My sister is making patchwork quilts... what is a good gift?
December 4, 2014 6:07 AM   Subscribe

My sister is colossally hard to buy for and Christmas is swiftly approaching. She is insanely busy at her job (that she doesn't like) and doesn't have much time for interests or hobbies that I am aware of. The only thing I know she has been doing and enjoying is making quilts. Help me turn this is to a great christmas present.

I'm a knitter, not so much a sewer. I have made quilts in the past but not for years and I have no sense of the new quilt "trends". I also have no clue what style of quilts she has been making (we don't live close) or what techniques she is using. I presume she is making normal patchwork strip quilts (ie. NOT applique). She has a sewing machine that is fairly new and in good nick, as well as a rotary cutter etc. For tools, assume she has what she needs. Also, assume she is at an intermediate type skill level. Definitely not a beginner but not super advanced. I know often she is making small quilts for friends who have babies, but she definitely isn't limited to that.

So... what does that leave? Are there any super awesome books of quilt blocks that every quilter should have? What about jelly rolls? I have never used them and have no sense of their usefulness. Would buying her a jelly roll of cool fabric be a good idea? Two jelly rolls? GAH!

Help help help.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What about a subscription to Quilting Arts magazine?
posted by LittleMy at 6:24 AM on December 4, 2014

My mother-in-law is a quilter, and for her birthday recently we got her a sewing table. Her sewing machine fits into it giving her a flat surface to sew on and a lot of room to spread out the quilt. She says she loves it!
posted by amro at 6:24 AM on December 4, 2014

Jelly rolls are awesome but only if you know her preferred colour palettes. Love Patchwork and Quilting is a great magazine with a range of small and large projects that are sweet and modern - sort of Molly Makes-ish. You could also get her a lavishly-photographed coffeetable book of art quilts or go for a history book of quilts.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2014

Jelly rolls are fine, but it can be hard to pick fabric for someone else.

Some good tools are invaluable...cutting mats, rulers for cutting fabric, and rotary cutters would be at the top of my list. Visit your local quilt store and they should be able to point you in the right direction for these essentials.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:33 AM on December 4, 2014

It is really really hard to pick out fabric for other people. Does she have a good Local Quilt Store near her home? If so, I would get her a gift certificate there -- even if she doesn't like their fabric selections, she can pick up thread, needles, batting, etc.

If she doesn't have a good LQS, gift certificates to Etsy (so many fabric suppliers on there, and all over the world!) or a good generalist online store like Fat Quarter Shop (if she is in the US) might be an idea. I have no experience with fabric shops outside the US (beyond an Etsy seller or two), but this blogger has experience with UK shops if she's over there. If she is in Canada, one of the bloggers I read recommends Fabric Spot.

If she uses a rotary cutter, she probably has a basic mat and rulers, but she may need a cut-proof glove (EVERYONE NEEDS THIS OMG) or a rotating cutting mat (it's the kind of thing you don't buy for yourself but if someone gets you one they are really really nice).

Also, if you google Quilter's Wish List there are about a zillion out there -- for example.

Finally -- if you reeeeeeally want to buy her fabric, I think (almost) everyone who quilts could enjoy Liberty Tana Lawn. It's probably the one fabric that crosses traditional, modern, art, etc. quilters and is almost universally loved. Unfortunately, it's also crazy spendy.
posted by pie ninja at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

You know how some knitters are sock knitters and others make scarves on needles the size of your thumb? Even in the world of patchwork -- even narrowing it down to modern patchwork, as opposed to uber-traditional -- there are still those kinds of differences. There are people who love tool X and people who think tool X is useless and everybody needs tool Y instead. There are people who like English paper piecing and people who like improvisational piecing. Everything I can think of that I might want for my quilting (books, rotary cutter, iron, fabric) has many options I'd dislike and a few that are possibilities. Not knowing any more about your sister's quilting than you do, I think you're likely to have a hard time picking out the right ones from her particular set of likes and needs. As unflashy as it feels, I agree with pie ninja that a gift certificate is a good option. If you're going to be in town with her, maybe even take her on a shopping spree?

The one thing I can think of is if you know she designs her own quilts (or would like to) and doesn't already have quilt design software, a subscription to QuiltCanvas might be useful.
posted by katemonster at 8:05 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could get her a gift card for Craftsy - then she can choose a class she wants to take and do it on her schedule.
posted by Coffeemate at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there any reason you can't ask her directly what quilty things she would like? I'm a quilter, and it would make me really happy if someone asked me what was on my quilting wishlist.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:34 AM on December 4, 2014

A huge rotary cutting mat!! She likely has the 20"x42" size but a huge 36"x42" will let her cut full yards/meters and binding etc. I am an intermediate level quilter and a new mat is at the top of my wish list this year.
posted by saradarlin at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2014

If you know her taste search on Etsy for "Fat Quarters" and buy her some fabric sets she would like. Depending on your budget perhaps combine one fat quarter set you really like and an Etsy gift card. Etsy is awash with AMAZING fabric but it can be hard to justify the cost sometimes.
posted by anastasiav at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I gave my mom the Spoonflower Welcome Pack and she expressed all kinds of enthusiasm, but has yet to actually get custom fabric made, so I'm not sure if that qualifies as a success. (I suspect she's waiting for the absolutely perfect thing to make, and won't just do something for the heck of it, that's her personality) Aside from being a venue for making your own custom fabric, though, Spoonflower has a lot of super-cool prints designed by other people. If your sister is at all a fan of something, she can find fabrics there in all variations of her icon of choice (ponies, harry potter, TARDISes, game of thrones) and a straight up gift certificate might be a great idea. Or just take a guess at good fabric of her fandom.
posted by aimedwander at 12:08 PM on December 4, 2014

This is sort of boring, but I wouldn't mind getting a package of replacement rotary blades. They get dull quickly and are not cheap.

Fabric is definitely a very personal choice, but I don't think you could go wrong with a selection of fabric in solid colors. Kona made nice quality solids.

Maybe an array of different color spools thread as well?
posted by medeine at 1:15 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, if she's piecing, and not doing applique, this book, Jelly Roll Quilts, is a good start for pre-cuts. The authors are a mother daughter team, and their books have good reviews. You could give her a book like that, with a couple of jelly rolls to start. You probably have some idea of the colours she likes.

These gloves help if she's machine quilting. They come in different sizes.

Wonder clips are a hit in all the sewing communities right now. Pretty useful.

She may not have this ruler, but it's a nice addition. They also have add an eighth.
posted by annsunny at 1:22 PM on December 4, 2014

These crafting die cutters are used a lot by quilters. For the serious ones cutting large dies, there's this puppy.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:36 PM on December 4, 2014

Oh, Craftsy classes are a great idea -- so many to chose from!

I love the selection and service at Fat Quarter Shop. They sell some of the Aurifil thread boxes, which are really nice. I have yet to run into a quilter who doesn't like Aurifil thread, though I have run into some who haven't tried it.

Quilty is a fun magazine that is geared more towards the "modern" sewist, and has a range of difficulty, but skews towards newbies a bit.

For using precuts, I really like Camille Roskelley's books. She also has some Craftsy classes.

I also agree that if you can find out about her preferred local quilting store, a gift certificate there would be fun!
posted by freezer cake at 2:37 PM on December 8, 2014

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