Book-review | Kaffe Fassett in the Studio: Behind the Scenes with a Master Colorist

Kaffe Fassett in the Studio

Book review by iHanna of Kaffe Fassett in the Studio (2021)If you are a fan of colorful textiles and patterns then I am sure you know about the designer Kaffe Fassett already? He designs the coolest quilting fabrics around, and then uses his own designs to compose quilt patterns that works well for his bold fabrics. That’s what I think he is most known for, but before this he was a knit-wear designer (think 80s) and from there expanded into other crafts.

He has done lovely patterns for needlepoint, mosaics, rugmaking, tapestries, yarn and fabric design, and of course quilting.

Among other things I admire his fun cross stitch patterns depicting roses, cabbage and other veggies.

In any case, the guy is now in his 80s and his latest book might be a last statement, a kind of closure maybe, although there are previous similar books about his life and art published, like “Dreaming in Color” for example. This latest book is, a little pompous, called Kaffe Fassett in the Studio: Behind the Scenes with a Master Colorist, came out this spring and I just finished reading it.

It is one of those yummy books with lots of photos to be inspired by, like all his books probably. You can pick it up and just leaf through the pages to get a lovely color boost. To me it did not beat his book Welcome Home which is my personal favorite [more on that title here]. In that book you get a lot of different crafts and views of his home, and I think a book that has “studio” in it should’ve contained more views of the studio, aka his work spaces and places, yarn stash and materials. But still, you get a lot of colorful photos of Kaffe’s art, crafts and home – and I’m all here for them!

Fabric design - Book spread in Kaffe Fassett in the Studio reviewed by Studio iHanna, Sweden


Kaffe Fassett in the studio

So this book, Kaffe Fassett in the studio, contains a brief overview of his life from childhood to early carrier to today. His move from the US to London, UK and how he found his house there.

He writes about his love of colors and patterns, where he finds inspiration and how he works from his own paintings to fabric. Then there is a chapter with needlepoint, knitting ideas and quilting patterns, with detailed description of what you need and how to make each of the projects. I am not personally feeling interested in any these projects, but I don’t mind them being in there (although I could’ve instead taken more studio/rooms as I already mentioned). Other chapters details his idea process and inspiration for some specific projects, and those things are always interesting to read I think.

Book spread in Kaffe Fassett in the Studio reviewed by Studio iHanna, Sweden

How to focus on what’s at hand

Kaffe talks about how focus is important to him in this book. For example he notices that some of his workshop participants talk to each other, look through their bags, eat and “do anything but steadily get on with producing the quilt design they came to do.”
To help them he has started to give them time limits, like: the first stage should be done by lunch. This is a lesson we could all (especially working from home) utilize more, right?

How to get anything done? Put your head down and focus!

He also writes that by being more productive in this way the participants of his workshops makes better choices because “they bypassed the analytical brain and worked more instinctively and intuitively.” I love that!

His love for color and patterns also seam to help him stay focused:

I don’t know how the plain, one-color knitters ever get a project done!

My favorite thing about the book
is the photos of “stacks” of cups, Kaffe’s color coordinated collection of vases, his cupboard of fabrics, and all the amazing mosaics he has in his house. Those makes me want to jump up and start creating straight away.

My biggest confusion is the chapter about his partner Brandon Mably. He writes about how their collaboration started, how he hired him as his help and so on, but nothing about their relationship. As I understand it they’ve been a couple for years? Brandon is mentioned first in a chapter of “People” but very businesslike to me. It feels very old-fashioned and a bit sad even, but of course I know nothing of their companionship. In the book promo video Kaffe mentions Brandon plenty though, so that’s nice. And that reminds me, I mention Kaffe’s fabrics in this video (probably drooling then too)!

Last but not least, I don’t feel it is a book I need to own because I will not be longing to look through it again (unless I ever get to decorate a house of my own, then I’ll borrow it from the library for inspiration) and the text is a bit bland, but I am glad I picked it up and read through it, although I mostly enjoyed it for the photos.

* Kaffe Fassett – Get the book from Amazon.
* Book reviews by iHanna – because I love reading and reviewing books!

Finally mine
Three of Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics that I bought waaay back, and still have some left of actually because I am so careful with it I don’t want to use it up… Although I know I used some of the green at least.

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful book review! It’s always so much fun to see what book has caught your attention!

    • I own all of Kaffe’s books and wasn’t sure I was going to purchase this one. Finally a good sale price and free shipping caught me in a weak moment and now I own it. I thought it was a good fill in to his other book “Dreaming in Color” expanding on some of the subjects in it and in videos on the internet. I wasn’t interested in the projects but am always interested to see how he uses some of the more unusual fabrics in the collective. I’m glad I own it because I will go back and read a chapter now and then.

      • Some books are good to own, because they feel like treasures that you want to keep for ever. Others you can let go, and don’t miss as much.

        Glad you liked this Kaffe Fassett book too!

  2. I love color too in my quilts, and have made 5 that really worked well mixing all colors. I’m now working on a quilt I may have made a mistake by going way to busy with designs and I need contrasting colors, light next to dark to make it work. I’m using all Kaffe fassett fabrics and most have at least one matching color to the other fabrics. I haven’t bought this book, but I think I might. I can use some advice on color contrasting. I hope this quilt doesn’t end up in the ugly quilt hall of fame

    • I have yet to meet an ugly quilt, but I really love busy and overflowing with colors as you can tell by my art journaling practice, so I am probably not the right person to ask for advice. :-) Wishing you good luck, I’m sure you’ll figure it out to your liking.

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