? hugs, Julierose

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