Book Review Tuesday: Let’s get our geek on

This week’s book selection is dear to my heart. Many of you probably don’t know but my degrees at university was in Biology + Statistics (undergrad), and Marine Science.  I do not necessarily use what I did in my degree, but I have stayed in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field.  Right now, I actually work for an analytical software company.


So, I was surprised that this book, Quilt Lab, was not on my top 10 wish list.  As I read Ali’s blog posts on her experiences publishing with Stash books, I was intrigued.


Title: “Quilt Lab – The Creative Side of Science”
Author: Alexandra Winston
Publisher: C&T Publishing / Stash Books
ISBN:  978-1-60705-803-8

I loved this book. The book is written within the theme of Science and Math throughout. It opens with the geometry behind quilt making/block making, and uses the scientific methods of experimentation to explain the design process. The finishing section actually covers tips I have not seen in a quilt book I have read recently:

  • How to find the right side of batting vs. the wrong side
  • Choosing your stitch length for quilting and how each of these differ, recommending the right lengths for quilting
  • Choosing the right stitch length and effect of the zig zag stitch for machine binding.

The Projects in the book are separated into Small Projects, Rectangles, Angles, and Circles. For the Angles and Circles sections have a great tutorial at the beginning on techniques you will need for the projects.

The layout of each project is probably one of my favorite, so far, in this book review series. Each project explains the

  • inspiration for the project,
  • the planning and designing of the quilt,
  • skills that will be used/improved on with the project,
  • a “Study Hall” insert to explain the math or science concepts behind the inspiration topic
  • and then the usual content – materials, cutting instructions, assembly for top and back

Another great detail, is the templates are supplied in the book, and all but two of the templates require enlargement when copying. There are 12 projects in the book and I plan on making at least 7 of the 12 projects.

  • Pillow Perfect – a project that you can use solids or prints nested squares. The example in the book uses solids and the color choices are fabulous (the pillow is a great matching project to the Fractal quilt (see project section below).
  • Basic Binary – would make the perfect gift quilt or a great beginners quilt. It would be great to play with color and would be a quick project.
  • Fractal – I could not resist, its design was exactly me but still looked like a project that I could accomplish in the week I had to deliver this post (nothing like a deadline)
  • Scattered – fascinates me as it represents statistical visualization techniques. I might change this quilt to a correlation plot though. A perfect gift for someone at work 🙂
  • States of Matter – a great interpretation of solid, liquid and gas using triangles (#2 of my top 3 project choices, still to make)
  • Calculus – shows the progression on how if you add additional triangles /segmentation you can move from a chevron (Zig Zag) all the way to a curved line (like in a sine curve) (#3 of my top 3 project choices, still to make)
  • Aperture Science – this project is FANTASTIC…it represents the science behind how a human eye or a camera shutter works and is association to light (#1 of my top 3 project choices, still to make)

To show you how much I love this book, I bought it a second time after spilling tea on my first copy, destroying my first copy of the book. This would be such a great book to use in schools and get people interested in the art of quilting in conjunction with expanding the interest in Science and Math. This is my first 5 star rating:
images-9 images-8images-7images-6images-4


I chose Fractal, as my project for this book for two reasons. One, I wanted a quilt that I would want to keep for myself and two, something I might be able to at least finish a quilt top in 1 week. I will leave it to you to figure out how the quilt top relates to Fractals.

Fabric selection was easy. One of my favorite lines at the moment is Safari Moon by Frances Newcombe as it has the most fabulous colors and prints.  I used a selection of the prints with a selection of matching solids.

I cut all the fabric for the quilt top in about 3-4 hours. The construction of the quilt, you would not believe this but I finished it in 1 day!! Fall of your chair, I never finish it in one day.

The design allows you to make it your own, as color selection is critical to the look of the quilt. Here is my finished quilt top.


The center is an exercise on piecing small pieces. The small pink squares are cut and sewn slightly larger (~1/4 inch) and trimmed back to ensure better accuracy. As you can see the center close-up really highlights the concept of Fractals.Safari_Fractal_Center
Final Quilt Size: 60 x 60″ (perfect lap quilt for the couch/sofa).


Sponsoring this give away is Stash Books, who will provide the winner an electronic copy of Quilt lab.  All you need to do is leave a comment on what was your favorite science/math discipline at school/university (ie. statistics, calculus, chemistry etc. ). There is a second chance to win if you are a follower, just leave a second comment. A winner will be chosen at random and announced next Tuesday, 3rd March after 6pm.

