This is going to be one of my favorites from our friendly laid-back quilting instructor. If you've been longing for something a bit more meaty and advanced from Eleanor, this is the book for you. She will show you how to make things look more advanced than they really are by implementing her clever techniques.
Although I have always learned something new from her prior books (in her elegantly simple manner), I found the older patterns to be too elemental and chunky. There were not enough color changes or pattern varieties, and the blocks always seemed too large and too few; everything had that "very first quilt" look to it. Hence I shied away from her most recent publications and even sold or gave away a few of the old ones.
THIS book, however, is a very pleasant surprise. There are 13 designs, presented in order of the four seasons. You will find blocks based on crazy hearts, "log cabin" pine trees with appliqued cardinals, stars intermingled with 4-patch blocks, fish, flower baskets, and a Twin Sisters block based on a pattern from 1845. I'll save the rest so you can be (pleasantly) surprised!!
In typical fashion, Eleanor uses a range of simple-to-clever techniques: foundations, embellishments, folded borders, curved seams, fusible applique, equilateral finished triangles, and fussy cutting. She also includes her clever method for Flying Geese/Star Points which guarantees a perfect piece, and her fusible applique technique replaces the usual paper-piecing to create a fabulous Lady Liberty circular crown block.
As I mentioned earlier, Eleanor breaks away from her usual huge/chunky block size; most of the blocks are under 9 inches with one as small as 5 inches. She just had to include a block that measures 17 by 22 inches (in a cute fish pattern), but I'll allow her that!
As in her prior books, most projects feature her own fabric lines, but there is a wee bit less emphasis on floral here. And some projects are shown done up in batiks and tone-on-tones, demonstrating how you can personally tailor her simple patterns to your own fabric preferences. Directions are provided for a variety of quilt-top sizes, plus table runners and pillow cases.
Just a few less than positive things to note: The very first design is for a crazy Valentine, and she instructs you to use foundation piecing!! To me, it seems somewhat oxymoronic to call this "crazy" when the exact same foundation is used for every block. When I make this one, I will skip the paper-piecing and do it up in true "crazy quilt" fashion. Also, the publication is in a spiral ring binder; great idea but bad execution for clutzes like me. Once you have spiraled the front or back cover it never seems to go back into place correctly without you having to re-leaf all the pages. Small thing, but a possible minor pain for folks with MS or arthritis. And you will probably find yourself buying yet another rotary ruler (don't we have enough??!!) to take the best advantage of her technique. Finally, I would love to have seen the publisher put a photo of each project on the table of contents page. I've seen this done before and it really saves you from constantly flipping through the pages to find that one design you thought you saw but can't remember where. This would have been especially helpful given that there are 13 different projects here.
Now, so that I can leave on a positive note, let me end by saying there truely is something here for every one, regardless of you preference for fabrics, pattern styles, or block sizes. If you want to add a publication that is sure to become a classic, this is the one to buy!