Sydney, Australia – Simply the Best!!!!

August 15th, 2012

After leaving the Quilting in the Highlands, Sherry and I headed to Sydney for a week of fun!

Sherry, my best friend, accompanied me on this trip. Just to give you a bit of background, Sherry and I attended our very first quilting class together some 30 years ago. I was so pleased that she agreed to come and now we were off to play together for an entire week in one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Tamsin drove us to Sydney and then out to visit Bondi Beach. It was a very breezy day at the beach. The size of the waves were mind boggling. They were so powerful, there were no surfers! This is a man walking along the shore so you can see the proportion of the waves coming in! We had a wonderful fish and chips lunch in a beach cafe.

Next we checked into our hotel which was located about two blocks from the Opera House and Circular Quay by the harbor. The Harbor bridge is amazing and one of the sightseeing options was to walk to the top of the bridge.

We thought about it and after seeing people doing it, we easily decided not to enjoy this opportunity!

We did hop a Ferry to Manly Beach. It was about a 30 minute ride and fun to see Sydney from the Ferry. Lots of fun shops and again another lovely beach.

We relaxed at a beach side cafe for lunch and watched the surfers ride the waves.

Next we were off to tour the Opera House. You simply can not stand there and look at this building without getting the goose bumps. We took a tour of the Opera House and learned about its history. That was really fascinating. We then had coffee and a brownie looking over the harbor. Are you catching this resting and eating trend?

The Queen Elizabeth Building was next on our agenda. It is a spectacular building with these amazing clocks that chimed on the hour and half hour.

The decor and stained glass windows were breath taking.

The shops were varied and of course there were Pastry shops. The Australians do pastry very well.

Sherry and I were doing our best to become part of the culture, so of course we had to take a morning tea break with a yummy Tea.

Hyde Park was next. The beautiful fountains, trees and people enjoying the park and the beautiful day were a bonus. Do you see the rainbow in this photo over the fountain? That symbolizes how are week in Sydney was going. The weather was sunny and gorgeous every day.

At the end of Hyde Park stands the majestic Anzac Memorial. It is the principal memorial to Australians who have served their country in the armed forces during wartime.

Sherry and I were both very moved by the tributes in this building. It was done with reverence to so many who lost their lives. The ceiling of the dome has 120,000 gold stars honoring the men and woman from New South Wales who enlisted during World War One. Because this building was under construction during the depression, stars were sold for 20 cents each to help complete the building. It is not known why the density increases at the top of the dome.

Another highlight to our trip was a trip out to the Blue Mountains. They appear to have a blue haze because of the mist that rises off the Gum trees. The vistas were amazing and waterfalls and a walk through the valley floor completed our experience.

Sherry is looking out over Echo Point with the Three Sisters in the background.

Next we were off to the Wildlife Park where we had the opportunity to meet all the interesting Australian wildlife up close and personal.

Although we had been by it, Sherry and I had not yet had the chance to walk through the Botanical Gardens. It is right along the harbor and the flowers, plants and trees are amazing. We stopped for some delicious pumpkin soup at the cafe.

On our last day, we took the Ferry over to Darling Harbor. There was lots to see there such as this lovely water feature.

This spiral water step was mesmerizing. We enjoyed walking around and see the sights and no worries…we stopped for an afternoon tea.

I have shown you pictures of lots of the sightseeing we did in the Sydney area, however the one thing that I have not shared with you yet is what I loved most about my visit to Australia…..the people. Without question, every person we met was warm, friendly and enjoyed chatting. We were typically asked where we were from and how long would be visiting from just about everyone we met. People on the street would offer assistance if we looked confused. Tamsin went above and beyond to share with us her country and made us feel so welcome. We came home feeling blessed to have experienced this trip and even more blessed to have met so many wonderful people and new friends. Sherry and I send many thank yous to Tamsin, Sue, my students and each and every Australian we met along our journey who made us feel so welcome.

All the best,


Quilting in the Highlands of Australia

August 14th, 2012

It all started with an email from Tamsin Harvey, co-owner of Berrima Patchwork in Berrima, Australia asking if I would agree to be one of their teachers at  a conference they were hosting this August. Here is the irony…..about 19 years ago, I traveled to teach in Australia for about 3 weeks and one of the places I taught at was Berrima Patchwork. The shop was under different ownership at the time and Tamsin didn’t know that I had taught there.

