To celebrate the publication of A Flock of Feathered Stars: Paper Pieced for Perfection, by Carolyn Cullinan McCormick, we are giving a free copy to one lucky PickleDish reader. Everyone who comments on this post will be entered in the giveaway.
Carolyn, the inventor of the Add-A-Quarter ruler, has turned 17 difficult Feathered Star patterns into manageable paper-piecing patterns for quilters who have shied away from making these beautiful blocks. The book contains easy, step-by-step diagrams.
We recently talked to Carolyn about inspiration, dreaming about quilting and her desire to keep her “creative power.”
Who taught you to sew, and how did you get interested in quilting?
Mrs. McMullan, my home economics teacher. In my high school, it was mandatory that all girls take home economics. Everything had to be perfect in her class — maybe that is why I like my quilting to be perfect.
I didn’t start to quilt until I moved to Bozeman, Mont. A very dear friend by the name of Diane Donnelly was the one who got me interested in quilting. We met through our children, who were in the same first-grade class. They liked to get
together and play. I dedicated my last book, A Flock of Feathered Stars, to her.
What do you enjoy most — and least — about quilting?
The thing that I enjoy the most is taking the old patterns from The Kansas City Star and making them into paper-pieced patterns. I enjoy that I can take something old and make it new again.
I don’t like to cut my fabric out — I want to sew! That is why I developed the Add-Enough. I figure out how big my pieces need to be, how many pieces I need of each fabric. I can stack my fabrics and start cutting. When paper piecing, the cutting does not need to be precise. You trim as you sew. It doesn’t take me very long to cut out a quilt.
Where do you find inspiration?
All around me. I can’t tell you how many times I have drawn a design on a napkin. I sometimes dream about quilt designs.
When and where do you quilt? Do you have a schedule?
I am very blessed that I have a wonderful sewing room. I wish that I was disciplined enough to have a schedule. My problem is when I am working on a book, I always like to have things done before my editor Edie (McGinnis) needs the information. Needless to say, I put in some very long days when working on a book, but that is my choice. I want to get everything done so I can move on to the next project.
Why do you make quilts? Do you have other creative interests?
I love to see the design that I have taken from an old Kansas City Star pattern and made into a quilt. Sometimes by the fabrics that I use and the way the quilt is sewn together the design will form a secondary pattern — that is really great when that happens.
I have three grandchildren, and I am always working on the next quilting project. I don’t seem to have time for any other creative interests.
What advice do you have for someone just starting to quilt?
It is a wonderful hobby! There are many different techniques in quilting. Take classes and find what works the best for you. I love to paper piece, but I also know that it is not for everyone. You just will not know what your favorite quilting technique is until you try it.
If you could have one quilting superpower, what would it be?
This is a hard question. At first I thought I would like to just wiggle my nose and have a completed quilt, but that would take all of the fun out of making a quilt. Then I thought to be able to have all of the paper disappear, but I don’t mind ripping paper, either. I would not call it a superpower, but I would just like to keep my creative power. That is what I really enjoy.
How do you keep it fresh? What would you like to try next?
Every time I come up with a new idea, I get really excited. I am always thinking about the next project I would like to do. Sometimes, I have too many projects that I would like to do and not enough time.
Don’t forget to comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of A Flock of Feathered Stars. Which of these quilts is your favorite? Is this your first exposure to Carolyn, or are you already a fan? Have you tried her techniques?
Here are some of the projects from her book:
Watch for more giveaways in the coming weeks as we also mark the publication of Portrait of a Lady:Quilts for a Woman’s Journey Through Life, by Christina McCourt; A Basketful of Taupe: Practical Projects to Decorate your Life, by Kylie Irvine; and Lizzie’s Legacy: More Quilts from a Pioneer Woman’s Journal, by Betsy Chutchian.