I was so very happy to be asked to participate in a blog tour for Malka Dubrawsky’s newest book, Fresh Quilting. I’ve been reading Malka’s blog, a stitch in dye, for a very long time now, and I always enjoy all the beautiful eye candy over there. Malka has a way of combining fabrics, both commercially printed as well as her signature hand-dyed fabrics, to create gorgeous works of art.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her book, and as soon as I had it, I sat down and read it from cover to cover (well, with the exception of some of the instructions, which I’ll save for when I have a chance to make one of the projects!). Fresh Quilting is truly a peek inside what I imagine Malka’s world to be. I could admire these gorgeous photos for quite some time!
The book is broken down into two sections – smaller patchwork projects for the home, family and friends, and quilts for the wall, bed and baby. What I find so interesting though is how projects from either section could be recreated either as a small project, or used as inspiration for a larger quilt project. And indeed, Malka encourages readers to do just that – encouraging you to adapt elements from one project for use in another.
This bag, for instance, has me intrigued and wanting to use the techniques to make it into a larger throw for the couch.
But enough from me! I had a chance to ask Malka some questions about her new book –
One of the main things I love about Fresh Quilting is that all throughout the book you provide inspiration as well as detailed instructions, yet you also continue to encourage readers to use this inspiration to create their own unique creations by just going with the flow. I know that this is something that many new sewers find challenging, and I love that you talk about the improv process and make it seem less intimidating. Have you always worked with an improvisational style, or did you start out following patterns? How has your own work evolved over time?
I never really followed patterns in terms of making quilts, but I love making clothes, and I’m definitely a pattern follower there. My background though isn’t in textiles, but in Printmaking. I have a BFA in studio art with a focus on printmaking. After I graduated from Art School I started making what can best be described as “art” quilts. I enjoyed making those, but felt I was lacking that interaction that comes when someone actually uses the item you make. I do think that background gave me the confidence to work improvisationally, but not because I necessarily knew something, but because I’d had the opportunity to play with ideas and saw that messing something up wasn’t the end of the world. That’s what I’d like to communicate to the folks who read my book. They should be confident in their own crafting and designing abilities because it’s just play and there are so many worse things that could happen than messing up a piece of fabric.
“If in doubt… wing it!” I absolutely love this piece of advice. Can you explain to those who haven’t yet read your book where this came from and what it means to you in terms of your quilting?
A wonderful knitter and friend once said that to me when I was concerned about a step in a knitting pattern. The way she said it I knew she wasn’t dismissing my concern, but rather giving me permission to step away from the pattern and use my own judgment and creativity. I found it incredibly liberating and really try to bring that sense that I can work a design or construction problem out when I create. It’s all about trusting your intuition.
I noticed that you’ve chosen to mix fabrics in many of your projects – pairing quilting cottons with a variety of other fabrics of different weights, including linen, silk, wool and even corduroy. Do you have any tips for combining and sewing with fabrics of differing weights in one project? What’s the advantage to including a variety of different materials?
I think the advantage is that you can take a very simple design like the Menswear pillow or the Whirlygig Quilt and make it so much more interesting by introducing different textures. Also, it allows you to use scraps both from past quilting projects and other sewing, even garment-making projects. Finally it’s just a lot of fun. It makes piecing a top even more collage-like which for me is one of the things I love about patchwork.
As for tips, I think the one thing I would make sure to do is to back a fabric that easily frays with fusible interfacing. For instance, when I used silk dupioni in the Whirlygig Quilt I backed it with interfacing.
I know there are many people who are taking the time to create gifts this holiday season. For those of us who haven’t yet started (ahem…) or for those who might be looking for a few extra ideas for handmade gifts, what are your favorite go to gifts?
My go-to last minute gifts would probably be the Round and Round coasters. You could make a set of those in an hour. Also, the Scrap Busting Coin Purses are super quick and easy. If I had just a little more time, I’d make the Peppermint Neckwarmer or the Mix-it Up Patchwork scarf.
And I just have to ask… (though personally I can’t pick a favorite!) do you have a favorite project in the book?
Gosh, that is a tough question and every time I think I have a favorite I flip through the book and think,” wait, I really love this one too.”
But, if I was on a desert island and could only take one project with me, I think it would be the Strips and Stripes Quilt. It’s so simple and the aesthetic is so clean and modern, but the colors all seem to sing together. It’s definitely a quilt that makes me smile whenever I look at it.
Thanks so much Malka!
And of course this wouldn’t be a blog tour without a giveaway! I’m thrilled to be able to offer up a signed copy of Fresh Quilting to one lucky commenter. Please leave me a comment here – if you want to, maybe you’ll share if you’re a rule follower, or a go with the flow kind of crafter. Or if you’d prefer, (and because I’m still looking for ideas!) maybe tell me your favorite handmade gift. One comment per person please! I’ll select a winner on Tuesday evening.
Edit: Comments are now closed. A big congrats to #194, Starr, who said “Oh! She is amazing! I would love to own this book. I like the advice, â€œif in doubt, wing it.â€ I need to take that advice. Sometimes my perfectionism takes over and paralyzes me.”
The Fresh Quilting tour will continue across the US, so be sure to read more about this great book at these other stops!