BOOK REVIEW SATURDAY, January 24, 2015

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A FLAIR FOR FABRIC

Creative Sewing Projects from the Designers at Henry Glass

I reviewed a softcover copy of this book.

In the interest of full disclosure, this book was compiled by Linda Lum DeBono, who is a personal friend of mine. That sucks, because I really, really like both the book and Linda’s concept for it. My biggest fear, of course, is that it might seem like a big, fat Hershey’s (butt) Kiss for any positives I might write about. I assure you, it isn’t. If I didn’t think the book review worthy, it would have gone directly into one of my donate/toss/sell bins. Also, know that while I knew Linda was working on the book and compilation, I never saw a page, a project, or even talked with her about it. That’s it. Here goes . . . .

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First, let’s talk about the concept. Linda corralled the designers of Henry Glass Fabrics and they came up with projects and patterns for the book. Genius. Not only does it promote the fabric company (and, boy, can fabric companies be the masters of short-sightedness…and that’s an understatement), it also promotes each designer involved–individually. What terrific social media ops here, kids! While appealing to fans of each designer, this book is designed to also snag new eyes to the Henry Glass fabric lines. Given the reality of the rapid rate of shop closings and/or smaller inventories, chances are most quilters aren’t familiar with every single one of these lines. For instance, my local shop has never carried Henry Glass, not because it’s not wonderful, maybe it’s just perhaps there isn’t enough room, it’s not the shop owner’s taste, or the sales reps aren’t pushing it. There could be any other number of reasons why you might be Glass deprived. By the way, these could also be the reasons why you’re not seeing a bunch of new fabrics/companies/designers in your local shops.

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Wait until you hear this! Is all of the above simply a marketing ploy? More designers = more eyes? Maybe, but this blew me away: All of the designers are donating the royalties of this book to the Red Cross! OMG! Brill!

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And speaking of . . . there are some heavy hitting designers featured in the book. There’s Kim Diehl (I can literally lose consciousness over her beauteous designs and taste), Liz and Beth of Lizzie B Cre8ive (whose last names should be “Colorful-Whimsey” rather than the boring “Hawkins”), the adorable Jill Finley, Linda (of course), Leanne Anderson, Dana Brooks, Anni Downs, Amy Hamberlin, Margot Languedoc, Janet and Pam of Buggy Barn, Vicki Oehlke, Heather Mulder Peterson, Jacquelynne Steves, and Mary Ellen, Alice, and Sylvia of Little Quilts. Props to you all, ladies.

There are 15 projects included in the book, from super easy to some really beautiful patchwork patterns and projects. Of course, there is a mix of patterns in the book, pillows, pocketbooks, quilts, and don’t forget the placemats. My eye, however, went to just a few of these projects as my favority favs.

While I’m not a great fan of pillow patterns in quilt books (or pillow patterns in general – personal taste), I like Linda Lum DeBono’s Close to My Heart pillow a lot.

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Anni Downs’ primitive Posy Pot Heat Bag won my heart in the little project category. It’s loaded with applique and is very traditionally appealing.

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I love, love, love Leanne Anderson’s Caboodle Quilting Caddy but (dare I say it?) I’m not wild about the fabric choice. It looked like blender fabric to me … and I like snazzy and colorful.  To the designer’s defense, something plain might be a better choice for trying to find your notions and stuff on the inside . . . but go wild on the outside. You can pick up plain, anywhere.

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Jill Finley’s Breezy, a contemporary summery mix of traditional patchwork and appliqué is a real favorite of mine.

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Kim Diehl’s lovely Garden Bramble applique and pieced quilt is, well, a teeny weenie more simplified Kim Diehl pattern using a very Kim Diehl palette. I love her design sense.

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I really like the autumnal orange plaids used in the (above) Starburst Maple Delight by Buggy Barn’s Pam and Janet (not quite as easy to cut and piece as it may seem at first glance, thank goodness).  I also liked the color choices and design of the Delightful quilt by Jacquelynne Steves (below).

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The Where Flowers Blossom wall hanging is classic Lizzy B Cre8ive. It’s bright, fun, free-wheeling, and nicely embellished.

The Picnic Basket Table Topper is sweet, while the Line Upon Line quilt is a nod to the Modern Quilt Movement and I liked them both.

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As a preface to each of the projects, the designers share their thoughts on color mixing, their inspiration, scale, variety, etc. So you get to know a small bit of the stuff that makes ‘em tick.

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The pattern’s and writing are fairly standard and are color illustrated. The photography is nicely done – even the fun little Christmas pillow looks great – and greens are difficult to get right in print.

