Monday, September 15, 2008

MY VIEW: Review of C&T Print Books

In honor of complete disclosure, let me confess that I am an armchair quilter. Like an armchair quarterback I can sit on the sidelines and observe others successes, failures, near misses, and award winners. I'm much handier at looking through the books, watching videos and television programs, and mentally listing all of the quilts I'd like to make. It may be the perfectionist in me, knowing that once I cut the fabric, the quilt will never measure up to the one I envisioned. Most of the time I admire quilts with wonder, usually an "I wonder how they did that?"

Jan Krantz's video (previously reviewed) gave me insight and confidence that I can actually create what she demonstrated. Three books, released in August, 2008, by C&T Publishing, caught my interest and gave me confidence.

Nothing would please me more than to combine my love of minutia, memoir, and computer with quilting. Krista Camacho Halligan's book Photo-Fabric Play ($16.95) gives me directions for a variety of projects from blocks and shadowboxes to the usual assortment of wall hangings and quilts. She takes time to explain required equipment and then how to use it to accomplish the required tasks. Her projects feature children or are for their use or their decor, but with imagination and creativity could easily be adapted to other members of the family or to display antique possessions or copies of them.

Since I'm not a scrapbooker with a cache of rubber stamps and embellishments, I need to purchase the materials for each project. Scrapbookers might be better prepared. The wall hanging and quilt designs featured basic easy-to-accomplish layouts and patterns with the focus on how to use the photos and embellishments rather than design art quilts. Once one incorporates her directions into a quilt, the design can easily be altered to the makers' taste.

Mary Mashuta's Foolproof Machine Quilting ($20.95) surprised me. I've been a fan of free motion machine quilters. In awe, I worshipped the trapunto and intricate designs often featured on award winning quilts. My own experience were little experiments with pillows and I treated the quilting as regular sewing with the feed dogs up. It worked, but I hadn't seen anyone advocating this type of machine quilting for competitive projects and set it aside. Mashuta's book encourages such quilting and shows how truly lovely it can be. She carefully encourages and explains the use of walking foot attachment and adds the use of paper cut patterns to eliminate the need for markings. I particularly appreciated the terms 'foolproof' and 'No Math!" declarations.

No, this is not the equivalent of free motion quilting, but for a fraidy cat like me and one who appreciates a short-learning curve, this gives me hope that I can indulge in machine quilting and have instant success.

The third book, Applique Jubilee, ($26.95) from the editors and contributors of McCall's Quilting provides 16 projects with hand, machine and fusible applique. I can see my purist ancestors pursing their lips and shaking their heads in horror that I would not only give up hand quilting for machine, but would now resort to raw edge and fusible applique. Getting past these purist attitudes, I admit, give me pause, but I so want to put my visions into cloth and I'm not getting younger, so quicker, more accurate, less tedious methods certainly attract me. I will admit that this book didn't offer anything I hadn't seen before. But it is a nice group of simple patterns for all seasons. For someone just venturing into applique, this might be just the book. A good gift for a new quilter perhaps.

As always with C&T Publishing's books, they are beautifully made -- lovely strong colorful covers, clear directions, lots of photos balanced with white space and helpful hints. The authors offer authority and insight and most of all encouragement that makes me feel that I can create what they include in their books.

Now, time to get out of the armchair and into the game. Stay tuned -- will my first project be applique? A pieced star? Or some machine quilting? Hmmmm. So many possibilities.

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