Modern Quilts Illustrated is a new magazine from Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, owners of the Modern Quilt Studio, and the dynamic duo of the modern quilt movement. It is available from them in single copies of
$15 (correction) $14 which includes mailing, or in a subscription of three issues a year for $30.
Thus far, I’ve received two issues, and they are really a feast for the eyes. “Illustrated” in the title is no teaser here: the issues are full of wonderful drawings and photos that illustrate every aspect that the accompanying words describe. Both issues have three quilt patterns apiece (two pieced and one appliqued), a welcome letter that frames the concept for the issue, a Cutting Table section of info and tip snippets, a delightful travel-themed color palette discussion, and a last page that thoughtfully answers a reader’s question in some depth. Also – no advertising. The writing style is refreshingly devoid of the excess of exclamation marks that would indicate a lightweight product – instead, it is sophisticated and accessible, delivering a lot of information without being overwhelming. It’s very much like having a private lesson from a pair of pretty cool teachers.
It is obvious from the writing that Weeks and Bill really care about teaching. Each pattern starts with a discussion of the design and how to approach it in more than one color idea, which from my teaching experience is the anxiety point for many, many quilters, especially our up-and-comers. The quilt is shown made in one color way (available as a kit too) and then illustrated in three more. The cutting and construction techniques are clearly described AND illustrated, with the obvious understanding that both methods will speak to most learning styles. While I’m a fan of the gorgeous lifestyle photography, I find that the now ubiquitous “quilt on a chair” shot leaves me frustrated at not being able to see enough of the fabric in action (and this is my only grumble, and small one at that). The additional illustrations take care of helping me see the overall design, but I find myself wishing for a full frontal of the quilt, even if it is done as a small inset. (Update – my desired full frontal is in the table of contents!)
And so to the designs – they are sweet, clear and modern. They can look good in simple solids, or take advantage of the large scale prints that are beginning to fill our quilt shops. Best of all, they are presented in combinations from different fabric lines, which in my opinion ups the visual interest and complexity. Yes, lines are designed to work well with each other, but sometimes using just the line can leave things looking a little too “done”in a Martha-matchy-matchy kind of way.
At this point I have to confess that I’m a design and font junkie. Had I known I could have been a font designer in my teens I would have gone there in a heartbeat and never looked back – but I didn’t know and so have had different adventures instead, and incidentally, many of them font related! And so, I must gush a little more about the design here. Bad design sticks out like a sore thumb, but good design doesn’t always shout. It just works. It delivers its content in a way that eliminates frustrated leapfrogging about the page. It visualizes its words. It adds personality to its content, and strengthens its concept – without getting in the way. Good design is no small feat when there is a lot of information to deliver in a prescribed area of space. And the design of these mags is GOOD.
And lastly, a few words about value. With three or four patterns each in them, these magazines are a good deal. Even at the single issue price, it means each pattern is $5, a veritable bargain in a field of patterns that are beginning to head north of $10. There is no advertising at all which is refreshing as I’m sure, like me, you are getting your RDA of it (and then some) elsewhere. It is printed on a lovely heavy stock that makes it a keeper, not to mention resilient to being handled at your cutting table. Is it one of those pattern mags that delivers 40 patterns for $15? Not even close, but I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that most of those patterns are pretty unsophisticated… the pictures are pretty but you end up having to rewrite the dang things to make anything of decent quality. No, Modern Quilts Illustrated is something far above and beyond. And well worth your investment.