SOFTWARE REVIEW: Sew Precise! with Shirley Liby

In another review on this site, we review the two major foundation piecing programs on the market, Foundation Factory and Sew Precise! These useful programs are gold mines for paper piecing enthusiasts, combining in one affordable package a large library of foundation piecing blocks and lots of advice useful to beginners and veterans alike.

Following up on the success of these programs, both Quilt-Pro and The Electric Quilt Company have published additional collections of block designs from well-known designers Carol Doak and Shirley Liby.

EQ was kind enough to share with us a review copy of Sew Precise with Shirley Liby, which contains 600 new blocks by Liby, who has published at least nine different books of paper piecing patterns as well as books on such diverse topics as bargello and color wash quilts.

I was frankly a little skeptical of the issuance of another paper piecing CD, priced the same as the first one ($29.95) but with only a little more than half the number of designs as the first Sew Precise. I mean, how many paper-piecing patterns do quilters need?

You quickly learn in dealing with this topic that the appetite for new foundation patterns is virtually insatiable. What I also learned after playing with this new CD for a while is that it contains much more than a bunch of new patterns.

Most of Shirley’s patterns contained on this CD are realistic renderings of such things as cats, dogs, birds, fish, boats, trains, cars and trucks, and other common objects. There are a few geometrics, but not many. There is both an upper case and lower case alphabet, and interesting renderings of a variety of shoe and hats. The collection of ribbons and bows is also very interesting and beautiful.

What makes all of these blocks come to life, however, is the design advice and sample quilts that Shirley provides to accompany them. For virtually every category of block there is in the “How To” section a page or two of design ideas and samples that show you how the blocks can be used creatively to make charming quilts.

For example, here are Shirley’s comments on a section of patterns in the “Castles” category:

“These patterns don’t look very interesting individually. But, put them together and they can become a beautiful fairy tale castle, a magnificent cathedral or a country chapel.

“Collect shades of gray and fabrics that look like stone or bricks to get ready for this challenge.

“The blocks are sized proportionately. So print the ones you want to use all in the same block size. Then cut away the pattern parts that are not pieced. You’ll then have the patterns for the ‘building blocks’ of your castle or scene.”

This narrative is followed by five different sample castles and other medieval buildings.

Shirley is equally creative with designs using geometric blocks. In the “Geometrics” section she shares a number of creative ways in which to use such old chestnuts as Sunshine and Shadow and Pieced Fan blocks. I was particularly interested in her “Christmas Cactus” design made with three blocks, and she has some very interesting log cabin variations using an asymmetrical block that is included in the collection. Liby also provides some border designs, using her ribbons and bows collection.

For beginners, the CD includes Shirley’s detailed instructions on exactly how to do foundation piecing. These are step-by-step and very detailed, but do not include any illustrations. Fortunately the instructions in the original Sew Precise! with lots of illustrations are also included here if you’re a real novice.

After discovering all these wonderful new features and ideas in this new collection of Sew Precise! blocks, I’m convinced that most owners of the first CD will want to supplement their collection. For sheer convenience and the size of the block library, this collection at $29.95 is a bargain, particularly when you compare it to the cost of foundation piecing books. And it makes less clutter in your sewing room!

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