Quilting in the Highlands was held at a lovely center in Mittagong, which is about an hour and a half south of Sydney. I traveled the farthest from NH to Dallas to Brisbane to Sydney and then Mittagong. I left home about noon on Tuesday and arrived around noon on Thursday. We lost 24 hours crossing the international dateline, but it was a long trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The other faculty members were Leesa Chandler (fabric designer and shop owner from Victoria, Australia), Michelle Hill (author and fabric designer from Adelaide, South Australia), Sue Dennis (designer from Queensland) and Melinda Bula (author and designer from California). We all arrived a day early to get our sea legs under us and bonded instantly.

On Friday we played in Berrima where we had the opportunity to visit the shops and also take a tour of the old Courthouse and learn a bit about the history of this charming town.

The first day of classes I taught the Diamond Delight class featuring the Australia block from the Mariner’s Compass Stars book. The students were fabulous and took to paper piecing quickly!

As the blocks were being completed, the color combinations were so varied and fabulous I had the students place their completed blocks on the floor so we could all oooh and ahh…

Once the center blocks were completed, the class continued to make the remaining blocks for the quilt. Some even finished their tops!!! Here is a picture of lots of happy students and a very happy teacher.

I so enjoyed spending two days with the students and was sad to see most move on to their next class. A handful stayed on for the second class.

The second class that I taught was the Bright Stars quilt from the Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars book. The top above was Pam’s version of the quilt.

Everyone started to get excited when they could see their blocks come together! It was great fun to see the variety of fabric combinations.

Here is another gorgeous block made by Sue.


Christine was pretty much on her way to a completed top by the second day. She sent along a photo of her completed top. Don’t you just love that border????

Each night there was a fun dinner event and lots of door prizes given away! Someone even won a Bernina Sewing Machine!!! The last evening, we were out to eat a delicious Italian meal and more prizes were given. It was clear that this first year of Quilting in the Highlands was a huge success.

Tamsin and her mom, Sue, were such wonderful hostesses and all of their efforts were so appreciated by everyone! Where else could you find kangaroos in the wild, morning tea breaks, fabulous fun quilters, world class instructors, a super venue, door prizes, great meals and fun, fun and more fun?  I do believe that the quilters who came this year will be back for more fun next year and I expect they will bring their friends. I feel so fortunate to have been one of the teachers at the first Quilting in the Highlands and expect this venue will become one of Australia’s premier events.

If you want to read more about next year’s plans, here is a link to Berrima Patchwork web site.

Thank you Sue and Tamsin for a wonderful event and your friendships,



Wow, it has been a really busy week….

June 3rd, 2012

The Carol Doak Yahoo Group reached 8,000 members so I created the 8,000 Member Celebration Block shown below.

Then we celebrated our 6 Year Anniversary, so I created the 6 Year Anniversary Celebration block shown below.

Both of these blocks were tested and made by Nansi who did a fabulous job. I was able to play with a mock up of the two blocks to create the sample combination quilt above.

And just so our members weren’t bored, I also uploaded the new June BOM for our new Mystery Quilt.

This should keep our 8,000 members hopping for a bit…

All the best,


Let the Fun Begin!!!

May 14th, 2012

This is short and sweet! I just uploaded the fabric requirements for the BRANDY NEW 2012 BOM MYSTERY to the Carol Doak Quilting Group. This one is geared for beginners so if you want to play and learn at the same time, hop on over to the group and join in the fun.

I’ll see you there!


New Mystery Block of the Month Starting Soon!!!!

May 10th, 2012
  • Looking for a fun new project that is FREE?
  • Have thought about joining the nearly 8,000 members of the Carol Doak Quilting Grroup?
  • Like making things a little at a time?
  • Want to learn to paper piece a variety of blocks?
  • Like Block of the Months?
  • Like Mystery Quilts?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, now would be the time to hop over to the Carol Doak Quilting Group and join up. I will begin this brand new project very soon. Invite your friends! The more the merrier. Here is a link to the group.

I’ll see you there.

All the best,



Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars

April 17th, 2012

I am often asked the what would be a good book to purchase in order to learn the beginning steps for paper foundation piecing. Although all of my books contain instructions on how to paper piece, Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars is a super place to start. I have even put together a Starter Kit in my web store that includes this book, a package of foundation paper and the Add-A-Quarter ruler. With these three items, a new paper piecer is on their way.

The blocks in the book are comprised of point units, center units and corner units. Mix and matching these units make up the 9-Patch Stars and more. The book comes with the Foundation Factory program, so it is just a matter of selecting the unit you would like to print, the size of the unit and how many and hitting “print” to create your foundations.

