Thursday, 6 January 2011

Quilts in review

Before Christmas I got a couple of books out of the library to give me some gift making ideas. I thought I'd give them a brief review as I'm not sure I found either very helpful.

First up is Quilting in No Time, by Emma Hardy. This book focuses on the home, so there are lots of throws, pillows, curtains, table linens etc. There are also a couple of bags and things - I particularly like the knitting bag and notebook bag.
These are not really quilting projects, they're more sewing projects with a patchwork theme, and some quilting done on top of this. Although I haven't made anything from this book, the instructions seem limited and as a beginner in both the patchwork and quilting worlds, I was hoping for a bit more help. I think I'll be trying a couple of the project in here, so I may change my mind later! Most of the designs are clean and fresh and the sort of thing I would be happy to have in my house.

Second is Mandy Shaw’s ‘Quilt Yourself Gorgeous’ which is full of different projects. There are a couple of bags and purses, some dolls and some quilts and cushion toppers, bunting and a tea cosy. The style of the items is often not to my taste - most of the items have a 'crazy patchwork effect', with blocks unevenly sized as seen on the cover. Personally I like all my corners to match up in straight lines (OCD? Maybe a little). Plus the use of ricrac and ribbon edging on everything makes the designs a bit 'busy' in places. Even so, I really liked the shopping bag, cosmetics case and the Anja doll. Again, most of these are patchwork and sewing projects, not true quilting projects.
I decided to make the 'Strippy stripy bag' for my Mother in Law as a Christmas present. Sadly, I found the instructions not only thin on the ground, but confusing as well. For example, when I started cutting out my fabric I couldn't find directions for how big to make the lining. After reading all the steps through, I couldn't find anything that said the lining has to be turned under or anything so I made it the same size as the completed outer for the bag. Fortunately this was right but it was a complete guess. And there were lots of steps like that. Previously unmentioned features for the bag came up in the instructions and some steps, felt needlessly complicated. I was never sure whether I was supposed to be working on the wrong or right side of the bag at any given moment.
I increased the width of this bag so that big folders would fit, and didn't add all the trimmings recommended. I have to say, though, that Karen made a version recently which looks lovely and she included the trimmings, so maybe I was too hasty in my decision...
I think of myself as a reasonably experienced sewer, and capable of working most things out myself, but I found this fairly simple bag a real struggle.
It's a shame, as all of the projects in the book are lovely and the bag turned out very well in the end. I would think twice before making anything from this book again though.

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