Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
on 30 November 2013
To date, it seems like only one other reviewer has done more than just flick through "Shape Workshop for Quilters". It does indeed look inspiring, but when I dig deeper, there is lots of negative feedback to give alongside the obvious positives.
- In the Welcome text, it is mentioned that the book is "an invaluable tool for anyone starting out in quilting", but I disagree. Basics such as tools and handling fabric aren't dealt with at all, but you will have to learn them elsewhere.
- Curves (Chapter 2 Circles), which are highly challenging for beginners, aren't mentioned in Quilting Basics. Useful tips how to pin curves aren't shown in any of the blocks either, even though there's plenty of unused space on the pages. A photo or diagramme would be helpful.
- In the Welcome text, stars are placed last, whereas they make chapter 4 out of 6 in the book. It would have been nice to indicate that stars aren't a basic shape the way squares, polygons, etc. are, by placing them last, as a specialty shape.
- I haven't found any text stating the block size prior to sewing it into a quilt, but it is left at "finished 12 inches" in both Welcome and Quilting Basics in the back. The size when finishing an individual block is 12.5''x12.5'' prior to piecing the blocks together into a quilt top, in case you didn't know this (seam allowance 1/4'' on all sides).
- In the descriptions, adding sizes for smaller blocks prior to assembling into final block would have been very useful throughout the book. Now you have to calculate for yourself in some cases, if you want to check that you're on track.
- Photos show numerous blocks, which have been pieced with points not matching and/or crooked seams. Not good.
DIAGRAMMES IN DESCRIPTIONS:
- There's plenty of space to cater to visual quilters, but we have been neglected. Lack of informative, accurate diagrammes is a huge minus for me; larger pieces, piece sizes added, etc. would be a few improvements. The diagrammes aren't consistently featuring unpieced or pieced pieces only, but throughout the book there's a frustrating mix of these two types, as if the graphics person has no clue how to handle seam allowances in the diagrammes.
- Many diagrammes are mere replicas of block photos. They should have been edited away and replaced with proper assembly diagrammes. In some cases, there is a photo only. An example is Orange Soda Redux in the Circles chapter; the uppermost row is shown with pieces separated and then miraculously the three lower rows appear with petals already sewn in place. A more helpful approach would be to show the squares only in the first figure, and then make a second one with petals in place. This isn't interesting to verbally-geared quilters, but if you're more visual the diagramme could tell a lot in just one glance.
- Many diagrammes are completely off as far as size ratios go. Read the instructions and find that even rough eye-balling shows differences in these. Look at Cub Crawl Baby Quilt in Ch.1 and see the off-centre green and orange rectangles in figure 17 as example of what I mean.
- When cutting fat quarters for the Cub Crawl Baby Quilt, don't leave "sashing" between pieces as figure 15 suggests.
It's been too frustrating to wade through all block instructions, but I've found some already that contain significant errors.
- A Dime A Dozen in Ch.2 consistently talks about 1.5-inch strips, but from what I understand it should be 1-inch strips as written in the cutting section. The photographed block supports this. To ensure the directions of your print fabrics are correct in the finished block, skip looking at figures 2-5 and only look at figure 6. Block A is illustrated correctly in figure 6, which supports the instructions in paragraph 5 as well as the photo, and it is illustrated incorrectly in figure 2. The same applies to block D. Blocks B and C are illustrated 180 degrees incorrectly in figure 2 compared to figure 6 and the photo. Look at figure 6 only when positioning your printed fabric in blocks L and K, or you will have them tilted 90 degrees if you trust figure 5.
- Crooked Frames in Ch.2, figure 10 indicates that you chop off fabric from the outermost white border, but the square ruler is much larger than the outer perimeter of this white border. In the photo, only the red border is wonky and the rest are intact.
- If you want to assemble the quilt His Hope Chest (Chapter 2 Squares and Rectangles) correctly, don't look at the diagramme, but stick with the photographed quilt only.
My first version of this review was really negative and I had decided to give it two stars only, but I feel generous today. Fat Quarterly has a great reputation and I had planned on buying their magazines at some point, but now I'm very much on the fence; don't want to pay to do even more proof-reading.
I was very excited when ordering this book and, seeing as it contains 60 blocks to practice techniques on, I saw many sampler quilts in my future. I'll have to put the book back in the shelf and return to it only when I'm up for double-checking several times before cutting. As mentioned, there are positives to this book, too, but be prepared to do some serious reading and comparing of text and figures prior to sewing.