SOFTWARE REVIEW: Sew Precise! with Shirley Liby

In another of our reviews, accessible on this website, we take a look at Foundation Factory and Sew Precise, two of the most popular foundation piecing programmes now available. These helpful applications are gold mines for paper piecing fans since they combine in one reasonable bundle a big library of foundation piecing blocks with heaps of guidance that is useful to beginners as well as experienced paper piecing quilters.

As a result of the popularity of these programmes, Quilt-Pro and The Electric Quilt Company have both released new collections of block designs created by renowned quilt designers Carol Doak and Shirley Liby. These new collections are available for purchase.

EQ was kind enough to provide us with a review copy of Sew Precise with Shirley Liby. This book contains 600 new blocks designed by Liby, who has published at least nine different books of paper piecing patterns in addition to books on topics as varied as bargello and colour wash quilts. EQ has also provided us with a copy of Sew Precise with Shirley Liby in order for us to conduct this review.

When I originally heard that another paper piecing CD was going to be released at the same price as the previous one (which was $29.95), but with only a little bit more than half as many designs as the first Sew Precise, I must admit that I was a little bit hesitant. I mean, how many different patterns for paper piecing do quilters really need?

When working with this subject, you quickly come to realise that the demand for fresh foundation designs is almost never going to be fulfilled. After spending some time with this new CD, I’ve realised that it includes a great deal more than just a collection of fresh patterns to try out.

The majority of Shirley’s patterns, which can be found on this CD, are realistic renditions of things like cats, dogs, birds, fish, boats, trains, cars, and trucks, and other everyday items. A few geometrics can be found, but not a lot of them. There includes an upper case alphabet as well as a lower case alphabet, as well as some very fascinating renditions of a variety of headgear and shoes. The assortment of bows and ribbons is also incredibly unique and lovely to look at in its own right.

The accompanying design suggestions and sample quilts that are provided by Shirley are what really bring each of these blocks to life, though. There is a page or two of design ideas and samples for practically every category of block in the “How To” section. These pages show you how the blocks can be utilised imaginatively to build lovely 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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