Archive for July, 2008

Liberty and Just Stars for All

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Show and Tell is such a big part of quilting. It is a way to not only share our love of quilting, but it  expands our creative horizons. I just love receiving pictures of projects that people have made using my designs. This quilt, Liberty and Just Stars for All, was made by an internet group for the Salvation Army in Madison, Wisconsin. American Family Insurance was so impressed with this quilt, they made a donation in exchange for the quilt. It is now hanging in the rotunda of their corporate headquarters. The quilt features all 50 stars from my book, 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars.

To read more about this book in my web store, click here
I love the name of this quilt and it is so appropriate given the fact that all 50 stars representing the 50 states are included in this quilt. Congratulations to this group for making such a spectacular quilt for a good cause and thank you for allowing me to share the photo here.
May all your points be perfect,

On the Radio..

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Rosie Gonzales, on the Quilting with Rosie Radio Show. Since this was done over the phone, I don’t have a photo of this interview, but I thought I did have a photo of the last time I was interviewed on the for a radio show. It was several years ago when I traveled to England and attended Quilts UK. I don’t remember what put the events in motion, but I ended up at the BBC radio station being interviewed by a jolly English radio host. I was wearing one of my vests, and he just kept saying, “lovely waistcoat”. When I took the vest off to show him that it was reversible, he got really excited and put out a plea to his listeners to make him a reversible vest. It was lots of fun as you can see from the photo. I’m not sure if one of the lovely English quilters obliged by making him a reversible vest.

But, let me back to the interview with Rosie. The questions begin me explaining paper piecing and the advantages. We then get into how I design the blocks and inspirations for designs. Some of the particulars about paper piecing techniques are covered too. The interview with Rosie runs about 20 minutes and is available online for the next month. You can find it at
May all your points be perfect,

Vest Side Two and the Grande Finale

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

First, I want to thank everyone who sent me such nice encouraging notes re starting my blog. I so appreciate the time you took to write and all your kinds words. Now, on to the second vest side….

With one vest side completed, I was anxious to get the other side completed so I could finish the vest and choose the buttons. You see, I always wait until the vests are done to go into my button box and choose the buttons. While I was in Colorado, there was also a wonderful button vendor and I stocked up on some awesome buttons that I couldn’t wait to use. Sometimes it is the little things, literally, that get us motivated.

 So, off to choose fabrics for the second vest side. I already decided it was going to be black with lots of vivid colors. Perhaps I was going through color withdrawal after working on the shades of gray vest. I had this awesome large scale floral fabric with a black background so it was simple to choose companion fabrics featured in the focus fabric and a variety of textured blacks. The paper-pieced block was going to be a rectangular flower block from the new book. I positioned the fabrics to see how they looked together. Plenty of colors for my taste and perfect for lots of different blouses. It was now time to cut the strips and make the paper-pieced block. 
Once this task was completed, I positioned the block and the strips on the vest front foundation in the way I intended to sew them to play with the possibilities. I wanted more black than floral on the patchwork front so I used thin floral strips and wider black strips. 

This vest side worked up quickly and I was pleased with the results. The brighter fabrics were used at the top of the colorful strip and the darker fabrics at the lower portion. The thin vertical floral strips incorporated this fabric in the patchwork side, but ever so slightly. I used a black tone-on-tone stripe for the back of the vest. I like to use stripes for the vest backs…again, it is that optical looking thin thing again. 
Now I am heading down the homestretch. All that is left to do is join the two sides, flip, press, insert that cute little back elastic, join the side seams, and finally….yes finally, choose the buttons. I chose these really glitzy square silver buttons for the gray side and fairly simple golden buttons that looked woven for the floral side. 
Yes, all is well with the world. Ooooh, I have a trip this week and I can bring my new vest to wear….oh, it would look great with my teal blouse on the floral side or maybe the bright pink or that even the summer green shell….run upstairs and check out the teal blouse, the pink blouse and the green shell and…the gray side would look awesome with a white blouse, light blue blouse or even black. Check out the white and blue blouses. Wow, both sides look great with my black blouse….Yes, that is it, the black blouse! Black is such a great travel color…it doesn’t show any spots.
Until next time, may all your points be perfect,

Carol Doak Teaches You to Paper Piece DVD Intro

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

I thought I would see if I could upload a movie so used the introduction to Carol Doak Teaches You to Paper Piece to give this a try.

