Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strolling Down the Paper Piecing Path with Carol Doak

I became a fan of Carol's when I watched her on The Quilt Show online and saw her dedication to accuracy and simplifying the process. Her book Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars turned my pathetic attempts to piece a quilt into a startling success when I followed her thorough and easy to follow step-by-step directions. For someone whose points never came out pointy or whose seams never aligned Carol's instructions and paper piecing in general seemed miraculous!

I do hope you'll welcome Carol. She has a great sense of humor and unlimited patience. Mega talent, too! I attribute her single handedly with turning me into a happy and content, frustration free 'accurate' quilt maker. -- Dawn

Photo of quilt Scrap Stars mini pattern available on Carol's website. Size 12 1/2 x 12 1/2-inches.  

by Carol Doak

When I embarked down the paper-pieced blocks path 15 years ago, I had no clue this concept would consume me for years and years to come.

I actually wrote about this method of creating patchwork on a paper foundation in a magazine article about that time. I wrote that when you approach what you normally do from a new perspective, you would come up with new ideas. I had no clue I would write 14 books on this subject.

I had no idea this method would become a staple in the quilting community. You only need to pick up the latest magazine and see paper-pieced patterns to confirm this. So why did that happen? Upon reflection, it was actually several paths merging that caught my attention and others' and held it.
First, I am a quilt teacher and being able to teach others how to succeed at perfect patchwork easily was a no-brainer!

Paper piecing is a method, not an acquired skill, so someone who has never created patchwork can succeed with this method. I think the old adage; "Nothing succeeds like success" is the reason people love paper piecing. Once you learn how to do this technique properly, you can always count on a successful completed project. (See 2nd photo from Carol's book of 300 Paper-Pieced Quilt Blocks) 

When people do not learn the proper way to paper piece, they do run into stressful situations like not having cut the correct size fabric piece or they place it incorrectly. With just a bit of time invested to learn how to paper piece, you can count on success every time! When I teach a class, I can have students who have never paper-pieced achieve the same success as those who have because it is a method.

Second, I am a designer. Being able to design innovative and dramatic blocks and quilts featuring this method offers excitement. There are constraints with paper piecing such as the requirement to sew in a sequence covering preceding intersecting seams, but the challenge can also offer creative solutions such as making units and mixing and matching them. Because accuracy is so easily achieved, the designs I can create using this method can be so dramatic. They can possess those long narrow dramatic points with multiple merging seams, but the method to create them is easy! We all love easy! (Photo 3 features a quilt Carol made using blocks from her 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars book)
Third, I am somewhat of an organizer. I love creating an organized sequence for my work as well as my designs. I create cutting lists for the fabric pieces; pre-cut them into strips and then pieces. The pieces are labeled with the location numbers and set on a tray to take to the sewing machine. The blocks are assembly line sewn so the work goes quickly and each step is consistent. I don't like surprises!

Now, when you have a winner, it pays to explore all the options. This wonderful method has taken me from small blocks and quilts like those in Easy Machine Paper Piecing and 300 Paper-Pieced Quilt Blocks. It has taken me to larger blocks like the Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars, Mariner's Compass Stars and 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars. I have even made fun miniatures quilts like those in Easy Paper-Pieced Miniatures and incorporated blocks in vests like those in Easy Reversible Vests. (Photo 4: Royal Medallion Quilt from the Mariner's Compass Stars book featuring the England block)

Now, I don't believe I have reached the end of the path with this fun and accurate technique. I am just looking around the corner to see where it will lead me next.

Check out Carol Doak's website and Yahoo group.

(Last photo: 9 Patch Sampler Quilt featuring some of the state star blocks in Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars.)

4 comments: said...

I have several of the books. I so much want to learn to paper piece. I think I will.. very soon.

Rebekah Crown said...

My second piece ever was actually paper pieced. It truly is a wonderful method to achieve a beautiful result, especially the first time I try a pattern. As someone who has some difficulty getting beautiful points, I find it very helpful. Your quilts are so beautiful and inspiring! I've been tempted to try a mariner's compass quilt for some time and I think you're giving me the right inspiration to try it, after I'm done with my show next week!

Anonymous said...

The second quilt pictured from the top; the sort of there a pattern or book for this quilt? Thank you in advance.

Dawn said...

300 Paper Pieced Quilt Blocks is the book from which the 2nd quilt pictured is taken. The arrangement is up to the maker, but all of the designs are included in the book. Hope that helps!