The units themselves are very simple with few pieces so they are quick and easy to create. Even though they are quick and easy to create, the star blocks they create are striking.

Above are three of the Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars representing Alaska, Georgia and Kentucky. There are actually 50 of these blocks, each representing one of the US States.

There are 9 quilts in the book, each made up from the units in the book. The quilt above is called Star Crossed and is made up using just two different foundations–a point unit and a corner unit.

The corner units create a wonderful lattice connecting the star blocks.

Ok, so just in case you think the possibility of 2500 star combinations and endless quilt options is too confining, consider this. You can take those units and enlarge them, reduce them and distort them offering even more options. The Storm at Sea pattern above was made using two simple center units.

A book that teaches you to paper piece, keeps you in blocks, and offers amazing creative options is a super way to start to paper piece and continue to paper piece for years to come.

All the best,



Spring Fling Challenge

April 11th, 2012

It must be the weather and the explosion of spring colors beginning to show themselves, that has caused me to get into the swing of Spring. So, this morning I designed this darling 3″ nosegay block offering the opportunity to feature lots of Spring colors. I uploaded the “Spring Fling” foundations and cutting directions in the Free Patterns Section of my web page.

The Challenge is:

1. Make the block

2. Upload a picture on my Facebook page by April 18. That gives you a week to make a block that should take you about 15 minutes.

3. The prize….From all those that upload their picture by April 18, on April 19th I will draw a random winner. And the winner will win 4 yards of spring colored fabrics from my out-of-print fabric collections.

You are welcome to share the fun with your friends…the more the merrier!

Have fun,


Paper Piecing the Carol Doak Way (Easy Way)

April 4th, 2012

Recently I have run across several tutorials on the web explaining how to paper piece. Athough they are well meaning, gosh, they often make it more difficult than it is. So, I was always taught, don’t complain, make it better. Therefore, I decided to create my only online tutorial and here it is. Enjoy, Carol


Carol Doak Foundation Paper-Perfect for paper piecing because it is easy to use, will not loosen the stitches when removed, eases when joining blocks and easy to remove.

Flat Headed Pins

Add-A-Quarter Ruler attached to a postcard with the 1/4″ edge over the edge of the postcard. Place the ruler on the right side for right-handed cutting and left side for left-handed cutting.

Binder Flag Clips labeled #1-7 to number your fabric pieces

Styrofoam meat/fruit tray to transport your pre-cut fabric pieces

Size 90/14 needle

Iron set on cotton setting, no steam.

Rotary Cutter and rotary mat


1. Select your foundation and print on Carol Doak Foundation Paper. I am going to use “Introduction to Paper Piecing” offered in the Free Patterns section of my web page. Please note that for the purpose of showing how this is done, I will use vellum in the photos below so you can see through the foundation.

2. Print one of page 1 for your cutting list on copy paper.

3. Print two of page 2 on Carol Doak Foundation paper to make four foundations. I will demonstrate making one block.

4. Using your rotary cutter and ruler, trim the foundations 1/2″ from the outside solid line.


1. Using the cutting list provided on page 1, cut and label your fabric pieces. It is easiest to cut a strip the smaller measurement and then cut the lengths. For instance, the first item on the list is 8 pieces, each 2 1/2″ x 5″ and they are used for location number 6 and 7.

Cut a strip 2 1/2″ wide and then cut the 8 pieces each 5″ long from the strip.

2. Clip your #6 and #7 Binder Flag to this group of fabric.

3. Cut the remaining pieces in the list in the same way and place them on a Styrofoam meat/fruit tray.

 Sewing Machine

Set up your sewing machine with a neutral color thread, a 90/14 needle and 18 to 20 stitches to the inch. That is about a 1.5 on a sewing machine that has a range of 0-5.

 Step-By-Step Paper Piecing — Trim, Sew, Press

1. Select the #1 fabric piece and position it RIGHT SIDE UP on the BLANK side of the paper over the #1 area. Be sure that it covers the area completely with at least 1/4″ all around the #1 area.


2. Place the postcard on the line between #1 and #2. Fold the paper over the edge of the postcard exposing the excess fabric beyond the #1 seam line.


3. Place the Add-A-Quarter ruler along the edge of the fold and trim away the excess fabric.


4. Place the #2 fabric right side up over the area it needs to fill to ball park placement, then right side together with the previous piece along the just trimmed line.