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Now for a rhetorical question. Unpopular as my opinion may be, (not that it will stop me), I have to ask: Does anyone ever really buy a $25 book for a placemat pattern?  I’m just wondering? I’ve always considered them sorta’  like slipping a recipe into a pattern book — meh. For the record, and I want to be clear (with no disrespect to the designer), the placemat pattern in the book is totally appealing, and can be expanded to make a great quilt, but it’s a project genre that just doesn’t jazz me, especially for how much books cost these days. I do like the Henry Glass fabrics used for the placemats, however….

See? I might give it a “Oh no, you better didn’t” on the mats, but I’ll definitely be looking for this Henry Glass fabric for other projects!

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I think that the publisher, That Patchwork Place, did a really nice job for Henry Glass and I hope the book does well for the designers, Henry Glass, and the Red Cross. And pulllllease, God, let it do well for Linda Lum DeBono, or I may never hear the end of this saga.

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All kidding aside, this is a title you might want to take a look at.

I Really Like this Book!

  • Compiled by: Linda Lum DeBono
  • Publisher: That Patchwork Place 
  • ISBN: 978-1-60468-407-8
  • Pages: 96
  • $24.99

Ask your local shop owner or independent bookstore to order your copy, FIRST. 

Or you can buy the book here: http://www.shopmartingale.com/a-flair-for-fabric.html

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COZY TOES FOR BABY

Sweet Shoes to Crochet and Felt

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I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

This book is so sweet that even if you have never crocheted (and you should learn) or felted (hit YouTube for a instructional demo) or even have a baby living in your state, you will enjoy at least looking through it!

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No, this book isn’t for the absolute newbie crocheter (you’re going to have to have a scant knowledge of weaving yarn with a hook and a more educated skill set in the pattern reading department) but if you kind’a know your way around a crochet hook, the patterns aren’t all that difficult. Good news, eh?

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The book takes us from a series of tool lists and tutorial photos for the basic shoe pattern, before setting us free into the bulk of the book, 7 patterns for the cutest little woolen shoes – EVVVV-AH!

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There isn’t a shoe design in the book that I don’t like. Each has their own personality and style. And I already know, that once your creative noggin gets the gist of this shoemaking technique, you will be adapting and adding all kinds of your own unique and creative ideas to the basic felted shoe idea. You’ll be creating wonderful new designs of your own in lickity split.

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The chapter on the actual felting of your crochet masterpieces clues us in on any prep work and making simple foam forms so that you shoes actually come out of the process looking like, well, shoes — and not a golf club cover. You’ll also need to learn how to dry your felted creations.

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I found the short chapter on ‘Soles’ to be fascinating (only because I wouldn’t have guessed there would be soles on this type of baby shoe). The authors take us through choosing the leather (yes, leather), preparing it, and then attaching the leather soles to the bottoms of the felted shoes with a hand blanket stitch (the result is more than delicious).   The patterns for various sized soles, to match the patterns for various size shoes, are included in the back of the book along with illustrated tutorials of basic crochet stitches and a glossary of crochet abbreviations.

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It that’s not enough to convince you that you need this book, then maybe knowing that the author’s proceeds of Cozy Toes for Baby will be donated to the Imani Project to help children in Kenya orphaned by HIV/AIDS. It’s a win/win, kiddo!

I Really Like this Book!

  • Author: Chantal Garceau, Mary J. King
  • Publisher: That Patchwork Place
  • ISBN: 978-1-60468-458-2
  • Pages: 48
  • $16.99

Ask your local shop owner or independent bookstore to order your copy, FIRST. 

Or you can buy the book here: http://www.shopmartingale.com/cozy-toes-for-baby.html

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IMPROVISING TRADITION

18 Quilted Projects Using Strips, Slices, and Strata

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I reviewed a softcover copy of this book. 

Improvising Tradition, using “strips, slices, and strata” is a new book by Alexandra Ledgerwood that, no matter how you slice it, is as modern in modern aesthetic as they come.

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I have to admit, I wasn’t agog with excitement and awe as I simply leafed through the book. That’s mainly because anyone with a Pinterest account has seen quilts, pillows, and table runners that look so much like many of these projects or very close variations thereof. However, the modern applications in each of this book’s projects are very pleasing in color, design, and style. So, what more can you ask for in a quilting book?

