14 December 2012
Book Review: Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe
What it is:
A collection of 19 quilts made by bloggers with piecing instructions for each quilt and a “bio” of each designer, written by the designer.
Basic breakdown of the book's contents:
Introduction (1 page) 1% of the book
In this section, a brief explanation of the book is provided.
The Quilt Patterns (77 pages) 88% of the book
Each pattern begins with a big, beautiful photograph of the quilt. Each pattern is approximately four pages long. The instructions seem clear and easy to follow; they include step-by-step computer illustrations. If the quilt back is pieced a picture and explanation is included. The difficulty of the pattern or the skills it requires used isn’t indicated; only one version of each quilt is shown.
Biographies for each designer (10 pages) 11% of the book
These were written by each of the designers and are included at the close of his/her pattern.
**There is no space given over to on basic quiltmaking techniques (1/4-inch seams, binding, etc.) Should you need it, this information can be found on the publishers website! I think this is awesome, it keeps the price of the book lower and most quilters don't need that information.
What it is not:
This book is not everything it claims to be in its introduction and on its cover.
In the introduction, the editor--actually, it is unclear who wrote the introduction, I’m assuming it was the editor--states that the book, “focuses on a specific aesthetic.” To my eye, there is quite a wide range of aesthetics being presented.
While the variety could be a strength of the book, the quilts aren’t organized thematically and so the book ends up feeling a bit aesthetically jumbled. A little bit more connecting material from the editor could have turned this book from a series of disconnected patterns into a well-curated set of patterns that are not only useful, but could increase understanding of quilt styles. I know a lot of traditional quilters and would-be modern quilters are confused about what makes a modern quilt look “modern,” I don’t think this book will clarify that point, which is unfortunate because the title begins with the words “modern quilts.”
I feel that the editors needed to insert a bit more of a narrative if they are going to claim to capture an important part of “quiltmaking history.” For example, I found the blogger biographies really interesting. Many of the bloggers push on the idea of modern quilting, claiming that they have “never agreed with the idea” (Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew) or have a style which is, “neither modern nor traditional but a little bit of both” (Katy Jones of I’m a Ginger Monkey) or are, “always surprise[d] when someone thinks I am a ‘modern quilter.” (Jessica Kovach of Twin Fibers). I really wish the editor(s) had picked up on these ideas that run through the bios and found something to say about them. A set of disconnected discussions about the (false?) modern/traditional binary is pretty much par for the course in the blogosphere, a book provides the opportunity to do more, but that opportunity is not capitalized upon. Perhaps I hold books in too high of esteem and thereby expect too much, but I can’t help but want books to be MORE than a bunch of separate patterns and ideas bound only by proximity in a physical object; I want some story or argument about how they fit together and what they represent.
The book claims that all of the quiltmakers are “innovative” and each of the 19 quilts is “unique.” Not all of these quilts are going to live up to those claims, especially for folks who regularly read quilt blogs or look at the quilt groups on Flickr. Some of these quilts will look very typical.
I don’t see any problem with providing patterns for what are arguably “modern standards” like a half-square triangle medallion quilt or a zig-zag quilt, but its weird to call them innovative and inaccurate to call them unique.
Thankfully, between the front and back covers of this book and the “look inside” feature on Amazon.com, you can see the vast majority of the quilts from the book and decide for yourself if you’re interested in these patterns.
Who is it for?
Quilters who collect books showcasing bloggers and their contributions.
Quilters looking for a set of patterns (there are 19!) for quilts with a wide-range of aesthetics, most especially those who like block-based quilts like the following, as that type of quilt is most heavily represented.
Recommended for quilters who like pretty quilts and following patterns.
Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe
is full color throughout, printed on high-quality paper, and 95 pages long.
Publication date: December 3, 2012
Rossie Crafts review date: December 14, 2012
The list price is $26.99, it’s selling for $23.99 on Amazon.com today.
Review copy was supplied by the publisher; I am not paid to review books; if you click through to Amazon and then make a purchase, I will recieve a small kickback from Amazon.