The more I see of C&T Publishing's At Home With Experts series teaching DVDs, the more I love them.
Judith Baker Montano obviously excels at and thoroughly enjoys making crazy quilts and sharing the techniques and the craft's history with others. She's already written a small library of books, including her Crazy Quilt Handbook, which is in its 2nd edition.
But her instructions in this video goes far beyond the making of one quilt genre. She draws on her education and experience in the production side of fabric design as well as her background as an artist to teach about color choices, fabric coordination, and quilt embellishments that would be well received by a fabric artist working on any type of fabric project.
Montano's credentials, quietly mentioned, leave no doubt that she's well qualified to do more than teach crazy quilt construction. She's worked with a variety of companies as a colorist, and fabric designer and who knows what else. She brings experience, talent and ability to share what she knows with others.
Her encouragement makes me feel like I can actually create something beautiful. And the crazy quilt really draws me in. I can't cut straight lines without a great deal of concern and angst and sewing precisely with my old 1970 Kenmore just isn't going to happen. But none of that is part of making a crazy quilt using her techniques. She begins with a five sided piece of fabric plunked down a bit off center and at odds with the 12-inch square of heavy weight muslin on which she lays it. Her rules please me: no parallel lines, seams should not meet, everything should be off plum. Then she adds fabric to this first square, choosing the longest side for her first seam and then proceeding clockwise (unless you're left handed, then counter clockwise) around that first piece of fabric.
Her rules contain simple common sense. It's okay to let two solid colors abut one another, but never two patterned fabrics. Her completed quilt carries the same fabrics or some of the same fabrics throughout, but each fabric only appears once within the indivudal square.
The entire quilt's construction is ultimately more like a pillow. You use backing the same size as the top, stitch with right sides together and then turn and knot rather than quilt the project. Of course the sewing is just one of equally delightful steps in the construction of the 'quilt' that is not a quilt -- no quilting on it.
She doesn't scrimp on embellishment information, either. Ribbon flowers, several embroidery stitches, the use of laces and trims and how to make choices when putting this all together. The only things omitted were beading, fine embroidery, and applique techniques.
Her tools are simple -- a straight basting size machine stitch, glue sticks, scissors and steam iron. And of course a stash of fabric and embroidery thread that made me drool.
The DVD is beautifully photographed, edited, divided into chapters, and professionally done. Each step is performed by Montano along with a variety of visual aids and examples. And since it is divided into chapters, I can easily go to an element in the training that I want to review without wading through the entire 180 minute program.
This is a video I will watch again and again. Montano is personable and a delight to spend an afternoon watching and learning from. The cost, $20.95, seems reasonable for a series of lessons you can watch as often as you want until you have mastered the techniques. An added bonus -- seeing so many samples of Montano's work. And, if you're interested in signing up for a live class -- this DVD gives you a good idea of her personality and how she conducts her classes -- two good things to know before investing in a class or workshop. I have to admit, I would be first in line for one of her workshops after watching this video.
NOTE: After writing this review I spent two days sorting through fabrics and trying to recreate what Judith had explained on her video. I need to watch it again, but I'm pleased with my first attempt. My husband will be sad to learn that I NEED MORE FABRIC! Her instructions really made this a much easier venture than if I had just tried it without knowing where to start and how to proceed in a orderly manner.
And here is my first effort at a Crazy Quilt Square -- before embellishment. Any comments or suggestions? What do you think Judith? A lost cause?