Making The First Vest Side

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Yesterday, I worked on my first vest side. I purchased this elegant Japanese silk fabric when I was teaching at Quilt Colorado and couldn’t wait to use it as the inspiration for this vest side. It has shades of grey with this wonderful raised white floral element. Working with such a neutral pallet will make this a very versatile vest to bring along on my teaching trips. It will go with anything! The first step, decide how to position the left vest front pattern on the fabric to take advantage of the best elements and direction of the lines in the fabric. I typically like to use vertical or diagonal lines that go from the center of the vest toward the upper portion of the vest to create the most flattering look.

The second step is to gather a group of fabrics I want to use on the other vest front. I work in shades of color ranging slightly in value and texture. This step can make a mess of my work area as I pull fabrics and audition them. I give myself permission to just toss the rejects on the floor. I’ll deal with those fabrics later. I can’t be creative and neat at the same time.  Arranging them in the way I plan to use them in the vest gives me a good perspective of the final product. In this photo, the vest front, the vest back and a group of fabrics are positioned. When I looked at this photo, I couldn’t help but think that it looked like a black and white photo, but the little bit of green cutting mat shows that it is not. 
Now I am off to decide which paper-pieced block to use. I created several new blocks for the new book so using one of the new blocks was fun. Taking advantage of the perfect points you can achieve with paper piecing was also another consideration when choosing my block design. I chose a block that was simple but had a generic theme that would blend well with my focus fabric. Since the Japanese fabric had white raised elements, I decided on a dark background featuring white fabrics with different textures. I even used the Japanese fabric for the largest ray. The paper-pieced block is positioned on the vest front foundation and pinned in place. I then draw vertical pencil lines down the vest front even with the edges of the block. This is the area where I will place the short strips of fabric. There are two options here about removing the paper. You can carefully remove the paper now, or you can foundation piece around the block and remove the paper in the seam allowances as you piece and slit the back of the foundation to remove the remaining paper. This is a simple block, so I remove the paper now.
With my block complete, I cut the fabric strips for the short segments (here I am looking for a variety of fabrics and textures) and I cut the fabric strips for the long vertical strips used on each side. The vertical strips tend to be a bit more conservative color range, placing the slightly lighter strips toward the front of the vest and the darker strips toward the side of the vest. This gives the illusion that I am thinner than I am…gotta love that! One of the fabrics actually looked almost the same on the front and back, but was slightly lighter on the back. Great opportunity to use both sides of the fabric! Once the strips are cut, I position them on the vest foundation in the order I plan to sew them. The other vest front and the vest back are always in position so I can see how the patchwork side relates to the other vest front.
Once I am happy with the position of my strips, I move the foundation over to the sewing area and begin to foundation piece the strips. The short strips are sewn first and then the vertical strips. When all the strips are sewn to the foundation, I turn it over and trim the strips flush with the foundation. Now I get to stand back and see how the two vest fronts and back look together. I am pleased…….still looks like a black and white photograph. 
Now I am off to go pick fabric for the other vest side. Having worked in such a neutral pallet for this side, I think I might just have color overload. I am going to use black on the other vest side, but add lots of color too. That is one of the really neat aspects of these reversible vests. You can use the same neutral color on both vest sides, but have different color schemes. Vest side two coming up!
All the best,

The Beginning….

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Welcome to my new blog. It has been on my “to do” list to begin a blog, but starting something new is a bit scary and learning the ropes takes time. I’ve decided to just jump in and begin. One of the advantages of a blog is the ability to share up-to-the-minute information and thoughts.
For instance, I just received the September issue of The Quilter Magazine. A little wall quilt that I made, At the Shore, is featured in this issue. It is a beach scene through a window featuring boats, beach umbrellas and a sun. It has been some time since I made this quilt and submitted it, so seeing it again was like visiting with an old friend. As I look at the quilt again, I recall making it in the dead of a snowy New Hampshire winter. I must have been longing for the warm summer sunshine.

I do travel quite a bit, so being home this weekend is a welcome retreat. I purchased some wonderful Japanese silk fabrics from a vendor while teaching at Quilt Colorado a few weeks ago and I am looking forward to working on a new reversible vest. I do love wearing my vests when I travel to teach because they are light weight to pack (everything is about weight these days!) and they make wardrobe decisions really easy. My next book, Easy Reversible Vests – Revised Edition, is expected to be released in September. I have not yet received back all the new vests that I sent into Martingale to be photographed for the book, so I am whipping up a few new ones. When I wrote the original Easy Reversible Vests almost 15 years ago, I made petite size vests……lol….now my vests are size medium. I must have gotten fluffy over the past 15 years. I look forward to sharing my new vest with you in a future posting.
Until next time, may all your points be perfect,