Let me confess that I might hold the modern movement to a higher design and creative standard. Let’s not forget that like the pioneers of art quilting, the modern quilters were the original and gutsy thinkers that broke an old and often boring and predictable patchwork mold. The Mod Guilds held themselves up, not only with a tremendous amount of we are unique attitude, but as being unconventional and untethered by tradition and the same old quilting and patterns that were everywhere. What I’m finding now, after more than several years of the modern quilting phenom, so much of the modern stuff is starting to look exactly alike. Not unlike, by the way, the Ohio Star quilts, sampler quilts, hexagons, pinwheels, (et al) and all of the same old traditional quilts the modern group both delivered us, and ushered many of us away, from.  I want to be clear, that there is still a lot of amazing breakthrough modern work being done in the new modern tradition but you can’t teach that kind of creativity or creative process in a $28.00 book or $7 magazine, and thus the general population of book and magazine projects are beginning to bore me become repetitive, only out of the sheer, flat, boxy, cut up, or enlarged monotony of it all.

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As modern quilts go, and having to conform to a traditional book format, the designer has really nailed it in Improvising Tradition. All of the projects are really pretty and enticing, the color choices are spot on (Alexandra Ledgerwood either really knows her color wheel or has exquisite taste – or both), and the quilting, in the case of many of the projects in the book, took my breath away (yes, even some of the simple quilting on the quilts).

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As pattern books go, this is an educationally substantive  book though not a pattern book.  It’s how to stack and whack your fabrics, or place them before sewing, etc., but there are no specific patterns to make quilts exactly like the ones in the book.  That means, kids, that you’re going to have to learn the techniques and then play at using them.  Yup, it’s time to reclaim your creativity!  THANK YOU, Alexandra Ledgerwood!

The first 8 pages of the book, and the last 7 pages, are devoted to instructions on brief technique, home machine quilting, improvisational theory, and some sewing tips. Between each of the three main chapters, Creating with Strips, Creating with Strata, and Creating with Slice-and-Insert, there are short tutorial intros to both inform and instruct the quilter on those specific design methods along with illustrated cutting tutorials, sewing tips, and more, to enable the patchworker to piece and possibly ‘improvise’ (should she be so bold – and she should) each project.  I noticed a little repetition of technique in the book but I’m unfazed by it. If I’m working on a project on page 63 and the explanation on how to stack fabric is on 24, I’m not going a back to find it.

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There are 18 projects in Improvisational Tradition. 1 throw, 3 baby quilts, 3 pillows/shams, 2 table runners, 5 quilts, 2 wall hangings, 1 set of placemats, and 1 set of coasters (and after all of my B-I-itching about placemats above, you might think I’d be apoplectic over patterned coasters. Just know that I just about reached for Xanax. But there’s always something to learn from every project, isn’t there?).

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I love the colors and quilting in the Ribbons Place Mats, and the Scattered Colors Table Runner, which is cool, but has kinda’ been done – a lot. I felt similarly of the pretty but familiar Morse Code Quilt – like it, but have seen many variations of it.

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The En Pointe Wall Hanging is beautiful, as is the Waterfall Bed Set (swoon), the Nesting Squares Quilt, and the By the Fireside Pillow (ahhhhhh!).

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Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like more than several of the other projects are beautifully done and so worth your while, but they just didn’t grab me because they have sadly blended in with the gazillion other comparable modern designs being floated out there.   Oh, as for the specific chevron quilt in this book ….in spite of 3 or more years of chevron bombardment, I actually love the design, not my choice of specific color choices, but it’s a personal taste thing, and one you shouldn’t be concerned with.

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The photography is great and the projects are airy and very well written and illustrated. Should you buy the book you will have no problem in (kinda’) recreating the projects using the techniques you learn (don’t forget that these are NOT patterns but improvisational patchwork techniques — everybody gets a different looking result).

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If you’re a quilter who is relatively new to creating quilts, or if you’re a seasoned quilter who wants to buy a book of modern quilting patterns to learn how to achieve the different looks and techniques, or even to just recreate the projects slice-by-slice, this is a book you’ll want to have on your bookshelf. I doubt either of you will be disappointed.

I Really Like this Book! 

Or you can buy the book ON SALE here: http://bit.ly/1EgwDPz

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SPEND TIME WITH ME IN ORLANDO!

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Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15! 

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2 Classes 

1 Lecture

Saturday, January 17,  9:00 AM until 5:00 PM

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    Workshop: Mark’s Stars and Stripes Quilt of Valor.

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Workshop: Mark’s Impovisational Throw Me A Curve Mystery Quilt!  Make anybody’s pattern your own!

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Lecture Saturday evening:  The Slow Stitching Movement!

