New quilters who have just begun to quilt will find that some of the older quilting instructional books have a wealth of knowledge and information that is not available in books that are currently being published. You may borrow a book from a friend or see one in the guild library and realize you want to own your personal copy. Or you might simply want a book on a certain type of quilt and a new book on that subject is not currently available.
Many quilt books are published each year and some only stay "in print" for a short time. Either there are not many copies published or not a lot of copies sold. There are many reasons they are no longer available in the stores or online as "new".
Also there might have been a time period in your life that there simply was not enough financial resources to purchase all the books available at the time. But now you would like to add those titles to your library.
In the mid nineties there was a series of fifteen quilting books written and published by That Patchwork Place (Martingale). Each book featured a well known quilt shop in the United States, Europe or Australia. The books not only contained patterns unique to that particular store but also had photos of the sales area and classrooms. Many of the patterns featured were designed by the shop owner, classroom teachers, or employees.
I remember visiting my local quilt store and looking at these titles and simply not having the funds to purchase more than one or two. Now more than ten years have passed I have recently been able to go online and purchase the entire set -- pre-owned and one at a time -- but spending a lot less than they were originally priced. Most of these books are in good condition and were only read once or twice and languished on another quilter's bookshelf until they sorted out their old books and sold them on Amazon, eBay, or other online book seller. Also keep in mind that twenty dollars in 1995 was quite a lot more money than seven or eight dollars today.
But there are ways to find that special elusive out of print book to purchase for your personal library. There is an online book search engine that is called www.fetchbook.info. Go to that web site and type in your book title, author, or ISBN. The search engine will bring up the book and have a place to click "compare prices". If you do that you will find several online booksellers that offer the title you are looking for and give you the current selling price. Remember that the selling price is not the final price as most book sellers add three to four dollars for media mail shipping.
When purchasing used books from any online seller you will need to read the "fine print" carefully. Some sellers are very descriptive about the condition of the book telling in detail about flaws, tears, or writing. Other sellers will simply use the word "good". When choosing a book to purchase you will need to weigh the price of the book with the description and buy accordingly. I have learned from experience not to by a book listed as ex-library. Ex-library books are usually in poor condition because of being checked out by so many readers.
Even adding the shipping costs, many older and out of print quilt books are available for a reasonable price and very easy to obtain. And most online book sellers accept major credit cards and other methods of online payment.
If you are bidding on a book in an auction try not to get caught up in the bidding hype. Receiving email messages that say "you have been outbid, bid again now!" is a psychological gimmick to convince you to bid more than you really are comfortable spending. Remember unless a book is very rare there will be another copy of the same book in the same condition and maybe at a more reasonable price.
As I am writing this article, a scrap quilt book by a well known author that was originally published in 1985 is up for auction on eBay. I purchased my copy recently for around six dollars including shipping. Right now, less than one day before the auction ends this book is selling for over twenty dollars plus shipping. Three bidders are still actively seeking one copy of the book. If you type the title into eBay's search you will find another copy of the same title for a dollar. Be sure that you check out all the alternatives before paying more than necessary for a used book.
On the other hand you cannot simply wait for the best ever price. You need to have an approximate budget that you are willing to pay and go forward and order or bid on a title that is in your price range. If you find another copy a few weeks later that is slightly less expensive don't be upset, simply remind yourself that you have had your copy of that title for some time and you are already using it.
Occasionally you will find a title you wish for and find it is out of print and quite rare. Either there were very few copies published or most quilters are keeping their copy. If you find a used out of print book title is selling for a rather inflated price you may choose to purchase it at a higher price or simply wait. Keep checking online used booksellers and one day you may find your chosen title at an affordable price -- or at least at a price you are willing to pay.
There are many wonderful quilting books available that are no longer being printed. Many quilt books are timeless and don't go out of style so it is well worth finding them and adding them to your quilting library. Happy reading!
100% Cotton Fabrics vs. Polyester Blend Fabrics in Quilts
Should a quilter use poly cotton blend or synthetic fabrics in a quilt? Almost all quilt books, patterns, and designers recommend using 100% cotton fabric for pieced and appliquéd quilt tops. Most quilters recommend using 100% cotton fabric for the backing also.
So, is it OK to use a poly cotton blend or another fabric in a quilt if you simply cannot find a color or print in all cotton and wish to substitute?
Many art quilts contain fabrics of other fibers and some art quilters prefer using blended fabrics of many fibers. But for traditional quilts 100% cotton fabric is usually recommended and encouraged.
There are several reasons poly cotton fabric is not suitable for quilts. In the first place the poly cotton blend fabrics do not shrink the same as 100% cottons so if you do not pre wash your fabric you will find the cotton fabrics and the blend fabrics shrink at a different rate.
Also the poly cotton blend fabric ravels or frays more than 100% cotton fabrics. This can cause problems in the longevity of your quilt seams for if they fray easily you may find many of the seams tearing out because of the synthetic blend fabric fraying rather than poor stitching.
Poly cotton blends do not hold a crease when they are pressed. This can be very important when piecing as you are depending on the fabrics staying flat for further piecing and quilting.
Another factor is color. Have you noticed that as your cotton quilting fabrics are washed and used they become softer and muted? You will also note that poly cotton blends fade hardly at all or at least not as fast as 100% cottons. When a quilt is several years old and the cotton fabrics have mellowed, the poly blend fabrics are still as bright as when they were new. Now rather than blending as they did at first they actually stand out and wave at you saying, "Look at us -- we are strong colors and we didn't fade."
Occasionally you may only find a particular hard to find color in a cotton poly blend. In that case you will need to decide if you will use the fabric, substitute something cotton, or continue to look for a fabric that is the right color and also 100% cotton. Ultimately it is your choice.
To put it simply, 100% cotton fabrics are easier to work with. They ravel or fray less and they hold a tight crease when pressed.