Finish It with Alex Anderson: 6 Terrific Quilt Projects, How to Choose the Perfect Border, Options for Edges by Alex Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"In some ways, making a quilt is like parenting a child: your best intentions for them may not be the road they choose," begins Alex Anderson's Finish It with Alex Anderson. (Well, OK, it doesn't quite exactly start with that sentence, but the sentences appears within the first couple of paragraphs.) Her premise is that quilts often make their own decisions about how you should finish them, and she does outline some instances in which that happened for her in Finish It. If you're looking for some basic information on border treatments, this is a good resource.
The book begins with a section on basic quilting tools that are specifically relevant to border-making, such as a tape measure (which I don't use for anything else in quiltmaking, frankly). The other tools are pretty standard stuff--"Be sure your machine is in good working condition," "Use a quality cotton thread," and so forth. I don't know that the section was necessary--one would think by the time you got to making borders you already knew you'd need good thread and a working sewing machine. But for some reason all quilt books in the last decade include basic quiltmaking information, like a brand-new quilter might pick up a book on finishing a quilt before she'd ever even started one, and would try to learn how to quilt from it. Perhaps, I suppose. I would have rather seen that page used for something else, such as further discussion on allowing the quilt to talk to you in determining borders. (She started out in such an interesting way but then doesn't come back to that whole line of conversation much.)
Next, however, Finish It then moves to the crux of the matter: "Border Basics." Here there are sections on things to think about in terms of border proportions and other design matters, squaring up the quilt, measuring for borders, cutting and grainline, stitching borders, and border options (butted, mitered, partial-seam, corner squares, pieced borders, self-bordering quilts, and applique and quilted borders), with basic instructions or considerations for each. Good information, well presented.
The next chapter is "Edge-Finishing Basics," including a section about binding: straight-grain vs. bias binding, figuring binding length, double-fold, preparing the quilt for binding, squared corners, mitered corners, methods to end binding, and scalloped-edge binding. This chapter also includes directions for creating folded piping and prairie points.
For some reason, the book then has a couple of pages with "general quiltmaking basics." See my comments above on my thoughts on that in this case. I will say that some of the general quiltmaking basics here do specifically reference borders. And it's only two pages, so it's not overly prominent. But still, I'm just sayin'.
As all Alex Anderson books do, Finish It then uses six projects to give quiltmakers the opportunity to experience different border treatments. "Rail Fence" is a self-bordering quilt (in other words, the blocks themselves become the border by being done with a different color treatment). "Amish Baskets" is a medallion quilt which uses corner blocks in each of the borders: the two narrower inner borders just have a corner square of fabric; the main outer border has corners of basket blocks. Additionally, this quilt also uses piping along the binding edge--an opportunity to play with two techniques. "Unknown Star" has a pieced border of half-square triangles. "Irish Nine-Patch" has a scalloped border (on which Alex used a scrappy pieced bias binding that's quite cute). "Butterfly" has prairie points, and the final project, "Scrappy Triangles,' has a very lovely appliqued border.
There isn't a single Alex Anderson book that I don't like on some level. They're always well written, have easy-to-follow instructions, and they start with the basics and then challenge the reader to move just a little beyond. Finish It offers solid ideas and guidance for several traditional methods for finishing a quilt--it does what it sets out to do very well. In the grand scheme of reference books on border methods, however, this one doesn't stand out for me. It's good, just not great. Finish It with Alex Anderson: 6 Terrific Quilt Projects, How to Choose the Perfect Border, Options for Edges
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