Thursday, October 27, 2005

Book Review: The Ultimate Big Book of Finishing

As you know, I have a bajillion projects that need to be finished. Not all of the projects are worth framing, even if I could afford that. To remedy this, I have taken classes in making a no sew stand up box (with Lois of Elegant Stitch) and flat fold and a sewn cube (with Mona of The Silver Needle). I've also successfully followed the pattern Samplers and Such included with their Altoid tin projects. Still, I was intrigued when I read about the Ultimate Big Book of Finishing on the blogs, and was very excited to get it in my hot little hands.

The UBB covers finishing stitched projects into a bag, bell-pull, stand up box, box top, Christmas stocking, flat fold, hooded towel, name tag, needlebook, needle roll, flat ornie, odd-shaped ornie, pillow ornie, edge-tucked pillow, flanged pillow, gathered front pillow, ruffled edge pillow, and stand up pillow (sort of a box pillow), pin cushion, scissor fob, tin cover, and wall hanging. It also demonstrates mounting needlework. Phew. You'd think I'd be in love with the book.

But I'm not.

For starters, I'm horrible at math. With Lois's class, for example, she gave us equations to figure out the dimensions if we wanted to use the technique on other projects. And with those directions, I have been able to create different sized pieces. Over and over again, the UBB tells us to "change the dimensions to accommodate your piece" and "adjust the measurements." That's nice. How? Isn't that what I paid good money to be told?

I also think that some of these directions are ass-backwards, like for the tin top where she has you glue three sides then stuff it before gluing the fourth. That seems so awkward. Why not put the stitched piece on cardboard with batting, and then glue it to the tin? The directions from Samplers and Such were much better, give professional-looking results, and come free with your pattern.

The flat folds in UBB are two rectangles held together at the top by ribbons. In Mona's class, which someone claims was ripped off from Judy Odell of the incredibly expensive "Just a Thought" series, the easel and stitched piece are one unit. And I know how to make it with glue instead of having to sew all the damned time. I'm just against sewing, you see. Unless I have amazing directions.

I have a hard time picturing written instructions, so I had my cousin, whose current sewing project is a Snow White costume for her daughter (with lined sleeves!) and who has made "hundreds" of ruffled pillows, look over the ruffled pillow instructions. Her verdict is that the directions are very poorly written. "If you have sewing experience, you can figure it out, but it's not very detailed." Trust me, I'm pretty sure I can't figure it out.

The information in this book was originally published on the internet. And it shows. While the book is loaded with photos to guide you, they are web-quality pictures. Web-quality is not the same as print-quality. The pictures are pixelated and fuzzy.

And, by now you know how intolerant I am of poor writing mechanics. The book is rife--now I know rife for me is passable to others--with grammatical errors, typos, and poor punctuation choices.

The book does contain many Truswell patterns that are now out of print. And I got a free pattern--one of the dancing ribbon princesses--for ordering. Still the book costs $25 for comb-bound xeroxes. It is cheaper than Judy Odell's "Just a Thought" series, but I think we may be able to do better.


Monsoon said...

hmm. I was going to add the book to my christmas list....but now I may have to reconsider

Lee said...

Well Anna, you posted that you had already bought the UBB, so I didn't say anything last Friday, but I'll tell you what - I was sorely disappointed in this book, too. My first thought was: I paid $25 for THIS? Fuzzy photos in a "book" bound by the nearest Staples? It's ok, but certainly not worth the $$$. Oh well. Live and Learn.

About my last blog post - it must be my mood lately. Anymore, whining gets under my skin, and the recent SBQ seemed whiny. I guess I came out and sledgehammered it!

Barbara said...

Thanks for the frank opinion on this book. I had been going to buy it, and bite the cost of overseas shipping, but now I will wait until something better (but not as expensive as the O'Dell booklets) comes out.