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The Marriage of Quilt Books and CDs

A Quilter’s Life in Patchwork
By Pam Bono Designs, with June Tailor
Published 2000, 144 pages plus CD ROM
For Windows and Macintosh
Retail $49.99

We like quilting books with CD-ROMs included. We think that’s an inexpensive and nifty way to enrich the content of the books without turning them into the Sears catalogue. And with the power of today’s computers and the sophistication of multi-media, adding mini-videos, animations, and other digital goodies is much easier than it has ever been.

Book publishers don’t all agree, however, as we found out at the recent Quilt Market in Houston. Since not all quilters are computerized (according to the latest statistics from Quilts International, about 70% are), the publishers get complaints from the minority that they don’t want to pay for a CD they can’t use. In other cases, the publishers perceive that the CD competes with the book, particularly in cases like Carol Doak’s foundation piecing books, which theoretically compete with their digital counterparts in the Foundation Factory series. So the book/CD is not always a happy marriage. They argue a lot about money.

Nevertheless, more publishers are experimenting with this combination, and the products that are emerging are wonderful rich resources for computer quilters. Pam Bono’s A Quilter’s Life in Patchwork, published in cooperation with June Tailor, is the latest in this genre. It is a high quality 144-page quilting book, complete with patterns and instructions, featuring the charming primitive quilt designs of Pam Bono. Fifteen major projects are included, from whimsical children’s quilts to beautiful botanical and wedding ring quilts. All of these quilts are presented in full color, and even the patterns and templates for them are printed in color. There are copious instructions and very detailed construction diagrams for each block and each quilt. Difficulty ranges from beginner to fairly advanced, and some of the quilts are truly stunning, such as the "Quilts from My Garden" botanical quilt featuring six beautifully rendered flowers, complete with labels. The “Denim and Daisies “quilt is another favorite. The “Colorado Wedding” quilt is variant on the wedding ring that is done entirely without curved seams. It’s quite ingenious.

 The book alone is enough to keep you up to your waist in projects for a year, but the CD adds an additional 100+ complementary projects, such as small pillows and table runners, that use the same themes and materials as the quilts. There are also patterns for gift tags, stationery, quilt labels and envelope decorations. These projects include printable patterns in Adobe Acrobat files (free Acrobat Reader 4 required). These projects can also be rendered in a variety of different pre-selected colorways, as well as in colors of your own selection. Virtual fabric is not included, but the “Color Picker” gives you a pretty good idea of what things look like by allowing you to color individual patches.

 Also found on the CD are a dozen or so instructional videos showing various techniques associated with the quilts. The patterns on the CD are cross-referenced to these videos, but unfortunately not linked directly to them out of the Acrobat file. They can be accessed from the front screen of the CD. Both Pam Bono and June Tailor have products to sell, so they can be forgiven if some of these videos are demos using their proprietary  sewing machine accessories or special fusible backing called “Quilt Top Express.”  In fact, one of these products, June Tailor’s “Colorfast Printer Fabric Sheets,” is an added bonus included with the book. These sheets are actual fine cotton fabric already fused to a paper backing, which can be run directly through an ink-jet printer or color copier. The nice thing about them is that they are colorfast, and don’t require treatment with messy chemicals such as Bubble Jet Set to keep the ink from running. All they need is a rinse with cold water. Three sheets of this breakthrough invention are attached to the inside back cover of the book for you to experiment with.

My only quibble with this book is that the author and editors should have done something about the liberal sprinkling of inappropriate apostrophes and other minor punctuation errors that mar the text throughout. The plural of quilter is not quilter’s – which is something the most perfunctory proofreading should have caught.

 This is a fun, entertaining, and informative book, chock full of wonderful projects small and large. It is a great source of inspiration for adults and children alike, and will provide hours of enjoyment. At $49.99 it is a little pricey, but you can get it at Planet Patchwork for a significant discount.



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