A disclaimer, all reviews and opinions of the books reviewed will be mine, unless otherwise stated. Please note, I may not respond to all comments due to volume and bandwidth.

Linking up with Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s bee social (see button on right side menu) + Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday.

76 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: Let’s get our geek on

  1. daisyaschehoug

    3. AWESOME. This looks like a really useful book. Favorite science? Really? Okay, I kind of liked precalculus for the problem solving; does that count? I was very much an art & literature girl and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I tested out of math and science in college…

  2. clumsykristel

    5. I liked chemistry when I was in high school in grade 11, but then I had a friend in class with me in grade 12 and all my interest waned (in favour of spending the class doing anything but paying attention)… I only took the easy science courses in university – computer science (but even then, it was chips for dips, as everyone called it, where I lost points on an assignment because I refused to use animated gifs on the website I built) and astronomy, which I might have liked better…. no, not astronomy… I took Geology, there’s a long distance between those two, so I’m not sure why I misremembered that.

    Anyway, that book looks really interesting. I’m definitely intruiged enough to take it out from the library, if they’ve got it. I love the quilt… it looks fantastic.
    6. Follow via wordpress

  3. Lizzie

    13. What a gas! Fantastic sounding book! I loved word problems in lower school, and geometry later . I took Earth Science and biology as an adult and was amazed I could follow it all!

  4. Lizzie

    14. And then I married a man whose favorite hobby is reading up on string theory, which is pretty interesting if you can wrap your head around it. Not to mention astronomy and those amazing telescopes! I follow by email.

  5. Aureas Kitchen

    16. My favourite subject was chemistry. Just to say that now I have a PhD in Chemical Engineering and I met my husband, who has a PhD in Chemical Engineering as well, at a lab, and we read our thesis the same day.

    Oh, I love the quilt at the cover

  6. katechiconi

    18. I was completely non-science stream in school, but had to stay with Maths. I liked geometry, and can still remember how to construct an angle of 60 degrees using compasses. Sometimes it still comes in useful. I’d love to add this book to my already unfeasibly large quilting book collection!

  7. Quilt Paradigm

    22. This book sounds so cool! I am not a sciences lover. . . well maybe it doesn’t love me! 😉 I did love biology in HS. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway! Following on Bloglovin 🙂

  8. Lisa in Port Hope

    23. Hmm, I’m a chemical engineer, so I had to love math and science! My favourite university course during my program was Physical Chemistry, which is all about how liquids and gases behave when they flow, expand, contract, etc.

  9. Joanna

    29. There’s a right and wrong side to batting?!

    I’ve seen a couple of projects from this book; the echo one interests me.

    I’m not a science or maths person but I’ve always like astronomy. The stars are so interesting (and make great quilt blocks too ;)).

  10. Renee

    31. This book is one of few quilty books I want! I think geology is my favorite. My husband and I both graduate from NM Tech, so we’re both geekin’ out about this book.

  11. Jenn

    35. I’m so happy to see a project from the book! Thank you! And have a degree in microbiology. Was gonna get a doctorate in virology, but had kids instead! Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Allison C

    41. This book is so up my alley. I’m a total science geek and I love quilting. I’m a marine microbiologist by day so in school I loved all the nerdy classes…especially statistics and biology courses.

  13. Vicki Price

    45. No debate here – calculus was far and away my favorite engineering class. Quilting math is one of my favorite steps in the whole design process (I often spend more time with a spreadsheet than cutting the fabric). This book sounds fascinating!

  14. Carol B

    49. I hated both math and science in high school — then discovered organic gardening and went to college for a degree in Plant Science, and had a LOT of catching up to do! A back injury put an end to my farming and to my interest in further science studies. I still struggle with the math involved in quilting. I have trouble following directions too, so I often find I’ve strayed into the weeds and have to do some real math to find my way out again. I love the creativity of those times, but if I had better math skills, I’d have a better result.

  15. Carol B

    50. I follow your blog by email. Thinking back, I realize that I had some major issues going on at home that were obstacles to school work — I think I probably never actually learned the math basics! Just enough to get by and escape attention!

  16. Lorna McMahon

    51. Love the contrast you used in this top, Michelle and the tiny piecing in the center is amazing! My fave math subject is Sudoku. Does that count? Seriously I enjoy algebra.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s