05 December 2012

Project Bibliophile

I'm going to start reviewing books here on a regular basis.  There seems to be a need for information-rich, serious reviews of quilting books. Since I'm a major bookworm and happy to make distinctions, I've volunteered myself for the job.

Project Bibliophile

A few things have led me believe there's a need for serious reviews:
  1. Blog hops typically contain only a small amount of information.
  2. Magazine reviews often simply repeat the publisher's promotional materials.
  3. At least five different people have told me, of Free-Motion Quilting by Angela Walters, "I like it, but it's not what I thought it was going to be."  And I've heard that about other books as well.  The fact is that I (and maybe you) rarely get to look at a book in a bricks-and-mortar store anymore.  The shops around me just don't stock the books I'm interested in and so I almost always need to make purchases online, so sometimes a book isn't what I need it to be, and I'm probably missing out on books that would be right up my alley!

My idea is that I will let you know what you might find out by flipping through a book:
  • how much space is given over to what
  • what the book does and doesn't cover
  • the style of writing/instruction
  • the style of patchwork is--block-based? minimal? asymmetical? interesting use of negative space? geometric? improv? wabi sabi?
  • who is this book for?
I'm also planning on only reviewing books that I have a copy of so that I can answer questions about books basically forever after the review goes up. So, let me know which books you think should be reviewed and what you want to know about them and feel free to ask more questions about a book after a review is up! My intention is to be useful.

I'm putting together a page to make my relationships with book publishers clear; but rest-assured that while I'm getting some advance copies of books, I'm not getting paid by publishers.  I do participate in the Amazon Associates program, whereby I earn a small percentage of all sales made via links through this site.  So, anytime you link through me and then make a purchase from them, I get a small kickback, for which I'm grateful.  I'm hoping to use that money to purchase older books based on your recommendations and reviewing them.  I know some of my favorite books have been around for years and I'd love to talk about them and explore some others!

I'm going to begin with review of Free-Motion Quilting by Angela Walters because I own it (bought it myself) and because, as I mentioned above, it might not be what you expect!

Project Bibliophile Book Review: Free Motion Quilting


What it is:
A book with a friendly, approachable,  and encouraging tone.  Walters conveys her experiences, her opinion about the special challenges when quilting modern quilts, her favorite quilting designs, and her methods for deciding how to quilt quilts.

Basic breakdown of book's contents:
(1)
Introduction and supplies list (11 pages) 10% of the book.  
In this section Walters introduces herself and lists her favorite supplies.

(2)
Presentation and explanation of Walter's favorite quilting designs (55 pages) 50% of the book.
There are 28 designs total, arranged around themes of how they look (curves, lines, etc). The relative difficulty of the designs is not discussed.  The step-by-step explanations of how to create each design are clear.

a page in Free-Motion Quilting by Angela Walters

(3)
Show-and-tell of the designs as they are used in a series of quilts (43 pages) 40% of the book.  
These pages are organized around types of patchwork that have been popular lately: for example, log cabins, zig zags, and quilts with a lot of negative space. This section provides clear pictures of many quilt tops, as Walters discusses her approach in choosing quilt designs for each top.

a page in Free-Motion Quilting by Angela Walters


What it is not:
This book is not intended to build skills in the nitty-gritty of machine quilting.  There is no discussion of trouble-shooting tension problems, keeping your stitches even, or burying threads.  The focus of the book is on how to make specific designs when quilting--which is discussed exclusively in terms of where to go next with your needle.

There is no discussion of the best approach to getting a design onto a quilt when you are contending with the small harp on a domestic sewing machine.  While you can use these designs with a domestic sewing machine, you'll have to puzzle out your strategy to working with the harp on your own.

Who is it for?
Quilters looking for a catalog of design options for free-motion quilting (28 designs are included).
Quilters looking for some guidance in deciding what kind of quilting to use with their patchwork.
Recommended for quilters who are already comfortable with the technical aspects of free-motion quilting on their machine.


Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: Choose and Use Quilting Designs on Modern Quilts
is full color throughout, printed on high-quality paper, and 119 pages long.

July 16, 2012
Rossie Crafts Review Date: December 5, 2012
The list price is $22.95, it's selling for $14.71 on Amazon.com today.

40 comments:

  1. Very good idea with the book reviews! I totally appreciate it - thank you!

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  2. Great idea! I always find it difficult to decide which books will be worth investing in, when there is so much free inspiration to have on the internet! (And interesting enough, this Angela Walters book was one that I thought was not that appealing based on the cover and the little things I'd heard here and there, but I finally bought it a few weeks ago and I LOVE it, it's one of the most useful quilting books I own!)

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  3. Thank you for this. I love books too and have been delighted and disappointed with my purchases. This will be really helpful and interesting.

    Donna

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  4. I think this is a great project to undertake and I will be following with interest. I agree that most of the information currently out there is basically advertising rather than an objective review of quilting/crafting books. Thanks for taking this on - I think you will be providing very useful and valuable information to people looking for craft/quilting books!

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  5. Thanks so much for the review. I was curious about this book, since it seems many have gushed about it online. As you state in your intro, however its very difficult to find concrete information about content in magazine and blog 'reviews'. Thanks to your review, I now know that its not a process book. Very helpful!

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  6. An honest & unbiased review of quilt books? What a novel idea!!!! Thank you so much for undertaking this! It seems like every new book that comes out (and it seems almost every blogger now has a book) is followed by a blog hop that makes you think this is the best book ever, and I totally have learned not to trust those as real reviews. The few I have seen at the local B&N are not what I find useful or worthwhile, and I pretty much have to depend on online sources. Needless to say, a lot of my quilting books need regular dusting.

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  7. I'd say that is a pretty accurate review of that book. It joins a few other FMQ books on my shelf as resources for design ideas, not resources for quilting itself. For that I still pull out the Diane Gaudynski.

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    1. I am hoping to get some of the Gaudynski to review!

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  8. I own this book as well. The layout is very attractive, don't you think? Angela Walters style is very popular and she has done projects for some very well known designers. It's exciting to see her style broken down into the basic elements. I believe she has another book coming out soon (this month?) and has a class listed on Craftsy. She is definitely affecting my choices in quilting designs these days.

    Thank you for the factual, analytical approach to the book review. This book can hold up to the scrutiny.

    Kris

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    1. She even has a fabric line coming out! http://www.artgalleryfabrics.com/cgi-bin/fabricshop/gallery.cgi?Category=76

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  9. This is a wonderful idea - you are so right, we do need this type of review. This really helped me! Thanks!!!

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  10. Thanks Rossie. I had been wondering about that book.
    I totally agree that so much of what's out there (blog-hops and even amazon reviews) doesn't tell much about the actual book. I look forward to reading your other reviews.

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  11. Good Plan! Yes I bought this book on the strength of blog tours and was one of the slightly surprised ones too. I think I expected a bit more technical stuff, even though I'm happy to have lots of ideas, which the book provides.

    I'll look forward to more reviews like this. Thanks! How about Jaquie Gering and Katie Pedersen's book? Tho' I'm sure you're not in need of suggestions!

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    1. Suggestions are always helpful! I'll be getting to the Gering and Pederson book soon!

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  12. Awesome feature. Looking forward to more!!! Thanks

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  13. Thanks for taking on the job! And, your reveiw of Angela Walter's book is spot on. While my free motion skills are somewhat lacking (practice, practice, practice) I love Angela's book because it tells me exactly what I need to know - where to go next with the needle! It's surprising how many "how to free motion" books don't tell you how to actually quilt a design. I'm looking forward to future book reviews.

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  14. Great idea!! I try to check books out from the library before I buy them, if at all possible, or ask members of my guild if I can borrow them, because as others have said, they are often not what I want to spend my money on! I love your plan of doing an honest review of each book, and plan to learn a lot from your efforts! Thank you. :)

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  15. fantastic idea to give full and straightforward reviews. Thanks!

