The Excitement of Discovery
If you've read Stitch or Quilting Arts, then you're probably familiar with Malka Dubrawsky's designs. Malka's quilted and pieced projects are colorful and cheery and will definitely brighten up your day!
Top: Malka Dubrawsky. Bottom: Round + Round Coasters from Fresh Quilting.
As a somewhat novice quilter, I'm always amazed and inspired by Malka's mastery of color and shape and the way that she uses stitching as a design element. I also love that Malka takes quilting to smaller objects-placemats and pillows are definitely much less intimidating to me than a full-size bed quilt. Her book Fresh Quilting is full of great projects that break out of the traditional quilt mold, from modern quilts to coasters and bags.
I had a chance to chat with Malka about her inspirations, her studio (I'm glad to hear that even professional quilters struggle with organization!), and her first project. She also shared some great tips for quilting newbies!
Stefanie: Tell us about the first quilt you ever made. What is it that drew you to quilting?
Malka: The first quilt I ever made was a full-size bed quilt. I don't know what possessed me to take on such a big project first off, except outright ignorance. Add to that, once I finished machine piecing the top, I decided to intensely handquilt the top. It took me a year and half to finish the quilt, but I used it on my bed for years.
I think what keeps me making and piecing quilts and other items is the excitement of discovery. I love, maybe am addicted to, that feeling you get when you put two fabrics together and realize that they sing together, or you figure out how to craft an item that you've only seen in your mind's eye. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling.
S: Walk us through the steps when you're making a project. Where does your inspiration come from?
M: It usually starts with me wondering when I'm going to finally straighten up my sewing space. Once that moment passes, I actually just sit and think about what the possibilities for the finished item might be. I do a lot of daydreaming. During that daydreaming phase, I'll look through books of other textiles or old notebooks (I have sketchbooks going back twenty years) or even search my environment for patterns or colors that I think might trigger an answer to my design question. Sometimes I'll think about a project for days or longer before I have an "aha" moment, and I know how I'm going to set about making it.
S: Your designs are always so bright and cheerful-you have a great color sense. Tell us a bit about how you choose colors for a new project.
M: Looking, looking, looking. That's how I developed my color sense. I really try to be aware of what colors attract and repel me and ask myself why that is.
When I'm selecting colors for a new project, I think about what I want the final product to look like. For instance, if I'm interested in creating contrast, I'll pull out intense, saturated colors, but if I want the piece to have a cohesive look across the surface, I'll focus on colors that are more subdued and closer in value. I will admit though that a lot of my final color choices are intuitive. I just feel like those two colors belong together.
S: Quilters tend to have lots of fabric. How do you keep your stash and your studio organized?
M: Organized? Hmm . . . my studio could definitely be better organized, but one thing I do love is having two separate design walls. I love being able to really see my work and even encountering it at odd times. Sometimes that can help unravel a design problem that I can't seem to solve when I'm officially working on it. I would also add that I keep my fabric "displayed" on open shelves. I could be better about folding it neatly, but I always know what I've got.
S: Any advice for new quilters or those who would like to try quilting but may be feeling a little intimidated?
M: My best advice to new quilters is to get comfortable with the basic materials of quiltmaking like using a rotary cutter and mat. I teach sewing and quilting locally, and that's the thing I find most new quilters are intimidated by, cutting fabric confidently. There's nothing that makes piecing easier than well-cut fabric. It's a little thing, so easy to overcome, but worth the time to master. My other bit of advice would be to not let instructions boss you around. If I write a set of instructions, and you don't feel like that's the way you would do that particular step, change the instructions to suit your tastes. I promise not to come to your house and chastise you.
I love being encouraged to break the rules!