Book Review: Circle Pizzazz

Circle Pizzazz: 12 Vibrant Quilt Projects Easy Curves Endless PossibilitiesCircle Pizzazz: 12 Vibrant Quilt Projects Easy Curves Endless Possibilities by Judy Sisneros

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw quilts made with this design at the San Mateo County Fair. One in particular, a black and white with turquoise beauty, grabbed my attention and inspired me to want to make one. From reading the first few pages, I thought that learning this technique might be better in a class than through a book. Towards the end, I got the idea and feel I could make some blocks using the book as a guide.

The book starts with a short introduction and some information on tools, supplies and fabric. This introduction makes it clear that quiltmakers will be sewing curved seams. Sisneros gets me on her side by admitting that the Winding Paths block is actually, historically, called The Snake Tail block and explains why she changed it for her purposes. I appreciated her honesty and her reasoning.

The project part of the book follows the introduction with making the original Winding Paths block. All the blocks in the book start with this block. Sisneros goes over trimming the block including her Secret of 4 and 6, which is actually a helpful tip that makes sense.

The project section of the book is, first, broken down into numbers of blocks- 12, 20, 36, etc for the original Winding Paths block. In this section, one thing I like is that she gives you the tools to make the quilts (teaching how to make the blocks), but then just shows what is possible when making the quilt. She doesn’t give every step for every quilt and she acknowledges that it is impossible to make an exact duplicate of her quilt. She makes the quiltmaker think a bit and I appreciate her assumption that quiltmakers have brains. Cutting directions and fabric requirements are included for the quilts in the Winding Paths block section.

The information on making the Circle Pizzazz block is a little less clear. I believe, from the images that the maker sews the D-E combination to the A block after it is made. This specific instruction seems to be left out, but makes sense from looking at the photos and the rest of the directions as well as the result.

The making of the Circle Pizzazz block section is, again, followed by a series of projects using this new block. It was a little hard for me to understand where to put fabrics I wanted to show up as a focus or featured fabric. The line drawings made this part easier. This section also has fabric requirements and cutting instructions.

I think that with all that curved piecing, I would want the piecing to stand out more and, thus, would use more contrasting fabrics. Ms. Sisneros’ quilts often have blendy fabrics that obscure the piecing. This might be a good strategy as you get better at the technique, but it is difficult to see the piecing when you are a beginner. There are a number of quilts on Google (type in snake tail quilt) so you can see the original block.

The Circle Pizzazz blocks are followed up with the Interlocking Circle Pizzazz block. This block adds a few more pieces to get a different look. The directions for the block are followed by projects. This book has plenty of illustrations and images, which makes understanding the concepts easier.

The book also includes a section on using the leftover pieces cut away when making the three other blocks. It is a nice idea as some quiltmakers might consider the cutaway pieces waste. I wasn’t particularly enamored with any of the projects shown. Of course, it all depends on the fabric, so YMMV.

I received this book as a gift in eBook form. I was excited because I didn’t have to devote my non-existent shelf space to another book. I started reading the book and also realized I couldn’t make copies of or print out the templates either. I will try a few things and see what works, but I can see this being a problem with the eBook version.

The book includes a gallery of student work. Transparency by Jeanette Pohl is one of my favorites. I like the way the background shows through some parts of the quilt.

The quilt I first saw and liked turns out to be in the gallery. It is by Rose Marie Hackett and called Black, White & Blue By You. The turquoise goes so well with the black and white and the combination really shows off the pattern.

Trails of Confusion by Teresa Williams is also very interesting, because of how the center pattern continues, partially, out into the border.

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