Lynn and I were at Paducah at the AQS Show in April of 2000, we stopped and
talked to Penny McMorris and Dean Neumann of The Electric Quilt Company
about their upcoming products. At that time, Dean told me that he
thought quilt software was about to go in a whole new direction. Rather
than large new collections of foundation piecing patterns on disk, or
major improvements in stand-alone programs like Electric
Quilt, Dean said that he thought that future software innovations
would be oriented more toward specific projects and designs, with
simplified tools for customizing those designs. He thought this would
constitute a major departure for the industry, and was enthusiastic
about EQ's own first entry into the market, a "Magic Book(tm)"
with accompanying CD, based on Robyn Pandolph's Stitched with Love, which was in development at that time.
Knowing how much users of Electric Quilt love their bells
and whistles, and how they're always pressing Dean and the company to add
new stuff to an already incredibly powerful program, I was frankly
skeptical as to whether this new type of product would catch on. Now
that I have a copy of Stitched With Love in hand, my doubts have been
Robyn Pandolph is a designer of folk art style appliqué
quilts of great charm and beauty, but the book is far more than a
collection of quilt designs. Robyn's style of primitive and
whimsical, but never "cutesy" art, is at the center of an
entire approach to interior design. With these distinctive textiles as the
centerpieces, clothing, furniture, accessories, indeed whole rooms come
under her magic spell. Robyn shares her techniques for folk art painting,
pre-distressing furniture, overdying fabric, holiday decorating (including
the making of Victorian salt icicles for your Christmas tree) and a
variety of "tea-time" recipes. Patterns include not only quilts
but pillows, table-runners, sweatshirts, fabric finch ornaments, and framed
The photography and printing throughout this book are of
the very highest quality, and as you leaf through the pages you are
inspired with a rich profusion of images and ideas that flow gracefully
through the book's metaphor of the recurring cycle of family life -- from
babies to children to adults who begin the cycle again with children of
The CD accompanying the book is far more than simply an
electronic version of the book. Powered by Electric Quilt technology, the
CD offers design modules based on the major projects in the book, along
with technique videos on Robyn's needle-turn appliqué technique. The appliqué
lessons are brief and sharply focused on specific techniques and problems.
Robyn herself is the teacher, and the camerawork is very good, allowing
you to see clearly what she is doing with her needle. There are twelve
mini-videos in all.
In addition to the videos, each of the quilt designs in
the book is available onscreen for the user to modify in limited ways.
Choices include changing the size of the quilt (some, but not all lend
themselves to this), changing the borders, changing the quilt blocks, and
changing the fabric/color selections. The palette of fabrics available in
the program is from Robyn's own lines of Moda fabrics, including favorites
"Folk Art Wedding" and "Hannah's Garden." The program
allows you to modify individual patches in the quilt, or to
"swap" all of the same fabrics throughout a quilt for another
fabric. At the end of the guided design process, you can print out the
quilt and templates for your design. Quality of the printed quilt is
excellent, even with complex fabrics and a black and white printer.
For those Electric Quilt fanatics, who want to take these
designs and do more with them than is available in the guided design on
the CD, the projects are also provided as Electric Quilt project (.pj4)
files which are copied to your hard drive when you install the program.
You can open them in EQ 4 and apply the whole gamut of fabric, border, and
other choices to them, and even redraw the blocks if you wish.
Despite my initial skepticism about the concept, I can't
say enough good things about this wonderful book and CD combination. It
takes the growing trend of quilt books accompanied by CDs to a new level
of excellence, and the price is extremely reasonable. This would make a
fine gift for any quilter or a treat for yourself as you begin to think
about decorating for the holidays.
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