Paper Pieced Meet 'n Greet: Caroline @ Trillium Design and a GIVEAWAY!

caroline 2caroline 3Today I'm chatting with the super fab Caroline from Trillium Design. That tree block from the Forest QAL? That's her! The Dr. Who QAL? That's her! Read on for more excellentness and a giveaway at the end of the post :)
13 Spools

Give a quick, couple sentence bio of yourself.

Hi everyone! I’m Caroline Press and I’m a mad scientist by day working with the building blocks of life. Married to the same dude for 20+ years and mom of 2 fabulous kids.  In my downtime, I unleash my creative side and deploy my creative energies on something fiber related. I have been sewing all my life and designing and making handmade is just a necessary part of who I am. I am constantly thinking about the next project and I blog about my sewing adventures at
When and what was your first paper piecing project? How was that experience? 
Believe it or not, I stayed away from foundation piecing for a long time preferring the ease of applique. But when a flickr friend posted a cute little Russian doll that she had paper pieced, I decided to take the plunge and make my own.  The pattern was by Cyrille Zellweger, Bubblestitch on Etsy.  It was super easy, fun and I enjoyed the precision of it. 
caroline 1
  How did you get into designing paper piecing patterns? 

I designed my first block in early 2012 for a contest as part of the "Sew out Loud" Quilt-along on Flickr organized by Joanna  Wilczynska (Shape Moth ) and Julianna Gąsiorowska (Sewing under Rainbow).   The 12th and final block of that QAL was chosen from among the participants by Suzuko Koseki  herself and I managed to win it.  I was thrilled.  

caroline 2

After that experience, I was hooked.  I knew I wanted to keep on paper piecing my own designs.  If I think back on how long it took to design that one block, it’s kind of funny – I worked on it for weeks.  I was still learning the whole process and it was a mental adjustment to start thinking about designs in linear form and breaking everything up accordingly.  Now I design blocks in a fraction of the time.

caroline 3


What does your design process look like? Do you use a computer at all?

Yes, my design process is entirely computerized.  I use EQ7 exclusively to design my blocks.  I usually start with a sketch or a photo which I turn into a digital format so I can work on it on my computer.  I adjust the size to the final block dimensions and then I just start chopping up the image into straight lines.  It takes a few iterations.  After the initial pattern is done, I go back and edit lines to simplify the design and double check that lines are placed in a logical sewing sequence.  Then I test sew it and see if there are any obvious errors that need to be fixed. Then I add sewing instructions and graphics and finally it's a finished pattern which can be posted for sale in Craftsy or etsy or as a free pattern.  I’ve gotten much faster at this over the last year and half and certainly much better at identifying errors before I get to the sewing stage.

Let's talk about some of your designs more specifically - the Dr. Who Along is sooo cool! What has been your favorite block? 

Well, my very favorite block has yet to be revealed. ;) But I am really happy with the way K9 turned out – he’s a pretty loveable character and I’m a dog lover anyway, so maybe that’s why. 

caroline 5

One of my favorites is the "Bad Wolf" block - It's so detailed and perfect! Was that hard to design? Did you use a font to help you out at all, or just free hand the writing?

caroline 6

Thanks Amy! I’m glad you like that block.  If you remember the show, the words ‘Bad Wolf’ were scrawled on many surfaces throughout the season and in many different fonts.  I wanted it to look graffiti-like as though written on the side of a building but I didn’t want to have to paper piece the surface as well.  So I played around with different fonts and then manually edited the lines in EQ7 until it looked the way I wanted it to and was still relatively sew-able.  That one took a lot of editing as my designs tend to have too many lines to start with and I have to go in a remove them to make it easier to sew. 

The block that first made me take note of your designs was the Wonky Winter Tree. The detail is simply incredible! What inspired you to sit down and design this block? 

caroline 7

Well it was Christmas time and I wanted a modern block that said ‘holidays’ without it looking too homespun and  patchwork-y if that makes any sense.  So I set out to transform a simple triangle of an evergreen tree by cutting it into a lot of lines to give it a modern abstract feel.  I designed that block at 16” which is quite large, and it was intended to be used for a pillow cover and this larger size makes it a bit easier to deal with sewing all those angles together. Most of my design start-out as projects for myself or my home and end up as patterns just to share them with anyone else who might be interested. The tree was one of those projects.

As a paper piecing designer, do you use patterns from anyone else, or do you tend to just design what you want to make? 

I do both.  If there is already a pattern available for something I’m wanting to make then for sure I’ll support my fellow designers – it takes quite a bit of time to design a pattern, so it’s sometimes a time-saver to go with a ready-made design if there is one.  If I have a design concept in my head that I want to pursue and I’m not in a time crunch, then I’ll do my own. 

caroline 8   Do you have any tips for someone who wants to try their hand at designing patterns?

I’ve only ever designed digitally, so I would recommend investing in a product like EQ7 or Adobe Photoshop.  The software makes the design process simpler and it’s much easier to adjust the sizing of patterns pieces on the fly.  If you’re interested in publishing, it’s much easier to develop patterns since they are already in digital format.   

Are there any links you would like to share with us?

- I blog about all my sewing adventures at - My paper piecing patterns are available on Craftsyand I sell sewing patterns and sometimes destash on Etsy.
- For anyone who wants to learn paper piecing with EQ7, here's a great tutorial at Joanna’s blog.
Thanks so much Caroline! It was great learning a little bit more about your design process. And Caroline is generously giving one lucky winner a pattern from her Craftsy shop - just leave a comment below for your chance to win!!
Prism QALAmy Garro