MEDIUM Slow Stitching

Wondering Stitches Quilting Studio
5818 Hoffner Ave
Suite 905
Orlando, FL 32822
407-658-4044
http://www.wanderingstitches.com

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SLOW STITCHING

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Eye of the Beholder designer, Margaret Willingham, talks about what slow stitching means to her, in her creativity process, finding the time, spirituality, and creating an integrated life. Find her podcast here: http://www.slowstitching.com/podcasts.html

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The Slow Stitching Movement Podcast’s are sponsored by

Aurifil and GloriousColor.com

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A NOTE ABOUT THESE BOOK REVIEWS

In the magazine world, if you don’t like a book, you don’t review it. I promised to be honest. I’ve based my whole patchwork reputation on “no B.S.” . . . and it’s not easy. Boy, I really wrestle with myself on whether or not I am going to review a book I don’t care for, but if books are so graciously sent to me for review, I feel that I have an obligation to the publisher to review all that are sent. Given I do not depend on advertising for my blog, I don’t need to only review the books I like (and would give fabulous reviews to) for fear of hurting an advertiser’s feelings, and threatening potential revenue. On the other hand it pains me, genuinely pains me (yes, sleepless nights), when I receive a book I’m just not crazy about.

Now, listen…because I don’t care for something NEVER implies that YOU shouldn’t care for it. Mine is only an opinion, one opinion of many who are sent review copies. The goal of any kind of reviewer is to develop an audience, be transparent with their likes, dislikes, taste, quirks, and aesthetic, and let the reader compare their opinions against those of the reviewer.

If you agree with my take on a book most of the time, for instance, you can begin to trust my reviews and know if I like something, you probably will, too. If you don’t generally agree with my assessments of a book, and disagree with most of my reviews, then you know that you want to buy only the books that I hate for your personal library.


IF YOU HAVEN’T SUBSCRIBED TO THIS BLOG YET:

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For well over 3 years, I have been posting up to 20 links per day or every other day, on the Mark Lipinski’s Fan Pageon Facebook. Of course, in Facebook’s never ending quest to make lots of money, Facebook seems to have abandoned their mission of a real social networking site and it has become more about Facebook revenue.

Several months ago, Facebook, without warning, had implemented a new business model. As a result, the vast majority of “LIKErs” who have been faithful readers of this Fan Page have been blocked from receiving my posts, time and time again, from getting all or a few of the postings onto their timeline feed.

The reason is, Facebook would like pages like, Mark Lipinski’s Fan Page, to pay money every day, and on every post, in order to advertise and lure readers like you, onto the Fan Page.

With out “BOOSTING” a post, only about 5% of people who clicked LIKE on the Fan Page are actually seeing anything I post — and it could be random – sometimes you get a post, and sometimes not. Basically, it sucks for all of us. I am finding that we are all better served if I posted my tips, ideas, links, and jokes, etc. to my blog. You can subscribe to my blog (only if you wan to) and get an email each time I post a grouping of ideas, links, etc.

I AM NOT shutting down Mark Lipinski’s Fan Page on Facebook and you are welcome to follow me there, too. What I am doing is putting everything that used to be on the Fan Page individually onto my blog, AND there will be a daily link to the idea blog on the Fan Page, just as there were multiple links to the various blogs that I’ve always linked to in the past. It’s not that different, really. It will save me a lot of time, and guarantee those who want to see the creative posts will actually get to see them. And Facebookers, will STILL have to click on “GET NOTIFICATIONS” in your Facebook Settings if they want to see what I post on Facebook (sometimes that works, but not all of the time).

Actually, my new model gives you at least TWO ways to get all of the ideas, etc. PLUS you can PIN them and they will be TAGGED so you can find them again in the search bar even years later. – through the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and YOUR CHOICE (not mandatory) to subscribe to the blog and get email postings that way.

 

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4 Comments on “BOOK REVIEW SATURDAY, January 24, 2015”

  1. January 24, 2015 at 8:14 PM #

    I like your reviews-don’t always agree- but appreciate you clearly explaining what you do or do not like about something. I also like that you clearly own your bias. Your review reminds me of your past quilt magazine that allowed time to read and contemplate about quilting not just “do I like this quilt or pattern.” Keep them coming.

    Like

    • January 25, 2015 at 11:55 AM #

      Thank you Phyllis, I try my very best to keep them honest and honest to myself. It’s not always easy. I so appreciate your writing. It means a lot. xoxom

      Like

  2. January 24, 2015 at 8:28 PM #

    I really like the reviews; it was something I enjoyed from the old tv shows. Did you do one last week? I didn’t get it if you did.

    Like

  3. Deb Boucher
    January 24, 2015 at 9:33 PM #

    Yay

    Like

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