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  16. Awesome idea - I for one hope that this will be a weekly (after you go through those you already own - monthly) feature. You are right this is needed!

    Please do the Denyse Schmidt books & the Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr books. (I like all 5 or 6 between the two & want to know why!)

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    1. We'll see how quickly I can go! I have the Denyse Schmidt books already and am hoping to earn enough to get some of the Ringle & Kerr offerings (though I have read them at the library!)

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  17. I love this, thank you for doing it! I don't have any specific book suggestions, but please keep it up!

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  18. This is a good idea and I will be reading as you go. I don't even read the book blog hop posts anymore, they are just promo materials and usually repeats, so I have given up on them entirely, which I know is not what the writers or publishers intend. In reading your review, I wondered what it was that people/you were expecting from the book that it did not provide, and that might be the same as the items you listed under what the book was not but maybe different. I have the book and have enjoyed it. I plan to pull it out when I next quilt a quilt and try out the different designs.

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    1. I think people were expecting more/some/any technical information from the book. Probably if the book had the word "design" in the pre-colonic title there would be less confusion.

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  19. I'm curious to see how this goes in the long run. It's a great idea.

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  20. Thanks for such a thorough and thoughtful review! I'll look forward to the next one.

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  21. This is a great idea. I agree the blog hops are mostly just ads and while I love looking at the projects, I don't generally trust them for info on the books. The one for me that was puzzling is the Zakka Style book that many were working with. The color combinations on the projects are really lovely but there is not a lot of detailed instruction.

    Anywho, if you ever want to do a "blog hop" of similar reviews, or collect any, etc. I have had a few that I have had a mind to review as well and I bet many others would as well. Thanks for being a constructive member of the crafting community!

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    1. That's a great idea to spread the work around! I'll have to think about it. Because I think one of the nice things about having one person do a bunch of reviews is that you grow to trust a person, figure out their biases, etc.

      One thing I have been thinking about is having people blog about their favorite books and then I would compile those or link to those, maybe?

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  22. Thanks Rossie for "stepping up" and nominating yourself. I do think this project is necessary as sooooo many of us can get caught up in the hype of BlogHops and the advertising that goes with it. I know when I am seeking out more info on a book, I'll usually wait until the library carries it or like someone else suggested, borrow it from a friend for a while.

    While there have a been a few books that I've been disappointed in, I do have to admit that I still gleam inspiration from them. It might be for photography, color ideas, or as a Pattern Designer myself...ways in which to describe and explain things.

    Can't wait to see further reviews.

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  23. This is awesome! I have Angela's book, and your review was a perfect description. I'm looking forward to all the books you review in the future!

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  24. Thanks for this. I think its needed. I often feel disappointed when i buy a book. Ther is always so much hype behond them. Honesty is appreciated

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  25. Thanks for the info and for making this idea a regular post. I do have a suggestion (should you want those). Why not include YOUR use of the book. You do a great job of providing information, but you've left yourself out. I'm sure I'm not the only one curious about how you will use the information you've gained and how you enjoyed the book. You could make that a separate section of the review so that it's easily distinguishable from your more objective information. Thanks again!

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    1. This is an interesting point, I will think about this!

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  26. Reviews of books on modern scrap quilting would be much appreciated. I have Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkinson, which I like a lot. Scraps abound in my house, so new books to inspire their use would be welcome.

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  27. I am so proud of you! What a significant contribution to the quilting community!

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  28. Yes! Yes! I love this! I'm all about honest reviews. I have done a few on my blog, when I've found a book I particularly love, although my reviews are a bit scattered and impressionist, rather than all the wonderful info you're providing.

    I'd like to add though, that I'd always love to hear your personal opinion on the book as well as the stats.

    Looking forward to more!

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  29. Thank you for providing the book in percentages. I like knowing how much of the book is dedicated to certain aspects. Great idea!

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  30. Very nice. I quite like this style of review you're planning on doing. Factual information, audience etc. Thanks for taking the time and I'm glad you get a small percentage as you're doing the work :)

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