I finally got my hands on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Double Wedding Ring Quilts: Traditions Made Modern. Ever since I saw her 2013 QuiltCon best of show winner quilt I’ve wanted to know how she made it. Her book answers that question, sort of. I now know this quilt began as a failed quilt top that was chopped up.
Although Wolfe’s quilts are derived from the traditional wedding ring, they use that pattern as a jumping off point. She does, though, include one quilt that is completely traditional, perhaps to show she has those chops. I had to laugh and wince that in college her art quilts were criticized as craft, not art.
Wolfe now lives in the Big Apple, but grew up in Minnesota. Her roots inform her quilts as she interprets items handmade by her grandmother – polyester quilts, crocheted doilies, etc.
This is a very personal book that gives a glimpse into Wolfe’s thought process as she designs. It’s definitely not a pattern book, though you could make your own version of many of the quilts. Paper templates are included. Wolfe strongly encourages her readers to make their own quilts in response to what inspires them and to use failed quilt tops as made fabric. She also urges her readers to build on previous ideas but modify them with each quilt.
It’s also not a book for the novice sewer. There are lots of curved seams, flanges, and the like. General instructions for piecing double wedding ring quilts and for making fabric Wolfe’s way are included. I gather Wolfe uses her AccuQuilt Go cutter to cut out all those finicky arcs and melons. Amazon is asking $80 for that die set alone, and the cutter costs at least $250. That’s not in my budget and I don’t see myself cutting out a lot of arcs and melons by hand.
I hope the book will help me take ideas from a inkling to a quilt. Wolfe pulls bits from her inspiration pieces, but doesn’t try to copy them. And what she pulls often surprises.
From a photo of her grandparents in front of their garden she focused on the irises and produced this.
Which turned into this.
My only real beef with this book is its inclusion of polyester double knit as a viable quilting material. I don’t care that her grandmother made quilts from it, that stuff is evil. Talk about a sauna effect.
Would I make up any of these quilts? Wolfe uses one pattern a few times that seems more doable than some of the others. I like the idea of supersizing the squares.
I like her touches, such as emphasizing some quilting lines with hand embroidery and having the pattern fade in and out.
While I wouldn’t buy this book I’m glad I read it. I love the glimpses into “what was she thinking,” “why did she do that?”
Wolfe’s artistic approach is uniquely hers. I consider her a fiber artist rather than a modern quilter. If you’re at the point of wanting to design your own quilts but aren’t quite sure how to begin, this book would be helpful. For each quilt in the book Wolfe addresses ideas carried over from previous work, the goal for the quilt, adding layers and, most importantly, pushing it further. Those cues apply to any original design, not just wedding ring quilts.