by Mimi Dietrich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Happy Endings: Finishing the Edges of Your Quilt / 978-1-56477-500-9
I am an avid quilter, although I would still describe myself as a "beginner", even after years of quilting and several successful queen sized quilts and wall hangings. There's just so much to learn, I don't think I'll ever be a "master". One thing I am never really comfortable with is the edgings and bindings, and I figured this book would be perfect for me. Unfortunately, after a lot of reading, a lot of thought, and a lot of agonizing, I just feel that this book fails to deliver.
There's some variety here, and everything you see on the cover is delivered in the book, with gorgeous color pictures showing the end product and slightly less useful sketches that are supposed to detail how to achieve the product - I say these sketches are less useful because they are very small and it is often difficult to tell what motion/action the author is trying to convey. I think more sketches, along the "this, then this, then this" would have conveyed the idea better. It's an extremely slender book - why didn't they just add a few more pages of sketches and explanations? Or at least cut back the admittedly beautiful "final product" pictures to make room for the "how to get there" explanations.
Back to the material, the author has a definite bias towards "thin" bindings - edges that are less than half an inch wide and look very modern. I tend to prefer wider edges for my large quilts, but the techniques are probably the same. There are also curvy specialty endings, and different bindings with prairie points. Since I still don't feel like an expert at the simple bindings, I was looking forward to a detailed description with a "Eureka!" moment where everything I'd read in my general quilting Quilt books would suddenly snap into place. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to get that with this book. The descriptions are fine for how to attach a border (even I could have figured that out), but as for how to fold the border over, machine sew it into place, and not have the stitches miss the fabric entirely or wind up clumsily in the middle of the back border, this book doesn't detail. There's almost no instruction whatsoever for how to ensure that the back of the quilt looks as good as the front, and the fact that none of the author pictures shows a backside makes me rather suspicious. I'm not expecting miracles, but I'd like a surefire machine-stitch way to ensure that the back of my border doesn't look like a drunken stumbling path. Even using thousands of pins, it's still possible and likely that folds will catch or that a stitch will slip, and finding out after the fact is most annoying.
The best simple binding technique I have learned (from this book and others) is to sew the border onto the back side, fold the edges over the front, and then sew the front folds down into place. But that doesn't solve the issue of how to make the back look equally nice and straight, and the only thing I can recommend is tons and tons of pins. I cannot help but think there must be an easier way.
There's an awful lot of fancy binding here as well, most looking very modern and snazzy, although they probably fit the decor of a teenager's bedroom better than an adult living room. Maybe it's me, but these instructions are even more difficult to decipher and the diagrams are very confusing. There are very few measurements provided here, probably because this is supposed to be a "method" book that can be adapted for any size, but I would have welcomed some estimates.
I have a hard time deciding what to rate this book. I settled on three stars because the color pictures are pretty and somewhat inspiring, and I'm willing to believe that maybe I'm just too stupid to understand the diagrams here. But for me, at least, every time I pick up this book, hoping to master a new binding technique, I end up setting it down in disappointment thirty minutes later and going back to the basic binding techniques from my general quilting books. Shame, because I was hoping for more, especially from such an attractive book.
~ Ana Mardoll
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