Thursday, November 7, 2013—A Review

Every once in a while, I get an email from some entity proposing that I put something on the blog, and usually it has nothing to do with anything remotely related to quilting. And, sadly, it's never anything fun, either. I keep hoping some company will want to do, like, a vibrator giveaway, or a complete set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer character underpants, but all they usually offer is a link to a drug rehab center or a coupon for vitamins.

But then I got a request from Fons and Porter to review their new DailyCraftTV site, one which is clearly trying to compete with Craftsy. And I was interested in this, because I was genuinely curious as to what approach they would take. Would it be pretty much a copy of the Craftsy paradigm, or something different? What sorts of instructors would they have? And, for me, the big question was, would any of the offerings appeal to the "modern" (and I use that term loosely) slash contemporary quilter with which I semi-identify?

I was given one free class of my choice, and I went with one called Fresh Quilting Ideas & Design Techniques. Since I am trying my hand at quilt design, I hoped this might have something worthwhile for me. It was very difficult to tell from the class description whether it would, so I just kind of had to take the leap.

As with many of the classes, but not all, this one was about an hour and a half of small segments, each from a different teacher/presenter. One thing that I was disappointed by right off the bat was that there was no easy way to access the different segments. They are all part of one long video, and the best you can do is kind of scan through and try to guess where one segment might end and another begin. This is made even more frustrating by the way they have the segments listed on the page—each one has a little bullet that looks like a symbol for "play" so you are encouraged to click it in vain.

The videos themselves are well-produced, but start without much introduction. Normally, I'm not a big fan of padding, but in this case, an intro could have tied all these disparate pieces together and given them some coherence. Without it, you come to quickly realize that you've been given a bunch of little lessons that are only vaguely related.

The first lesson is Positive-Negative Applique with Angie Hodapp, who used to be the editor of Quilter's Newsletter. (True story - I might have become a columnist there instead of Quilter's Home if the shakeup at QH hadn't resulted in Jake and Melissa becoming the editors.) She demonstrates a technique where you can applique a motif on one side of a quilt, and then do the same motif in the opposite colors on the other side to make a reversible quilt.

The second lesson is about machine quilting with variegated threads, the basic thrust being that you can match your free motion design to use the different colors in the thread, so maybe you have green "vines" and pink flowers or what have you.

Third lesson: this was something about chopping up vintage hankies and then overlapping them and then.... Oh, okay; I didn't make it all the way through that one. This was part of my concern about the appeal—had I fully understood the vintage hankie thing, I might have chosen something else. I do believe that there are lessons that can be learned in many things, even if the style isn't exactly to your taste. But I just couldn't get past the cutesy pepto pink on this one.

I won't go into every lesson, but suffice to say, I wasn't crawling towards my wallet to try another one. I was kind of entertained by these two:

This was the segment called Every Quilt Has Two Sides, and is basically about irons and ironing and the gimmick is that they don't agree on everything! (cue the screeching Psycho violins) Oh, the lost opportunities here! Naturally, I think there should have been bitch slapping and , "Jane, you ignorant slut"-type insults, but all I got was a wee bit of very subtle eye rolling.

The segment did have some good information, if you have never purchased an iron or pressed anything in your quilting ever, but it didn't seem like a good fit for the other segments, since it had nothing to do with design.

I think the best segment was the very last one, which had to do with a specific tool. The Add-Enough ruler is for paper piecers who have a hard time with cutting fabric to the right size. I'm always trying to streamline my cutting, but I usually just end up cutting off a huge chunk and wasting a bunch of fabric. The ruler shown here doesn't get you down to the point of cutting every piece the precise shape needed with exact seam allowances, but it does give you a way to cut that hunk in just the right dimension so it's not too big and not too small. So, that was cool, but it does mean I have to go out and buy something, which is not that cool. But again - design technique? Fresh quilting idea? Not exactly.

I wanted to like DailyCraftTV, because their price points are WAY lower than Craftsy's but I just wasn't thrilled. Now, granted, I only got access to one class and there are a lot of others, and not all of them are multi-topic like this one. Also, the instruction quality in each class was good. I did learn a lot about sewing with metals, plus the teacher for that segment, Heather Thomas, has AWESOME hair:

I'm a sucker for a short-n-spiky 'do. But I think the problem was mainly that I'm just the wrong quilter for this venue. The style of a lot of the quilts shown simply weren't the kind that get my blood pumping, and that, combined with a mish-mash of topics, none of them covered in depth, sadly means that I probably won't be back. I may, however, take a closer look at the knitting classes, since I am only a dabbler in that particular craft and small-topic videos might be just the thing for me.

I do think, however, that there are a LOT of quilters out there who would love these. Many people don't want to make a major investment in a long class, and the style of these quilts appeals to the majority of quilters out there. And that's a perfectly valid lifestyle choice. And you just can't beat the prices, so it's worth it to at least give one or two a try and see if they work for you. And if anybody wants to film a class with me where we throw things and call each other douchenozzles, step right up.

If you've done DailyCraftTV and loved it (or hated it or just felt meh about it), let me know. You ignorant douchenozzle.

(And don't forget - signed copies of my book are available for pre-order!!)

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