5. Confirm that the ends of the #2 piece will cover the #2 area.

6. Pin in place.

7. Place with the lined side up under the presser foot and sew on the line, extending the stitches 1/2″ on each end. Remove and press the #2 piece open.


8. Now, using the #3 line, follow the same sequence of trimming, sewing  and pressing as described in steps 2 through 7. Remember when you extended the stitching on each end of the line? Well, when you place the postcard along the #3 line, you will need to pull away the stitching from the paper at the pointed end to fold over the card. That is fine. However, the fabric pieces will still be stitched in the seam allowance area and that cuts down on bulk in these areas.

9. Once the #7 piece has been sewn the block is trimmed 1/4″ from the outside sewing line.


And here is your awesome block all finished with those perfect points. To make the 8″ block featuring a 4-block rotation, simply make three more blocks assembly-line fashion and join them.

For lots of tips and tricks about paper foundation piecing (measuring your fabric pieces, joining blocks, speed methods etc.), I would suggest any of my paper piecing books and/or DVD, Carol Doak Teaches You to Paper Piece.

I hope these instructions will encourage you to give paper piecing a go and if you are already paper piecing, I hope they add to your enjoyment of this fun method.


©Carol Doak 2012

What Happens on a Quilting Cruise Stays on the Quilting Cruise….Not!- Part 1

March 13th, 2012

I have just returned from an absolutely fabulous cruise aboard the amazing Royal Caribbean Alure Ship. There I was, with lots of old quilting friends and new quilting friends for a fabulous 7 days aboard the largest ship in the world. Here Debby Luttrell and I are having just met up in the Promenade getting ready to go ashore in Nassau. There are 5,000 passengers on this ship. Where are they?

It was a beautiful day in port. The sun was shinning and the little shops were open and ready for business.

My friend Rhonda found the perfect colorful little frock. Doesn’t she look happy!

You really don’t appreciate just how big this ship is until you get off in port. Man, you could put one of the other ships inside this ship. Everyone walking back to the ship after a beautiful day.

Back aboard ship we all went about the task of making new friends.

Once the ship sailed out of port, the fun continued in the Casino….doesn’t everyone look happy?

Now it was time to head off to our private dining room with the rest of the group to have diner.

Something new on this trip was the option to table hop each night so we could have dinner with different quilters.

After dinner, time to play with friends…so many options and so little time…shows, plays, music and the list went on and on. Here a group of us met up on the Boardwalk. Over 5,000 passengers and we kept running into our friends.

Oooooh, I am not done….move on to read Part 2!

What Happens on a Quilting Cruise Stays on the Quilting Cruise….Not!- Part 2

March 13th, 2012

After the ship left Nassau, it was time to start our first day of three classes. Here a happy student is showing off her first fish from the row I designed for the cruise.

It was fun having students from the Carol Doak Yahoo Group aboard. Here is Cathy hiding in the bushes in Central Park.

Gail Garber taught the top row of the quilt and Eileen Sullivan taught the bottom row of the quilt.

This is a picture of the project for the cruise. Debby made it really easy by kitting the project and supplying Bernina Sewing Machines. Two cruisers actually won this quilt and the one Debby had made.

Time for dinner again and the special dessert that Debby really likes ….umm…is she really eating three of them??

Don’t they say “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”? Well, I introduced Debby and Rhonda to my favorite jewelry store in St Thomas, Imperial Jewelers and we got into just a bit of trouble…..

Speaking of trouble, next port is St Maarten. Gail, Rhonda and I signed up for the America’s Cup races. it was a beautiful day and we learned to sail.

The captain said he could not have won the first leg of the race without the help he got from Gail, Rhonda and I.

Gail is smiling because we haven’t fallen overboard yet.

It was time to head back to the ship and play with our friends in our group. We could always find them when they wore our special Stitchin Heaven Travel T-Shirt. Here Debby and Clay (her son in charge of travel) are hanging out on a gorgeous car in the Promenade.

Two more days of fun classes. The students stayed in each of three rooms and the teachers moved to the next room each day. I see fish swimming there.

Besides all the amazing shows going on each evening, there are also special events that occur. This was 70’s night on the Promenade and the “Village People” showed up to sing YMCA!…Heh, I know that song.

Good bye wonderful ship and sail happy until we meet again,


Cruise Hawaii in September 2013 is my next cruise. If you want to read all about it, click here.  This cruise is limited to 40 quilters and you can sign on and pay a bit at a time. If you have any specific questions about it, just ask Debby or Clay.