Planning a Bookcase Quilt - Currently Creating

Planning a bookcase Quilt_edited-1I want to make a quilt. In the past, I made My Handsome Man a T-shirt quilt, but this time I want to make a quilt for me. I have thought a lot about quilts. The time and effort that goes in to making one makes them a labour of love. You can find baby quilts made out of baby clothes, quilts made by friends of a Mum-to-be, t-shirt quilts, etc. Quilts document a section of a life. When I saw a bookcase quilt I knew immediately it was the quilt for me. I phoned my Mum and asked how to start a quilt. Because, let's be honest, I had no idea. This time, I didn't have a jigsaw puzzle of t-shirts to fit together. Starting from scratch, how do you begin? Following the conversation, I purchased graph paper (in the form of a notebook), colouring pencils and a tape measure. I made a list of books to include on my quilt.

All the bookcase quilts I had seen in my research featured books that weren't titled. On the rare occasion that the books had titles, the fabric choice didn't match the book spines in real life.

I want my bookcase quilt to document my life and my reading history.

Deciding which books to feature on my bookcase quilt

I plan to only include books that have impacted me in some way. The books fell within the following categories:

  • Classics
  • Children's Classics
  • Fantasy
  • Dystopian
  • World War books
  • Self Help / Creativity
  • Fairytales
  • Teen Romance
  • Religious
  • Children's Picture Books

I allocated two categories to each shelf.

bookcase quilt overview plan

Make a list

I made the list of books on my phone in the notes section. As I planned each book onto the bookcase quilt, I deleted the book from my phone list to ensure I didn't accidentally duplicate it.

The books are all books that are meaningful to me. For example, I enjoyed reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien but found The Lord of the Rings dragged on and on. My Handsome Man made me read The Silmarillion when we were dating. Even though I dislike The Silmarillion, I see it as part of "our story" so it has a place on my quilt.

Many years ago, when I was still at school, I did an oral presentation in English on reading and how it impacts my life. The book I focused on, at the time, was Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Long story short, I made my teacher cry, got an 'A' on the assignment and the book Stargirl is also on my quilt.

My best friend is a children's book author and some of her books are included because of the impact she has had on my life. Within the children's picture book section are also books I know by heart because I have read them to my nephew a gazillion times. They are a part of my story.

My bookcase quilt also includes books that have changed the way I do things. Whether that's how I approach journal keeping (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), creativity (Big Magic) or the items I own (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up). There are books I thrust into the hands of all who know me, books I read in one sitting and series I adore. I chose my favourite books and compiled them together into a long list.

Now I've told you about the books I'm including, let's look at how to begin the planning.

Drawing the plan

According to a chart I found on Pinterest, a "throw" quilt is 50" x 65".

I took these measurements as a starting point and decided I wanted each shelf of my quilt to be roughly a foot high. 2" for the shelf and 10" for the space for books.

For my overview plan I worked to a scale of one square = 2 inches.

Each shelf is 48" x 10" not including the "shelving".

bookcase quilt overview plan

Once I had drawn out the overall bookshelf, I then drew out each shelf in turn. I used the scale of 1 square = 1/4 inch.

I started to measure books to the closest 1/4 inch and filled in the shelves according to scale. Being in Canada, I don't have all my books with me. The "Book Depository" and "Amazon" websites came in handy. They have the measurements of all their books in the "Product Details" sections of their websites. For books not with me, I looked up the measurements and converted them before adding to my quilt design.

In my head, I knew I wanted to dot areas of interest around the quilt - books on their sides in piles, books leaning against other books, a camera. I wanted there to be areas that give visual interest and provide space. I have plans to add quotes from books in some of the larger spaces - first lines that are written in my memory or phrases that stopped me in my tracks. Again, this allows me to further document my story of reading.

Keep it simple

I am a beginner quilter. I have made this quilt simple in design by sticking to rectangular shapes and straight lines. Even the lens on the camera is planned out in squares, triangles and rectangles.

Each book and the space above it on the bookshelf forms a rectangle on my quilt.

bookcase quilt shelf detail bookcase quilt shelf detail bookcase quilt shelf detail bookshelf quilt shelf detail

What books would you feature on a bookcase quilt?

I put together a Pinterest board on quilts and quilting which includes other bookcase quilts for inspiration. You can take a look here: