Monday, March 23, 2009

My View: Fussy Cut Mariner’s Compass by Ann S. Lainhart

Fussy Cut Mariner's Compass by Ann S. Lainhart
AQS Publishing 2009
[click here to buy]
US $24.95

Everyone has a life list of things to do before we die whether formal or just a few thoughts stowed away in the back of our brains. One of mine is to construct a Mariner’s Compass – just one. When I can do that, I will consider myself a quilter. Ann Lainhart is definitely a quilter many times over. She has created a book full of her Mariner Compass creations.

When I first leafed through the book, I admit, my thoughts went instantly to Jinny Beyers. Her fabrics would fit these projects beautifully. And her first award winning quilt, Rays of Light, the one that catapulted her into the limelight, featured a center not unlike what Lainhart has created. Perhaps the author was inspired by Beyers’ work. Well, I’m inspired by what I saw inside of this book.

Lainhart explains that the best materials for her “fussy-cut Mariner’s Compass must have a symmetrical design: that is, the printed motifs need to reflect one another in mirror image on each side of a center line” – real or imagined. And the fabric should have these symmetrical designs repeat. She offers examples of what can be taken from one piece of fabric and how to find the best positions for fussy cutting.

I particularly appreciated her Florentine Compasses quilt in which she features four Mariner’s Compass patterns cut from the same fabric, but the pieces are fussy cut from different parts of the fabric pattern. A great example of what a difference positioning can make. And, for someone who hates to waste fabric, it show me a judicious use of fabric.

The author devotes Chapter 2 to Drafting Mariner’s Compass. Most of her blocks are one of three sizes: “a 16-point Compass with two rows of points that finishes 12-inches in diameter; a 32-point Compass with three rows of point that finishes 18-inches in diameter; or a 48-point Compass with three rows of points that finishes 30-inches in diameter.”

Shades of my high school geometry class! Yet she insists that her method requires little math. Her encouragement gets me past the math angst. I move to her tips on preparing templates and the step-by-step block construction of Chapter 3. I’m encouraged that she teaches this technique to classes and her students find success with their own creations.

She emphasizes contrast in the various points, and gives valuable advice for piecing the blocks and finishing the compass. If you notice, the compass lies within a circle – not the easiest piecing project, but she helps with that, too. And even adds instructions for fussy cut backgrounds.

The book includes high-quality four-color photos of the author’s work as well as clear and concise graphics and directions. No crowding in this book. As with other AQS publications, there is a nice balance of white space and quality printing on glossy substantial pages. It almost passes for an art book and would look good on the coffee table.

I’m not convinced that I can succeed at this project (knowing my own limitations) and I’m still pulled toward foundation piecing for a Mariner’s Compass. But I’m sold on the fussy cutting aspect of this design and figure if anyone could talk me through it – Ann Lainhart could.

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