Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Modern Baby: a book review and a giveaway

My friend (and GenQ overlord) Jake, sent me this book recently because, well, she's in it, plus the publisher sent her a whole bunch. I may have mentioned on Facebook that my dear friend Amy had a baby boy last fall, and since there's a pretty good chance he is the last baby anyone in my tiny little social world will have, I dote on him. In fact, I made him a cover baby:

So, I was very excited to get a copy of this book because I'd love to make him a quilt even though I have completely sworn off making baby quilts. I tried to make his older sister a quilt, but that didn't go very well (franken-stitching was involved, to cover up my mistakes), and it is still folded up and shoved in a closet here somewhere because I am too embarrassed to give it to her. Yes, she's only 5, but I have my pride, dammit.

So, maybe now that my skills have improved somewhat, there's a chance I could try again. I wanted to do something other than the usual pinwheels. Have you noticed that? Every baby quilt pattern on earth involves pinwheels. OR CHEVRONS. I wanted something a little more unusual, but I didn't have any ideas yet until this appeared in my mailbox.

I have to say, at this point in my jaded career, I am very surprised when I genuinely like a quilt book, and one of the main reasons I like this one is for what it doesn't contain: it doesn't have that ridiculous section that "teaches" you how to quilt! Have I mentioned this before? I'm sure I have, because this drives me absolutely up the wall, and I tend to never shut up about that kind of thing. If you want a book that teaches you how to quilt, then buy that book. A book that is supposed to be a collection of patterns should not spend half its pages telling you stuff in an entirely too-brief format for the purpose, stuff that you should really already know if you're going to attempt anything inside that same book. It's filler.

Modern Baby, ($24.99 for print and e-book, $16.99 e-book only) to its credit (or to the credit of the editors at Martingale), doesn't do that. You get a one-page intro and then, boom! Patterns. Fourteen of them to be exact, and none of them are duds. The designers are all people I admire (and, full disclosure, I have met three of them - Carolyn Friedlander, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, and Jake Finch, though only Jake has the power to make my life a living hell if I give her book a bad review. BRING IT ON, FINCH!) and what they have submitted here doesn't disappoint.

Besides her incredibly successful Architextures fabric line, Carolyn Friedlander is getting known for her paper-pieced quilt patterns, and her Tiny Textured Trees pattern here is a great, simple pattern for first-time paper-piecers. In fact, the design is so simple, that it could easily be altered slightly for each tree, to give the design some variety. She chose a very light palette for her quilt, but you can really see it working in all kinds of colors and shades.

Another one that I really like is Floating Pyramid, by Audrie Bidwell. There's nothing about it that screams "baby quilt," but at the same time, you can just see a little shmoopie-poo getting some tummy time on it. 

I also like that there's a great variety of techniques in the book as well. Paper-piecing, 60-degree triangles, applique, and even a little embroidery. There's patterns where you don't need to know anything more complicated than half-square triangles, and some where you'll be doing y-seams (and, most likely, shots of tequila).

I haven't yet made one of these quilts, so I can't be sure the instructions are stellar, but just reading over them, they use clear language (like "right sides together," instead of "RST", which drives me batty. I'll be eighty-eight and still going, "Wait. What is RST again?") and lots of clear diagrams. I like it when diagrams are inserted in the run of the instructions, as they are here, and not lumped together on another page, to be referred to as , "See Diagram A."

It's nice to see the leaps into modern quilting patterns that Martingale is taking, and I definitely recommend this one.

Would you like one? Jake, since she has a small truckload in her garage, has kindly offered to give one to one of my faithful readers. Leave a comment, telling me this: if you had a new baby right now (even if you no longer possess egg-producing ovaries or even the desire to pop out a kid), and could name that baby ANYTHING you wanted, with no repercussions from uptight spouses or judgmental relatives, what would it be? You can steal celebrity names, because if I could, I would totally steal Moxie Crimefighter - the best girl name EVER.

I'm going to leave this open all week to give everyone a chance to see it and enter. Comments will close at midnight EST on Friday, July 19. Be sure to leave a way I can reach you if you are the winner!

PLEASE NOTE: If your comment doesn't appear right away, it's because I moderate all comments and I might be busy with the kids, but it will get approved (eventually)!

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